Pope Benedict vs. the Signs of Our Times: Homosexuality

When it comes to gays and Cardinal Ratzinger, I recall the time when I was invited to speak to a gathering of Dignity members (Dignity is an organization of gay Catholics) in a Catholic Church in San Francisco (I was still a Dominican priest in good standing at the time).

“Killed. Hushed up. To the homosexual victims of Nazism.” Memorial, Nollendorplatz, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Manfred Brueckels on Wikimedia Commons.

Part of my preparation for my talk was to read Cardinal Ratzinger’s two documents about gays where he says such things as “homosexuality is an intrinsic moral evil” and an inclination to homosexuality is an “objective disorder.”  And more. 

Feeling kicked in the gut by the ugliness and the venom in his writing, I sat down and asked myself: “What am I feeling?”  The reply that came was this: “I feel like whoever wrote this wants to see gays locked up in concentration camps.”  Then it hit me, “Oh my God, that is exactly what the Nazis of Ratzinger’s childhood did!” 

In neither of these ugly documents is there a single citation from science–citations from his catechism abound however.  

Yet homosexuality is a scientific issue, not a religious one.  Condemning gays in the name of religion reminds one of the church condemning Galileo in the 17th century.  Ignoring science once again, apparently, Pope Benedict learned nothing from that episode of ignorance.   

Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins in the New York Central Park Zoo, successfully brooded and raised a hatchling together in a 6-year relationship. Penguins are one of roughly 500 species participating in homosexual behavior. Wikimedia Commons.

Science declared in the 1970’s that homosexuality is not a disease or a choice, that about 8-10% of any given human population on earth will be gay or lesbian whether religions like it or not.  And 464 other species have been discovered with gay and lesbian populations.  So I guess it’s “natural” after all, albeit for a very special minority.

I call it a “special minority” because Seneca woman and Franciscan Sister Jose Hobday taught me years ago that in her indigenous tradition “it is well known that all the spiritual directors of the great chiefs were gay.”  That gay people bring more to the spiritual table.  

If this is so, any organization that oppresses gays is shooting itself in the foot and depleting spiritual energy.

A brief exploration of the history and recognition of the sacred intertribal “two-spirit” (LGBTQIA) tradition of Turtle Island.

This is one of the signs of our times.  Science has spoken about the wonderful diversity that the Creator and creation offer us in the arena of sexual relationships.  The fight for homosexual rights and gay marriage is one of the signs of our times. 

Once again, Benedict XVI turned his back on science and the signs of our times and in given a position of such power as the papacy holds, reinforced hatred toward gay and lesbian people.

See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 142f., 202, 255f., 345f., 355, 382.

Fox, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, pp. 7, 89, 93, 129, 136, 152, 164, 226, 232.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: CzestochowaPride-Parade, 16 June 2019, Photo by Silar on Wikimedia Commons. The artist who created the painting was arrested as the LGBT rights movement finds itself targeted by hate speech and a government campaign depicting it as a threat to families and society. Learn more HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Has your attitude toward homosexuality and homosexuals evolved in your lifetime?  What brought that evolution about for you?

Recommended Reading

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic Christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II


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11 thoughts on “Pope Benedict vs. the Signs of Our Times: Homosexuality”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall:
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall:

    Matthew, Today you talk of the fight for homosexual rights and gay marriage as one of the signs of our times–a sign that Pope Benedict would not recognize. The Church teaches that God’s revelation to humans takes form in two ways: the scriptures and magisterium, and in nature and natural law–or the two books of nature and revelation. You show us that 8%-10% of any given population will have a homosexual population: According to Natural Law. Then you show us that 464 species of animals have homosexual populations: All according to Natural law or “Nature’s way.” Though Pope Benedict just didn’t get it, or maybe he just didn’t want to admit that he did. I have a friend who lived as a Brother in a religious community for over twenty years before the bishop shut it down. Even though his brother is gay, he still sides with Benedict. And unfortunately many others do too. This same friend hadn’t heard that Pope Benedict had died until I told him, and before I even asked him what he thought he said, “I bet they will make him a saint and/or Doctor of the Church–you know he was brilliant!” And “Yes, my attitude toward homosexuality and homosexuals has evolved in my lifetime. And what brought that evolution about for me was having friends who were liberal in their thinking on the subject, and as a United Church of Christ minister I helped my congregation become “Open and Affirming” to LGBT people. And I have also had some very good gay and lesbian and transgender friends.

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    We need to be accepting of people as they are and not as we would necessarily want them to be, if that even matters.

    Given the personal relationship between Pope Ratzinger and Matthew Foxx, it is good to see that Matthew Foxx is bringing his frustrations with that relationship, hopefully to closure and burial as well. We all need to be able to say good-bye with a clear conscience and move on. Let’s pray that we all have the strength to get closure and move on from everything we have been ‘clinging to’ for too long, that needs to die a natural death. — BB.

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    I’ve always held an attitude of acceptance, with regards to gender fluidity. My half brother identifies as being gay and my niece is Two Spirited. What first helped me to evolve in my understanding of LGBQ2S individuals was my engagement with the Shamanic teachings, called Qudoushka, or Sacred Sexuality. Another avenue that broadened my understanding was through the study of the many ancient mythologies within many spiritual traditions, which embody the archetypal energies of nonbinary androgynous entities that often moved freely within the spirit of gender fluidity. Their are many traditional stories and ceremonies within many spiritual traditions that honor Two Spirited individuals as those with special gifts, whom dance fluidly between the genders, often mediating as leaders, teachers and healers in bringing balance and harmony to both the feminine and masculine energies within all people.

    It is colonialism, along with masculine dominated manmade religion that forced the sacredness of this gender fluidity underground, which distorted, fragmented and deeply wounded the psychy and soul of so many whom were born with the beauty of this natural and sacred gift.

    The Catholic Church inparticular manifested even deeper wounding, through its forced celibacy, in its attempts to oppress, suppress and control gender fluidity; using guilt, shame and fear, in its reinforcement of the UNNATURAL seperation of mind, body and soul.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall:
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall:

      Jeanette, You write today: “The Catholic Church in particular manifested even deeper wounding, through its forced celibacy, in its attempts to oppress, suppress and control gender fluidity; using guilt, shame and fear, in its reinforcement of the UNNATURAL separation of mind, body and soul.” And just to reiterate how UNNATURAL the Church is, here again are the facts: 8%-10% of any given human population will be homosexual: Therefore the Church’s position on homosexuality is UNNATURAL Then there are some 464 species of animals which have homosexual populations: Once again the Church’s position on homosexuality is UNNATURAL. And remember what St. Thomas Aquinas said: “An error about creation also leads to an error about God.”

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    Thank you for today’s enlightening DM on homosexual and gay relationships in the world. Again the spiritual wisdom of indigenous cultures have a lot to teach Western ‘civilization’ by not only living and treating Mother Earth and all Her living creatures/beings as Sacred, but also recognizing the special spirituality and gifts of “Two Spirit” being sacred intertribal traditions as the enclosed DM video intelligently summarizes. On our spiritual journeys it is recognized by many spiritual teachers around the world that we’re integrating male and feminine energies within us, and in many spiritual traditions and channelers that believe in reincarnation, it is recognized that our eternal souls have been both males and females in past lives. The sins and destructive behaviors/suffering of many interpersonal and societal relations in human history up to present modern times have been caused by egocentricity and dualistic thinking/judgements based on toxic and unbalanced ‘male’ patriarchal values. Our human and eternal souls are still evolving within our Mother~Father Source~Creator~Sustainer in our sacred multidimensional/multiverse Cosmos, including our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth…
    ????

