REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
The United Nations and the Vatican went head to head recently regarding the church’s lack of progress regarding its dealings with clergy who have abused children for years. The Vatican’s response was swift and very much on the defence. In an attempt to minimize and swing attention to this intense situation, authorities in the church say the UN is being unfair and is distorting the truth.
Kudos to the Committee for finally dealing with this long-standing issue in demanding action by the Roman Catholic Church to come clean.
Curiously, Pope Francis has so far been silent. Aside from abusive priests, the UN also chided the Vatican’s stance on gay equality and abortion. The Pope has previously made an attempt to gather support from the gay community by saying, “who am I to Judge?” During that same interview he indicated that church doctrine will not change and that has been substantiated by other Vatican leaders. The flowery language from the Pontiff sounds promising and would indeed be a welcome development.
Discrimination remains rampant in spite of the positive changes we witness on a daily basis. The changes we do experience are not initiated by the world’s religions and that remains serious as the fires of intolerance keep burning. How refreshing it would be when those who judge and do not accept people for who they really are see a way to welcome everyone.
The fact remains that we are born with our sexual orientation intact, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual. Similarly, we are born with blue eyes, various skin colours and many other aspects that make each one of us unique, loving, accepting and contributing members of society.
Most religions close their doors firmly and refuse to accept diversity. The Vatican seems to protect those who abuse children, yet does not protect the victims. Those who fall in love with a person of the same sex are condemned and humiliated by the church, consequently contributing to empty pews. This is twisted philosophy that defies common decency. The Vatican must be held accountable and not be allowed to be above the law. The world community must insist on a positive outcome that will eventually embrace all who love and accept the diversity of the world’s inhabitants, but please, protect the innocents and the vulnerable.
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.