World Day of Peace Message and Meeting with Ugandan Parliamentary Leader Cause Controversies for Pope Benedict

LGBT protesters near St. Peter's Square demonstrate against the Pope's World Day of Peace message.

LGBT protesters near St. Peter’s Square demonstrate against the Pope’s World Day of Peace message.

The Vatican became a focal point of LGBT news this past weekend, with Pope Benedict XVI at the center of two controversies.

On Friday, the pope released the text of his January 1, 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace message.  Though much of the message dealt with other issues, one paragraph of it specifically focused on the question of marriage.  He states:

“There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.
“These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.”
It is not unusual for the pope to use this message to promote heterosexual families, and there is nothing in this statement that differs significantly from things which he has previously stated.
Some Italian LGBT rights spokespeople expressed dismay at the pope’s comments.  According to

“Flavio Romani, the head of the Arcigay association, said that the Pope’s message ‘arms the homophobes of all countries with an invitation to take part in a crusade against marriage between people of the same sex.’

“Nichi Vendola, the gay governor of Puglia and the leader of the left-wing SEL party, was equally dismayed.

“ ‘I’d like to ask the Catholic Church why it is trying to run away from dialogue, from listening, from debate,’ he said.”

Additionally, LGBT protesters staged a demonstration near St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.  A separate story notes:

“About fifteen activists attended the protest, and carried with them coloured paper hearts emblazoned with messages such as “’ove has no barriers,’ ‘gay marriage,’ ‘talk about love,’ ‘marry peace,’ and ‘homophobia=death,’ reported AFP.

“The protesters were not allowed to access the square, which was full of worshippers who turned out to hear Pope Benedict XVI recite the Angelus on the third Sunday of Advent.”

An Associated Press story noted that the protesters issued a statement which said, in part:

“Gay unions don’t harm peace. Weapons do.”

Pope Benedict meets Rebecca Kadaga.

Pope Benedict meets Rebecca Kadaga.

The second, unrelated controversy has to do with the pope appearing in a photograph with Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who has been an outspoken supporter of her nation’s proposed “Kill the Gays” bill, which proposes severe sentences, including the death penalty, for lesbian and gay people.”

Kadaga attended a Mass with the pope while she was in Rome to attend a human rights conference.  Though some news reports claimed that the pope blessed Kadaga, it is unclear if this was a particular, individual blessing for her or if the blessing was the general blessing administered to the thousands at the Mass.

The pope was photographed with Kadaga, which meant he did briefly meet with her.  Too bad he did not use that opportunity to speak out against Uganda’s proposed bill which the Vatican has previously opposed.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Ann Connolly
    Ann Connolly says:

    This is a very disheartening story! Just when I think I can “hang on” with the Catholic Church and hope/pray that open hearts and minds will someday prevail, this message of intolerance and affirmation of outright hatred (meeting with and blessing a representative of a government whose message is “kill the gays”) comes from “the TOP”. I fear there is no hope for institutional change until there is a change in pope – and even considering that our next pope will bring change is a long shot. So very sad to read this – Day of Peace, indeed!



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