Gays hit back at Vatican

From: Dick Kim <FrKim@AOL.COM>

www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/08/01/vatican.gay.marriages/index.html

[Friends, this is a super piece to take apart to show how to respond to the "other side", and to ferret out the false presuppositions (either gross ignorance or deceit) of their arguments.   We MUST do out homework, or make up our minds to continue losing this war.

My comments are interspersed.   E. Fox] 

'We don't want the Holy See to make pressure on our parliament'

VATICAN CITY (CNN) --Gay rights groups have hit back at the Vatican's global campaign against same-sex marriages, saying the appeal reflects a mix of religion and politics that is out of touch with the modern world.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued a 12-page document in seven languages, approved by Pope John Paul II, calling on Roman Catholic lawmakers to block legislation granting legal rights to homosexual unions in Europe and North America.

The document, which was two years in the making, urged Catholics to campaign against same-sex unions, which the Vatican sees as a threat to society and "gravely immoral."

The paper, entitled "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" also makes clear the church's firm opposition to gay couples adopting children.

"Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such (homosexual) unions would actually mean doing violence to these children ... (placing) them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development," it says.

While conservatives around the world welcomed the document, in Rome's gay community, the reaction was swift, with activists saying there is widespread concern the Vatican is using its considerable influence to spread homophobia and prejudice into Italian society. 

[Force your opponent to define 'homophobia' and to show just why you are guilty of it.  "What part of what I said is homophobic?"   "How can I express my view without you calling me names?   If I am not allowed to express my view, how, then, can we have an honest conversation?   Are you willing to have an open, honest conversation about homosexuality?"   They are VERY vulnerable on the issue of open conversation, i.e., about honest pluralism.   They want pluralism with only one side allowed to talk.

You might ask, "Are you prejudiced against Christians?   or against anyone who disagrees with you?"  Force them to give an answer.]

"We are Italian citizens and not Vatican citizens so we don't want the Holy See to make pressure on our parliament," one Radical Party member told CNN.

[In a democratic republic (I cannot speak for the nature of the Italian government...., but at least in America), the Holy See (along with secularists, atheists, and religious persons) has the perfect right to express its opinion about anything it chooses.  What it (and anyone else) would not have the right to do would be to hold the gun of coercion to enforce its views.  It has to win in open, honest debate.

It is the "other side" which is seizing the gun (civil government) to coerce its views, all the while hollering about the "religious" opposition and trying to shut religious people down from expressing their views -- via "hate-crime" laws, which protect no one, but are aimed at shutting down their opposition. 

The task of civil government is precisely to protect the openness of the public (i.e., especially the legislative) arena for free and open discussion by anyone, no matter how nutty.  Yea, even Christians.  For a party to claim that their rights are being violated because someone of contrary opinion is expressing their views is both silly and dangerous.] 

Gay rights supporters from Australia to England were quick to say they thought the Vatican was using an aggressive and cold-hearted stance to promote intolerance and stem a growing tide for equal rights.

[Do not panic, calmly and gracefully force them to define their terms.   "What part of what I said was cold-hearted or intolerant?   And why is aggressiveness a bad thing?  Show me how I can make my point without being coldhearted or intolerant."   

Also go after their notion of "equal rights".   Ask them to describe homosexual behavior in specific terms.  "What precisely do you homosexual people want the right to do?"  Do not let them run away from this.  "What, precisely, are you asking us to approve?  We do  not want to buy a pig in a poke."   

For its part the Catholic church stresses the document does not promote discrimination against homosexual relationships, but instead says same-sex unions are not the same as marriages that "bring new human beings into the world."

Heated debate

"Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior ... but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity," the document said.

The Vatican appeal comes amid heated debate on the issue in the United States, after the Supreme Court struck down state laws banning sodomy in June and two U.S. states come closer to legalizing homosexual marriages.

While gay marriage is forbidden in the United States, Vermont allows same-sex civil unions while Massachusetts' top court is set to rule on the issue soon. (Ruling anticipated)

The United States passed a law in 1996, called the defense of marriage act, which bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages licensed in individual states, or abroad, and the White House is considering backing an amendment to strengthen the traditional definition of marriage as man and woman.

Earlier this week U.S. President George W. Bush made his views quite clear, saying he believed "marriage is between a man and a woman." (Marriage 'for heterosexuals', White House considering constitutional amendment)

Gay activists in America have slammed the Vatican document, saying they are upset because it breaks down efforts to keep the Church and the State separate and puts religious beliefs ahead of other arguments. 

[This is the silly nonsense for which Christians have fallen for over a century.  Are we so incompetent that we cannot understand the difference between "Church" and "God"? 

The Church is a particular institution with a particular role, as is also the State.  These two institutions are not allowed by our constitution to meddle coercively in each others affairs.   There is nothing in the Constitution which forbids either side to express an opinion about the other.  But they may not pick up the gun or sword of coercion to get their ways.   That is the only meaning of the "separation".   The primary task of the State is to keep the discussion and debate free and open, never to shut one side or the other down.  That is the meaning of our "pluralism".   Truth is singular -- viewpoints are plural.   The debate is precisely to discover which of the many viewpoints is the correct and appropriate one. 

This debate has been conducted in absurd ignorance (and sometimes deliberate subversion of) simple, common-sense rules of discussion.   Christians, of all people, should be world-class promoters of honest pluralism and open discussion.  As in "Come, let us reason together...."   That is precisely where God wins.] 

(Episcopalians face divisive issue of gays at convention)

The Vatican's document is an example of an individual denomination trying to instill its thoughts on political and legislative policies, Cathy Renna, spokeswoman for the U.S. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation told CNN. 

[Another silly (or dishonest) statement.  The thrust of the "individual religion" comment is to relativize truth, especially religious truth, to make it appear that religion is only private and personal, and not fit for public consumption.   That is absurd, and Christians are silly and incompetent to fall for it.   Religion, of all things in human history, has been THE most public thing there is.   The Latin word 'religio', from which 'religion' comes, means 'what which binds a society together', meaning the common beliefs and customs and shared values. 

You cannot privatize religion anymore than you can privatize secularism or atheism.  Any worldview is by its very nature public.  It is about the nature of life in toto.  The attempt to privatize one worldview is simply a deceitful way to shut it down the other side without honest engagement of mind and heart. 

By such standards, one could say of atheism and/or secularism, "That is merely a private opinion, and not to be introduced into the public arena."

One might ask of such people, "What, pray tell, are the specific qualifications you insist on for speaking one's viewpoint?  Let us discuss them openly to see if they are valid." 

And do your own homework so that you know what in fact are honest and valid requirements for participation in public debate.   Such as commitment to three things: Truth, Righteousness, and Love.] 

Canada, Netherlands and Belgium now allow gay marriage and Britain is considering civil unions.

In Europe, the Netherlands has recognized registered gay partnerships since 1998 with Belgium following suit in January this year.

The Netherlands also passed laws in December 2000 allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

Several other countries have given gays rights just short of those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

CNN's Andrew Carey in London contributed to this report.

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