Vatican official: UN gay ‘rights’ agenda endangers Church’s freedom

The Vatican’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva says a recent resolution on “sexual orientation and gender identity” is part of an agenda that could restrict the Church’s freedom.

“The resolution marks a change. It is seen as the beginning of a movement within the international community and the United Nations to insert gay rights in the global human rights agenda,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Holy See’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, in a recent e-mail interview with CNA.

The archbishop noted that a U.S. State Department spokesperson had described the resolution as “a beginning of an international norm that will take hold gradually.” But “if norms are established,” Archbishop Tomasi wondered, “what provisions will be made for freedom of expression on the part of religious leaders?”

He spoke of a “genuine concern” that natural marriages and families “will be socially downgraded with the eventual legislation that puts homosexual “marriage” and the marriage between a man and a woman” on the same level. The Vatican representative also said marriage could be threatened by related measures that would mandate homosexual adoptions and introduce “compulsory sex education at school that clashes with Christian values.”

At a June 27 event co-hosted by the U.S. State Department and the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies organization, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton credited a “major push by American diplomats” for the June 17 passage of what she described as “the first ever U.N. resolution recognizing the human rights of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people worldwide.”

Clinton called the resolution a “huge step forward,” and stated that “so far as the United States is concerned and our foreign policy, and our values … gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

The resolution, which expresses “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination … against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” will not have an immediate effect on U.N. member states. Instead, it formally requests that the High Commissioner for Human Rights undertake an investigation into such acts, in preparation for further dialogue at the council during 2012.

Although the resolution will do little in the short term, the secretary of state described its passage – over the objections of numerous Arab and African counties, as well as Russia and Moldova – as one of the department’s “momentous achievements” on a matter of “high priority.”

In his remarks to CNA, Archbishop Tomasi reiterated that the Church does not support violence against those who engage in homosexual behavior, or any attempt by the state to punish an individual simply because of “feelings and thoughts.”

“I think that violence against homosexual persons is not acceptable and it should be rejected, even though this does not imply an endorsement of their behavior.”

“The terms ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ are not defined in international law,” he noted.

“To the extent that they are not external behavior, but feelings and thoughts, they cannot be subjected to punitive laws.”

But “for some people,” he pointed out, “these words are a code phrase for types of conduct.”

The archbishop expanded on a point he has previously tried to impress upon the Human Rights Council, as he observed that all societies regulate sexual behavior to some extent – by forbidding practices like incest, pedophilia, or rape – for the sake of the common good.

He contrasted the “clear message” of God’s creation, which spells out the complementarity of the two sexes, with the U.N.’s contrived and vague terminology of “orientation” and “gender identity.”

“Instead of ‘gender,’” Archbishop Tomasi said, “the concept we should use is ‘sex,’ a universal term in natural law referring to male and female.”

“In fact, it seems that terms such as ‘gender’ or ‘sexual orientation’ are devised to escape reality and to accommodate a variety of feelings and impulses that then are transformed into rights.”

This use of “rights” language, to justify practices like same-sex “marriage,” may appear superficially harmless as long as the alleged rights seem to be confined to private life.

But Archbishop Tomasi warned that these impulse-driven claims of “rights” are in conflict with authentic rights – such as the free exercise of religion, and the education of one’s children.

He pointed to the “traditionally Catholic country” of Spain, as “an example of where the current trend may lead.”

In that country, “legislation has been passed in the last four or five years in favor of homosexual marriage, free abortion in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, of compulsory education even for children aged 8 to 12 on such issues as masturbation, same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion.”

This arrangement prevails in Spain, “notwithstanding the fact that thousands of parents are opposing this policy that denies their fundamental right to decide on their children’s education.”

Archbishop Tomasi suggested that Catholics today have a responsibility “to clarify legal and moral aspects of the current culture” – by drawing a distinction between desires and rights, promoting the Catholic synthesis of faith and reason, and making it clear that a judgment against homosexuality is not a condemnation of homosexuals.

“There is confusion in some people’s mind,” he noted, “in combining a just respect and protection for every person – including homosexuals – and support for the indispensable role of the family, the parents right to educate their children, the support of the natural family for the common good.”

While the secular West may find this ethos increasingly incomprehensible, the Church will continues to promote it.

