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Posted by on Dec 24, 2008 in Religion | 2 comments

Against the Truth: Pope Benedict XVI, the Natural Order, and “Human Auto-Emancipation”

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read this headline at the BBC yesterday:

Gay groups angry at Pope remarks.

Really. You don’t say.

Now, these “gay groups” have good reason to be angry not just at the pope’s remarks but at the pope himself:

Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was as important as protecting the environment.

The comments were “irresponsible and unacceptable”, the UK’s Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) said.

Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former Italian MP, called his words “hurtful”.

What Pope Benedict said — and the BBC has the “key extracts” here — was that any blurring of the man/woman “order,” including any efforts at “human auto-emancipation from creation and from the Creator” (whereby humans make themselves on their own), is “against the truth.” It seems to me that this has more to do with transsexualism than with homsexualism, but the pope’s point is clear: In nature, and by God, there are men and there are women and there is an order to gender and sexuality, namely, that gender is fixed (or ought to be) and that, sexually, only a man and a woman ought to copulate (and reproduce), each according to his supposedly natural, God-given purpose.

Now, I’m with the “gay groups” on this, more or less, whatever my concerns about humanity’s efforts to conquer, by overcoming, nature. We are all little Nietzscheans now, perhaps, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. What I recognize, unlike the pope, is that nature is flexible and that it is part of our nature, as rational creatures, to seek to shape it according to our desires. And the fact is, gender and sexuality are rather complex. There aren’t just men and women and we aren’t all straight. (It is easier to determine what is male and female, given our chromosomal natures, than what is straight and not straight. Is anyone absolutely straight or gay?)

But here’s why I couldn’t help but chuckle: What did these “gay groups and activists” expect? This is the Roman Catholic Church we’re talking about. It may be more “modern” than it used to be, but it’s not exactly a bastion of progressive thinking on anything, let alone on gender and sexuality. And the head of the Church is Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, hardly a liberal. (Even the liberals in the Church are pretty conservative on such matters.) It’s a wonder his remarks weren’t much harsher.

So, fine, they’re angry. I suppose they have a right to be, and I suppose I applaud their efforts to protest what is the Church’s (and the pope’s) “irresponsible and unacceptable” positions. Maybe one day, if it still exists, genuine liberals will take over the Church and bring it forward into Enlightenment. In the meantime, all we’re going to get is more of the same from the same old narrow-minded fools and bigots (sorry, “true believers”). They’re far too influential to ignore, but they’re also far too ridiculous to take too seriously.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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