It seems everyone still thinks it's about sex.
Pope John Paul II, who had just died, was being touted as someone who always fought for human rights and believed in the power of love and the family as the path to human happiness. News station after news station and article after article called him a man of peace who championed the cause of the underdog. His countless eulogies elevated him to near sainthood, with only the occasional report brushing on his "controversial" stands on issues related to "sexual morality."
So this, it seems, is the category under which the news reporters at least classified humanity's all-too-obvious need to control the destructive global population rate explosions, and the basic rights of people who happened to need love from others of the same gender.
The millions of Catholics and followers of other "divine" religions who flocked to the Vatican from all over the world to "pay their respects" did not seem to be too concerned with the fact that this was a pope who effectively lobbied for continued poverty, disease and illiteracy around the planet by actively campaigning against any kind of family planning.
Though stands against abortion could be understood as a difference of opinion on when life begins, it should not be that easy to overlook the extensive damage caused by the Pope's constant assaults on condom use, contraception pills--or any other kind of attempt to ensure only enough children are born as can be fed, educated and cared for.
And homosexuals... Though the Pope, of course, had every right to his opinions on people he considered "evil," labeling him a human-rights supporter despite his attitude cannot but come across as total general public disregard for the humanity of those who happened to need love from others of the same gender.
The underlying message seemed clear: sexual "orientation" is not about the right to be who you are, but really about the freedom to choose "perverted positions" with the "wrong" gender.
Such a "gonadal" topic obviously was not worth too much attention from global leaders or the public at large.
Never mind that gay kids, those prequels to the gay adults John Paul II was so adamant about dehumanizing, continue to suffer because their Catholic or otherwise religiously committed parents cannot accept them for who they are; that the family institution would be better served if gay children were able to develop solid self-esteem, open up to their parents and not be forced to lead potentially damaging double lives; that supporting human rights and the family should by all rational accounts include sparing gay children the trauma and self-loathing that most live through because of society and their families' prejudices against what the Pope himself was acknowledging as their natural inclinations.
The Pope's first attack on "homosexual persons" came in a letter to Catholic bishops in 1986:
Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed to those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
So basically even though gays are who they are despite themselves, their "condition" is unacceptable and they must not be allowed to live as they were meant to by nature, or god--whichever way one would rather look at it.
John Paul II's Vatican chose to encourage the world, in what it apparently deemed as the most delicate terms possible, to continue refusing homosexuals the right to exist, denying them the right to marry, and contributing immensely to hostile environments which often threaten their lives and belittle their pursuit of love and family.
The Church, like any other organization, is of course free to take on whatever positions that best suit its visions and interests. Civil society, however, should not be going out of its way to deify Church leaders who, after all, are human beings just like the rest of us, human beings who are prone to mistakes and changes of opinion under the right circumstances--as the Church itself has proven to be over the centuries. When the going gets tough, Church attitudes can shift.
But the going cannot get tough so long as societies deem it irrelevant that the Pope was on a constant offensive to stifle human development or reduce homosexuals to sexual perverts.
Why should the next Pope bother reevaluating Church positions on family planning, which reflect mainly on the poor sheep who adhere to Church policies, if his predecessor was considered so holly despite them? Why should gays expect less derogatory treatment from the Church, which again reflects on how homosexuals are viewed and treated within their families and societies?
All this unfortunately indicates that the influence of an institution which once burned people at the stake for stating that the earth revolves around the sun, and vilified independent women to the status of "ungodly" witches, is alive and well.
As sobering calls for realistic evaluations of the Pope's detrimental legacy on the very human rights that we are told he strived for seem to be coming from "special interest" groups, our only hope is that one day such disregard for human dignity will be recognized for what it is: pure and simple religious bigotry.
And this, we all know, should have no place in a civilized world where knowledge is valued over superstition.
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