“The teaching of the Church is not conditioned by political consensus,” the archbishop noted.

“At times she is misunderstood and even becomes the target of reprisals and persecution.”

“Reason and natural law, however, support faith-inspired positions,” he stated, “and the convergence of faith and reason is exceptionally fruitful for the progress and well-being of the human family.”

http://tinyurl.com/6g4ro4x

Brooklyn Bishop Bans All Politicians Who Supported Gay Marriage

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has asked all Catholic churches and schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn to ban state lawmakers who voted for gay marriage in New York.

DiMarzio, the leader of the Brooklyn diocese, has urged the Catholic institutions to decline donations and speaking engagements from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and any lawmaker who voted “yes” on the bill legalizing same-sex marriages.

Calling New York’s passage of gay marriage “another ‘nail in the coffin’ of marriage,” DiMarzio issued a statement two days after the New York gay marriage bill was approved by the Legislature demanding that “all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.”

The Catholic bishop also said the church should now speak more “forcefully and clearly” against gay marriage.

Joseph Lentol, an assemblyman representing Brooklyn’s 50th district, saw firsthand just how serious the Brooklyn Diocese was.

The Catholic legislative assembly member who openly voted for same-sex marriage made a donation to Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish School.

The donation was declined.

Along with the return of his $50 donation, Lentol received a letter from Monsignor Joseph Calise, the church pastor.

The letter stated: “Bishop DiMarzio has requested that all gifts received from politicians supporting same-sex marriage legislation be refused.”

Lentol, a patron of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, expressed his confusion about the Bishop’s response to his donation.

“I was certainly surprised because I know the church needs the money and the school certainly needs the money for the scholarship program they run, ” Lentol told Pix11.

Calise said he made sure the community children weren’t affected by the donation ban.

“I did find another donor to make sure those awards would be given so that the children themselves wouldn’t be made to suffer,” Calise said, according to Pix11.

Monsignor Kieran Harrington, spokesman for the diocese, explained the church’s frustration with the bill passage to the media. He said the decision to reshape the values of a centuries’ old organization was done too quickly and without proper discussion before voting took place.

“Our legislators did not do their job,” Harrington told CBS 2. “If the process had been different, we don’t know if the legislation would have passed.”

After the gay marriage law passed on June 24, DiMarzio was among New York’s eight Catholic bishops who issued a statement expressing fear that “both marriage and the family will be undermined” by the new legislation.

The gay marriage law will take effect July 24.

http://tinyurl.com/67xzmcg

Normalization of homosexuality is a ‘calamity’ – John Piper

Amid ongoing “gay pride” celebrations and the push for gay marriage, influential evangelical John Piper wants to put it all in perspective for the church.

“My sense is that we do not realise what a calamity is happening around us,” Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, wrote in a commentary on Thursday.

“Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery.”

It’s been nearly a week now since marriage for gay and lesbian couples was legalised in New York and since hundreds of thousands of Americans celebrated homosexuality with gay pride parades, not only in New York but also in Piper’s home state of Minnesota.

Homosexuality and its celebration are nothing new, the Reformed pastor clarified.

“[Homosexuality] has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man,” he wrote.

“What’s new is not even the celebration of homosexual sin. Homosexual behaviour has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia.

“What’s new,” he underscored, “is normalisation and institutionalisation. This is the new calamity.”

America, and the rest of the world, is moving toward the institutionalisation of homosexuality, the 65-year-old pastor lamented.

Yet the Bible makes it clear that homosexual behaviour is sin, he said.

“Alongside its clearest explanation of the sin of homosexual intercourse (Romans 1:24-27) stands the indictment of the celebration of it,” he said.

“Though people know intuitively that homosexual acts (along with gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness) are sin, ‘they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them’ (Romans 1:29-32).’I tell you even with tears, that many glory in their shame’ (Philippians 3:18–19).”

For the first time since it began tracking the issue of same-sex marriage in 1996, a Gallup poll last month found that a majority of Americans (53 per cent) believe marriages between same-sex couples should be recognised by law as valid.

Moreover, 56 per cent of Americans say gay or lesbian relations is morally acceptable, another Gallup poll found in May. Only 39 per cent perceive homosexual relations as morally wrong.

Piper stressed that his purpose for writing on the controversial issue is “not to mount a political counter-assault”.

