Monday, January 9, 2023

On Benedict's "Kindness" and What Eulogies About His "Kindness" Say to LGBTQ Catholics

I've refrained until now from commenting here about the death of Emeritus Pope Bendict, because...well, to be honest, I'm not sure what more I might say about Ratzinger/Benedict than I've already said here in the past.

Much that's being published about Benedict now is predictably adulatory, and, in my view, often downright obfuscatory, particularly when his track record in dealing with the abuse horror show in the Catholic church is being examined. The usual big-name Vaticanologists and Catholic media gurus have been busy doing their usual thing, weaving nice narratives about a deceased former pope in which narrative sleights of hand prevent us from seeing what we'd otherwise see about his legacy — especially if we happen not to be, like these professional Catholic or papal interpreters, highly-placed heterosexual white men, the sort who rank at the top of Benedict's hierarchical worldview.

Some commentary I've read about Benedict's death that's worth reading, in my view: 

Celia Viggo Wexler, "RIP Pope Benedict XVI — but let's not ignore all the harm he did the church and its people

SNAP, "SNAP reacts to the death of Pope Benedict XVI

DignityUSA, "LGBTQ+ Catholics Recall Pope Benedict XVI’s Reign as a Painful Time That Caused 'Tremendous Damage' to the LGBTQ+ Community

Jason Berry, "Pope Benedict Was a Law and Order Pontiff, Who Failed As a Reformer

Patsy McGarry, "How Pope Benedict ignored Vatican responsibility for child sex abuse in Ireland

BernĂ¡rd Lynch, "Pope Benedict's Legacy"

My brief bit of commentary: following Benedict's death, Pope Francis characterized his predecessor as "noble and kind." The word "kind" stands out for me.

In what moral universe is it an act of kindness to characterize an entire group of human beings, as Benedict did, as born "disordered" and as "disordered" human beings in their affective lives? Not only did Benedict innovate that analysis of queer human beings as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under John Paul II, he assured that this dangerous, eminently hateful way of defining non-heterosexual human beings was inscribed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, becoming in the minds of many Catholic official and quasi-infallible teaching.

From hateful language about others, hateful consequences follow. From the time Benedict began his crusade against LGBTQ human beings — and that's what it was — we who are queer and Catholic were made, as a group, to feel unwelcome in the Catholic community, in Catholic institutions. We have watched as our bishops and groups like Knights of Columbus have amassed huge sums of money to attack us and try to block our rights or rip rights from us.

We've seen one queer Catholic after another fired in Catholic institutions. We've seen our church represented in the public square by bishops and political leaders who identify Catholicism with disdain for and even outright hatred of queer human beings. 

In what universe is any of this kind?

The adulation of Benedict in one remembrance of him after another being written now by Catholic journalists and commentators who represent themselves as "centrist" or even "liberal," the suggestion that his legacy was one of kindness, is a slap in the face of the LGBTQ community, and tells us just how little we continue to be welcome or regarded with respect by the Catholic community.

That's how I see it.

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