Ratzinger - Fundamentalist Pope
Disaster for women, gays and liberals.
London - 19 April 2005
"The election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new Pope is a disaster for women, gay people and liberal humanitarian values," according to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!.
"He represents the hardline, fundamentalist strand of Catholicism; opposing condoms to prevent the spread of HIV, rejecting women's rights, denouncing fertility treatment for childless couples, and endorsing state-sanctioned discrimination against gay people," added Mr Tatchell.
"Cardinal Ratzinger has always put church dogma before the Christian values of love and compassion. He symbolises the patriarchy and homophobia of orthodox Catholicism.
"The new Pope wants to maintain a centralised, authoritarian church, crushing dissent and autonomy.
"As chief doctrinal adviser to the late Pope, his opposition to the use of condoms has contributed to the death of millions from HIV.
"Ratzinger could have authorised a Vatican declaration that if people cannot abstain from sex, they have a moral duty to use a condom to prevent the spread of HIV. His endorsement of condoms, even if only as the lesser of two evils, would have saved lives. The Cardinal's opposition to condom use colluded with the greatest health crisis the world has ever known.
"Despite over 40 million people being infected worldwide with HIV, Ratzinger turned his back on a proven method of stopping virus transmission.
"The Cardinal sanctioned Vatican efforts in March 2005 that successfully blocked recognition of gay human rights by the United Nations, effectively endorsing continued homophobic persecution in two-thirds of the world.
"This persecution is condemning millions of lesbian and gay people to be rejected by their families, sacked from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and to be subjected to homophobic abuse, threats, arrest, imprisonment, rape, assault and murder - either by vigilantes or by state agents such as the police and military.
"Ratzinger not only refused to challenge this global war against gays, he succeeded in helping thwart UN attempts to protect lesbians and gay men from this avalanche of hatred and violence. He has queer blood on his holy hands," concluded Mr Tatchell.
Further information: www.outrage.org.uk
Cardinal Ratzinger - Background
Since 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - formerly known as The Inquisition. It is responsible for defining Roman Catholic doctrine and keeping Catholic clergy and theologians in line. It witch-hunted liberal and left-wing priests, and hounded proponents of liberation theology.
Cardinal Ratzinger is responsible for two of the most virulently anti-gay declarations ever made by the Vatican.
In 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the infamous Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.
Acting on Papal authority, Ratzinger wrote that a homosexual orientation, even if the person is totally celibate, is a "tendency" toward an "intrinsic moral evil". Moreover, a homosexual inclination is both an "objective disorder" and a "moral disorder", which is "contrary to the creative wisdom of God". "Special concern and pastoral attention should be directed towards those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not," he wrote.
Ratzinger's 1986 Letter concludes that pastoral care for homosexual persons should include "the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences", and that "all support should be withdrawn from any organisations which seek to undermine the teachings of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which ignore it entirely". This led to witch-hunts against gay Catholic organisations and against gay Catholic priests like Father Bernard Lynch.
In July 1992, the Vatican issued a further proclamation authorised by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and by Pope John Paul II, entitled "Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons".
This document was designed to mobilise Catholic opinion against equal rights legislation for lesbians and gay men. It describes homosexuality as an "objective disorder" and a "tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil". Rejecting the concept of homosexual "human rights", it asserts there is "no right" to homosexuality; adding that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be "legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct".
While condemning "unjust" discrimination, the Vatican document says that some forms of antigay discrimination are "not unjust" and may even be "obligatory": especially with regard to "the consignment of children to adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or coaches, and in military recruitment".
Most shocking of all, the 1992 document suggests that when lesbians and gay men demand civil rights, "neither the Church nor society should be surprised when ... irrational and violent reactions increase".
This implies that by asking for human rights, lesbians and gay men encourage homophobic prejudice and violence: we bring hatred upon ourselves, and are responsible for our own suffering. The Catholic Church, it seems, blames the victims of homophobia, not the perpetrators.
Born in 1927 in Bavaria, Ratzinger was already a professor of theology by the age of 31, holding prestigious positions in Freising, Bonn, Münster, Tübingen, and Regensburg.
Throughout the 1960's he held influential positions on Vatican commissions dealing with church law and education, rising in 1977 to become the Archbishop of Munich and then appointed a cardinal.
In 1981, Ratzinger moved to the Vatican to take up the position of head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he authored the two key homophobic Catholic declarations of 1986 and 1992, endorsing legal discrimination against lesbian and gay people.
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