In his continuing effort to demonstrate his warm pastoral side, Pope Benedict has decided to proclaim that marriage equality threatens “human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” This is quite a statement from a man who wears red pumps and presides over the world’s largest club for pedophiles. Benedict made his comments in a New Year’s address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican, which makes one wonder what hyperbole he would have resorted to under less restrained circumstances.
The pope’s defense of traditional marriage as a zero sum game that can’t possibly be expanded focused on the Church’s view of marriage as the sacrament of procreation. Children need to be educated in the right “settings,” the pope declared, elaborating that “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman”–just in case you had any doubts.
“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society,” Benedict said in his stemwinder. “Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” Yes, expanding marriage equality will wipe us all off the face of the earth because–help us with the logic here, please.
Now, none of this is a surprise, given that Benedict established his reputation as Pope John Paul II’s hatchet man by attacking gays and lesbians. His most notable accomplishment as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was the so-called Halloween letter, in which the Vatican declared homosexuality was “more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” As pope, Benedict has extended his homophobic rhetoric on a regular basis. And career-oriented clergy are making sure that they echo Benedict’s line if they want a promotion. It’s not by chance that New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was recently named cardinal, given Dolan’s own screwy attacks on marriage equality.
Of course, the long term problem for the Vatican is that many Catholics in the U.S. have entirely different views of marriage equality. Still the Church hierarchy seems intent on repeating the same top-down push it did with contraception (so to speak), and with likely the same result: fewer people in the pews. Of course, those that are left are more likely to resemble Rick Santorum. We only hope that they’ll be just about as popular.
Image via Sergey Gabdurakhmanov