By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 08, 2003
Off The Record has had occasion before to remark on the astonishing obtuseness of Boston College theology department chairman Stephen Pope. Now Dr. Pope is in print in The Tablet, putting forward an analysis of the Vatican's instruction on same-sex unions (hint: he's unpersuaded).
Many readers might not, for example, be entirely at ease with the Church's use of the threefold distinction between homosexual act, orientation and person. The CDF wants to affirm the worth of the "homosexual person" but describes as "disordered" any same-sex orientation. Yet the fact is that describing a human being as "intrinsically disordered" is inherently stigmatising and at least tacitly, if not overtly, supportive of the unjust discrimination that the Church has repeatedly condemned. (Who wants to live next door to, or work with, someone who is "gravely disordered"?)
Steve old pal, the reason the CDF makes a threefold distinction between act, orientation and person is precisely because it intends to teach that it is the homosexual orientation, and not the homosexual person, that is disordered. This from the CDF's 1986 document:
Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
Note too that the adjective "intrinsic" goes with "moral evil" and the the adjective "objective" goes with disorder. Dr. Pope draws exactly the conclusion that the Church carefully obviates, and then by his own misreading shifts the blame for tacit support of unjust discrimination on the Church.
I see three possibilities here. One, Dr. Pope is simply dense. Not very likely. Two, he was rattled. When he read about the CDF's document in the Boston Globe he spat his Coco-Krispies across the breakfast table and rapped out his screed in the full heat of indignation, without great attention to accuracy. This would explain the logical glissade but not his tone of scholarly detachment. Three, he's acting as a shill for gay theologians with whom he sympathizes. In this scenario, he realizes perfectly well that the Holy See does not brand homosexual persons (or any other person) as intrinsically disordered, but also knows that the "Church condemns me!" line has great sound-bite value and has become a staple of gay anti-Catholic propaganda. In deliberately repeating the libel, he is doing his bit for the revolution.
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