The election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI

April 25, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI
The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) wishes to express its dismay and deep concerns over the election of ultraconservative and homophobic Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to papacy of the Roman Catholic Church. Upon hearing the news, in his initial response, ILGA Co-secretary general Kursad Kahramanolgu said �It appears as if hatemongering is now the quickest route to promotion in the Vatican.�

Throughout his tenure in the church, and especially during his time as head of the Vatican�s �Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith� Cardinal Ratzinger had been the voice of homophobia during the reign of John Paul II. His writings and statements go so far as to describe homosexuality as an �intrinsic moral evil� that should be treated rather than accepted. In a 1986 letter to Catholic Bishops on �Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,� Cardinal Ratzinger ordered that church counselling to homosexuals include psychological, sociological, and medical sciences to �cure� gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The harm of such �reparative therapy� has been roundly denounced by professional medical and psychiatric associations as leading to severe depression and suicide of those forced/coerced and/or pressured to undergo them.

Just as grave, a 1992 statement issued by the Vatican and authorised by the future Benedict XVI entitled �Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons,� was designed to mobilise Catholic opinion against equal rights legislation for lesbians and gay men. Rejecting the concept of homosexual "human rights,� it asserts there is "no right" to homosexuality; adding that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be "legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct.� In the recent elections in the United States, Ratzinger suggested that pro-gay or pro-choice Catholic politicians be refused Holy Communion.

In addition to his vivid homophobia, Cardinal Ratzinger has also been one of the Roman Catholic Church�s most ardent opponents of contraception, the right of women to control their sexuality, and specifically the use of condoms. Not only has he declared their usage immoral but also gone so far as to say that they are not effective in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission. These teachings not only fly in the face of all modern scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of condoms but can only have the effect of contributing to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. He is also well known for his starch opposition to equality between the sexes. As the defender of orthodox catholic doctrine, Cardinal Ratzinger has fiercely opposed opening up the priesthood to women, even denying them lesser positions within the church.

Throughout the last 20 years medical and scientific studies have shown time and time again that �treatments� attempting to �cure� homosexuality end up causing severe psychological harm to their victims and all too often push them to committing suicide; that anti-gay rhetoric causes increases in harassment and violent crimes against homosexuals up to and including murder; that condoms are effective in preventing HIV/AIDS contamination, a epidemic that is killing millions across the globe. While Pope Benedict XVI is not directly responsible for these horrors, his doctrine and teachings directly contribute to them. ILGA can only regret that the cardinals could not choose a more enlightened leader at the beginning of the III millennium and hopes that Cardinal Ratzinger�s election will encourage more moderate voices to speak up within the church. – The International Lesbian and Gay Association

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The Papacy of John Paul II [05/04/2005]



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