Saturday, October 24, 2015

Religión Digital Publishes Interview with Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa: "The Church Preaches Mercy, But Does It Not Keep on Persecuting Homosexuals?"

Yesterday, the Spanish journal Religión Digital published an interview with the gay Polish priest who came out of the closet in a public way prior to the synod on the family — Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa. Those following this story will know that Msgr. Charamsa was quickly defrocked by his bishop (in sharp contrast to the many priests who have abused minors and have been permitted to remain in ministry, have been moved about from parish to parish and hidden from public scrutiny).

The interview with Msgr. Charamsa in Religión Digital is a conversation between him and journalist José M. Vidal. To the best of my knowledge, this article has not yet been translated into English. I'm very grateful to my friend Brittmarie (Brittie) Janson Perez for sending me and others on her email list a quick translation of the article parts of the article. As she notes, tools like Google Translate allow non-Spanish readers to have a fairly good, if somewhat rough, idea of what the article is saying.

If I spot an English translation or any Spanish-speaking reader of this blog wants to provide one (and Brittie herself may well have more commentary down the road), I may have further commentary on this interview. For now, here are highlights that leap out at me (whose Spanish is rudimentary, though I can make out quite a bit):

Vidal asks Msgr. Charamsa, "The church preaches mercy, but does it not keep on persecuting homosexuals?" (La Iglesia predica misericordia, pero ¿sigue persiguiendo a los homosexuales?). Charamsa replies:

Sí, hay una verdadera persecución por parte de la iglesia católica tanto de las personas como de la comunidad LGBTI en general. Es la persecución de las minorías sexuales que no pertenecen y no pueden pertenecer a la mayoría heterosexual. Se trata de un proyecto ideológico de la Iglesia. Mi Iglesia se permite afirmar que debe luchar contra los gays al igual que luchaba contra el nazismo. Nos comparan con los nazis, los enemigos de la humanidad. Esta afirmación ha salido en boca del cardenal africano Sarah justo en medio del sínodo, que en su lugar debería pensar con misericordia sobre las familias. La Iglesia está obsesionada con la homosexualidad, así como con la sexualidad humana en general.

Yes, he says, the Catholic church persecutes sexual minorities, the LGBTI community, in particular. It does so as an expression of the persecution of sexual minorities who do not and cannot fit into the heterosexual majority. This is treated as an ideological project by the church — something akin to the ideological battle against Nazism. LGBTI people are compared by church officials with the Nazis; they're tagged as enemies of humanity. Cardinal Sarah made such an equation during the synod. The church is obsessed with homosexuality, as it is with human sexuality in general.

Asked whether the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for which he himself worked prior to his coming out, is particularly homophobic, Msgr. Charamsa replies:

Sí, la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe es el corazón de una homofobia paranoica e irracional. En ella no hay posibilidad de conocimiento ni de diálogo. Funciona por estereotipos. Yo tenía la impresión de que nosotros en la Congregación no promovemos la fe en Dios, no nos ocupamos de cristología o mariología, solo luchamos contra los gays y demás minorías sexuales. Es una obsesión. Esta es nuestra verdadera fe: la paranoia anti-gay. Nada más. Es nuestro tema preferido. Hay reuniones en las que de cada tres casos que tratamos, dos son contra gays. Nos hemos inventado un enemigo imaginario y luchamos con todas nuestras fuerzas contra él. Lo llamamos "nuestra guerra contra el gender". Allí no se puede discutir, pensamos que ese gender solo promueve cambios de sexo. Ese es el nivel de paranoia que reina en la Congregación.

Flatly, yes. Yes, the CDF, the central orthodoxy watchdog office within the Vatican, is obsessed in a paranoid and irrational way with homosexuality and with LGBTI folks. This is, to repeat, an obsession. Fighting and denouncing the gays transcends all other theological concerns for the CDF, which holds endless meetings in which two of every three cases discussed have to do with homosexuality. The so-called "war against gender" has become the central bugbear of the CDF, an imaginary enemy of its own invention against which it fights with all its might. 

But then there's this twist: as Charamsa adds,

La homofobia y la misoginia (la verdadera feminofobia, un complejo u odio hacia la mujer) obsesivas son un drama para esta Congregación, cuyos miembros no todos son heterosexuales. Como en todas partes, hay homosexuales. La realidad es que la Congregación odia a los gays, aun habiendo dentro personas de las cuales se sabe que son homosexuales.

Obsessive homophobia and misogyny form the central drama around which the CDF organizes its work today. But not all members of the CDF are themselves heterosexual. Though the CDF really, really hates the gays, some of those doing the hating are . . . themselves gay.

(At another earlier point in the article, Charamsa says, by the way, that if there is, as the right-wing media love to claim, some kind of gay lobby in the Vatican, he himself has never encountered it.)

And now there is, Charamsa notes, a new enemy for the CDF to add to its list of imaginary enemies: 

Lo que más importa es mantener oculto nuestro tabú: la homosexualidad y la sexualidad en general. Con la primavera de Francisco, la Congregación tiene un nuevo enemigo. Junto a los gays, hay el papa Francisco. Junto a la homofobia aparece una "Francisco-fobia".

Added to the gays is a new enemy for the CDF: Papa Francisco. Joined to the homophobia of the CDF is now "Francis-phobia." The CDF has become the political agency of sabotage against the papacy of Pope Francis and his synod ([L]a Congregación es la agencia política de sabotaje contra el pontificado del Papa Francisco y su discusión sinodal.)

And so it goes. This will be an interesting story to keep following. I'm keeping my supply of popcorn well topped-up.

(For an additional portion of this interview focusing on Msgr. Charamsa's response to a question about the different way in which Catholic officials treat a priest who has come out of the closet and pedophile priests, see this next posting.)

The photo of Msgr. Charamsa is from this article at Bondings 2.0, and appears to be from the Italian journal Stato Quotidiano

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