It’s all over the news today; The Vatican recently released a draft of their new document, RELATIO POST DISCEPTATIONEM and it has stirred up quite a firestorm among those on the conservative side of the church and, I think it is rather amusing.
One paragraph within the document states that homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
What is amusing about the backlash against that statement is that homosexuals have been at the forefront of the church since its beginning. Many of our great artists, painters, composers, musicians, architects, sculptors, writers and clergy were – and even today – are gay. Start by taking a look at Leonardo da Vinci and his legacy to the Roman Catholic Church. The church has had no problem accepting and embracing the work of gay people for centuries, including today’s current crop of gay liturgical participants, as long as they deny their identity and don’t come out.
There is a national music group of over 10,000 members whose past president is gay, everyone knew, nobody cared. However, when he married his lover of over thirty years, her was terminated from his position.
The church teaches that everyone deserves respect, dignity and love and that is not inherent upon anything. Not on their occupation, race, sexuality, economic situation, looks, education or past. Everyone is a child of God and made in God’s image. Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past. However, the church still has a difficult time being forgiving and accepting while protesting too much.
The church is quick to state that homosexuality is not a sin, homosexual acts are, and I’d like to point out that heterosexuality is not a sin, although heterosexual acts outside a marriage are. Most heterosexual people have committed the same sin as homosexuals. While both acts may be wrong in the eyes of the church institution, we should always love and respect the person and treat the person with dignity. Gay or straight. Sinner or saint.
What is surprising is that most churches have no problem with the homosexuals within their worshiping community and are already welcoming to them. The people simply don’t care or are accepting. Among the silent majority, they are more surprised by the hateful vocal minority than the fact that homosexuals have been the driving force behind the church for centuries.
This document is calling the church to be more dynamic, merciful and welcoming but, the church already is and has been for the past two thousand years. The haters are constantly telling God’s people what is wrong instead of affirming everything genuine, beautiful and good in God’s human project.
Clergy, organists, choir directors, choirs, soloists, liturgists, painters, sculptors, architects, composers, theologians, writers, poets and the people in the pews; gay people are already out there where the church is a magnet for those who wish to express their faith through their art, skill and passion. For the haters who wish to eradicate the homosexual from the church, they would deny the church the source of its most richest heritage and treasure. The church, its music, its art, its architecture, its teachings and the beautiful tapestry it is today is because of the many people in the past who self identified publicly or privately as homosexual.
The church needs to remember why it hates homosexuality. Fear, rabid foaming at the mouth and hysteria about homosexuality started in the days when people died at the old age of thirty or forty. In order to build the population for protection, to ensure a work force to feed and shelter its population, and to promote the lineage, girls got married at the age of 13 or so. Men who engaged in masturbation (the sin of Onan) or homosexual tendencies did not produce offspring so the church declared that those activities which spilled the seed was a sin. I beleive that the Church Of Latter Day Saints promote families of at least seven children to this day for the same reason – to build a population. And of course, this was also the foundation for the practice of bigamy. More wives meant more children and a larger denomination.
When there was a war between Christians and Muslims (the Crusades – which we still feel the aftershocks today), in order to beat the Muslims, Christians needed to outnumber them so the more Christians there were, the bigger army they could build. More Christians meant bigger armies, bigger churches, more workers and the need for larger territories which meant that in order to seize more territory – war. Over the centuries we forgot why we hated the idea of not producing children and out of ignorance, the hatred for homosexuality still exists today.
Looking back, we can see how arrogant, wrong and misguided our hate used to be for groups such as blacks, women, Asians, Irish, Jews and for many Christians, the gays. While looking back, one has to wonder what was wrong with us. I suspect in a hundred years or so, people will look back on this issue and wonder the same. The Roman Catholic church should pay heed lest people look back and wonder, “Catholicism, what was wrong with us?”
I know a lot of people who don’t go to church. Not because they don’t beleive in God, but because they don’t beleive in the church. Many of those same people won’t shop at Walmart because of its human rights violations. Those same people won’t go to church because of its human rights violations. You have to wonder which is the more enlightened sect.
“I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.”
– Daniel J. Boorstin .