Bilerico Report

What would Galileo think about the Catholic stance on trans people?

galileo-quote

Bil Browning

Pope Francis, in his relatively short time serving as the leader of the Catholic Church has talked about inclusion and acceptance of diversity thereby, at least in his words, seems intent on taking the church out of the 17th Century where it has remained stuck for some time and carry it on the wings of a dove to at least the 19th if not the 20th or 21st century regarding the concerns of LGBTQ people.

But alas, the dove has died as has the hope. His policies and teachings on topics of same-sex sexuality have remained unchanged. Even more troubling, the Pope has further tightened church restrictions on trans identities.

Throughout recorded history, governments, social and religious institutions, and powerful individuals have devised ways of silencing opposition for the purpose of maintaining and extending its control and domination. They commit physical or psychic murder upon those who speak and live their truth when this contradicts “official” policies and teachings.

The Catholic Church, as one such religious institution, has wronged and at times murdered those who have advanced beliefs that run contrary to church “teachings.”

For example, the church convicted physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei on the charge of heresy by insisting that the Earth revolves around the Sun, rather than, as per church teaching, the Earth was the immovable center of the universe with the Sun revolving around the Earth. The church forced Galileo to spend the remainder of his life into the 16th century under house arrest.

It took Catholic leaders approximately 350 years to finally admit they got it wrong (under Pope John Paul II in 1992).  

A key factor in the development of orthodox Catholic ethics since the 13th century is the concept of “natural law,” which includes a set of standards that the church has inferred follow an ordering of nature.

Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican scholar born in 1225 was an early exponent of “natural law,” which asserts that morality is based on certain constraints of human nature. Aquinas believed that same-sex sexuality (and any sexual act not intended specifically for procreation, including masturbation) and gender non-conformity are vices against nature and violate the will of God.

Thus, the church has concluded that the expressions of homosexuality and forms of gender non-conformity, plus many forms of heterosexual sexual behavior are “gravely and intrinsically immoral” or “gravely and intrinsically disordered” (as clearly stated in the Catholic Catechism).

Joan of Arc, the teenager who helped defeat the English in her native France, became one of the greatest war heroes in French history. In spite of this, the Catholic Church tried and convicted Joan on the charge of heresy by rejecting church authority in preference for direct inspiration from God, and most importantly, by donning men’s clothing. Joan died by burning at the stake.

The “modern” Roman Catholic Church Catechism 2357 relates to same-sex sexuality:

Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are gravely disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of love [i.e., children]. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

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