As soon as the new pope was chosen, certain voices from the Democratic Party subjected him to the litmus tests. Although I am not Catholic, I was very disappointed to see how quickly these voices dismissed the new pope.
They strained to acknowledge anything good about Pope Francis I because of his views against gay marriage. What did these folks expect from the leader of the Catholic Church? Has the church ever been supportive of gay marriage? Why should they tell the church what it must believe?
The new pope’s reputation of love of the poor and caring for AIDS patients was quickly glossed over when he failed to meet the litmus test.
Does this upset anyone in the Democratic Party? Are there any brave members willing to say, “Enough of this spirit of intolerance”? How can it be wrong for conservatives to behave this way but permissible for liberals? This is the spirit destroying civil discourse.
No matter how people try to twist it, we’re not talking about things like racial discrimination here. This is an aggressive agenda to require everyone to adopt the sexual ethics of those who prefer a gay lifestyle. A very small vocal group is trying to tell the Catholic Church what it should teach.
It’s incredulous to hear people subject the new pope to savage diatribes and bizarre labels like homophobe and bigot simply for taking a different viewpoint. I hope many brave folks will be sensible enough either to ignore the extreme rhetoric or to ask those who use it to behave with civility.
Over at the Huffington Post, they admitted that the selection of the first Latin American pope “may be historic,” but immediately demurred that “it may also mean more of the same when it comes to gay rights in the Catholic Church.”
They quoted Herndon Graddick, (president of GLAAD) saying, “For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely. This, in spite of the fact, that the Catholic hierarchy had been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care. We hope this pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing.”
Beyond the deceptive misrepresentation of the views of Jesus clearly outlined in Matthew 19:4-6 and measuring the papacy by a litmus test on gay marriage, Graddick pointed to the church’s sex scandal, “the pedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church.”
But, as Rod Dreher wrote last year for The American Conservative, “In the mainstream media, it was common —and, let me say, appropriate — to critically examine the institution of celibacy, and how it may or may not have helped to create a culture of sex and secrecy. But among the media, you were not to discuss homosexuality in relation to the scandal, except to point out that it had nothing at all to do with the molestation, and those who said that it did were just outright bigots.”
This kind of coercive control is both a mockery to true journalism and a threat to civility and democracy. Why should 1 billion Roman Catholics and their leaders change to conform to the sexual choices of a small vocal group who prefer homosexuality? Shouldn’t the church be free to abide by its historic position? Again, we’re talking about sexual choices not legitimate civil rights issues like racial discrimination. Those who choose a gay lifestyle are lawfully free to do so, just as the Catholic Church should be free to oppose gay marriage.
Is anyone else bothered by the use of coercion to force people to affirm a politically approved set of morals and values? If you believe that the institution and benefits of marriage should extend to those who prefer homosexual relationships, you should make your case with civility and refuse to demonize people who disagree.
Not all laws that govern a free people will be approved by all people. This is part of the reality of living in democracy. If, in a free nation, laws do not permit gay marriage, consenting adults who freely and lawfully choose to live in gay relationships, should not be treated with disrespect or cruelty for their choices. But they also must respect those who choose to hold a different viewpoint on the morality of homosexual conduct.
Steven W. Cornell is senior pastor at Millersville Bible Church. He is also a correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers Inc.