I’m a student of engineering at the Michigan University and I’m proud of this. My parents, grandparents and brothers, did work hart to let me go to this engineering college. Now I’m here and have to show them that I will be able to come back home graduated. Here everything seems perfect, our tradition has to be honored and for a student who is less more than a stranger here, life is very hard, I have to deal with teachers who are scientist and with students who come from the best schools of the country, some of them are geniuses and I’m afraid I could not be at their level. When I arrived here everything was new for me: buildings, teaching organization, laboratories, but also how to deal with other students. I was on the verge of coming back home because everything was difficult for me, also writing in a correct English , or speaking English fluently like other guys. But the real treasure of this college are the students and living together with such guys is really fantastic, they will became engineers and well refined engineers but they hare clever guys also in many other things. I’m gay, ok, nothing special, but till now I have experienced a lot of disgusting situations because of this. Here, in college, my roommate knows but for him there is no problem. I have to underline that a lot of guys seem indifferent to the homosexuality of a friend of theirs but when they are in private with just other hetero guys, they let out a lot of criticism about their gay mate, they are somehow double faced: the politically correct face in public and that one really spontaneous in private with other hetero guys. My roommate Andrew is not this way, we chat a lot, also about sex. His thoughts on this subject are very similar to mine, clearly he speaks about hetero love and I about gay love. But the two of us talk about love, not just about sex. Andrew is not only a clever guy but also a very handsome one and perhaps he doesn’t understand exactly how I can react in some situations that are for him absolutely neutral. Is he so open minded exactly because he is not able to understand what being gay exactly means? It’s a question to keep always in mind! But yes, Andrew is handsome and his behavior with me is the same that he holds with hetero guys. For example he gets out of the shower completely naked and I have to turn my eyes elsewhere. I’d like him get out completely dressed but obviously I cannot tell him such a thing because for him nakedness is quite natural. Nevertheless I like Andrew, we use talking a lot at night about science big problems like the second principle of thermodynamics or the strange laws of quantum mechanics. We talk also about religion, the big questions about God. I’m fascinated by the brain of Andrew, he doesn’t repeat what he has read or learned somewhere, on the contrary tries to get reed of too much complicated calculations, he has to see in his mind, to imagine how things have to be, to change and to find their own settings. That’s why he’s an engineer, something more directly related to material things. Well, Andrew has a girlfriend, another student of the same engineering college but in different sectors of engineering. Sometimes, on the weekends, they go out of campus , I think they have their sexual life and I’m happy for them, But I’m gay and I have to stay alone in the weekends, to study and to get acquainted with a lot of things. There are also a lot of gay guys here, but they, so to speak, are completely out and I don’t like to be considered gay. In my old country I had to keep calm in the closet, now I could feel free but for me it’s too much difficult. My friends in the university are also my principal sexual interest, but they are completely unaware of all this, and I prefer so. Only Andrew knows about me, but I trust him completely and got a lot of proofs that he holds this secret for himself. The life of a gay student is very complicated here. Many many guys and a lot of handsome guys and also of gay guys but I’m here to study and I don’t want to deceive my family.
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=113
The gays have long been engaged in the civil rights struggle and in particular to get the right to marriage or to a civil union, if you don’t want to use the word marriage, which produces the same effects as marriage. The conquest of civil rights recognized by law is a crucial first step towards a non-discriminating community, but remains nevertheless a formal step. You can realize this by observing the number of marriages or gay civil unions in countries where the law recognizes them. In general, only a very small minority of gay couples formalize their union in legal terms. On the other hand, in the majority of Western countries there is a general decline in the number of heterosexual marriages and a significant increase in free unions without any legal constraints.
It remains a fact to keep in mind: gay couples that choose not to use the tools that the law makes available to them to attribute civil effects to their union, very often do so because, even though the law declares the substantial equalization of the heterosexual marriages to homosexual ones or civil unions, public opinion remains on the back ground, and discrimination, though no longer on a legal basis, still exists at the social level, and gay people experience it also within their own families. The real core of the problem of equality of rights lies in social inertia, which means that what the law defines and the more enlightened society considers obvious ends up only to permeate very slowly the society as a whole.
The role of new generations in promoting a process of genuine social equality is extremely important because the concept of equality has many implications and the equality of sexual orientations is just a part of a problem that should be addressed in the whole. The role of the gay new generations is particularly delicate because films, television and the internet often offer a very marked and unrealistic picture of homosexuality, for ideological or commercial reasons.
You can nevertheless see very interesting gay books and films, which are in fact faithful reconstructions of real gay moments, because it is always to be remembered that saying “gay” means putting together, taking into account just a single feature, people who are really very different. Trying to transpose into a movie or novel the “gay” life as a general category means to make an ideological discourse. A good book or a good movie must tell the lives of real people, considered as individuals and not as a category.
What would then be the task of young gay men, who can be the true promoters of a new social culture? The answer is simple: who fights in order to make people recognize the normality of homosexuality doesn’t have to take ideological attitudes but simply has to live his own homosexual normality.
I try to explain it better: if it is right for gays to have a chance to meet with other gays, locking themselves in a ghetto that distinguishes “we” (gay) from “they” (straight) means favoring discrimination.
Let me make another example: a sign of the social mentality in the matter of equality of sexual orientation is found in the large libraries. In some large libraries there is a “gay” section; in others the gay-themed books are not placed in a separate department and, for example, among love novels there are also gay love novels and among Sociology books there are also those of sociology of homosexuality, etc.
