Is the Pope stirring up hatred of homosexuals?

The Pope’s reported comments* about homosexuality being as much a threat to the world as climate change have drawn the expected condemnation (surely gays are helping reduce climate change by not having kids??).

But I think Fred Argy worries too much when he fears that these comments may ‘stir up hatred of homosexuals’.

Certainly, religious doctrines on homosexuality help explain why non-believers are more likely than believers to be unworried by gays and lesbians. But Catholics in particular have long had a pragmatic approach to the sexual teachings of their church, as seen in the very low birth rates of many Catholic countries (and no, this is not due to abstinence).

Clive Hamilton and Michael Flood pointed out some years ago, using Morgan polling research, that Catholics are less likely than members of other Christian religions to believe that homosexuality is immoral (only 34%). Consistent with this, the 2005 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes found that Catholics were more likely than other Christians to support gay civil unions (50% support).

For the Catholics who don’t like homosexuality, it hardly seems likely that a strained analogy with rainforests will add to their negative feelings. And we can be pretty sure that the gaybashers who go cruising Darlinghurst for victims aren’t waiting for a sign from the Pope before setting out.

Yes, the Pope’s views on this subject are silly. But they will have as much effect on behaviour as the futile annual papal plea for peace in world conflict zones.

*’Reported comments’, because lacking experience in reading between Catholic lines it is not entirely clear to me what he meant, but his remarks have been widely reported as a swipe at gays.

Update: My friend John Heard defends the Pope.

49 thoughts on “Is the Pope stirring up hatred of homosexuals?

  1. So what are you saying, it really doesn’t matter because the pope has only undermined his credibility even further.

    It really doesn’t matter but several hundred men, no women and humanity. You really have to be suspicious.

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  2. Andrew, I am well aware of the “sensible” views of liberal Catholics in Australia (I have them in my family). But I am not persuaded by your string of statistics.

    The Pope has repeatedly spoken against “gender theory” but Monday was the first time he referred to homosexuality directly. This could add a few more Australians who now view it as “immoral”. What is much more significant, the vast number of Africans will be powerfully affected. This is where homosexuality is often punishable by death and where Vatican’s refusal to join the UN appeal carries a lot of weight.

    As Charles says, this latest statement has further undermined the Pope’s own credibility. The Pope’s views are “silly”: on my reading, homosexuality is more of a reluctant suffering than a whim.

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  3. These arguments that the Pope (both current and the previous one) somehow are responsible for misery etc. are just rubbish. Isn’t it just amazing that people totally ignore the Pope when he calls for peace and love and goodwill etc., but take him at hist word when he says homosexuality is a sin, or that condoms shouldn’t be used – mind you he also says sex outside of a monogamous marriage is also a sin (but lets ignore that too)? So in a load, clear voice I’m going to call ‘bullshit!’ on this.

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  4. As someone who is very skeptical about the threat of climate change (and very distressed about the damage being caused by efforts to combat a non-existent problem) I’m inclined to agree with the Pope. Gays do pose a similar threat to humanity as global warming – zilch!

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  5. Johno

    Climate change or not the environment in our cities is not good, it’s difficult to see how cleaning up our act will cause damage. I’m curious what damage do you see?

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  6. Fred – I am prepared to believe that the Pope changing his mind might sway a few people, but less convinced that essentially reiterating the long-held Catholic stance in a less credible than usual way (not that I think the Bible is a credible source, but Catholics do – certainly of greater theological weight than climate change) will do any more harm than is already being done.

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  7. Fred Argy shouldn’t be feeling angry – he should be feeling stupid. The Pope didn’t mention homosexuals or homosexuality (full text here, scroll down). Just the usual media whoring on a slow news day.

    What is more Fred Argy should be embarassed he has grandchildren who, while professing to be ‘devout’, seem to have no clue about Catholic teaching. Honestly Fred, next time you see them ask: why do you bother?

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  8. Jono,
    Thanks for the full text. I’ve tried to find it and couldn’t.

    It sounds as though people just ran with the story without checking it themselves as the speech doesn’t sound as though it was an attack on gays.

    I’m with Jono on this one.

    Fred, if the killing record is anything to go by I really think you ought to be worrying about atheists rather than the Catholics as every major killing spree in the 20th century was conducted by self-professed militant atheists.

