There’s a little song running through my head, a variation on “Jesus loves me/ This I know/ For the Bible tells me so. But I’ve substituted “the pope” for Jesus and “hates” for “loves.” The rest pretty much holds up.
Cardinal Ratzinger has just become the 265th pope, Benedict XVI. He hates us. Really hates us.
He has been described as a conservative hardliner within the Roman Catholic Church. Under Pope Jean Paul II, he was described as the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism and any debate around the ordination of women. He, of course, opposes homosexuality, describing it as “an intrinsic evil.”
Now, we can hardly expect the Vatican to be a leader on gay and lesbian rights. But there is a large distance between respecting basic human dignity and promoting hatred. The current Vatican leans too close toward the latter.
While the new pope is not fond of queer folks, we are not alone. There are lots of people he doesn’t like, both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church. In a homily delivered at a mass before the cardinals began the conclave that handed Ratzinger his pope’s hat, he warned against relativism. He described it as letting oneself be “swept along by every wind of teaching. [It] looks like the only attitude [acceptable] to today’s standards. We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism, which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
A dictatorship of relativism? Interesting combination of words. The nature of relativism is that it doesn’t produce a single authoritarian truth; it suggests that there are different paths to truth, or different ways of being in the world. Relativism coincides with tolerance and it’s that connection Benedict XVI seems to have a problem with. (It’s also interesting that the leader of the Vatican would use the word dictatorship as a pejorative, since the Vatican is, well, a bit of a dictatorship. Admittedly, the cardinals get to elect their head man, but once elected, what he says goes.)
And let’s not even get started on Ratzinger’s rather authoritarian past, like his short-lived involvement with the Hitler Youth when he was growing up in Germany. (Apparently he wasn’t a very “enthusiastic” member.)
So homosexuals – who are intrinsically evil or at least practising an intrinsic evil – are part and parcel of this dictatorship of relativism, where we just pursue our ego and desires at the expense of higher truths.
Ratzinger must not have ever met a homosexual. (Well, actually, I’m sure he’s met many in his midst, but that’s another story.) Because homosexuals are a rather opinionated lot. They are pretty certain about all sorts of things. Carson on Queer Eye For The Straight Guy is very certain about fashion. Thom is very, very certain about design. Good design must certainly count as a kind of higher truth.
Looking further afield, you can see other homosexuals who are capable of certainty and pursuing higher truths, but without compromising their acceptance of others. Truths like the idea that all human beings are created equal (if not equally capable of decorating) or the idea that discrimination against gay folks just because they are gay sucks. Or even the really crazy idea that people shouldn’t go to jail for having sex with someone of the same sex.
What about Ratzinger’s criticism about ego and desires? Well, it’s true that many gay folks have a rather healthy ego. And admittedly, there is that pursuing sexual desire thing that we do. But that’s not where we end our pursuits. We also do things like try to build a world in which there is tolerance and compassion for difference. Like trying to eliminate hatred, violence and bigotry, as is suggested by purportedly Christian values.
Moral relativists? I don’t think so. We know exactly what we want. Perhaps that’s why Pope Benedict XVI hates us so much.