Theologian Father Gerald Coleman, S.S., recently commented on athletes Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers coming out as gay men. In reflecting on the announcements of these celebrities, Fr. Coleman also commented on the proper response of the Catholic faith community to anyone who comes out. In an article in Catholic San Francisco, he writes:
‘When a person chooses to reveal that he or she is gay/lesbian, sometimes at great personal risk, that person deserves the respect and support of others. Speaking the truth about one’s sexual identity is consonant with, and not opposed to, a life of integrity and faith. No one should be pressured to reveal his or her sexual orientation, but no one should be ashamed to do so either.”
For the third time in just about a week, the Vatican has offered negative comments about LGBT issues. Yesterday’s remarks came from Pope Benedict himself, in his annual Christmas speech to the Vatican staff.
“The pope took his opposition to gay marriage to new heights Friday, denouncing what he described as people manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices — and destroying the very ‘essence of the human creature’ in the process. . . .
” ‘People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,’ he said. ‘They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.’ “
” ‘The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned,’ he said. . .
” ‘When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God,’ Benedict said.”
Though stated in the context of an argument against marriage equality, these remarks also comment on the issue of transgender identity.
Major excerpts from the address can be read in this synopsis by Vatican Radio.
“Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican bureaucracy have released a number of troubling statements in recent days disparaging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and speaking against their right to be treated fairly in civil society.
“In L’Osservatore Romano, historian Lucetta Scaraffia compared proponents of marriage equality to 20th-century communists who wooed millions with their promise of perfect social and economical equality.
“In an address released earlier this week, the pope labeled same-sex marriage as a threat to world peace. Yesterday, in a speech to Vatican bureaucrats he denounced what he described as people who manipulate their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices — and destroying the very ‘essence of the human creature’ in the process.
“These harsh statements are particularly dispiriting at this sacred time of year when families that include LGBT children, parents and grandparents gather to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. We could find fault with Ms. Scaraffia’s historical comparison, or the pope’s rigid and outmoded understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman. Instead we remember that Jesus, when asked by messengers from John the Baptist whether He was the Messiah, told them to go back and tell John about what they saw happening all around them: the sick were being healed, the lame made to walk and good news was being proclaimed to the poor.
“What we see when we look around us are heterosexual parents loving their LGBT children and advocating for their dignity and equality; same-gender couples creating safe and happy homes for their children; and transgender people like those whom the pope criticizes living healthy, mature, and generous lives.
“Increasingly Catholics in the United States and around the world see what we see. Catholics, following their own well-formed consciences, are voting to support equal rights for LGBT people because in their churches and communities they see a far healthier, godly and realistic vision of the human family than the one offered by the pope. We commend it to him for his consideration.”