    …………………starting from the French revolution which was the start of the modern socialist movement every single attack on a class or racial/religious group

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  9. Climate change or not the environment in our cities is not good, it’s difficult to see how cleaning up our act will cause damage. I’m curious what damage do you see?

    Yep, you’re right Charles. It was so much better 100 years ago when the city was smelling of horseshit and the dunnies were outside with the refuse collected at night about once a week.

    These modern cities are hell.

    Charles:

    Can I ask you, if you think it’s so bad why are you still living in the big city? It can’t be the air quality, surely.

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  10. I think it’s shocking how the media can get away with misrepresenting the Pope speech, it’s really quite blatant sensationalisation. Also makes me wonder how many other issues are misrepresented in the same way…

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  11. I could only find fragments of the speech on the web when I wrote my post, hence the ‘reported comments’ qualification. Now that I have read it the text, I have to agree that this is a media beat-up. If the Pope was reiterating Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, he was doing it in most indirect and tactful way possible.

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  12. jc

    So you can’t dream of anything better because there was horse shit in the past. No doubt when the car came there where people like you trying to keep the horses, no doubt when they stopped burning coal in London, there where people like you that could only see the loss of heat. No imagination; a bit sad really; but that is humanity, a range of abilities, some can only look to the past and aim only to keep the present.

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  13. Of course I strongly endorse the Pope’s calls for peace, love, goodwill, poverty etc. I take each person’s views on their merits.

    But why does the Pope have such a hang-up about homosexual activities?

    He is cited in the official Vatican report as saying that he “likens saving gays to saving the rainforest” and adds that “saving humanity from homosexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. The Church should also protect man from destruction of himself”.

    That is clear enough. This Christmas message will receive due attention in Africa.

    Do you approve of the Pope’s message to Africans (that he does not wish to decriminalize it as a criminal offence?). And, given that the Pope believes strongly in preserving the environment, do you accept his “hidden” message to the diehards in Africa?

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  14. You have to work really hard to see it as an attack on anything other than “consumer sex”. Yes he says the church has to protect man from himself, but he doesn’t really say what he has to protect it from.

    To this poor ignorant soul it just seem like a lot of flowery language invoking fairies, that actually says very little. A canvas on which to paint your prejudices.

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  15. Fred – I can’t find this official Vatican report, so as yet I am not satisfied that the Pope actually said the things attributed to him in this instance, though I am happy to describe the Catholic Church’s general views on homosexuality as silly.

    If the Pope says erroneous things about gays, I am happy to join in the metaphorical stale mince pie chucking in his direction. But I don’t believe the risk of harm in criticising homosexuality is itself anywhere near sufficient to justify saying that speech on this subject is impermissible.

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  16. Of course I strongly endorse the Pope’s calls for peace, love, goodwill, poverty etc. I take each person’s views on their merits.

    I’d be a little surprised if the Pope was calling for poverty, Fred ?

    But why does the Pope have such a hang-up about homosexual activities?

    He doesn’t seem to. What it looks like is that you didn’t read the passage and relied on people like Bob Brown to tell you what he thought the pope said. Brown is a notorious anti-Catholic wing nut.

    He is cited in the official Vatican report as saying that he “likens saving gays to saving the rainforest” and adds that “saving humanity from homosexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. The Church should also protect man from destruction of himself”.

    He didn’t mention homosexuals at all, from all accounts, Fred.

    That is clear enough. This Christmas message will receive due attention in Africa.

    So let me get this straight…… your big concern is that African Christians will listen to the pope’s message and do a Rwanda. You wanna bet that doesn’t happen?

    Do you approve of the Pope’s message to Africans (that he does not wish to decriminalize it as a criminal offence?). And, given that the Pope believes strongly in preserving the environment, do you accept his “hidden” message to the diehards in Africa?

    Was his message that Afrocentric?

    Here’s some advice. There seem to be two sorts of messages you want to avoid in Africa as history shows their influence doesn’t usually end well there. These are from extreme Islam and the militant atheists who usually show up as socialists.

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  17. Fred, Charles – Insofar as I can work out what the Pope is saying, it is a defence of marriage against ‘consumer sexuality’, straight or gay.

    The quote that I think Fred is talking about is from an unnamed Vatican official in October, not this latest speech by the Pope.

    In any case, to believe that this very obscure passage could stir up hatred against African gays is, I think, to draw a very long bow. So far all we can say for sure is that the media beat-up that followed stirred gay dislike of the Catholic church.