Another crucial point, beyond the overcoming of the ghetto, is the normality of behaviors. In many countries, public coming out and family coming out are considered critical moments in the life of a gay guy because they are seen as formal and therefore risky moments, where guys are exposed to the judgment of others. It should be remembered that coming out is not a moral duty for anyone, but only an opportunity, if, and I emphasize the “if”, it can be achieved without substantial risks, otherwise it is a choice to avoid because it could be self-punishing. It should be borne in mind that often, in families who are not prepared for the idea of having a gay son, the coming out of the son may be disruptive for parents.
If we try to observe what happens to the straight guys, we can have a pattern of “normal” behavior that should be extended to gays. The straight guys don’t go by their fathers to say, “Daddy, I must tell you something very important!” just to tell them, “Daddy, I am straight!” The young straight guys begin to have straight behaviors from the earliest age, without officially declaring anything at all.
For gays, the road should be similar: attending other boys, taking them home, going out with a boy telling the truth to parents without any further specification, spending Saturday or Sunday with that boy, not answering too much questions.
Let me give an example: “But why do you always go out with that guy?” “Because he is very nice!” Gays often go to crisis because they have internalized the idea that being gay is somehow transgressive and that’s why gays need approvals and justifications.
While it is true that gays, albeit with rare exceptions, grow in highly straight-oriented environments, it’s also true that once they acquire awareness not only of their sexual orientation but of the dignity of any sexual orientation, they should automatically overcome the idea of being somehow subordinate, but this unfortunately does not happen because social pressures are very strong.
To clarify the concept, it’s useful to refer to the obsessive compulsive disorder, the so-called OCD. It is well known that some people, who have a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive character, can develop heavily-structured obsessive-compulsive behaviors around a well-defined thematic core that coincides with the content from which the person is most intimidated. For an old man suffering from an OCD, obsession can be linked to the idea that robbers can rob him and compulsive behaviors, in this case will concretize in armoring doors and windows, in the installation of latest generation anti-theft devices, and in hiding all valuables. Similarly, for a nun with OCD, obsession may be that of sin and compulsion may be that of confessing every day, always remaining with the perpetual idea of omitting something. For a heterosexual young man, obsession can easily be the obsessive fear of being gay and compulsions can manifest in an infinite series of tests (from tests of masturbation with gay fantasies to the use of gay pornography) that, of course, never provide any answer that can be considered definitive and clarifying.
So, if we observe the incidence of the gay-themed OCD, which I repeat is a typical disorder of 100% heterosexual guys, it is noted that gay-themed OCD is common in Southern Europe of Catholic tradition and in Latin America, while it is very less common in Protestant countries (where the opening to gay couples is much more common than in the Catholic Church.) In some countries in northern Europe, where serious and mandatory sexual education exists, from the earliest age, and where homosexuality is no longer a scarecrow for anyone, the gay-themed OCD, in practice, doesn’t exist at all.
This is a clear sign that negative social judgment on homosexuality deeply affects the straight guys themselves, and causes some of them an obsessive fear of being gay. If this is the effect on heterosexual guys, the result on gay guys is certainly not less. The classic example can be found in the effort that gay guys have to make to accept their being gay as a value, because the Catholic Church affirms in a peremptory way that homosexuality, or rather homosexual acts, are a serious sin against nature. It is certainly no coincidence that a lot of gays in the countries of southern Europe, even though they are substantially Christians, are nevertheless far from the Catholic Church.
Here comes another idea that generally finds a lot of favor among the gays, namely the idea that the diffusion of scientific thought would be extremely helpful in favoring greater rationality among the new generations.
In 1797, Francisco Goya called an etching of his “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos ” (the dream of reason generates monsters) and in fact, discriminations, which are totally irrational, are precisely the sign that reason has fallen asleep.
Awakening reason leads not to fear the ghosts, to rationally examine each statement before giving it some value. Mythical thought leads to the elation and the blackout of reason, rational thought leads on the contrary to sobriety and to the critical evaluation of events and ideas.
Even morality can be mythical or rational. A mythical morality is dogmatic, its content is stated in principle without any motivation. Rational morality is really such when it resists any criticism because it is endowed with objective evidence.
Personally, I believe that gays have often given impetus to deep innovations in the field of thought, favoring its openness to broader horizons and overcoming dogmatism. Philosophy, literature or art elaborated by a person are the result of the individual experience of that person, that is, they are somehow the daughters of individual psychology, and in a circular movement they tend to change the individual experience and the life itself of other people. That’s why commitment must be maximum: fighting ignorance and prejudice is not only useful for gays but it contributes to the improvement of society as a whole.
This post is aimed at comparing two different opinions about homosexual marriage, the first one emerging from an inter-religious conversation between Jorge Mario Bergoglio then-archbishop of Buenos Aires (now pope Francis), and rabbi Skorka, and also from an interview with Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba, secretary of the Columbian episcopal conference, and the other coming from the legislative solutions definitively adopted, on April 23, 2013, by the French National Assembly.
The comments in square brackets used inside quotations are by the author of this post.
Bergoglio and Homosexuality
On March 13, 2013, the day of the election of Pope Bergoglio, GayProject published a letter addressed by Cardinal Bergoglio to the Buenos Aires Carmelite nuns in 2010, when the same-sex marriage law was going to be approved in Argentina. https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/pope-bergoglio-and-homosexuals/ .
In 2010 a book by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka, titled “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” was published by Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires.
