Skip to main content

Media Turn Pope's Deep Speech on Gender Politics Into a Personal Christmas Attack

Tim Graham's picture

Does anyone in the media ever attempt to read and understand the speeches of Pope Benedict? The New York Daily News account of his December 21 speech to the curia (the “Vatican bureaucracy”) is being mangled by the Daily Kos into “Pope gives special holiday hate speech against gays because it's Christmas.” The Mediaite headline (off London’s Daily Mail) is “Merry Christmas? Pope Benedict XVI Denounces Gay Marriage As A ‘Manipulation Of Nature’.”

Someone who reads the original would find the term “gay marriage” is missing, although there is a defense of traditional marriage. He denounced the idea that one's gender is not a fact, but a social construct. The pope was also taking on the notion that in the broader culture, men and women are afraid of making lifelong commitments:

Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality.

According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.

According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.

From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain.

When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

AP’s Nicole Winfield signaled that unlike many, she could interpret the speech as something deeper than a personal attack: “For the Vatican, though, the gay marriage issue goes beyond questions of homosexuality, threatening what the church considers to be the bedrock of society: a family based on a man, woman and their children.” Then she proclaimed “The Vatican's opposition to gay marriage has been falling largely on deaf ears.”

There's no doubt there are a lot of "deaf ears" in the press who don't even care to understand what the Pope is saying, let alone portray it accurately. They had no interest at all in what the Pope told his bureaucracy about the new evangelization. That's just churchy gobbledygook to them.  They only care to report on where the church meets their sexual politics.

Naturally, Carol Kuravilla in the Daily News portrayed it in the liberal media’s favorite terms: that liberal opinion is winning over Catholics against church teaching:

As Pope, Benedict sets both tone and theology for the Catholic Church. Officially, the church still considers homosexuality an “intrinsically disordered” act.

However, 59% of Catholics in America favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, according to a poll released this year by the Public Religion Research Institute.

That’s exactly what is worrying the Pope. He fears the opinions people form in their own consciences will lead them away from the doctrines set forth by the church.

That hope of the Pope being abandoned by all Catholics is what drove Kaili Joy Gray of the dKos to deliver her Christmas message:

Oh no! The pope is afraid that people will form their own opinions? Oh god, we can't have that! Think of the children! Think of Christmas! Think of how increasingly irrelevant the obsolete edicts from an old man in Rome are and how no one cares what hateful nonsense he spews in the name of the lord because, sinners all, even Catholics are capable of realizing that two consenting adults loving each other is not the end of the world.  Merry Christmas.