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  18. Why then does it say that “the Pope likens gays to saving the rainforest”? And why does it say at the foot that “in one of those exquisite compositions —which only Benedict XVI among everyone else in the public eye today is capable”?

    Every newspaper, including todays comment on it by Graham Downie in the CT, says it is the Pope’s words. So you can forgive that “Vatican offical” if it stirs up hatred against African gays. If there is a “beat up”, we know where the blame lies.

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  19. When it comes to Africa, the real issue is AIDs, when businesses start saying there biggest problem is employees dieing, when land starts being reclaimed by the forests because the people have gone, you have a very serious problem. If the Catholics churches opposition to Condoms is contributing to this ( the if depends on how many devout followers are left) then I think that issue is far more important than the popes latest utterances.

    The irony is; you can’t fleece a dead person.

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  20. Fred – There is no Vatican statement. It seems this whole story came from this Reuters report of the Pope’s speech, which clearly takes extensive liberties with what he actually said, inserting references to homosexuals and transexuals which simply aren’t there in the original text.

    Perhaps due to delays in translations of the actual speech becoming available, the story sped around the world without being fact-checked. When I tried to verify the story I could not, hence my ‘reported comments’ qualification in the post.

    While I think this story is the proverbial storm in the tea cup, Reuters should take any blame to be distributed.

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  21. HIV/AIDS is Africa has nothing to do with the Pope. It has to do with the failure of civil institutions. In many parts of Africa there is no civil authority with sufficient credibility or influence to get people to change their behaviour. Many black African men will not use a condom despite the Pope, or anyone else, and will not be monogamous, again despite the Pope or anyone else. It is absolutely appaling to see the young AIDS children begging in the streets with open sores etc.

    Using this human tragedy to engage in a bit of ‘Pope bashing’ is just lazy and self-righteous.

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  22. Sinclair

    The no-one listens so it doesn’t matter argument.

    The Catholic church opposes the use of condoms, the way to deal with the issue is change the policy, argue for their use. Maybe one or two African males still consider the view of the church important.

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  23. Charles

    Has nayone ever told you that you’re very annoying and irritating?

    Fred:

    Are we going to expect an apology from you and the grandkids for leading everyone down the garden path, getting everyone excited over nothing?

    I hope you’re not as angry as you were.

    I find the contortions of some (not all) these athiests very amusing. Most are former protestants who were taught to hate catholicism at a very young age. Now that established protestantism is basically self destructed their anti-catholic bigotry still shows.

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  24. Fred – The Pope is (obviously) a Catholic, so we can assume he holds the official Catholic view on homosexuality. He would have no reason to deny other people reiterating this view. But this argument has been over a particular speech, in which he did not mention it.

    The problem here, as other commenters have noted, is that the media filled a slow news day by getting gay activists to express outrage at a speech they hadn’t read. Without this, the Catholic view on homosexuality is old news and barely worth reporting.

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  25. Why wasn’t the “reported statement” categorically denied by the Pope? That would have exempted him from any blame.

    Yea, Fred, I agree. The Pope and the curia ought to be busy reading Reuter dispatches on Xmas eve and day ready to shoot off denials of reports that athiests and militant, religiously bigoted gays like Bob Brown are angry at something he didn’t say.

    Did you give it some thought that perhaps the Pope hasn’t read the latest Club T thread and is therefore aware of your anger?

    Is that a possibility?

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  26. Maybe one or two African males still consider the view of the church important.

    Yes, indeed. There are two Africans in the whole world who follow no other teachings of the Catholic church other than that on condom use, and those two guys are waiting for a signal from the Pope.

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  27. Yep, you’re right again, sinc.

    Let’s not blame Mugabe’s trog like economic ideas for Zimbwabe’s collapse. Let’s blame the pope and catholic teachings on condom use.

    You know the thing I really find interesting about the condom/catholic teaching thing. Whenever Africa is brought up in conversation people like Charles usually bring up the issue of condoms.

    The association of condoms and Africa among lefties ought to be studied.

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  28. While it is simplistic and false to solely blame the pope for the spread of HIV in Africa, I don’t agree with Sinclair and JC that he plays no role.
    The catholic position influences aid policy and works against encouraging condom use. While it isn’t a major factor, it does cause harm.