This book is a compilation of the conversations between the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis and Abraham Skorka, rabbi and rector of the Latin-American Rabbinic Seminary in Buenos Aires. The inter-religious conversations are about different topics, such as God, fundamentalism, atheists, death, holocaust, homosexuality and capitalism and took place alternatively in the bishop seat and in the Jewish community Benei Tivka.
In the sixteenth chapter, “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” deals with “marriage between people of the same sex”. So rabbi Skorka opens the conversation: “In my opinion, same-sex marriage has been considered in a very partial manner, compared to the depth that the topic deserves. Cohabiting same-sex couples are matter of fact and are entitled to legal solutions to problems such as pensions, inheritance etc.. (which may be part of a new juridical figure), but equating homosexual couples to heterosexual ones is something totally different. It’s not just a belief question, but we must be aware that this problem concerns one of the most delicate elements our culture is based on.”
Bergoglio replies: “Religion, being at the service of the people, in entitled to express its opinion. And if somebody asks me for advice, I have the right to give it to him. Sometimes the religious minister calls attention to certain points of the private or public life because he is the mentor of the faithful.” Up to this point we can find the usual reaffirmation of the duties and obviously also of the consequential rights that religions are entitled to claim, nevertheless Bergoglio introduces a new element pointing out what “is not for religious minister, as he doesn’t have the right to interfere with anybody’s private life, and that’s for sure. If, during the Creation, God faced the risk of making us free, who am I to interfere? We condemn the redundancy of spiritual influence, which occurs when a minister imposes the guideline, the behaviour to follow, depriving people of freedom”. These statements, however, are not intended for possible approval of choices different from those suggested (not imposed) by the church because Bergoglio is quick to point out that “God let us free even to commit a sin. Talking clearly about values, limits, commandments is something absolutely necessary, of course, but spiritual or pastoral interference is not allowed”.
Skorka reminds that in Judaism there are some currents in which prescriptive approaches prevail, but he underlines that in Jewish Law there’s no place for homosexuality, and he adds: “On the other hand, I respect any individual who maintains a reserved and intimate approach to the theme”, then he refers to the Argentinian law of 2010 about civil marriage between same-sex people and access to adoptions by same-sex couples; he reminds the worth that scientists like Freud or Lévi-Strauss attribute to the prohibition of incestuous relationships and to sexual ethic, and he admits to be worried about the consequences for society that laws like that approved in Argentina in 2010 can produce.
Bergoglio considers the Argentinian law approved in 2010 as an “anthropological regression”, since it weakens “an institution millennia old, created in accordance with nature and anthropology”; this way the rejection of homosexual unions considered as equivalent to marriage loses the quality of religious precept, in the name of which church is not allowed to deprive anybody of his freedom, and assumes the meaning of safeguard of the natural law in opposition to anything unnatural, and also of safeguard of a principle of anthropology, which affirms that heterosexuality is an intrinsic characteristic of the man as such.
Bergoglio then states something apparently open-minded: “Fifty years ago, co-living before marriage was not as common as nowadays. It was something degrading. Then things changed. Today, co-living before marriage, although it’s not right from a religious point of view, does not have any more the extremely negative social weight it had fifty years ago. It’s a sociological fact that clearly is not comparable to the completeness and greatness of marriage, an institution millennia old that has to be defended. […] We too consider very important what you have just highlighted, that is the base of the Natural Law mentioned by the Bible: the union between a man and a woman”. Shorly, Bergoglio underlines that Bible recognizes the “real” Nature Law, which is identified, in sexual matter, as heterosexuality.
Bergoglio continues: “homosexuality has always existed. The island of Lesbos, for example, was well known for having homosexual women. But it had never happened in history that somebody tried to give it the same status as marriage. It was tolerated or not tolerated, it was appreciated or not appreciated, but never considered equal.” Bergoglio doesn’t even conceive that homosexuality can be considered equated with heterosexuality, because he said it doesn’t embody the Natural Law (strange concept of nature!).
Bergoglio continues with a statement: “We know that during some epochal evolutions the phenomenon of homosexuality sensibly increased”. Actually, in those periods of changing the repressive power of some institutions like Catholic Church weakened, that’s why homosexuality became more visible.
Bergoglio adds: “But in our age, it is the first time we face the problem of assimilating it to marriage, and I consider this as a bad value and an anthropological regression”.
Immediately after, Bergoglio presents the most convincing argument, according to him,: “A private union doesn’t hurt anybody nor the society. Instead, if this union is considered under the category of marriage and the right of adoption is allowed, there is the risk of damaging children. Each individual needs a male father and a female mother who help him shaping his own identity”. The idea of homo-parenthood as something dangerous is taken for granted, though many serious studies about the issue have demonstrated that those are only prejudices.
Bergoglio adds: “I insist: our opinion on marriage of same-sex people does not have a religious basis but anthropological”, and for this reason the limitation of the sphere of the individual freedom would be justified as well as the non-equalization of homosexuals with heterosexuals.
Bergoglio reminds that, for the first time after 18 years of being bishop, he had to draw the attention of a public officer when the major of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, refused to appeal against a first grade judgement that had authorized a homosexual marriage. But Bergoglio points out, twice, that he never talked about homosexuals or used derogatory terms against homosexuals and remarks that he confined himself to the legal issue.
Skorka then widens the subject on the natural law and he reminds that “in the discussion before the approval of the law, somebody invoked the “natural law” thanks to which Nature has in itself the rule leading the human behaviour. So, God himself infused this rule in the Creation. Now, a homosexual may rightly object it was God or Nature that made him that way. On the other hand, somebody declared that love between homosexual people has a multiple nature, because female love and male love co-exist together, although this does not implies a suitable condition to create a family”. These last statements of the rabbi, related to a generic “somebody”, are in fact quite curious.
