A church leader with a history of homophobic remarks has again lashed out against the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who is gay.
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus López Rodriguez, speaking to journalists after Mass earlier this week, lashed out against Ambassador James Brewster. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the cardinal said:
” ‘That man needs to go back to his embassy. . .Let him focus on housework, since he’s the wife to a man.’ “
López attacked Brewster ostensibly because the ambassador criticized corruption in the Caribbean nation after U.S. businesspeople were threatened by uniformed police.
This is not the first time the cardinal has attacked Brewster over his sexual orientation, previously using an anti-gay slur upon the ambassador’s appointment and suggesting last year Brewster should “take his gay pride elsewhere.” More generally, the Washington Blade reported that López has described LGBT tourists as “social trash” and “degenerates.”
Bishop Victor Masalles, auxiliary of Santo Domingo, though agreeing corruption is problematic, added his own homophobic remark against Brewster. Dominican Today quoted Masalles as saying:
” ‘[Brewster] is right in regard to corruption, he doesn’t seem interested in solving that problem, and rather use it as a bridge to get his well-known LGBT agenda.’ “
Ambassador Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake, responded to the attacks during a Thursday interview with a local television outlet. Brewster described them as “noise,” according to Dominican Today, and said further:
” ‘When you marginalize any group and minimize its values, without being able to express all that it has achieved is to perpetuate discrimination. That’s something which I´ll speak strongly against.’ “
Satawake identified an upside to the bishops’ homophobia in a June profile by The Advocate, saying critics “did us a favor. . .They put this conversation on the front page of the newspapers.” He added that many Dominicans were appalled by the bishops’ homophobia and had welcomed the couple warmly.
LGBT advocates in the Dominican Republic took aim at Catholic leaders for their homophobic remarks. Rosanna Marzan of Diversided Dominicana, told the Washington Blade:
” ‘The ecclesiastical representation of the Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic continues to perpetuate homophobia in the country, and violence against women by relegating them to housework. . .This man [López] should stop meddling in the private affairs of people, with his continuous speech that perpetuates discrimination against people of a different sexuality.’ “
Deivis Ventura of Amigos Siempre Amigos said the cardinal’s words “show his lack of understanding of his role as a pastor in the Catholic church.”
López’s repeated and quite vicious attacks on Ambassador Brewster’s sexual identity and marriage reveal not only homophobia and sexism, but an attitude against a particular person that is wholly inconsistent with his position. The cardinal’s views seem to be shared by other church officials in the Dominican Republic, too.
An apology is a necessary first step. Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy begins formally in just a few days. Dominican church officials should use the jubilee year to discern not only how they will make amends to those LGBT harmed by their remarks, but how they will pastorally accompany LGBT communities in their nation in ways displaying the “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” called for in church teaching.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry