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IN an interview published on June 28 with Eamon Gilmore, leader of the Labour party, your political correspondent Shaun Connolly wrote that Mr Gilmore urges “… Pope Benedict XVI to ‘temper’ statements such as claiming that ‘saving’ humanity from homosexuality was as important as protecting the rain forests.
We have many examples of where there is not only discrimination against gay people, but there has been nasty homophobic bullying and assaults on gay people and I think opinions like that give comfort to that.”
Mr Gilmore seems to be referring to an address by Pope Benedict to cardinals, bishops and priests delivered on December 22, 2008, which was subsequently interpreted incorrectly by some media outlets.
The fact is that homosexuality was not referred to anywhere in this text.
For a leader of a political party to misrepresent remarks made by the Holy Father on such a profound subject as human sexuality is regrettable.
Mr Gilmore’s comments are also highly offensive to Catholics and anyone with an interest in the truth. The truth is that the Catholic Church teaches and Pope Benedict XVI has consistently affirmed that “men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, June 3, 2003).
In the text referred to by Mr Gilmore, Pope Benedict XVI in fact said that the Church “has a responsibility towards creation and must also publicly assert this responsibility. In so doing, she must not only defend earth, water and air as gifts of creation belonging to all. She must also protect man from self-destruction … If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics. What is involved here is faith in the Creator and a readiness to listen to the ‘language’ of creation. To disregard this would be the self-destruction of man himself, and hence the destruction of God’s own work.”
A reading of the aforementioned text will confirm this.
The prominence given to the interview by the Irish Examiner, with its front page article headlined ‘Gilmore: Pope’s words comfort anti-gay thugs’, completely misrepresents the church’s teaching on human sexuality and the message of the bible on this matter.
It also implies a completely unsubstantiated connection between this teaching and behaviour of “anti-gay thugs” which is condemned and abhorred by the church.
It is a serious, unacceptable and unfounded distortion of the truth for anyone to suggest that support for Christian marriage is contributing to “homophobic bullying and assaults on gay people”.
Catholics and other Christians who uphold the Christian tradition of the scriptures on this matter deserve truth and accuracy from elected representatives and from the media.
Director Catholic Communications Office
Irish Bishops Conference
St Patrick’s College
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