Feature: Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest gay moments

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Following the news that the vehemently anti-gay Pope Benedict XVI, who said gays were “intrinsically disordered”, is to resign at the end of this month PinkNews brings you some of his most anti-gay moments, and some of the best reactions to them.

As the first Pope to resign since 1415, the 85-year-old anti-gay Catholic leader became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005 following the death of John Paul II. Since assuming the top job in the Catholic Church, he has pursued a staunchly anti-gay doctrine.

While we cannot claim a thoroughly scientific approach to the rankings, the stories are ordered through a combination of how widely read they were and how much debate they provoked.

10. He was featured in several ads which caused controversy. A 2011 Bennetton advert featured him locked in a gay kiss with Sheik Ahmed Muhammaed el-Tayeb, a leading Egyptian theologian and Imam of the 1000-year-old Al-Azhar Mosque.

The Vatican said: “This shows a grave lack of respect for the Pope”, and the advert, which was blown up and draped over a bridge in Rome was taken down.

Benetton Pope ad

Later in 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority in New Zealand dismissed complaints about an ad which depicted Pope Benedict XVI blessing a gay couple’s wedding.

The ASA said it was unlikely to cause widespread offence.


9. The Pope, who had been accused by many of not taking a strong enough stand against child abuse in the Catholic Church, admitted in a speech that certain members “violated rights” of children.

In a speech to members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pope stated:

“While the church’s mission was to protect minors, unfortunately, in different instances, certain of its members went against this commitment and violated rights.”

A study by the US Catholic Church declared that the abuse was not linked to homosexuality.

Several protests called for the Pope to be prosecuted over the child abuse priests’ scandal. 

8. In 2012, a Ukrainian feminist group demonstrated topless at St Peter’s Square for gay rights, as Pope Benedict XVI gave his weekly prayer.

Four women from Ukrainian feminist group, Femen, stripped off to display the words “Shut up!”, on their fronts, and “in gay we trust” on their backs.

Feature: Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest gay moments

Also, in 2010, protests by half-naked Gaydar models in Twickenham, west London, greeted the Pope during his UK tour. 

He was visiting St Mary’s University College where a small number of protesters, angry at his teachings on homosexuality, had gathered.

Feature: Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest gay moments

7. In 2010, in what was described as “foolish”, and a “brainstorm” exercise, rather than official UK Government policy, the Foreign Office apologised for certain suggestions made by civil servants regarding the Pope.

The leaked document suggested that Pope Benedict XVI be invited to bless a gay couple’s wedding, open up a hospital abortion ward and be presented with his own “Benedict” brand of condoms. Oops.

The Pope still visited the UK, despite this administrative error.

6. Pope Benedict XVI was pictured in December 2012 giving a blessing to Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, who unsuccessfully promised to pass the country’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a “Christmas gift”.

Feature: Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest gay moments

The Ugandan Parliament reconvened last Tuesday following its Christmas break and announced a packed agenda, including picking up its so-called “Kill the Gays” bill, which still includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.

5. Back in 2010, the Pope beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, a British convert to Catholicism who some claim was in a gay relationship with fellow convert Ambrose St. John. The beatified process brought the former Anglican cleric a step closer to sainthood. 

4. As one of very few celebrities or public figures to speak out against the Catholic Church, Lady Gaga predicted in 2012 that “gay marriage [was] going to happen” regardless of what the Pope said.

She was reacting to a visit by the Pope to France to address 32 bishops when he said: “Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself.”

Feature: Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest gay moments

3. Back in January 2012, the Pope said that allowing equal marriage would threaten “the future of humanity”.

The comment formed part of an address to a meeting of 180 diplomats at the Vatican. He said: “Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”

During a Christmas address at the Vatican, the Pope also praised an essay by France’s Chief Rabbi, who described equal marriage as a “Trojan horse”, which would “undermine” straight marriage.

2. During a trip to the small west African republic of Benin, The Pope said that the spread of the HIV virus on the African Continent was “above all an ethical problem”.

While he unveiled the Africae Munus, which details the future of the Catholicism in the continent, the Pope reiterated his stance that condoms should not be used in place of sexual abstinence or chastity in marriage. 

Two years prior, he told a journalist that condoms could cause the HIV virus to spread further, though the Vatican later appeared to reverse this statement.

1. Number one, just because it is so perfectly ironic, in December 2012, Pope Benedict used his message for World Day of Peace 2013 to describe equal marriage as a threat to justice and peace, adding that it would spark harm for society. 

The Catholic leader said: “There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union.

“Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilise marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society”, the Pope told worshipers.