Opposition grows to Pope's anti-gay Christmas message

By staff writers
24 Dec 2008

Auxililary Catholic Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn Pat Power has expressed concern that Pope Benedict's recent comments on homosexuality have hurt the gay and lesbian community and damaged the church's standing.

The Pope said that saving humanity from homosexual behaviour was just as important for the planet as saving rainforests - a comment which has created astonishment and outrage across the world, and rebuttals from many people and organisations - including Catholics.

Bishop Power, from Australia, declared: "When I heard that message of the Pope I said, 'What's that saying to those people that I love and share a great deal with?'"

His response is shared by a number of senior figures within the Church, which claims 1.2 billion adherents throughout the world.

In Britain, the Rev Sharon Ferguson from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, the Rev Dr Giles Fraser from Inclusive Church and the Rev Colin Coward from Changing Attitude were among those to express disagreement and disappointment at Benedict's remark.

Dr Fraser said that they were out of keeping with Christmas, the Christian spirit, modern theological thinking and a proper understanding of the impact of faithful relationships among gay people.

Speaking to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, the Pope had said that the church viewed the distinction as central to human nature, and "asks that this order, set down by creation, be respected". The church, he said, "should protect man (sic) from the destruction of himself".

He said a sort of ecology of humanity was needed, adding: "The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a creature, does not deserve any less." He attacked what he described as "gender" theories which "lead towards the self-emancipation of man from creation and the creator".

Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, claimed the pope had not wished specifically to attack homosexuality, and had not mentioned gays or lesbians in his text. Nevertheless, the speech provoked anger from campaigners, who interpreted the remarks as a papal call to save mankind from homosexuals and transsexuals.

"What keeps the pope awake at night is the idea that human beings might be able to seek out their own sexual identity to have a happy life," said Franco Grillini, of the Italian association Gaynet.

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