Skorka introduces the question of the parental figures in the educative field and Bergoglio answers that “generally, people say that it would be better for a kid to be grown by a same-sex couple rather than living in an orphanage or in an institute for minors. Of course, neither of these situations is optimal”.
Bergoglio searches for a different solution which could allow to avoid adoption by same-sex couples. He states that “the problem is that the State does not do what it should, […] We have to consider the situations od children who live in public structures or institutes where everything is done but recover those children. NGOs, the different religious confessions or other kinds of organisations should take care of those minors”, but Bergoglio concludes: “a mistake from the State’s side [the excess of bureaucracy and corruption] does not justify another mistake by the same State [the legitimation of adoptions for same-sex couples]”. In this sense, if regulations and procedures for the adoptions were speeded up and bureaucratic rules “whose actual application encourages corruption” were eliminated, there would be no justification for adoptions by same-sex couples.
Skorka goes on quoting Bible and Maimonides, looking for images that compare the relationship between God and men to the matrimonial relationship between a man and a woman, then he concludes: “A homosexual person loves somebody he knows, a fellow. It is easy for a man to know another man, on the contrary it is much more difficult to know a woman, because he needs to decode her. A man perfectly knows what another man feels, and a woman perfectly knows what happens in the body and in the mind of another woman. Discovering the other sex, instead, is a true challenge”.
Bergoglio ends up this way: “Usually, in the homily for a marriage I tell the groom he must make her more woman, and I tell the bride she must make him more man”.
Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba and the adoptions by homosexual people
Here below you can read, translated into English, an article appeared on the Columbian newspaper “El Tiempo”. The article is titled: “Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba thinks that entrusting two boys to a homosexual man was a mistake”. http://m.eltiempo.com/gente/iglesia-rechaza-adopcin-de-homosexuales/10913132
The secretary of the [Columbian] Episcopal Conference, Juan Vicente Còrdoba, a professional psychologist, questioned the adoption of two little brothers authorized by the Columbian Institute for Family Wellness (ICBF) to an American homosexual man. It’s the case of the journalist Chandler Burr, who has taken back with him the two brothers after a long dispute, consequent to the fact that the adoption had been suspended when his sexual orientation was known.
What do you think about this case?
“I don’t want to judge that man or the ICBF, and I imagine there was a good intention behind. But what kind of investigation was carried out on the personality of the future dad? You have to be sure the adopters are a couple, a man and a woman, or a single man or a single woman with a stable psychology, if you want to entrust a child to somebody”.
Is homosexuality a psychological problem?
“It is not an illness, but a gender identity disease, about the identification of the gender. This is what universal psychiatry says”. [Homosexuality objectively has nothing to do with diseases or with gender identity problems, as World Health Organization confirmed many times.]
What do you know about Chandler Burr?
“I don’t know him and I’m not accusing him of anything, but one thing is clear: he has a homosexual tendency and a ten-year old boy and a thirteen-year old boy will be entrusted to him, among them there is a father-son relationship, they entrust him two boys of an age in which they can be attractive for him and so they can be a temptation”.
Do the children risk something?
“One says: why not giving him two girls? Why right two boys to a homosexual man? He wouldn’t feel any attraction towards two girls, if heterosexual fathers abuse of their daughters and even of their sons, then there’s more to worry about a homosexual man. It would have been better to give the children a father and a mother”.
So a homosexual man can’t house an orphan?
“He can, but he has to be a person with an internalized ability of controlling his tendency, his drives, his passions. It’s very hard not to fall in temptation if somebody has diabetes and he lives in a candy shop”.
What is you proposal?
“I believe that things have been made in a hurry, but it is possible to invert the trial as there was a fundamental fact nobody knew. Thus, revising the trial and bringing it back to a previous phase is something absolutely necessary. It will be very difficult for this man to be impartial and give a pure and transparent affection. Colombia cannot supply its citizens to another country like if they were just goods”.
The Prosecutor’s office investigates Chandler Burr’s couple life. The control authority expressed a negative opinion on Burr’s case, “especially about the psychological valuation test, according to which there are some evident inconsistencies about the existence of relationships with same-sex people”.
The control authority confirmed its request to ICBF for obtaining the revision of the adoption requests by mono-parental families or singles and announced that the case will be followed and this proceeding of adoption will be contested.
The choices of the French Republic
On March 24, 2013, Gay Project published an article: GAY MARRIAGE IN FRANCE AND STATE SECULARITY
The French law has finally closed the phase of the double track: marriage only for heterosexuals and other forms of cohabitation also for homosexuals. Without giving any “definition of marriage” was adopted simply a new text of art. 143 of the Civil Code which now reads:
“Art 143 – Marriage is contracted by two persons of different or of the same sex.”
All contrary provisions must therefore be considered amended accordingly. So the secular France has honoured the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.
In June 2012, a Polish priest Dariusz Oko, a professor at the Pontifical University of John Paul II Krakow, published on the Polish magazine, Frond, and soon on the German theological journal Theologisches an article entitled: “With the Pope against homo-heresy” where he claimed that homosexuality within the Church gave birth to a mafia that generates a real homo-heresy.
In September 2012, Msgr. Tony Anatrella, consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health, has published (in Italian by Edizioni San Paolo), his latest book, “The theory of gender and the origin of homosexuality”. Recently has been released the book “Homosexuality and the Church’s Magisterium” (Sugarco Editions, 2013), with a foreword by Msgr. Anatrella.
