There’s one thing in life I’ve learned about people who hate things – gays, blacks, jews, women, men, or whoever it may be – the pathology invariably isn’t about the object of hatred, but hater themselves. Hate women? You were probably the ugly dude at school no one wanted to date. Hate blacks? You’re probably frustrated with your own life and are looking for someone to blame. Hate gays? Truth is, you’re probably gay.
As an institution, the Catholic Church has a long and storied history of anti semitism, misogyny, and homophobia, leading one to conclude that many of its members are damaged psychologically and hiding within a structure that legitimizes their unhealthy pathologies.
In recent times, the issue of homosexuality and celibacy have come to light with the church. While lecturing the masses on the evils of homosexuality and promiscuity, high ranking members of the church were engaged in despicable acts of pedophilia and with members of the same sex. The more the church fought against the modern world’s legitimization of homosexuality, the bigger the scandal appeared to get. Pope Benedict XVI was directly indicated in the scandal, with hard evidence pointing to his knowledge of much of what had gone on, and complicity in covering it up.
The priesthood requires celibacy, a spiritual commitment that most people outside Catholicism find bizarre and slightly inhuman (if God gave us reproductive organs, it seems rather odd not to use them). Without diving too deeply into a Freudian analysis, it stands to reason that those attracted to a life without sexual contact may well be escaping from elements of their own sexuality they do not like, or understand. Wrote Andrew Sullivan (himself a gay Catholic) about the former Pope:
At times, it seems to me, his [Pope Benedict XVI] gayness is almost wince-inducing. The prissy fastidiousness, the effeminate voice, the fixation on liturgy and ritual, and the over-the-top clothing accessories are one thing. But what resonates with me the most is a theology that seems crafted from solitary introspection into a perfect, abstract unity of belief. It is so perfect it reflects a life of withdrawal from the world of human relationship, rather than an interaction with it. Of course, this kind of work is not inherently homosexual; but I have known so many repressed gay men who can only live without severe pain in the world if they create a perfect abstraction of what it is, and what their role is in it.
Pope Benedict XVI shockingly abdicated over ‘health issues’, becoming the first Pope in over 600 years to leave before dying. Perhaps his health was failing, but the all consuming sex scandal may well have had more than a little to do with it.
Enter the new Pope, and the tone coming out of Vatican City is markedly different. Benedict XVI did not express hatred for homosexuals, but he did little to reach out to them. While Francis has stated his position on homosexuality (he’s against it), he has made it a point to state his preference not to judge anyone for their sexual preferences. In an extensive new interview Pope Francis took issue with the church for “focusing too much on gays, abortion and contraception, saying the church has become “obsessed” with those issues to the detriment of its larger mission to be “home for all,””
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he told the interviewer, Jesuit priest Fr. Antonio Spadaro. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
Of course Francis has risen through the ranks of the Catholic Church, abiding by its strict mantra of celibacy and opposition to social liberalism, so we’ll never really know much about his true sexuality. But Francis’s statement shows he has no hang ups about gays, and that’s actually a pretty big deal – because the last thing the church needs are more self hating gays directing a billion Catholics around the world on issues of sexual morality.
(I’m inevitably going to be attacked in the comments section for this, so I’ll pre-empt some criticism I know I’m going to get: For those of you who think the title is offensive, take a moment to think about it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with homosexuality at all, so if every Pope in history was gay, it’s about as big a deal to me as them having brown eyes. Also, I’m not equating pedophilia with homosexuality, but given priests have shown a penchant for young boys, it’s not exactly controversial to label them gay).
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.