Pope Benedict XVI is being denounced as a homophobic reactionary, whose views on traditional marriage and heterosexual relations will lead to a new wave of violence against gays and lesbians. According to his critics, he is an intolerant bigot who is out of step with the times - and represents the last great bastion of institutionalized anti-homosexual hatred -- the Roman Catholic Church.
The latest public firestorm was triggered by Pope Benedict's holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, in which he reasserted the church's opposition to gay marriage. The Holy Father said homosexual acts are a sin, a violation of the natural moral order. He stressed that behavior beyond heterosexual monogamy is a “destruction of God's work.”
The pope called for a “human ecology” - a serious, sustained effort to protect not only the environment, but fragile social relations between men and women: “The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”
The pontiff's statements were immediately attacked by the pro-homosexual lobby and its liberal media allies. Rev. Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, told Britain's venerable newspaper, The Times, that the pope's comments were “totally irresponsible and unacceptable in any shape or form.”
”It is comments like that that justify homophobic bullying that goes on in schools and it is comments like that that justify gay-bashing,” she said. “There are still so many instances of people being killed around the world, including in Western society, purely and simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”
She added: “When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement, then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way because they feel that they are doing God's work in ridding the world of these people.”
In other words, according to Ms. Ferguson, Pope Benedict's comments pave the way not only for widespread hate crimes and gay-bashing, but the genocidal eradication of homosexuals. The anti-Catholic left views the Holy Father as a crypto fascist whose real aim is to keep the church in the Dark Ages.
”The Prada Papa Ratzi opens his trap again, and the homophobia stinks like trash piled up during a New York City garbage strike,” writes Pam Spaulding, a prominent American lesbian blogger.
Yet the real issue is not the pope's supposed homophobia. It is his critics' blatant Christophobia - their rabid hatred and fanatical intolerance of basic Christian teachings. The pope is not opening some new offensive against homosexuality; he is simply restating basic Catholic doctrine based on scripture and the church's vast, accumulated intellectual heritage.
Pope Benedict opposes gay marriage not due to some burning homophobia, but for the same reason the church has for centuries: marriage and the traditional family are the bedrock institutions of any viable, functioning society. Same-sex marriage represents a fundamental assault on the very pillars of social order. The Catholic Church, as the defender and driving force of Western civilization, has a moral and religious duty to protect the sacred nature of the family.
The 1960s unleashed a secular liberal revolution that has transformed the West, slowly sapping it of any moral self-confidence or connection to its Judeo-Christian past. At the heart of this revolution have been the pernicious doctrines of personal liberation and sexual permissiveness. What the Victorians used to call “character” - self-control, individual responsibility, chastity and faith in absolute transcendental moral laws - has been swept away.
In its wake has come decline and decadence: rampant promiscuity and pornography, soaring divorce rates, a sky-rocketing rise in out-of-wedlock births, the emergence of homosexuality as an “alternative” lifestyle, an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, resulting in the deaths of millions, and the legalization of abortion, which has led to nearly 50 million unborn babies being killed. Instead of ushering a hedonistic utopia, the sexual revolution - like all radical experiments - has caused a sea of human misery.
One of the pernicious legacies of the 1960s has been the attempt to redefine marriage. The purpose of marriage is to procreate and raise children within a stable, committed framework; it is the primary mechanism by which society reproduces itself and passes on one generation to the next. Hence, Pope Benedict's point is as simple as it is obvious: Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, a fundamental contradiction that if allowed to be encoded in law will destroy the very basis of the family. Gay marriage is the road to eventual social ruin and moral anarchy.
Homosexual behavior (along with abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and pornography) represents a key facet of the modern West's “culture of death.” The homosexual lifestyle is inherently dangerous and destructive. It is not just that most gays and lesbians are casually promiscuous, and that ritualized sodomy is profoundly unhealthy. But homosexuality is incapable of natural reproduction; its lifestyle is one that is barren and childless - and without children, there can be no future and ultimately, no hope.
The debate about same-sex marriage has nothing to do with “gay rights.” Homosexuals are free to do anything they like in the privacy of their bedrooms. The relentless push for gay marriage is not about tolerance, but the legitimization of homosexual behavior - to place it beyond the boundaries of moral disapproval and social ostracism. To accomplish this, the liberal elite seek to marginalize the great traditional religions, especially Christendom's most powerful defender, the Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict understands this, which is why he continues to courageously speak out in defense of human dignity and the sanctity of the family. He is neither politically on the right or the left. He has opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, championed the rights of the unborn and the poor, criticized the inequalities of “jungle capitalism,” and railed against Islamist terror and the degradation of the environment. Above all, however, he has carried the banner of peace and civilized, rational dialogue. He repeatedly - and unequivocally - has said the Christian injunction is to love the sinner but hate the sin.
Now the pope's enemies deliberately twist his words to demonize him. There is not a hateful bone in his body. To caricature him as a homophobe, never mind as calling for a jihad against gays and lesbians, is not only dishonest but pathetic. They cannot defeat him intellectually or morally and so must resort to ad hominem attacks.
Their efforts will fail. Pope Benedict is the spiritual titan of the West. He is right. His critics are wrong. And, in the end, he will be vindicated.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.