Comment: Ignore the PR, the Catholic Church continues with its grotesque homophobia

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Suggestions the Catholic Church has changed its position on gay people are wide off the mark, writes National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson.

When the BBC reported that some Catholic bishops at the Vatican had issued a statement saying that gay people should be “welcomed” by the Church and noting they had “gifts and qualities” to offer, I was almost sick with fury.

The anger intensified when the reporter went on to say that the statement had been welcomed by gay rights groups as “progress.”

Its sheer delusion to think that this is anything but propaganda and flim-flam from an organisation trying to protect itself from the international battering it is getting over its grotesque homophobia. These gay rights groups who want to praise and congratulate the Vatican can include me out.

Gay rights have been opposed by the Vatican at every step of the way – from legalising gay sex to getting an equal age of consent, from getting protection from discrimination at work to having the right to marry. When it came to trying to derail these measures, the Vatican was on the front line every time.

If the Vatican had prevailed none of these things would have happened. If it was left to the bishops and popes we would still be living in fear and dread, unable to love openly and in constant terror of losing our jobs and homes.

I repeat, the Vatican has sought to stand in the way of every single bit of progress we have made. Be under no illusions, if it had the power, the Catholic Church would reverse tomorrow every one of these achievements.

The patronising statement by the bishops at this self-important gathering at the Vatican should be carefully printed off by every gay person, they should then take it to their local Catholic church and there ceremonially burn it. We should tell the congregation loud and clear that we do not want the poisonous crumbs from their wobbling table of bigotry. Instead they should be begging our forgiveness for the centuries of torture and discrimination they have heaped upon us.

The world has moved on in relation to gay rights.

The Catholic Church is about a thousand years behind everybody else but still it expects praise for yet again sneakily trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

This latest statement signifies nothing. The smiley Pope Francis is in no way different from his glowering predecessor. Nothing is going to change. Teachers are still going to be fired from Catholic schools because they are gay, lesbian or transgender. Organists and choirmasters are still going to be kicked out of their congregations because they are living with same-sex partners.

The Catholic Church is still going to agitate behind the scenes in governments round the world to try to stop gay progress. It has tried every dirty political trick in the book to retard the march of gay marriage in the United States. It has succeeded in getting itself exempted from employment protection legislation, it doesn’t want to deal with gay people in the adoption services it runs (often at taxpayers’ expense).

In Germany, where the Catholic Church runs the welfare state on behalf of the government, employees are regularly fired from jobs as social workers, clerks, care workers and so on because they are gay or lesbian and living in relationships of which the church does not approve.

When you look at these spiteful acts of discrimination, the statement from the Vatican bishops looks like what it is – a mocking slap in the face for gay people.

As far as I’m concerned, they can shove their statement where the sun don’t shine.

Terry Sanderson is the President of the National Secular Society.

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