The ruler of the Vatican City State, Joseph Ratzinger (aka Pope Benedict XVI), appears to have taken another antagonistic swipe at the increasing acceptance of gay marriages by young people. In a statement presented to Vatican Diplomats on January 9, the Pope seemed to send a thinly veiled message about the matter.
Sitting on his gilded throne, Ratzinger first addressed the ethics involved in the global financial crisis, calling for the "recognition of the inalienable dignity of each human person and of his or her fundamental rights." He expressed concern over violence in Asia and Africa saying terrorism "is not the true nature of religion." He called on "international communities" to be "opposed to every form of unjust discrimination, particularly religious discrimination."
Ratzinger then turned his talk toward the vocal opinions of youth regarding social issues. He said that young people are calling out for justice, but claimed that their "education needs settings" to mold their "knowledge of reality." Then he let out a statement about marriage which has bothered many supporters of gay and lesbian marriage:
"Among these [settings], pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman. This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself. The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and States; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue."
He then focused on young people's educational institutions, calling for more "respect for religious freedom," and bolstering his case with allegations of Christians being "deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life."
This is certainly not the first time that statements made by Ratzinger and his fellow Catholic leaders have been recognized as being against same-sex relationships. For example, he said in 2010 that Western and Latin countries were attacking "the biological basis of the difference between the sexes" by attempting to craft laws against discrimination. He flew to Portugal later that year in a failed attempt to influence politicians against voting in favor of gay marriage. He called on legislators to craft initiatives that protect "the family based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman" against "insidious and dangerous threats to the common good." And this past September, the Pope told Orthodox leaders (Reuters):
"We as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation."
Several 2012 U.S. Presidential candidates have echoed Ratzinger's sentiments in recent weeks. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry have repeatedly stated many of his same points: their deep-seated opposition to same-sex marriage and reproductive choice, their interest in injecting religion into schools, and their claims that anti-Christian discrimination is rampant. They have touted their ties to the Catholic Church, sometimes demanding that President Barack Obama give taxpayers' Federal funds to Catholic Charities. These candidates seem to feed off the presumption that government somehow owes the Catholic Church, ignoring that, as a religious organization, it is allowed to raise funds and own property free of taxes.
Gingrich, for example, used false pretenses at Saturday's debate to angrily make this charge:
"Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples -- which is exactly what the state has done. Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on the key delivery of services because of the bias and bigotry of the Administration? The bigotry question goes both ways, and there's a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today, than there is concern from the other side."
Besides the fact that the vast majority of anti-gay bigotry comes from socially conservative Christian organizations, Gingrich's claims of secular bigotry and discrimination are false and ridiculous. Branches of Catholic Charities and their affiliated archdioceses request money from governments. And tax-filings show that they already receive hundreds of millions of taxpapyer dollars through "Government grants." In return, they are supposed to be providing public services for the needy but, like other agencies, they must agree to abide by government requirements and regulations. Since many states have begun to validate gay marriages, the Church and its Charities have refused to provide child care services to married gay couples in those regions, plus, they have also dropped all spousal benefits rather than provide them to married gay employees.
It is a phony argument for Gingrich and others say that America's Catholic Charities and Churches are being forced out of providing services -- unless, perhaps, they mean by their own ruling Pope and his Vatican City State. It is the Church's choice to ask for government money, it is their choice to not comply with the laws which promote equality (like D.C.'s human rights ordinances), and it is their choice to discriminate against gays based on their own religious constructs.
According to Fox Chicago, Gingrich later had more to say about Illinois Catholic Charities. That agency ceasing adoptions because the state determined disagreed with its intent to discriminate against unmarried couples:
"That's wrong. It violates Catholic faith, and in effect you have the government saying to a religious organization, unless you give up your religion we will not allow you to participate. I think that's a violation of the First Amendment freedom of religion."
On the upside, American Catholics continue to support legal recognition for lesbian and gay couples in high percentages. According to a poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute last March, 43% of Catholics support marriage rights, another 31% support civil unions, and only 22% say no to any recognition.