Gay rights as a Western obsession: Exhibit A

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 02, 2015

You might think it’s too early to measure the results of last week’s papal voyage to Africa. But Paul Vallely disagrees, in a New York Times column that carries the assertive title: “The Pope’s Failure in Africa.”

Vallely seems to have unbounded confidence in his own ability to determine what is critical to the future of both the African continent and the Catholic Church. He gives Pope Francis credit for addressing poverty and inequality, racial and religious hatred, and even climate change during his visit to Africa. Yes, yes, that was all very good. But Vallely laments that the Pope said nothing about the issue that really matters, which is—wait for it—the advancement of gay rights.

“His defenders will say that gay rights are a Western obsession,” Vallely remarks. Indeed they will. And so will the vast majority of Africans, who are growing weary of hearing lectures from Western leaders on the alleged need to change their traditional cultural norms. Having spent much of the 20th century ridding themselves of colonial rulers, the Africans of the early 21st century are understandably loath to accept the new “ideological colonization” led by European and American social engineers.

The African countries that Pope Francis visited (Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic) have serious and immediate problems: recurrent bloodshed, grinding poverty, runaway epidemics. If Pope Francis had used his limited time to speak about homosexuality, he would have been resented, and rightly so.

“But that is wrong,” insists Vallely. (I told you he was self-confident, didn’t I?) He does not provide polling evidence to demonstrate that the Pope could have tackled the issue successfully. He doesn’t even make a logical case for his point of view. He simply asserts that the quest for homosexual rights is vitally important, especially in Africa, where resistance is strongest. Because, you see, the acceptance of homosexuality is Right, and disapproval is Wrong. So says the enlightened man who thinks of the Catholic Church as dogmatic.

”At the recent synod on the family in Rome the issue of how the Catholic Church treats its gay members was kept off the agenda,” Vallely claims. That’s not true; the subject was on the agenda. And when he goes on, in the same sentence, to assert that “culture-warrior bishops from the United States” were involved in a cabal to block the discussion, you know that he has let his own ideological predilections shape his perception of reality.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Dec. 03, 2015 9:33 AM ET USA

    I thought the Pope hit a winning game in Africa, insofar as his written statements are concerned.