While the pope never mentioned “homosexuality,” it was his explanation of the nature of man and the order of the natural world that caused gays to react so harshly, Fr. George William Rutler, a leading Catholic theologian, told CNSNews.com.
In his Dec. 22 speech at the Vatican, Pope Benedict talked about World Youth Day, the environment and Jesus Christ. On the environment, the pope said: The earth is “the gift of our Creator, with certain intrinsic rules that offer us an orientation we must respect as administrators of creation. … [The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all. It must also defend the human person against its own destruction. What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected.”
The pope went on to say that if people disregard this “order of creation,” it is self-destructive. “That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator,” and as a result “the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit,” said the pope.
The pope was saying that man is made in the image of God and is therefore “unique” among all species and has authority over nature, Fr. Rutler told CNSNews.com, adding that realities such as gender – man and woman – are not arbitrary developments in biology, or accidents, but are clearly defined in the natural world for a reason.
If a person rejects nature’s assigning of gender, or tries to change it, then that is disruptive to nature and destructive, said Rutler. The natural environment must be responsibly protected, as the pope mentioned in reference to rain forests, but so must the natural order in men and women, said Rutler.
Homosexuals, in their behavior, “are denying the truth of nature and denying the natural law,” he said.
In reaction to the pope’s speech, Rev. Sharon Ferguson, director of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, as reported in The Scotsman said: “It is more the case that we need to be saved from his comments. It is comments like this that justify homophobic bullying that goes on in schools and that justify gay bashing.”
Rev. Giles Fraser, president of the pro-homosexual movement Inclusive Church, told Agence France-Presse: “The pope is spreading fear that gay people somehow threaten the planet, and that’s just absurd.”
“As always, this sort of religious homophobia will be an alibi for all those who would do gay people harm. Can’t he think of something better to say at Christmas?" said Fraser.
Franco Grillini, with the Italian group Gaynet, told The Guardian, “What keeps the pope awake at night is the idea that human beings might be able to seek out their own sexual identity to have a happy life.”
Also reported in The Guardian, Arcigay’s Aurelio Mancuso said, “The speech has no scientific basis. A divine programme for men and women is out of line with nature, where the roles are not so clear.”
Fr. Rutler, who holds a pontifical doctorate in sacred theology, and a master of studies from Oxford University, said that homosexual activists and secular liberals do not understand the relationship between the human race and nature because they are essentially Gnostics, they see the natural world – the material world – as contrary to anything divine and “the result of energies other than God.”
To say that “the Word was made flesh,” as in the New Testament, is “a total contradiction” to the Gnostic, said Rutler, because the Gnostic thinks “the divine can have nothing to do with the flesh.”
As a consequence, for example, homosexuals “do not see marriage as an essentially divine institution – they see it as a legal construction that can be changed at will,” said Rutler. “They see a Supreme Court changing the law on marriage and say it is valid. But from the point of natural law, it would be like saying the Supreme Court could repeal the law of gravity.”
This is why homosexuals see the pope’s remarks as threatening, said Rutler. “The homosexual is a classic Gnostic,” he said, “because the homosexual does not understand how gender is intrinsic to God’s will for the human race. Male-ness and female-ness are not arbitrary categories.”
In 2004, Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote that “the obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels,” which include calling “into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality.”
In 1992, then-Pope John Paul II described homosexual marriage as “perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.”
Matt Barber, an attorney and board member of PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, told CNSNews.com that “if we are going to focus so much attention on preserving our environment and ecology, then what is the most precious aspect of our environment? From a Christian perspective, it is man, who was created in God’s image.”
“When man is in a destructive mode, as the pope suggested, then it is incumbent upon those who care about mankind – their fellowman – to encourage those engaging in a destructive lifestyle to leave it,” said Barber.