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.