He doesn’t believe that is the calling of the church.

Rather, Piper expressed his desire to “help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.”

He didn’t pin the sin of sexual immorality on homosexuals alone, however. Heterosexuals are just as guilty.

Piper emphasised that Jesus died for both heterosexual and homosexual sinners so that they might be saved. Jesus, he stressed, offers “astonishing mercy”.

But rather than embracing that salvation, thousands celebrated sin last weekend, he lamented.

“Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions – they are all troubled because of our sins,” he wrote.

“The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, ‘who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).'”

“And in our best moments, we weep for the world.”

The win in New York for gay rights activists is expected to propel the gay marriage movement forward. Already, they are working to push similar legislation in Maine and to defeat a measure amending the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman in Minnesota.

Amid the movement to redefine marriage, Piper made it clear that Jesus created sexuality and “has a clear will for how it is to be experienced in holiness and joy”.

“His will is that a man might leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6-9). In this union, sexuality finds its God-appointed meaning, whether in personal-physical unification, symbolic representation, sensual jubilation, or fruitful procreation.”

Nevertheless, there are no signs of the gay marriage movement slowing down. With that, Piper left Christians with this concluding note:

“This is what I am writing for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction. ‘My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.’ (Psalm 119:136).”

http://tinyurl.com/3ft86aa

State Department action on ‘LGBT rights’ could split Catholic countries

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has praised State Department action on “LGBT” rights which includes support for Gay Pride marches and a Lady Gaga concert in Rome.

But two critics said U.S. advocacy is “far beyond the mainstream” and risks alienating the Church from social life in Catholic countries.

“The administration has made the LGBT agenda one of the cornerstones of their foreign policy,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

“They have directed their embassies everywhere to monitor and assist domestic homosexual movements whether the host country and their people accept it or not.”

“The U.S. is very powerful and can force governments to submit to its social policy views,” Ruse told CNA June 28.

Rebecca Marchinda, director of advocacy for the U.N.-focused World Youth Alliance, warned that U.S. activism—in Catholic countries especially—could result in the alienation of “the Church from the public sphere and the debate about these issues.”

“Instead of recognizing that states have legitimate reasons for recognizing marriage and family as an institution (and not other arrangements), the U.S. will help to pit the Catholic Church against civil society by stating that opposition to the U.S. ideas is based solely on outdated religious ideas.”

Some of these legitimate reasons, she noted, exist prior to religion and promote dignity and the common good.

Secretary Clinton discussed the U.S. administration’s role in homosexual advocacy at a June 27 LGBT Pride Month celebration co-hosted by the State Department and the organization Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome played an “instrumental role” in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a EuroPride concert, Clinton said. Organizers of the event “desperately” wanted the American music star to perform and a letter to Lady Gaga from Ambassador David Thorne played a key role in securing the agreement.

“Over one million people attended the event, which included powerful words in support of equality and justice,” Clinton said.

Lady Gaga, a leading advocate for homosexual political causes, has also created several highly sexualized music videos that use Catholic religious symbols.

Paola Concia, a homosexual deputy of Italy’s Democratic Party, told the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano that Ambassador Thorne’s intervention in the event was “surely” influenced by the political situation in Italy—the only founding nation of the European Union without a law on so-called homosexual rights.

The ambassador has frequently referred to Secretary Clinton’s phrase that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

In her June 27 remarks, Secretary Clinton added that U.S. embassy staff in Slovakia worked “overtime” to help make the Pride parade in that country a success after the first one ended in violence.

The staff brought together more than 20 chiefs of mission from other nations to sign a public statement of support for the march and hosted a “respectful, productive debate on LGBT rights.”

“And on the day of the parade, our ambassador marched in solidarity right next to the mayor of Bratislava,” she said.

Clinton said the State Department was also involved in advocating LGBT rights in Honduras, Uganda, Malawi, Russia, Turkey, China and other places.

She noted the United States’ “major effort” at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to support a statement in ending violence and criminalization based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The United States’ Bureau for Western Affairs and its permanent mission to the Organization of American States helped create a special rapporteur for LGBT rights within the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

Ruse said such advocacy is not simply about stopping violence against gays.

