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Vatican Statement about Uganda’s Proposed Legislation

Timothy Kincaid

December 10th, 2009

Today the Vatican representative read a statement (webcast) to a United Nations panel on anti-gay violence. Although the Holy See did not reference Uganda by name, it does address in a general sense its response to the Ugandan Kill Gays bill. The timing suggests that this statement is driven by the publicity surrounding the bill.

Statement of the Holy See

Mr. Moderator,

Thank you for convening this panel discussion and for providing the opportunity to hear some very serious concerns raised this afternoon. My comments are more in the form of a statement rather than a question.

As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.

As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator.

The Catholic Church is masterful at crafting careful language so we should be cautious not to see here what is not present. The Ugandan bill as it currently stands, calling for the death penalty and life sentences, would clearly fall outside the Church’s approval.

However, the Church speaks of “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” and of “discriminatory penal legislation”. The Church is not, in this message, calling for the decriminalization of homosexual acts.

Indeed, to do so would be contrary to their statements of a year ago. At that time, when the European Union called for decriminalization, the Vatican officially objected, making the peculiar argument that such a call discriminates against nations that don’t recognize same-sex unions. (Catholic News Service 12/08/08)

The Vatican has made clear its opposition to the United Nations endorsing a universal declaration to decriminalize homosexuality.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, and Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said unjust forms of discrimination against homosexuals must be avoided.

However, the Vatican does not approve of a formal declaration with political weight that might be used to put pressure on or discriminate against countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, they said.

However, even though the Catholic Church does not have the courage or integrity to directly oppose Uganda’s proposed legislation by name nor the moral character to oppose the criminalization of homosexuality in general, I do welcome this very powerful voice to the chorus who oppose draconian laws such as the one proposed.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Comments

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Ray
December 10th, 2009 | LINK

Thank you Timothy and Jim. I love you guys. If you have any underbloggers assisting you, my love to them, too. This is the just the most incredibly good and compassionate reporting I’ve ever seen. I have to include Rachel Maddow in on this. Between TBT and Rachael, you may have saved thousands of lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lynn David
December 10th, 2009 | LINK

In that same statement the Catholic Church put forward a policy to NOT criminalize homosexuality:

The Holy See continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them.

However, if you read the entire statement it is the Vatican’s policy not to affirm that anyone is homosexual and necessarily needs their rights protected. Yes, it’s a rather schizoid statement.

The Catholic Church sees no ‘right to homosexuality’ because it does not see the gay people as a subset of the ‘natural law’ human condition. Thus while it urges states to do away with criminalizing homosexuality, the Catholic Church see no need to make it the policy of the UN, thus giving the idea a weight in law. This gives the Church the freedom to speak out of both sides of its mouths and allow suffragean dioceses to compete with other Christians in countries such as Uganda to see who can be more homophobic.

Vatican opposes anti-gay violence: No mention of Uganda « BaptistPlanet
December 11th, 2009 | LINK

[...] bloggers (1, 2) saw the statement as tacit opposition to Uganda’s gay genocide legislation, although the [...]

Ben
December 11th, 2009 | LINK

You know, when the Catholic Church takes a stand on “kill babies” bills (rather than “kill gays” bill) they are routinely told to shut up and mind their own business.

The Catholic Church is pretty much against all forms of violence–abortion, the death penalty, violence against homosexuals, violence against heterosexuals, violence against rodeo clowns, vegetarians, libertarians, communitarians, rotarians, etc.

Unlike the Boxturtle Bulletin, they don’t believe that killing a homosexual because he’s a homosexual is a more vicious crime than killing a homosexual drug dealer because you want to take his drugs. I’m talking about the phoney Mathew Shepard “hate crime” of course.

The Catholic Church is even against war, unless it rises to the “just war” standard, which is a pretty high bar to reach.

So why should the church take a stand on Uganda and its homosexual policy? Aren’t there some church and state issues here?

Ephilei
December 11th, 2009 | LINK

Didn’t the Catholic Church already state they support capital punishment for homosexuality: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2008/12/02/7040

I always assumed they were pro-bill. But really, “if you’re not for us, you’re against us,” as Jesus said.

Priya Lynn
December 11th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks for that link Ephilei, I frequently encounter people who falsely state the Catholic church stands against mistreatment of gays – this is a powerful reminder of their true position.

John
December 11th, 2009 | LINK

Ben: No law is being proposed to kill drug dealers, so that’s just ridiculous. And the catholic church and oher churches should comment about this because it’s the American Religious Right that is responsible for this mess, including some american bishops.

Vatican Statement on Uganda. « Queering the Church (towards a reality-based theology)
December 11th, 2009 | LINK

[...] For some excellent commentary on the statement, go to Box Turtle Bulletin [...]

Bill
December 13th, 2009 | LINK

I am having a hard time belieing that all of this is actually happening.

What kind of a species treats their own offsping in this manner?

And they have the nerve to present this as an issue of moraity???

Really???

BobN
December 13th, 2009 | LINK

When the RCC issues statements against “unjust discrimination”, it means they find “just” discrimination to be completely acceptable. “Just” discrimination includes criminalization, just not capital punishment (anymore).

See, the Pope draws the line at lynching. Give them man a medal…

» Vatican Statement on Uganda. Queering the Church
December 30th, 2010 | LINK

[...] For some excellent commentary on the statement, go to Box Turtle Bulletin [...]

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