I tried to go a bit deeper. According to Msgr. Anatrella, the UN, the European Union and the World Health Organization are slaves to the gay lobbies and only the Catholic Church can save us from the hidden power of these lobbies, Anatrella adds “You have to read the Bible and then Saint Paul who describes the dire consequences of a society that promotes homosexuality”.
I wonder, just because I’m gay and I live in the midst of gay people, what does Msgr. Anatrella know about homosexuality if, to understand what it is, he prefers to go to St. Paul. I also wonder why the Catholic “lobby” tries to substantiate its thesis by paradoxical statements, repudiated by all the major international scientific circles.
On the other hand, on 24 July 1992 the document “Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on non-discrimination of homosexual persons” states that ” Including “homosexual orientation” among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights… This is all the more deleterious since there is no right to homo- sexuality which therefore should not form the basis for judicial claims. The passage from the recognition of homosexuality as a factor on which basis it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality.”
Another important document “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons”, 3 June 2003, states that:” Where the government’s policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions … discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil. In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”
It is well known the speech of the Archbishop Tommasi at the General Debate of the United Nations human rights area in March 2011 (here you can read the speech in English http://cittademocratica.blogspot.it/2011/04/il-vaticano-e-lomofobia.html) which argues that there would be no need for an explicit assertion of a right to homosexuality because sexual orientation, according to the letter of the Vienna Convention, seems to be defined in terms of thought and not of behavior. The sphere of freedom of thought is already protected and therefore there would be no need to reaffirm specific gay rights, but Tommasi adds that homosexual behavior should instead be governed by the law because the law already deals with some behavior such as pedophilia. This reasoning is the very negation of the logic of human rights and insinuates intolerable combinations between homosexuality and pedophilia.
Ecclesiastical interventions aimed at devaluing the major international organizations, replicate in various ways, from the dramatic to the most subtle, the idea that there should not be any international recognition of gay rights. But against such positions comes clearly the United Nations Secretary-General:
“To those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, let me say: You are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold. Today, I stand with you and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you, too” Ban Ki-moon, March 2012.
In March 2012 The United Nations has issued a key document for the rights of homosexuals, entitled “BORN FREE AND EQUAL – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Human Rights Law”
The document is a hymn to freedom. Following are the five points that the UN identifies as targets of government action in the field of LGBT human rights.
1. Protect people from homophobic and transphobic violence. Include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in hate crime laws. Establish effective systems to record and report hate-motivated acts of violence. Ensure effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and redress for victims of such violence. Asylum laws and policies should recognize that persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be a valid basis for an asylum claim.
2. Prevent the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons in detention by prohibiting and punishing such acts and ensuring that victims are provided with redress. Investigate all acts of mistreatment by State agents and bring those responsible to justice. Provide appropriate training to law enforcement officers and ensure effective monitoring of places of detention.
3. Repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, including all laws that prohibit private sexual conduct between consenting adults of the same sex. Ensure that individuals are not arrested or detained on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and are not subjected to baseless and degrading physical examinations intended to determine their sexual orientation.
4. Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Enact comprehensive laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination. In particular, ensure non-discriminatory access to basic services, including in the context of employment and health care. Provide education and training to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT and intersex people.
5. Safeguard freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBT and intersex people. Any limitations on these rights must be compatible with international law and must not be discriminatory. Protect individuals who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom of assembly from acts of violence and intimidation by private parties.
St. Pius V, Antonio Ghisleri (1504-1572) (Michael his name in religion) entered the Dominicans very young, right after having ruled several Dominican convents and churches, according with his request he was appointed inquisitor of Como (a little town in the Northern Italy), then he was called to the Roman Inquisition and became Commissioner-General of the Inquisition, in 1558 he was appointed Grand Inquisitor.
At the time that Ghisleri was Commissioner-General of the Inquisition two Dominicans, Valerio Malverni and Alfonso Urbino, inquisitors of Calabria, took care of the Waldensian communities settled in Calabria, in a mountainous region of the Kingdom of Naples . The interests of the Inquisition and those of the Kingdom of Naples, also the economic ones, where mingled with the repression of heresy pursued with the use of violence.
The Holy Office (i.e. the Roman Inquisition) issued on February 9, 1561 some ordinances intended to regulate the lives of the Waldenses of Calabria, usually called “ultramontani”. Were prohibited meetings of more than six people, the use of their language, the Occitan, the marriage between two of them for the next 25 years, “ultramontane” where only allowed to marry ‘Italians’. The children were to be instructed in the Catholic doctrine, everyone had to hear Mass every morning, to confess and to take communion every holiday. Men were forced to wear the “sambenito” also called yellow “abitello” (a sort of yellow blouse with a red cross of St. Andrew on both the front and back just like the one that was imposed by the Inquisitors to the heretics who had expressed remorse after conviction or in front of the fire. Women were forced to wear a “penaglio” a sort of hat saddle-shaped, considered a sign of penance, that was to be worn also at night and tore the hair of women making them bald. The doors of the houses on the Waldenses (at that time, in that place consisted of a single room) were modified by inserting a peephole, which could only be opened from the outside to allow anyone to check what was happening inside. Ghisleri (St. Pius V) was in correspondence with Melverni and approved his work, it is known that, when he became Pope, he was going to appoint him bishop of any diocese of the Kingdom of Naples, which was not the case for the opposition of Cardinal Santori.
