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A Peruvian archbishop recently did three things that members of the hierarchy rarely do: 1) he used a derogatory slang word for gay men in an interview; 2) he apologized for doing so; 3) in apologizing, he made matters even worse. [Editor’s note: this blog posts repeats the offending word in texts quoted from newspapers.]
The Peruvian Times reported that Archbishop Luis Bambarén, retired from the Chimbote diocese in Peru, referred to one of that nation’s lawmakers as a “maricon,” the Spanish equivalent of “faggot.” The bishop made that statement against Carlos Bruce, a national legislator, who was championing a bill, which was defeated, that would have established legal civil unions.
The Times offered this quote from the archbishop in a statement he made opposing the bill:
“Congressman Carlos Bruce is making a fool of himself with all of this, appearing – excuse me for the term – like a faggot in the middle of everything. He himself has said he is gay. Gay is not the Peruvian word, the word is faggot .” [The archbishop’s statement was originally in Spanish; this text is a translation from The Peruvian Times.]
Bruce’s response was measured, and he asked for an apology:
“Bruce responded that the bishop’s comments ‘reflect the hate that is typical of homophobia,’ and said he was disappointed a representative of the Catholic Church, apparently lacking arguments, now resorts to insults.
“Bruce added that Bambarén’s statement is not in line with the position of Pope Francis. ‘It bothers me that he insults 3 million Peruvians who share with me the same orientation,’ Bruce said. ‘I hope he apologizes.’ ”
And, in fact, Bambarén did apologize. According to The Times, the archbishop wrote in a statement:
“ ‘I respect and embrace those born homosexual and ask the same of their families and society,’ the statement said. ‘If homosexual people felt offended, I apologize and I pray for them.’ ”
But, according to La Republica, the bishop also added a few more sentences to his statement:
” ‘I have respect for all individuals. I never insult anyone and hatred has never taken place in my heart. Therefore I have not intended to offend anyone. But if someone is gay and boasts about his situation publicly, then in our Peruvian language it is not the same, it is not an offense.’ “
Presumably, the archbishop means that it is not an offense to use “maricon” if the person admits he is gay. Just his use of the word “boast” indicates that he has a negative view of someone revealing his orientation.
Bruce responded by saying that he did not accept the apology. According to Diario Correo, Bruce said:
” ‘I do not accept this apology, I respect him, he is a bishop of the Catholic Church when you apologize, apologize, not in these terms,’ he told reporters.
“Carlos Bruce said after reading the statement of Bishop Emeritus of Chimbote, he was sure that Luis Bambarén will continue saying ‘faggot’ to anyone who publicly say he’s gay.
” ‘I’ve read the document presented by the Archbishop Bambarén, . . . and really the writing of this document leaves much to be desired.’ “
Bambarén’s half-hearted apology reveals that he has not learned anything from this incident. His statement is the equivalent of “That’s what everybody calls them,” an excuse that holds no merit and for which children are often reprimanded.
An apology is in order, similar to one made by an Irish bishop recently for his insensible statements about gay parents and comparing a homosexual orientation to Down’s syndrome and spina bifida. And just like happened to that Irish bishop, a reprimand from Bambarén’s superiors and brother bishops is needed.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry