Respect, Compassion, Sensitivity – On Both Sides, Please!

In Spain, there is an ugly and escalating row between the Cardinal Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, and lgbt activists. Speaking “in defence of the family”, the cardinal spoke of threats to the family, coming from “actions of the gay empire, of ideas such as radical feminism, or the most insidious of all, gender theory”. A coalition of LGBT and feminist groups, interpreting this as an inflammatory attack, have. have responded by laying a formal complaint with the police against Cardinal Cañizares. The row has since escalated further, as described by Francis DeBenardo at Bondings 2.0.

Meanwhile, a similar row has developed in Sardinia, where a parish priest, don Massimiliano Pusceddu, has been accused of inciting murder of homosexuals, for  a homily which quoted selectively from Romans 1:

Don Massimiliano Pusceddu

“L’uomo ha iniziato ad accoppiarsi con l’uomo e la donna con la donna, così Dio li ha abbandonati a passioni infami. Sono colmi di ingiustizia, omicidio, malignità e sono nemici di Dio. Pur conoscendo il giudizio di Dio, cioè che gli autori di tali cose meritano la morte, non solo le commettono, ma anche approvano chi le fa”

(based on Romans 1, verses 26, 27 and 32)

In the aftermath of last week’s Orlando massacre, Italian LGBT groups have seen this as an obvious incitement to murder, and have laid charges with the police.   The priest on the other hand, sees this as simply proclaiming the “prophetic” words of St Paul.

In both Valencia and Sardinia, both sides have a degree of right on their side – and both are making a tragic mistake.  Catholic teaching about its response to LGBT people is clear – homosexuals are to be treated with “respect, sensitivity and compassion”.  LGBT Catholics would be well advised to respond in kind in dealing with the words of Catholic priests and bishops.

There is much that is wrong with Don Pusceddu’s presentation of the text in Romans, but the most heinous is its total lack of sensitivity to how it will be read by LGBT people as an incitement to murder – just as it has been interpreted. Conversely, LGBT people need to be sensitive to his own interpretation of his actions, as a simple proclamation of the biblical message, as required by his priestly ministry.

Writing about the situation in Valencia, Francis DeBenardo says

There is plenty of blame to go around here, and both sides share in it.

The lesson of Orlando that strong rhetoric can lead to strong and violent responses is one that both sides in this case need to learn before it is too late.

Exactly the same can be said, with respect to Sardinia.

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