When Malverni and Urbino proposed the Waldensians a choice between apostasy and death, Waldensians went into hiding, and around Guardia Fuscalda, San Sisto dei Valdesi, Montalto, San Vincenzo, Argentina, Vaccarizzo e Piano dei Rossi, was organized a colossal hunting to capture the Waldensians. 2200 men, women and children were slaughtered in a gruesome manner, other 1600 were captured. All this was the work of the Inquisition in defense of the faith, but there are also other considerable things.
Paul IV Carafa (also an Inquisitor as Pope St. Pius V) two months after ascending to the papacy in 1555, with the Bull “Cum Nimis Absurdum” established ghettos for Jews with a number of restrictions and harassments that gave the first impulse the escape of the Jews from the Papal States, it is basically a law clearly discriminatory and anti-Semitic. His successor, Pius IV, tried to mitigate and limit the weight of anti-Semitic policies of Paul IV but St. Pius V Ghisleri in 1566 with the Bull Romanus Pontifex restored the anti-Jewish legislation of Pope Paul IV Carafa, St. Pius V had a high opinion of Pope Paul IV because both came from the ranks of the Inquisition.
The Bull of St. Pius V “Hebraeorum gens” of February 26, 1569 decreed the expulsion of the Jews from the Papal States with the only exception of residents in the ghettos of Rome and Ancona, but beyond the mandatory content the Bull is a true manifesto of anti-Semitism. The Pope criticizes the “perfidious Jews” accusing them of having fallen out of favor of God because of their sins, that’s why they were condemned to continue wandering without a homeland.
Eventually Christian piety, pitying their sad fate, tolerated the presence of the Jews but they, however, with their wickedness and their perfidy have pushed the situation to such an extent that the Pope felt compelled, for the salvation of Christians, to curb the violence of such a disease.
The Pope accuses the Jews of being usurers and to exploit the poor Christians, of being thieves and fences, of being pimps and magicians dedicated to evil satanic tricks that lead to believe them to be able to see the future or to find treasures. The Pope then raises his voice against this scourge that causes enormous damage every day to the Christians, and decrees that all Jews must to go out of the Papal State within three months, after that term, if a Jew will be found still on the papal territory, his property will be confiscated and he will be reduced in a state of perpetual servitude. This is basically a form of racism mixed with religious intolerance.
After having considered this background we are going to analyze the position of St. Pius V against homosexuals. Following are two Constitutions that define the question. The documents use the “pluralis maiestatis” that is the Pope, referring to himself never says “I” but always “We” because of his majesty role.
St. Pius V, Constitution “Cum primum” of 1 April 1566.
Rules regarding the observance of divine worship in the churches, and the observance of holidays, and also against simony, blasphemers, sodomites and concubines.
Pius bishop servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting memory
As soon as we received the apostolic office entrusted to us by divine disposition, soon we focused all our attention and all our meditation on the salvation of the Lord’s flock entrusted to our faithfulness and settled, with the help of God, to lead the faithful of Christ so that, abstaining from vices and sins, they will follow the path that leads to eternal life.
[The reason for this decision]
1. After facing the sharpness of our mind to remove all the things that might in any way offend the Divine Majesty, first we decided to amend without delay what may displease God to the maximum degree and could cause his anger, so as the Scriptures teach us giving also very serious examples: certainly the divine worship neglected, the scourge of simony, the crime of blasphemy and abominable vice of lust against nature, it’s just because of such things that peoples and nations are often affected for just revenge of God by calamities of war, famine and pestilence. Even if against those who have confessed so terrible crimes, have been issued by our predecessors many measures, however, since it is a small thing to issue laws if there are not those who make them effective in due course:
[Reaffirmation of the old sanctions against disobedience to this decree]
2. So that does not happen that someone dares to hope impunity by virtue of tolerance, we, knowing that most people are used to keep away from the will to sin much more due to the severity of the penalties that the fear of God, confirm all of the individual judgments the claims and the penalties that have been imposed on those who had committed these crimes and in fact, with our apostolic authority, we renew and in no way diminish their rigor, and warn those who have not been afraid to commit these crimes that they will not only be subject to the penalties as are prescribed by the sacred canons, but also will be subject to those civil laws set according to what the discretion of our decision will establish in relation to the quality of the people.
[Order to perform these provisions]
3. We order that Bishops and Governors in office of the cities and places of our ecclesiastical state, Bishops under pain of removal from ecclesiastical offices and Governors under pain of immediate and automatic excommunication, care to capture those who didn’t worship to God in churches with established rite or had been found guilty of heinous crimes, to condemn them to the established pains. Then the judges themselves must keep in mind that if after this our decree they will be negligent in punishing crimes of this magnitude, first of all they will be punished by the judgment of God and then they will also face our indignation.
11. If someone has committed a heinous crime against nature, because of which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition, he will be delivered to the secular court to be punished, and if he is a cleric, he will be deprived of holy orders and will be subject to same penalty.
13. And to enable judges to obtain very easily notice about aforementioned crimes of simony, blasphemy and rape nefarious, we want that they can proceed in every case if they are competent in jurisdiction or by reason of the type of crime or of the people, not only for prosecution and inquisition but also as a result of a simple secret complaint , in order to create among those men space for the prevention.
14. However, we warn each and every of you, so that keeping before your eyes only the fear of God and not driven by other bad affections of the soul, you will accuse only the guilty man and never the innocent one. Therefore, if it is discovered that someone accused another so libelous, we will and command that he must be subject to the rule of retaliation.
St. Pius V, Constitution “Horrendum illud scelus” of August 30, 1568.