“They are intent on forcing homosexual marriage and homosexual adoption on countries that are offended by such things. They are intent on forcing sexual orientation and gender identity as new categories of non-discrimination that will trump the rights of religious believers.

“On this topic, this administration is far beyond the mainstream,” Ruse stated.

He said that most people around the world still understand homosexuality as “outside the norm” and as “something to be avoided and certainly not approved.”

“Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals. The effect of the Obama policy is to offend billions of people and force this view on reluctant governments. This is most especially offensive to countries that are predominantly Christian and Muslim. In fact, Christianity and Islam are among the chief obstacles of this agenda and policy.”

Marchinda suggested that Clinton’s comments express a “misunderstanding” about the nature of the debate on LGBT rights and that debate’s relationship to state sovereignty and human rights in general.

“It is worrisome that the United States has moved beyond defending the legitimate rights of all people to be free from violence to helping usurp the laws of (United Nations) member states concerning marriage and local regulations pertaining to parades and other events,” she told CNA on June 28.

“U.S. advocacy on these issues promotes a particular definition of human rights that is not accepted by all nations. It is increasingly a Western definition that the U.S. uses to promote its interests abroad and this definition guides its distribution of foreign aid to developing countries.”

Marchinda noted that there is presently no internationally-accepted definition of terms like “sexual orientation,” “LGBT,” or “gender identity,” though the U.S. continues to use this language in its human rights work.

“This causes confusion among member states of the United Nations and especially among those receiving aid with policy-type strings attached.”

http://tinyurl.com/3cawjbq

Canadian bishops issue document on youth with same-sex attractions

The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a document on Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction.

“While always insisting on respect and compassion for young people with same-sex attraction, the Church also reaffirms God’s plan for human sexuality,” the statement notes.

“Sexual relations belong within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, for it is only within this covenant that the two inseparable ends of marriage can be achieved: the deepening of love between spouses and the procreation and education of children. Any genital act outside the covenant of marriage cannot fulfill this twofold purpose intended by the Creator and thus is morally wrong … For this reason, the Church has consistently taught that homosexual acts can never be approved.”

The statement continues:

In her teaching, however, the Church never condemns persons with same-sex attraction. She carefully distinguishes between an individual’s inclinations or feelings – some of which are transitory and/or situational and others which are deep-seated or permanent – and one’s actions. While homosexual acts are always objectively wrong, same-sex inclinations are not in themselves sinful or a moral failing. To the extent that a same-sex attraction is not freely chosen, there is no personal culpability in having such an inclination. Nonetheless, when oriented toward genital activity, this inclination is “objectively disordered.” This does not mean that the person as a whole is somehow defective or “badly made,” or that he or she has in some way been rejected by God. Inclinations to homosexual acts in no way diminish the full human dignity or intrinsic worth of the person. For many people, same-sex attraction constitutes a trial. They therefore deserve to be approached by pastors with charity and prudence.

“For young people who experience a same-sex attraction and for whom marriage is not an option, choosing chastity as a positive value is even more of an ongoing challenge,” the statement adds.

“We must encourage them to live their single lives chastely as disciples of Jesus, who followed the path of sacrifice to the glory of eternal life. Responding generously to the call to chastity involves suffering and difficulty, but Christ invites us to place our burdens on him.”

“The moral and spiritual relativism of our society can make the Church’s teaching on sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular appear bizarre, out of touch, and even intolerant,” the document notes.

“We ask that you promote support groups that foster chaste living, such as Courage for individuals with same-sex attraction and Encourage for families interested in learning more about how to help their children.”

Counselors “must be committed to the Christian vision of the human person and sexuality, as well as the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and chastity,” the document advises parents.
“It is imperative to present in a firm but charitable way the true nature and purpose of human sexuality in all its dimensions,” the statement adds in a message to educators.

“We ask you to pay particular attention to guiding adolescents and young adults with same-sex attraction away from two specific dangers. First, help them see themselves as persons with a God-given dignity and not merely as individuals with sexual inclinations and desires. Second, help them avoid involvement in a ‘gay culture’ opposed to the Church’s teaching, with its often aggressive and immoral lifestyle.”

The document concludes by encouraging young people with same-sex attractions to “accept that God loves you,” pray constantly, frequent the sacraments, and cultivate virtuous friendships.

http://tinyurl.com/67pcrs8