Opinion: Latest pronouncement from Catholic church exposes its hypocritical doublespeak
Today, the Vatican has announced that the Catholic church cannot bless same-sex unions. Just in case anyone was wondering.
The rationale underpinning this decision – carefully crafted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – is that God “does not bless sin”.
For those of us who give zero fucks about what the Catholic church thinks about anything, it’s easy to shrug off this kind of nonsense.
However, lots of LGBTQ people are members of the Catholic church – this directly impacts them.
It’s also important to recognise that this kind of pronouncement from the Catholic church is a deliberate chess move in its ongoing campaign to solidify its socially conservative base and use homophobic hysteria to maintain its political influence around the world.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sounds fairly innocuous, but its 27 members form one of the most powerful forces within the machinations of the Vatican and the upper echelons of the Catholic church.
It was founded in 1542, and (until 1985) was known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. This body was the consolidation and codification of the Holy Inquisition that emerged in the 12th century and was used to terrorise and subjugate the people of Europe, and everyone unfortunate enough to be colonised by them.
Today, the role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is ostensibly to promulgate and defend Catholic doctrine. It’s a propaganda weapon.
Sin as a subjective concept
Theology is a form of philosophy, and there’s some fascinating and thought-provoking discussions to be had about how we define morality and how codes of conduct are agreed, accepted, and how they evolve.
But it’s laughable to think that the Catholic church is attempting to maintain its self-appointed position as the arbiter of the world’s morality.
If you want to get biblical, the Catholic church is casting the first stone.
This is an institution that – by any objective definition of the concept – is not without sin.
In early March of this year, the head of the commission examining sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in France put the possible number of child victims at more than 10,000. In Germany, a 2018 report found that more than 3,600 people were sexually abused by Catholic clergy between 1946 and 2014. In November 2020, a report from the Vatican confirmed that between 1978 and 2005, the highest levels of the Catholic church – including the Pope – consciously overlooked and actively covered up sexual misconduct claims.
You’re an institution that has a documented history of enabling and protecting pedophiles, and you want to set yourself up as the arbiter of what’s morally acceptable? Sure, good luck with that.
When the Catholic church makes pronouncements about how ‘sinful’ LGBTQ people are, it’s difficult not to take it personally. It is personal.
But it seems clear that the Catholic church isn’t just attacking LGBTQ people for the fun of it. Let’s remember the context in which we’re operating.
The Catholic church is losing adherents. It is seeing some growth in conversions in countries in central Africa, but in other parts of the world it’s losing people to agnosticism or the ultra-conservative evangelical protestants.
The LGBTQ community is a useful whipping boy. Homophobic rhetoric appeals to a socially conservative base, shoring up support, and helping to maintain revenues and influence.
It’s a strategy that’s not unique to the Catholic church – opportunistic homophobia is an alarmingly successful tactic in populism politics.
When they go low
Philosophical discussions about morality might be interesting, but in this instance that would be a distraction. If the Catholic church wants to use opportunistic homophobia to push its propaganda, we simply need to highlight the hypocrisy.
How can anyone trust anything that the Catholic church says? An institution that has a documented history of enabling and protecting pedophiles has no seat at the table when it comes to a discussion about morality and the codes of conduct that govern our world.
We give zero fucks about what the Catholic church thinks about anything.