The Boston Phoenix gives all of us an example of sober, impartial, and balanced reflection on a controverted issue. On the one hand...
The Statement issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on same-sex marriage last week is so offensive, so mind-bogglingly insulting and arrogant, that it is hard to know where to begin.
But on the other hand...
The document is an incomparable mix of hate, smug self-righteousness, and finger-wagging by out-of-touch, sex-obsessed old men who have long since lost the right to wag their fingers at anyone.
In all fairness it should be mentioned that...
The truth is that this malicious, bigotry-fueled document is not only profoundly hateful toward lesbians, gay men, and their families, but it also represents an extraordinary grab for power.
Still, evenhandedness requires us to add...
There are gays and lesbians in most Catholic families, which -- guess what? -- makes them just like most non-Catholic families. That reality counts for a lot more than the desperate rants of a few dirty old men.
OK, I think we've got the hint. But this is the line that caught my eye:
In its ugly essence, [Ratzinger's] document says: You must choose. You must place the demands of your religious leaders above the good of your country.
The bogus dilemma here contrived obviously pivots on the sanctity of patriotism -- i.e., the good of one's country is put at risk by the tyranny of the Vatican. This should be read side by side with novelist E.M. Forster's famous dictum: "Forced to choose between betraying my friend and betraying my country, I hope that I should have the courage to betray my country."
A petulant homosexual himself, Forster trades on a sentimentalism that absolutizes "friendship" (note the antiquated euphemism) in a manner characteristic of ten-year-old girls -- this to rationalize his all-encompassing itch for subversion: if my "friend" turns out to be a KGB agent and demands to photograph the contents of my briefcase, it's nobler to betray my nation's secrets than to damage our oh-so-holy bond by my refusal. Many of Britain's most notorious traitors in the last century blithely skipped down the Forster Path.
The irony is that this distorting sentimentalism is a performative confirmation of the Holy See's teaching on the disorder that gives rise to it. The pseudo-quandaries contrived by Forster (and the Phoenix) are so patently self-serving that only morbid solipsism or cultivated dishonesty could blind one to the obvious. Family, nation, church -- all the loyalties of adulthood must fall before the sickle of The Sacred Love You'd Never Understand. Small wonder that opposition to a ten-year-old's worldview should provoke a reaction that expresses itself in the hyperbole reminiscent of a ten-year-old's tantrum.
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Posted by: Phil -
Aug. 19, 2003 5:52 PM ET USA
The "Phoenix" was founded, and took its roots, in the counter-culture that was defined by opposition to US involvement in Vietnam. The fact that the same newspaper relies on patriotism today should tell you how far we have come-- and not in a positive direction.