Published here with permission, this is a copy of Libby Post's april 8/05 op/ed on 365gay, which is no longer available there. See her next column for responses to this op/ed.
The New Iron Curtain: Why is the mainstream media ignoring John Paul's warts?
by Libby Post
It was difficult not to be moved by the images of
mourners in St. Peter’s Square and of the news clips of Pope John Paul II that
deluged the media throughout the weekend. The media frenzy is not about to stop
either. We’ll have all-Pope almost all the time until a new one is elected and
then we’ll probably have another week or two of, “And, just who is this new
Pope” news stories.
The mainstream media stories have been all about
the positive John Paul-helping to bring down the iron curtain in Poland and then
the rest of the eastern Europe, advocating for the poor, speaking out against
war, healing the rift between Catholics and Jews.
You have to really search for “other” stories
about him in the mainstream media. The stories, like one I heard on NPR over the
weekend, detailing his adamant opposition to gay rights, abortion, euthanasia
and the use of condoms to fight AIDS. It seems that the Pope had his own iron
curtain and it came down hard and fast when dealing with these issues.
The culture of life that the Pope held so dearly
in reality created a culture of strife for those it affected.
In his book, “Memory and Identity,” published
this past February, the Pope described abortion as “legal extermination” and
that it was comparable to the Holocaust. His adamant opposition to abortion and
contraception was another voice in the cacophony to overturn Roe v. Wade in this
country, the U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in 1972. The
Pope’s words and actions on abortion added fuel to the already incendiary
tactics of anti-choice fanatics.
Denying a woman the right to control her own body
defines her simply by her biology and not by her talents, drive and vision of
what she wants to do and when. For poor women, the anti-choice option just
enhances the cycle of poverty that these women are blamed for creating in the
first place. It’s a lose-lose situation all around.
Denying a woman’s right to choose creates
strife, not quality of life.
When it comes to the gay and lesbian community,
the Pope’s iron curtain was coupled with a lock-step response that echoed the
vitriol of those he fought against during World War II.
In “Memory and Identity,” the Pope also wrote
that gay marriage is “insidious” and “attempts to pit human rights against
the family and against man.” He also called on lawmakers throughout the world
to resist the “pressures” put on them to legalize same-sex marriage.
Inserting himself into the politics of gay
marriage wasn’t anything new for John Paul. Last summer, before the
Presidential election, the Pope and Bush had a conclave of their own in Rome.
The Commando-in-Chief implored John Paul and other high-level Vatican officials
to increase their condemnation of gay marriage in the weeks leading up to the
election. Shortly after, US bishops turned up the heat here at home becoming
actively involved in the 11 states where amendments to ban same-sex marriage
were on the ballot and passed.
Two years before the Pope’s book was published,
the Vatican released a 12 page directive titled “Considerations Regarding
Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.” It
was written by the German Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, who was the Pope’s
deputy for theology as the head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, the same church body that ran the inquisition. Ratzinger is
considered to be a contender to be the next Pope.
The directive is quite clear. It equates same sex
marriage with deviant behavior saying “Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts
go against the natural moral law.” It implores Catholic politicians to follow
their “moral duty” and publicly oppose same-sex marriage initiatives and
directs priests to block gays and lesbians from adopting. The directive says
clearly “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions
would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their
condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is
not conducive to their full human development.”
This rhetoric doesn’t uphold the sanctity of
life, it just works to further the strife many gays and lesbians live with day
in and out.
Lest we forget, the Pope also opposed the use of
condoms to stem the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Culture of Life or Culture of Strife? When it
comes to women and the lesbian and gay community, that’s a pretty simple
equation to figure out.