The Vatican and “reality”

Apparently the Vatican still having conniptions about the fact that the rest of the Western world is not listening to them and are continuing to recognise same-sex relationships, granting people who are attracted to those of the same sex rights equivalent to those who are opposite sex attracted.  And they just won’t stand for it – in order to let everyone know how unhappy they are, and how absolutely morally abhorrent they consider same-sex attraction to be, they came out and said (mid December 2012):

Monday’s edition of Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, features a front-page editorial attacking French Catholic magazine Temoignage Chretien (“Christian Witness”) for supporting marriage equality. The editorialclaims that same-sex couples exist in “a different reality” because they are unable to conceive children, and goes on to claim that marriage equality is part of some socialist “utopia”:

Saying that marriage between a woman and a man is equal to that between two homosexuals is, in fact, a denial of the truth that affects one of the basic structures of human society, the family. We cannot base a society on these foundations without then paying a very high price as happened in the past when there was an attempt to achieve total economic and social equality. Why repeat the same mistake and chase after an unattainable utopia? [(emphasis in original) from ThinkProgress]

It’s taken me a while to write this because every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve just struggled to understand where exactly the Vatican thinks it exists, what century they think it is, and why they think that anyone is going to listen to a bunch of old men in frocks who think that same sex relationships, and the ordination of women are worse or equivalent sins to Catholic Priests raping children and and adults.

The “family”

Clearly the Vatican has a very very short memory on the changing nature of the family.  They also don’t define what “family” means to them and what definition they are using.  Do they mean blood relatives and the blood relatives of the spouse?  How far do they take those blood relatives – close family (parents and siblings), or uncles, aunts, grandparents, and first cousins?  Do they just mean the nuclear family – which is a relatively recent invention? [from Women’s History @]

The Rise of the Nuclear Family

The phrase “nuclear family” became commonly known during the first half of the 20th century. Historically, households in many societies had often consisted of groups of extended family members. In a more mobile, post-industrial revolutionsociety, there was a greater emphasis on the nuclear family.

Smaller family units could move more easily to find economic opportunities in other areas. In the increasingly developed and sprawling cities of the United States, more people could afford to buy houses. Therefore, more nuclear families lived in their own homes, rather than in larger households.

From Wikipedia

The nuclear family or elementary family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a pair of adults and their children. This is in contrast to a polygamous family, single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have any number of children. There are differences in definition among observers; some definitions allow only biological children that are full-blood siblings, while others allow for a stepparent and any mix of dependent children including stepchildren and adopted children.

Family structures of a single married couple and their children were present in Western Europe and New England in the 17th century, influenced by church and theocratic governments. With the emergence of proto-industrialization and early capitalism, the nuclear family became a financially viable social unit. The term nuclear family first appeared in the early twentieth century. Alternative definitions have evolved to include family units headed by same-sex parents, and perhaps additional adult relatives who take on a cohabiting parental role; in this later case it also receives the name of conjugal family.

The concept that a narrowly defined nuclear family is central to stability in modern society has been promoted by modern social conservatives in the United States, and has been challenged as historically and sociologically inadequate to describe the complexity of actual family relations. [emphasis in original]

We don’t know what meaning the Vatican is ascribing to “family”.  They don’t explain what on earth they mean, and since the Catholic Church has been around for about 1900 years, they would have been through several different versions of “family”.  They should be clear about what on earth they mean and how recognising same sex relationships threaten whichever meaning of “family” they are currently claiming.


I don’t speak or read Italian, so I can’t read the original.  As I understand it, the text from Think Progress is from the The Hindu translation of same. But apparently the Vatican suggests that we will pay a high price, as we have in the past when we “attempt to achieve total economic and social equality”.  Um what?

What does that mean?  What high price was paid with the abolition of slavery?  What high price was paid with the recognition that women had the same (ish) worth as men?  What high price was paid when compulsory education for children was mandated by many nations?  What high price was paid when the Church no longer governed nations?  What high price was paid when germ theory became prevalent in medicine and people stopped dying from doctors failing to wash their hands?

Seriously, what event is the Catholic Church attempting to refer to when they suggest that the price was too high when attempting to achieve total economic and social equality?  Is this some code for racism or sexism?  Given the Catholic Church has a memory of about 60 years currently (slightly under the average age of Cardinals), do we expect that they are referring obliquely to some recent act of seeking equality?

And then there is the question as to whether a price is too high, and whether a whole bunch of over-privileged jerks get to declare whether the price was too high.


You see, I think that striving for Utopia is a very important thing.  I think we should all strive to a perfect world, one filled with happiness and not with fear.  I don’t see aiming and moving towards a better world being a bad thing.  I don’t think we should settle for what we currently have when we can have better.

The Catholic Church is frightened because moving to a better world means leaving many Catholic teachings behind, and the teachings of the Vatican are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the rest of the world.  The Vatican is terrified that they no longer have the authority to declare moral authority over issues such as same sex attraction, relationships, family, the status of women, abortion, divorce, etc.  If we don’t settle for what we have (and strive for heaven instead), and instead improve the world we live in, make everyone happier and safer, then we apparently turn further away from the Catholic Church (no loss as far as I am concerned).

If the Vatican wanted to maintain some form of relevance, and to actually follow the teachings of their deity, they’d be working to improve the status of the world, they’d be working with marginalised groups (all of them, not just the ones they think fit their definition of worthy), they’d love without judgement, and they’d fight for equal rights for all.  Right now, they’re a bunch of scared old men worrying about the fact that the world is changing and they are being left behind.

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