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    We all have our opinions on this subject but personally my heart and mind side with Matthew Fox here. As a scientist and man of faith, I believe Divine LOVE (God) is the Truth behind much of what we aren’t sure about. And Divine LOVE in my experience is ultimately all about assurance and reassurance in love, grace, mercy and compassion. }:- a.m. “en Christo”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall:
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall:

      Patrick, Today you write: “We all have our opinions on this subject but personally my heart and mind side with Matthew Fox here.” Well, I just say to that, that “my heart and mind side with Mathew Fox” too. Thank you Patrick !!!

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    Personally, I’ve been aware of gay people since I was very young, watching an interview of a gay man on the family’s black and white TV. It was just a fact of life, not an issue. When friends came out in high school, it was casually accepted. But I grew up in one of the “hippie cities” of the country, Madison, Wisconsin, throughout the Vietnam protest era, and my dad was an old progressive protester.

    I find it ironic that Ratzinger condemned yoga because of its “focus on the body” while he himself obsessed over women’s bodies as supposedly less spiritually capable of leadership and wisdom, women’s periods as ritually unclean (shades of an Old Testament Jewish code of ritual purity), and gay sexuality, all while male priests were raping women and children and getting away with it for decades (and probably longer…). Only the chosen ones, MEN’S, bodies seem to be important: everyone else’s bodies are there just to serve/service them or to be hidden away from them lest they be too tempting. Somehow, the old Augustinian hangups on the “dangers and evils of the body” seems to have become more important than the spirituality of people wearing those bodies.
    This focus on the body as “dangerous to spirituality” demonstrates a seriously twisted sexual hang-up.
    To top it all off, it’s quite dualistic.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall:
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall:

      Melinda, Today you write: “Somehow, the old Augustinian hang-ups on the ‘dangers and evils of the body’ seems to have become more important than the spirituality of people wearing those bodies. This focus on the body as ‘dangerous to spirituality’ demonstrates a seriously twisted sexual hang-up. To top it all off, it’s quite dualistic.” You are absolutely right, and I have written on these points at length in my book, Sexuality and the Catholic Church, which came out last year and is available on amazon…

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    Again, I am so grateful for not being indoctrinated by my Congregational/UCC tradition to hate or exclude any individual or group. I can remember in graduate school reading a text on homosexuality as a disease (in the 60’s) but was not particularly accepting of it. Having 4 family members who are gay helped me to learn that love is love, and there is just not enough of it in the world. My stepson nursed his partner through the last stages of AIDS, which is a hellish experience. When Lawrence was in the hospital, a young 18 year old was in a nearby room and had no visitors because his family had thrown him out. Lawrence had many friends, and they made it a point to visit the boy. My cousin Bill contemplated suicide many times in his adolescence, but he was finally able to accept himself. Bill and Fernando have been together for decades and were the first to be married by the now governor of California, when he was mayor of San Francisco. Then they had to endure the change in the law until it was legal again. I don’t think that people understand what a burden and a danger homophobia carries for the “queer” community. The attacks on young trans people in Florida by oppressive laws is a scandal. That a religious leader would take a stand condemning a whole group of people is outrageous. For those who wish to learn more, there is a comprehensive report in the January 2017 issue of National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/issue/january-2017

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall:
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall:

      Sue, Today I lifted just a piece from your comment, the whole of which is quite moving. I t reads: “My stepson nursed his partner through the last stages of AIDS, which is a hellish experience. When Lawrence was in the hospital, a young 18 year old was in a nearby room and had no visitors because his family had thrown him out. Lawrence had many friends, and they made it a point to visit the boy. My cousin Bill contemplated suicide many times in his adolescence, but he was finally able to accept himself.” God bless you for your accepting and loving spirit! For Christmas my wife bought me a book titled, Hidden Mercy, which is about Catholic nuns and priests that, despite the negative estimate of homosexuals by the church, went to work with AIDS patients in their last days. The book is very moving…

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