Against any clergy, both secular and regular, guilty of the heinous crime.
Pius bishop servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting memory
The horrible crime that soiled and contaminated the cities to the point that they were scorched by the terrible judgment of God with fierce pain assails us and severely disrupts our heart so that we concentrate all our efforts to suppress it as much as possible.
[Statements of the Lateran Council]
1. It is certainly well known the decree of the Lateran Council, according to which all clerics who were surprised involved in incontinence which is against nature and for which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition, must be expelled from the clergy or be forced into monasteries to do penance.
[The cause of this new decision]
2. But, in order to stop the contagion of such a disaster avoiding it to strengthen becoming more and more brazen in the hope of impunity which is the strongest incentive to sin, we have determined that clerics guilty of this heinous crime should be punished so heavy that they who are not scared by the death of the soul will remain terrified by the avenging sword of secular civil laws.
[Imposition of the death penalty]
3. So we want now pursue more comprehensively and strongly what at the very beginning of our pontificate we decreed upon these things, that’s why with the authority of this canon, we deprive of any clerical privilege and any office, dignity or ecclesiastical benefit each and every priest or other secular cleric of any degree of dignity who put into practice such a heinous wickedness, so that degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, he will be immediately delivered to the secular justice, to undergo the same punishment that is established for the laymen by the legitimate legal rules.
St. Pius V, with the criteria of a modern international criminal court, could be accused of serious human rights violations and also of crimes against mankind, but he is still often cited as a moral teacher and a typical restorer of ecclesiastical costumes of the Counter-Reformation. His condemnation of homosexuality is considered an example of the doctrine of the Church, and I think that, unfortunately, it is the case. I want to emphasize that this is St. Pius V, a man raised to the honors of the altars and presented as an example to the churchgoers.
I reproduce below, in my translation, part of a major study that you can read on the website of the World Health Organization: “Sexual Health for the Millennium. A Declaration and Technical Document “a publication of the World Association for Sexual Health.
The passage is taken from Chapter 8 “Achieve Recognition of Sexual Pleasure as a Component of Well-being” pp.135-138.
SEXUAL PLEASURE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Throughout much of human history, passionate love and sexual desire have been viewed as dangerous, a threat to the social, political and religious order (Hatfield & Rapson, 1993). During the current historical period, religion and medicine have had powerful influences on societal norms for sexual health and sexual behavior (Hart & Wellings, 2002) and in some important respects these institutions have inherited and continued the tradition of viewing sexual desire, and by extension, pleasure with varying degrees of suspicion.
It is not possible to make tidy generalizations about the extent to which the major religions have held either “sex negative” or “sex positive” perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality. However, it may be said that in various historical periods, many religions, including Christianity and Islam have focused on the reproductive aspects and function of sexuality. Consequently, they have sought strict controls on sexual behavior particularly outside of marriage between a man and a woman, behavior that does not lead to reproduction (e.g., masturbation) and viewed sexual pleasure, particularly that of women and homosexual men and women, with contempt (For extensive documentation and analysis of religious perspectives toward sexuality throughout history see Bullough, 1980, Hawkes, 2004). Numerous scholars have documented the disdain for sexual pleasure expressed by Christian theologians and institutions throughout much of the church’s history (e.g., Pagels, 1988). Masturbation, in particular, has been a contentious topic as its primary purpose is to produce pleasure (Coleman, 2002). Research on masturbation has indicated that contrary to traditional beliefs, masturbation has been found to be a common sexual behavior and linked to indicators of sexual health. While there are no general indicators of ill health associated with masturbation, it can generate powerfully negative or positive emotions for many individuals. It can be powerfully negative or positive, depending on the interaction between the prevailing societal attitudes and individual attitudes and behaviors (Coleman, 2002).
In fact, research has indicated that masturbation begins early and is an important part of healthy sexual development (Langfeldt, 1981). It is often a marker of sexual development (Bancroft, Herbenick, D., & Reynolds, 2002). Many young people learn about their bodies and sexual responsiveness through masturbation (Atwood & Gagnon, 1987). Masturbation also continues throughout the life span. For example, many adults continue to masturbate even though they are married and have ready access to sexual intercourse (Laumann et al., 1994). Masturbation can also help older people who do not have an available partner to maintain sexual functioning and expression (Leiblum & Bachmann, 1988). It is also a safe alternative to behaviors that carry a risk of a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. The benefits of masturbation are illustrated by its wide acceptance in sex therapy as a means of improving the sexual health of the individual and/or couple (Heiman & LoPiccolo, 1988; Leiblum & Rosen, 1989; Zilbergeld, 1992).
Addressing masturbation within sexual health promotion programming can be controversial. However the available evidence suggests that including masturbation as a topic within comprehensive sexual health promotion is important and necessary.
There is a need for more research, including theory development and hypothesis testing, on the impact of masturbation on self-esteem, body image, sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction and the effective incorporation of education about masturbation within sexual health promotion programs.
It must be noted that positive and progressive perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality are emerging from groups from a variety of religious faiths. Nevertheless, it must also be acknowledged that the legacy of a largely negative interpretation of sexual pleasure, particularly if it is experienced in a context contrary to particular religious norms for sexual conduct, by many religious institutions is still with us today and continues to hinder the recognition of pleasure in sexual health promotion efforts in many parts of the world. With respect to international efforts to promote sexual health, the alliance of the United States, the Vatican and conservative Muslim and Catholic states in opposing the recognition of diverse sexual rights, including those related to pleasure, is testimony to the continued influence of conservative religious forces in shaping polices related to sexual health (Ilkkaracan, 2005).
