This story is a bit old, a week or so, but I just couldn't let it go without a comment.
Pope Benedict XVI offered these harsh words as not only a man of the cloth, but the purported keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven in an last week. He said we LGBT people are, “a concept of human nature that has proven defective.”
Is the Pope saying that LGBT people are just a concept, or is he saying God blew it and we are a mistake of creation?
Either way, these just don’t sound like words that should emanate from the Vicar of Christ.
He went on to say that the church needs to, “promote those values that permit the full development of the human person.” The clear implication of that statement when taken in context of the whole message is that gays and lesbians are somehow not fully developed.
Let that sink in a little and then consider that he was speaking to a conference of French bishops. That country is poised to pass legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry. His admonition that, “Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is in fact injurious to human coexistence as such.”
Add to that his previous statement that same-sex marriages would “ undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” and I am starting to believe he is more likely channeling Maggie Gallagher rather than Jesus.
Aside from the obvious hypocrisy of this kind of proclamation coming from an organization that is rife with scandals, the what jumped out at me was the phrase about “undermining the family”. That struck me because family is very important to me and it is to every citizen. Family is so important that the UN Declaration of Human Rights enumerates the right to family as one of its guiding principles and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights goes even further.
Rightly, this covenant, which is signed by almost every major industrialized nation including the US does not give a definition of family. In fact it purposefully eschews a definition in General Comment 19 on Article 23, “The Committee notes that the concept of the family may differ in some respects from State to State, and even from region to region within a State, and that it is therefore not possible to give the concept a standard definition.”
You see, my family is vastly different from the mythical “nuclear family” of a heterosexual man and woman, and 2.5 children. The fact is few families (only 20% according to the US Census) fall into that mold, so I have to ask what family the Pope is worried about us “defective” people undermining?
I have a right to the kind of family I define and so do you. Whether it is two women, two men, a single parent, or a group of three or more people raising their children, or any combination with or without children, your family is yours to define. And guess what? This is not a new idea.
Pope Benedict needs to open his scriptures and recall the words of Jesus when he asks “who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” In that passage, (Mathew 12:48-49) Jesus goes on to point to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.” His definition of family was based on anything but the nuclear model.
I find it very odd that a Pope who is infamous for being a very conservative thinker, has trouble using a definition of family that is over 2000 years old. I can only wonder if he was shown the kind of family Jesus spoke of would he find them “defective” as well?
For me, I will ignore the words of the man in the red shoes and be content to cherish my family, my partner, my extended family, and our relationship in all its richness. It is not only the United Nations that tells me I can enjoy the kind of family I define, but human nature, and as such it is no mistake or defect, it is my family and that is a concept I can live with.