...and then theres the rare man that would turn something as mundane as rock into a thing of beauty...like Michealangelo's David. Everything has its positive and negative expressions that depend solely on us as people and what we chose do with it. To demonstrate my point... in current news is the story of the recent scandals surrounding the catholic church and Pope Benedict XVI...one of the most powerfull and outspoken anti-gay voices of our day....with a counterpoint from retired Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The first scandal to hit the church, reported in the Washington Post is the story of a gay prostitution ring being run by the leader of the St. Peter's Basilica choir , the Cappella Giulia, in Rome. 40 year old Ghinedu Ehiem and his assitant Lorenzo Renzi acting as a pimps...arranged encounters with aspiring seminarians, choir members, and others outside the Holy See....from the Vatican.
Of the four men arrested in the investigation for soliciting the services of these men is a member of Pope Benedicts elite ushers "The Gentlemen of His Holiness"....Angelo Balducci. The Gentlemen of his holiness act as ushers for upscale events within the Holy See and serve at important events. Baldacci is also a member of the Italian public works department and a Vatican construction consultant.
Further developments posted by Gay News Watch give details on text messages sent between Ehiem and Balducci...most of which are pretty incriminating. Like this quote from the GNW...
I couldn't help but laugh as I read this. The last time I went to Rome...going to a gay bar was an interesting experience. The Vatican will not allow gay establishments....so as a work around, gay establishments belong to an organization that grants them the status of a "private club". Tourists and locals who want to attend a bar have to join the club and litterally get a card issued to them. We had to flash this card at every establishment, usually to a pair of eyes peeking out of a small sliding panel in the door. So....going to a gay bar in Rome requires legal acrobatics but solicting male prostitutes was literally happening within the walls of the Vatican....this is one of lifes little ironies I guess.
In one wiretap from last December, Renzi is heard explaining the rules of engagement: "You'll get up to 2,000 euros ... Do not touch his balls. You need the money. Put on some music, take out the [inaudible], swallow the Viagra, and adelante!"
The Vaticans response?....Personal accountability?....transparency?....nope...An Exorcist....no joke....Per The Daily Record Father Gabriele Amorth has made claims that the story above is all the work of Evil influence within the Holy See. Amorth had this to say about the recent scandals and how they relate to his line of work as official church exorcist:
Italian priest Fr Amorth said: "His Holiness fully believes in casting out evil.
"The Devil lives in the Vatican. Naturally it's difficult to find proof but the true consequences are visible.
"We have cardinals who don't believe in Christ, bishops connected with demons.
"Then we have these stories of paedophilia. You can see the rot when we speak of Satan's smoke in the holy rooms of the Vatican."
But the trouble for the Catholic Church had only just begun to surface. Pope Benedict XVI is now linked to at least three distinct sex abuse scandals.
The first of the allegations that involved His Holiness Himself is reported in The Huffington Post. It is a story of child sex abuse and cover up. In 1980, a priest was accused of sexually abusing an 11-year old boy. The Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was head of the Munich archdiocese in which the offense occured. The offending priest, rather than being arrested and dismissed from his post, was sent to therapy. Afterward, he was reassigned to Graffing where he then sexually abused more children under his charge. But Ratzinger claims to have no knowledge of this occuring.
The Vaticans official line is that handling of the case and transfer of the priest was undertaken by a subordinate and that then Cardinal Ratzinger had no direct involvement in the case...or as the vatican explains...any idea what was going on. In a statement to the New York Times the Vicar General claimed full responsibility for returning the priest to pastoral duties....even though Cardinal Ratzinger approved of the reassignment. I'm sorry...but does Ratzinger seem like the kind of man that would not know something like this was going on? I don't believe so. But hey...if you can miss a whole prostitution ring, I guess anythings possible. which brings us to our next scandal linking the Pope.
Second on our list of Papal troubles is reported in the same Huffpost article regarding a Vatican Document penned by his holiness in 2001 instructing Bishopes to keep a lid on abuse cases. Thats the Catholic Church's response to the overwhelming number of cases emerging not only in the United States...but around the world....Don't acknowledge anything is wrong within the church...just keep attacking gays, abortion, and contraception and turn a blind eye to everything else and hope no one notices.
Incidence number three involves Pope Benedict XVI and his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. Msgr. Ratzinger was Choir master of the Regensburger Boys Choir at a religious school in Bavaria that his brother, then the Archbishop, led. According to the article:
All there is as of now is allegations..this in no way counts as a smoking gun....yet. But even allegations are an unwelcome event to a Pope who is also fending off charges of covering up abuse in his other assignments within the church. In addition, The station of Pope brings with it a sense of infallability to those of the Catholic Faith. If the Pope is shown to have actively covered up the abuse of children..not just in some far way land (America) but also from the Vatican itself..this could cause another serious blow to the credibility of the Church's moral authority....or, we could just call in a few more exorcists.
there was, according to one of the accusers, an “elaborate system of sadistic punishments combined with sexual lust.” Indeed. While Msgr. Ratzinger, now 86, professes to have no knowledge of the lust, he is now apologizing for slapping students: “I, too, slapped people in the face, but I always had a bad conscience about it.”
On the flip sid of these events comes a man using his faith and his voice to stand up for those who...right now...have no one to stand up for them....African Gays. In a stunning Washington Post article, Retired Bishop Desmond Tutu wrote an article meant to be a firm statement rejecting the religious fervor against gays , now sweeping through Africa. What he wrote stopped me in my tracks because, even though it was meant for those in Africa, it felt like his message was delivered for all of us. It is a beautifull message of support for the gay community from a man with a history of standing for the courage of his convictions. (emphasis mine)
Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity -- or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.
It is time to stand up against another wrong.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.
Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.
These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.
Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.
And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.
"But they are sinners," I can hear the preachers and politicians say. "They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished." My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?
The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.
Wow....just...Wow....Faith communities of all stripes should take a page from this mans playbook. How much fear and pain would be lifted from the world if gay and transgendered people could look to religious communities as pillars of support , as this man has demonstrated, rather than the very source of oppression?
And what makes Bishop Desmond Tutu such a remarkably different man than Pope Benedict XVI? Both represent how men can use their religion for great good or great ill. Is the religious form itself to blame for who these men are and what they have done with their faith? This writer doesn't believe so. Rather, both men had been handed a rock. One man used his to fashion a weapon against others in order to maintain the order of his world. The other man, having been on the recieving end of that kind of oppression used what was given to him to fashion a tool to help create a thing of beauty. The end result was less a consequence of religion, so much as the men themselves and who they are in their deepest selves...and how they chose to use the same set of beliefs in very different ways.
In a time when the gay and transgendered community is suffering so much at the hands of religion. Its important to understand this distinction. Anger is natural...and understandable under the circumstance in which we find ourselves. To deny that, is to lie that puts us in danger of being ambushed by our own honest reactions to lifes events. However, If we allow ourselves to hate back because we were first hated...we become the beast we fight. Its not my intent to say that my readers need to be religious. Belief in any religion is not the point here....Belief in love, courage, and conscience is. These attributes are larger than any faith. They embrace the whole of humanity and allow us to use what is given to us in life to make it a thing of beauty.