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  29. JC – not sure if this is attempt at humor?
    my point is that if the pope changed his stance on condom use it wouldn’t eliminate the HIV pandemic but it would encourage policy changes that would save african lives

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  30. So the NGOS are paralyzed by the Church’s position. Absolutely paralyzed.

    On a serious note, Mitchell, my understanding is that Africans actually dislike the use of condoms for the same reasons lots of western men do. Odd, no? I mean if Angelina, Charles, you and the UN sec. strongly advise they ought to be using condoms who are Africans to do otherwise

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  31. If it is a catholic NGO then it will be absolutely paralyzed…
    I’m sure gay men in Darlinghurst don’t like using condoms either, but persistent education campaigns significantly reduced the incidence of HIV in this population. Why not in Africa?

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  32. Mitchell and Charles.. let’s get this straight for the last time. Hopefully you’ll explain this to other brain dead lefties that push this condom nonsense about the church’s teachings.

    HIV is spread in Africa as a result of sex multiple partners. If people were actually following church’s teachings they wouldn’t be having sex with mutliple partners. So the spread of AIDS is Africa has absolutely nothing to do with church teachings because (and maybe I’m being simple minded here) if a dude is having sex lots of gals he’s hardly going to be following catholic teachings to the letter.

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  33. I think you are being simple minded – you are missing the population argument:
    Dogma says no condoms so catholic and affiliated NGOs don’t promote public policy that encourages condom use. Less condom use = more HIV.
    It’s not about whether an individual decides to do what the pope says, it’s about the best long term public policy strategy to stop transmission. Abstinence doesn’t work, condoms do.

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  34. · I think you are being simple minded – you are missing the population argument:
    Ok, let’s here this one.
    Dogma says no condoms so catholic and affiliated NGOs don’t promote public policy that encourages condom use. Less condom use = more HIV.””
    Just as I thought. No, sex with multiple partners increases HIV.
    Surely you aren’t trying to peddle the nonsense that an observant Christian is not going to observe the no-condom use while having sex with various partners… because it’s sinful. That’s laughable.
    Only Fairfax op-ed could peddle that crap.
    It’s not about whether an individual decides to do what the pope says, it’s about the best long term public policy strategy to stop transmission. Abstinence doesn’t work, condoms do.
    Nonsense, the best way to avoid AIDS is to limit the number of partners.
    And by the way, all Christian help groups would be preaching the same sort of thing about only engaging in sex within marriage.
    Here’s a chart showing that the most catholic African nations are the ones the present with far less AIDS.

    I’m not religious in anyway, by the way. I just can’t stand the garbage thrown around by lefties and militant atheists

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  35. It would be interesting to have labels for the data points in that chart.

    I wonder which country it is that has both zero catholics and zero HIV cases. Maybe there’s a data-quality problem (a la Ahmadinejad’s ‘There are no homosexuals in Iran’ statement).

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  36. Andrew, in today’s “letters to the editor” in Canberra Times, you have Paul Collins saying exactly what you said. There is nothing he found that is attributable to the Pope. And he adds at the end that that he must “check sources rather than believing what news agencies are saying”.

    So I too would need to offer an apology.

    What I still cannot understand is why was this allowed such a media beat-up? I still cannot understand why “the Vatican official” was allowed to so much space in the papers without any media rebuttal by the Pope?

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  37. Fred – Thanks for your gracious concession on this issue. I expect this kind of thing is only going to get worse. For example, the ‘breaking news’ sections of the Fairfax websites are often just cut-and-pastes from wire services. So one piece of value-adding that newspapers might have done in the past – of fact-checking or contextualising stories before they go to the public – is gone.

    On the other hand, the blogosphere does the fact-checking the media used to, and several blogs identified this story as a beat up before media concessions started appearing.

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  38. What I still cannot understand is why was this allowed such a media beat-up? I still cannot understand why “the Vatican official” was allowed to so much space in the papers without any media rebuttal by the Pope?
    .

    You need a strong stomach to read Fairfax and watch the BBC, Fred. Perhaps the Vaticos had too much to drink over the Xmas season and weren’t risking it without Pepto Bismol on hand as they ran out.

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  39. The point is that from the leftwing ABC/BBC perspective, the Pope SHOULD be homophobic, and against all the things they hold dear, regardless of what he ACTUALLY says or thinks. So when they put their spin on anything that he said (or did not say) they think they are just setting the record straight.

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