Pope revealed to be Catholic
Pope Benedict XVI has been making news by stating (to no one’s great surprise, I would have thought) Rome’s opposition to gay marriage. It’s interesting enough that this unremarkable restatement of a Catholic doctrine qualifies as news, but what I found particularly revealing is the way this is stated:
He told diplomats from nearly 180 countries that the education of children needed proper “settings” and that “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.”
“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” he said
Now, if I was a cynical, snarky type, I’d point out that if everything has to revolve around family units of one man and one woman as “the fundamental cell of every society”, the Catholic church should be sorting out its own beam of compulsory priestly celibacy before worrying about the mote of permitting people who are in gay relationships anyway to have some sort of legal recognition of that relationship. And as I just did, I suppose I must be a cynical, snarky type after all. Oh well.
But leaving the well-rehearsed arguments about gay marriage aside, here’s what I find so scary. Old Ratzi’s trying to ensure that the most basic rights and protections aren’t granted to gay relationships, directly challenging the secular, democratically elected authorities, with implications for millions of gay couples. But I can’t find a single argument as to why. He expects the nations of the world to do what he says on the back of nothing more than a few assertions which are shaky at best.
Obviously, you wouldn’t expect a scientific examination of the issue from him, but even so, he must have his reasons. He must have decided that the Bible, or church tradition or whatever clearly proves his various assertions, but we can’t know. Maybe it’s my Protestant background talking, or possibly my scientific mindset, but I expect to hear some proper reasoning, especially when the impact of this could be so far-reaching. I expect to be able to hear his reasons and say I agree, or don’t agree, or I’m not sure and will look into that a bit more later on. But when there’s no explanation given, there’s almost no room for rational argument – you can’t challenge unstated premises or hidden reasoning.
Lots of people do this – how often do you hear someone backing up a wild assertion with something along the lines of “it stands to reason”? – but they aren’t the head of a massive church, attempting to dictate global policy. Even if most Catholics are happy to do what he tells them without asking why, once he starts telling democratic government what they should be doing, he ought to be meeting a higher standard of evidence than “because I said so”.
Globally, even his Megachurchcorp brand is very much a minority. It would be nice if he acknowledged this now and again, but I won’t hold my breath.