Since the latter half of the 19th century, medicine and medical science has, particularly in the Western world, exercised considerable authority over sexuality and here too we find that sexual pleasure was often seen as pathology. As Hart and Wellings (2002) suggest “The long tradition of representing illness as a punishment for sin was continued when sexual behavior was medicalized and transformed into morbidity” (p. 896). For example, masturbation, homosexual desire and overt sexual interest, particularly if expressed by women was until quite recently seen by medicine as symptomatic of psychiatric illness and perversion.
Although contemporary medicine and some religious institutions have turned the corner in recognizing the positive and beneficial aspects of sexual expression, many remnants of the propensity to focus on the negative outcomes of sexual expression remains with us. “Today’s public discourse about sexuality is almost exclusively about risks and dangers: abuse, addiction, dysfunction, infection, pedophilia, teen pregnancy, and the struggle of sexual minorities for their civil rights” (Planned Parenthood Federation of America [PPFA], 2003. p. 1).
Although, in most cultures, sexual desire and pleasure receive their widest endorsement within the context of a relationship, sexual desire and pleasure are increasingly coming to be seen as intrinsically positive and rewarding aspects of human experience. While a concern with pleasure is sometimes thought of as a decadent preoccupation of a secular Western culture, it is important to note that many diverse cultures have strong traditions of affirming sexual pleasure. For example, within Brazilian culture the concept of tudo or “Everything” refers to the world of erotic experiences and pleasures (de Freitas, de Oliveira, & Rega, 2004). Indeed, a contemporary discourse of pleasure can be found in many non-western cultures. For example, in Turkey, a country not known for its affirmation of women’s sexual pleasure, a grassroots program that emphasized sexual pleasure as a women’s human right was conducted (Ilkkaracan & Seral, 2000). Organizations such as the South and Southeast Asian Resource Centre on Sexuality (Patel, online) are raising the issue of pleasure in the context of sexual health. From their review of historical and cross-cultural perspectives on passionate love and sexual desire, Hatfield and Rapson (1993) conclude that the tide of history is in the direction of “….an increasing acceptance of passionate love and sexual desire as legitimate, expressible feelings” (p. 91).
Sexual leasure is necessary and contributes to well-being, happiness and health
Romantic love is a primary feature of couple relationships and is expressed through sexuality and sexual passion for the partner (Esch & Stefano, 2005). Although social, political and economic differences across time and place can markedly impact upon sexual attitudes and behavior, cross-cultural research has found that people in all societies place a high value on being with a partner for whom there is “mutual attraction-love” (Buss et al., 1990). Sexual desire and pleasure are embedded in and a fundamental aspect of the mutual attraction between partners.
The mutual sharing of sexual pleasure has been shown to increase bonding within relationships (Weeks, 2002). As Tepper (2000) writes with respect to the neglected rights of people with disabilities to enjoy their sexuality, “Pleasure is an affirmation of life…It can add a sense of connectedness to the world or to each other. It can heal a sense of emotional isolation so many of us feel even though we are socially integrated” (p. 288).
In sum, the enjoyment of sexual pleasure plays an important role in contributing to the establishment, maintenance and stability of couple relationships and, without doubt, the quality of couple relationships is fundamental to the health and well-being of individuals and families. While sexual pleasure can be seen as an end in-of-itself, for many, if not most people, sexual pleasure is intertwined with feelings of intimacy and affection for their partner. Sexual desire and pleasure not only facilitate reproduction, they function as a mechanism of social attachment for the couple relationship, an essential kinship structure in all cultures of the world (Fisher, 2002).
At the most foundational level, sexual pleasure is rooted in the most basic of human functions as has been recognized by evolutionary psychology. In the context of adaptive behavior and its necessity in evolution, it would appear that the pleasure generated by sexual stimulation, orgasm or intercourse would be selected-for evolutionarily. Consequently, pleasure can be seen as an effective and important adaptive mechanism, the function of which is to ensure the procreation and survival of the species (Esch & Stefano, 2005, p. 182).
To the extent that a society is concerned with the well-being and stability of families generally, and couples specifically, it is in the interests of policy makers to recognize the importance of sexual pleasure and to implement sexual health promotion programs that address sexual pleasure as fundamental to individual and couple health and wellbeing.
The recent Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors that examined various aspects of sexual health among a sample of 27,500 men and women aged 40 to 80 from 29 culturally diverse countries around the world offers strong evidence of the importance of pleasure and sexual satisfaction for the happiness and well-being of individuals and couples (Laumann et al., 2006: Nicolosi et al., 2004). The survey asked participants, among other things, questions about the degree to which they found their relationships to be physically pleasurable and how important sex is to their overall happiness. Over three quarters of men (82%) and women (76%) agreed that satisfactory sex is essential to maintain a relationship and the authors concluded from their findings that despite substantial cultural variation in sexual norms and values, subjective sexual well-being was associated with overall happiness in both men and women.
A White Paper published by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA, 2003) in cooperation with the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality extensively catalogues the scientific evidence demonstrating the health benefits of sexual expression. Taken together, the studies cited suggest that partnered sexual activity and/or masturbation can be associated with improved longevity, immunity, pain management, self-esteem and a reduction in stress.
In sum, sexual pleasure helps to cement the primary kinship structure of the couple relationship, contributes to the overall happiness in life of both men and women (whether they are in partnerships or not) and is associated with various aspects of good health. Seen in this way sexual pleasure is not frivolous or unnecessary: it is essential.