Monday, March 1, 2010

How Do You Say 'Gay' in Dutch?

From the BBC:

Hundreds of Dutch activists have walked out of a Mass in protest at a Roman Catholic policy of denying communion to practicing homosexuals.


This dispute began during Dutch carnival celebrations earlier in February, when the man chosen to be carnival prince in nearby Reusel was refused communion because of his open homosexuality.

The refusal offended many in the local community.

The Sint-Jan church in the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, also known as Den Bosch, was prepared for the protest and so decided not to give out Holy Communion during Sunday Mass.

Several hundred demonstrators, dressed in pink wigs and clothes, left the church in protest.

Well, I have to admit that this is pretty funny - particularly when you see the photograph:

But I also have to admit that I take issue with the protesters. The Catholic Church is not a democracy. It's certainly not the political body it once was. Really, it holds very little power except in its massive membership, so why bother protesting a basic aspect of their faith (to which they are entitled) instead of finding a more accepting church? At least, that was my argument until I got to the last sentence of the article:

The man at the centre of the row has said he just wants equal treatment - if he is regarded as a sinner, he wants the priest to refuse communion to all other sinners too.

Man at the center of the row, that is a very good point. I forgot, in my rush to defend a church's right to define sin (even if I don't agree with their definition), that sin also comes with a hierarchy. There are mortal sins and there are normal sins. Guess which one being gay is: yeah, not mortal. So why, then, are gay people being denied communion when we're not looking into the medical and criminal history of the rest of the congregation? After all, getting an abortion should not only mean that you don't get communion, but it warrants automatic excommunication from the Church, right? So how many closeted abortionists are taking communion? And what about murderers and other criminals? How can we make sure none of them get communion? What about fornicators and drug addicts? This is Holland for Christ's sake! The country is full of them! Do they get communion?

The answer, of course, is that these other kinds of sinners are less easily identifiable, which leads us to the real problem here: homosexuals are a visible minority. And, as gay sex is something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable and/or grossed out, it's been demonized within many branches of Christianity and other religions. And, because it's been demonized by religion, it's more socially acceptable to behave in an actively discriminatory way toward the gays than it is to behave that way with other minorities. It's not a question of morality or sin; it's a question of homophobia and hatred. Whatever your definition of sin is, everybody does it.

Matthew 9:10-13 says:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I think the Catholic Church needs to ask itself whether the greater sin is being just as sexually active as the rest of the damn planet, but with members of the same sex, or being a bigoted douche. After all, if Jesus shared his meal with sinners, why can't the Church? WTFWJD?

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