Dolan Spins Francis

Nothing the Cardinal says above is wrong exactly, but it’s classic spin from the bullshit artist who runs the New York archdiocese. The idea that Pope Benedict used the same tone toward homosexuals as Pope Francis – that there has been continuity on this – is absurd. Benedict’s move – strongly backed by Dolan – was at complete odds with Francis’ new tone. It was not to reassert the core doctrine that there is no sin in homosexuality, merely in non-procreative sex. That had definitely been the case already, and clarified in the 1975 letter that signaled the kind of openness and spirit that Francis represents. What Benedict did was deliberately to conflate the sin with the sinner eleven years later in 1986:

In the discussion which followed the publication of the [1975] Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

My italics. Not the acts – the very orientation itself is objectively disordered. Being gay was in no way, for Benedict or Dolan, even a morally neutral disposition. It was rather a form of disorder of the very heart and soul, that made gay people living refutations of God’s Creation – living crimes against nature.

This demonization of gay men was a return in Catholic teaching to medieval view of sodomites (which was chronologically linked to hatred of Jews as well, as John Boswell showed in his landmark book, Christianity, Homosexuality and Social Tolerance). Its plain meaning can be gleaned from the fact that, in an attempt to divert blame from himself for the child-rape scandal, Benedict subsequently issued an unprecedented discriminatory ruling, barring all gay men from entering the priesthood, solely because they were gay, with no distinction between their identity and their sexual acts.

Here is how he defended that anti-Christian position, as I noted yesterday:

In the end, [homosexuals’] attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off center, and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoken.

That’s not about acts; it’s about a way of being human.

The Church does not teach that homosexuality is a choice, and so, to sustain the stigmatization of homosexuality in the face of new research and data, Benedict had to opine that gay people are intrinsically outside “the direction of creation” and our very nature is “somehow distorted.” Dolan can spin this any way he wants. But the proof of the malice was the blunt discrimination against gay priests regardless of their conduct in 2005, the absurdly brutal attacks on gay parents and gay people in the debate over civil marriage equality, and the obsessive-compulsive insistence on never hiring lay people who might conceivably be married to someone of the same gender (something never done with, say, re-married or divorced heterosexuals).

Dolan and Benedict have never, ever spoken of gay people the way Francis did. The question to be asked of Dolan is: why nit? Or is he just an apparatchik? Does Dolan still favor barring all gay seminarians solely because of their orientation? Will he stop discriminating against gay people while tolerating straight people who use contraception or are divorced or who have re-married? Does he refute the statements of the previous Pope? I wish Charlie and Gayle had been able to penetrate his bullshit. But it requires a granular theological expertise few general interest journalists have time to master.