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Pope Benedict’s attack on marriage equality will backfire

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Instead of using his annual Christmas address to call for unity and peace on earth, Pope Benedict XVI squandered his big moment to declare war on the gay community.

In a mean-spirited and hyperbolic speech, the Pontiff tried to whip up fear about the unfounded threat caused by marriage equality. He demanded that the world’s major religions join forces – like a twisted version of the old Super Friends cartoon – to defeat gay marriage initiatives worldwide.

According to the Reuters report:

“The Vatican has gone on the offensive in response to gains for gay marriage in the United States and Europe, using every possible opportunity to denounce it through papal speeches or editorials in its newspaper or on its radio station…In some countries, the Catholic Church has already joined forces with Jews, Muslims and members of other religions to oppose the legalization of gay marriage.”

While the ranting from Rome sounds scary, this campaign offers more pitfalls than positive outcomes for the Vatican. The 2012 elections in America were the equivalent of winning the Kentucky Derby for the LGBT community, yet this most unsympathetic and unpopular Pope thinks he can put the champion racehorse back in the barn. The Vatican is a bit late to the track, it seems, and if Benedict thinks this miracle is going to happen, his handlers should stop him from inhaling more incense.

Urging American Catholics to vote against marriage equality is a losing strategy already tested this year by Derek McCoy, Executive Director for the Maryland Marriage Alliance. At the Values Voter Summit, which took place in Washington in September, McCoy warned:

“If we lose in Maryland specifically the headlines will read the next day…“Catholic Governor of Maryland Switches the Catholic Vote.’”

And, indeed, McCoy’s tactic backfired when it hit the brick wall of the very Catholic governor he referenced in his speech, Martin O’Malley. This is the same dynamic that will haunt the Pope in campaign after campaign. American and European Catholics trust their gay children and friends significantly more than a distant figurehead who presided over a stomach turning pedophile priest scandal that has already cost Rome more than $2.5 billion in legal fees, prevention programs, and settlements.

In private moments, it must be disconcerting to the Pope that gay couples pledging their love and lives to each other, have significantly greater moral authority than the Vatican. People, including most moderate Catholics, must be scratching their heads and wondering why a troubled religious institution that does not have its house in order, is obsessively trying to cause disorder in loving gay households?

Perhaps this absence of moral authority is the reason that the Pope is recruiting other faiths to join his cause. However, this tactic was also tried in the 2012 election cycle and came up short: “We’ve been in the state’s largest mosques and they are solidly behind the marriage amendment,” boasted John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council, at the Values Voter Summit, speaking of his soon-to-be losing effort to pass a state constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage equality.

This is not to say that the Pope’s ugly words won’t be devastating and damaging, costing many people their lives. However, his attacks will resonate mostly in developing nations where same-sex marriage has about as much chance of passing as a Hindu becoming the next Pope.

By teaming up with Muslims in a place like Nigeria, for instance, The Pontiff’s efforts could make the already difficult lives of closeted gays almost unbearable. But, it will have a negligible impact on the worldwide debate over marriage equality.

The feckless arguments proffered by the Pope will not help his moribund cause. In the Pontiff’s Christmas address he enthusiastically embraced a childish anti-gay marriage study authored by Gilles Bernheim, France’s chief rabbi. According to the report:

“There is no denying the crisis that threatens it (the family) to its foundations – especially in the Western world…The family had to be protected because it was “the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence.”

So, the Pope’s main argument is that visibly successful and highly functional nations and states that already have passed same-sex marriage laws are causing the Western World to crumble? Can he and his fundamentalist allies point to a few anti-gay nations that are performing better morally or economically than the modern countries with marriage equality?

Equally absurd is Rabbi Gilles Bernheim bizarre idea that marriage equality threatens the family blueprint. What rational person believes that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will cause heterosexuals forget how to form families or make babies?

With such foolishness dressed up as faith, it’s not surprising that so many Americans are fleeing oppressive religious institutions and listing their affiliation as “none.”

If the Pope wants to continue appearing infallible to his flock, he should abandon this intolerant cause. As more countries enact marriage equality over his tantrums and objections, the Pontiff will look increasingly ineffective at best, and irrelevant at worst.

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16 more reader comments:

  1. does he know what it is love another person

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:00pm
  2. He’s an idiot!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:05pm
  3. Probably not, because that is also foolishly against papal rules. I never understood why chastity was so important for people who are supposed to love all people, it seems counter-intuitive. Then again, apparently sex is icky.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:06pm
  4. go away hater pope!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:07pm
  5. Thumb down. :0(

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:19pm
  6. It is not a Biblical rule it is a Church rule that dates back to the 13th century. It is was believed in the Western Church that a priest could devote himself more to his work for the Church when he does not have a family to worry about. In the Eastern Church priests are allowed to be married as long as it is before ordination

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:21pm
  7. We don’t NEED approval from ANYONE to marry the one we love! If I care about someone enough to want to spend the rest of MY life with them, why should I be denied the right to do so?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:28pm
  8. When will the popes opinion go away? It jst irritates me that a christians point of view in this gets publicized and blown up but not any other person of a different religious affiliation. I dont give two flying craps about whether this person agrees with me marrying the person i love.. I dnt need his two senses. His beliefs have nothing to do with mine. I really do hope the popes opinion doesnt get blown up like this in the media in the future.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:29pm
  9. Another closed mind idiot!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 1:29pm
  10. Former Nazi….he may be Satan..have you seen him smile? Can you say he puts the creep in creeper?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 2:10pm
  11. He is going to do nothing but harm gay people and promote homophobia in developing countries. I hope the Pope is good with having that blood on his hands especially in countries like Uganda and other homophobic nations. However, the Church does have record of killing people who do not believe like them. So sad and so glad to no longer consider myself Catholic and Christian. I have seen religion do too much harm over time.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 3:26pm
  12. the Vatican is a dead concept revolving around a dying faith. seriously, go to catholic mass sometime, its like a zombie staging area. not only does mass suck and always has, they want you to feel bad for everything you do when your not at mass. and of all the religions its the Catholics that are by far the most belligerent about denouncing their faith. of course most of us ex-Catholics never had any faith to begin with, we just went to church because our parents made us go and we didn’t want to get beat on Sunday, knowing the nuns would beat us on Monday morning anyway. best part of church! leaving church.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 6:41pm
  13. The Catholic Church does not hate homosexuals. The act of homosexuality; the physical and intimate acts of homesexuality goes against Catholic Christian Teaching and is contrary to God’s natural law. Before this page posts anything degrading about the Pope and the Catholic Church, maybe you should study Catholic Christian tradition a little more closely!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 7:03pm
  14. Homosexuality is a sin and pedophilia isn’t????? screw u nazi!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 7:38pm
  15. - People like you, Stacey, are very arrogant about assuming that they know what “God’s natural law” is…especially considering that homosexual behaviour /is/ naturally occuring, and primarily happens in ‘higher’ species like us. How could it /not/ be part of divine intention, as long as divine intention is presumed to exist at all? Did God not create this natural world that includes consensual sexual diversity, or is he only responsible for sexual repression, rape, coercion, indoctrinated guilt, forced marriages, and sanctioned domestic abuse?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 10:43pm
  16. Does he not realize that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? Clearly he is throwing same sex marriage under the bus to hide the weekly “new reports” of child abuses! Even the Catholics I know are pissed at him. Oh, well… he won’t be along much longer.

    Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 12:40am