Racism, homosexuality and prejudice

John Candido has recently given us an interesting contribution, under the subject Pass the Word. The issue he raises is, I believe, sufficiently important to need discussion as a post on its own. Herewith:

I have been thinking recently about homophobia and racism. We all know about racism. The more we travel back in time, the more comfortably accepted as a truth and visible racism was situated in former societies. Racism has not disappeared and is as much a part of our modern world as it was of former times. While racism was more accepted and explicit in history, depending on the nation-state you were in, it is less accepted today as well as being socially compelled to be more implicit, i.e. hidden within us. And this is where it should be failing its complete eradication. Unfortunately, this will never happen because racism will always be with us. Catastrophes such as the European Holocaust between 1933 and 1945 are stark reminders from history of where inhumane ideologies founded on unbridled nationalism and racism, will inexorably lead us to.

The other important thing about racism is that it is found in every one of us regardless of how virtuous any one of us is. It is there in different levels from one person to another. Most of us at least have a preference for our own ethnocultural group.

If I may define my terminology before we get too much further in discussion? Homophobia means, ‘a hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality’, according to the ‘Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary’, 5th edition. It has also been defined as ‘an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexuals’, according to ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary’, 10th edition, revised.

Is a similar dynamic or parallel in play here regarding racism and homophobia? Do humans have a similar proclivity for homophobia and heterophobia as they do for racism? Heterophobia is the antonym of homophobia. The word ‘Heterophobia’ is somewhat controversial and not found in all dictionaries. For those who are interested, you can read more about this word here, http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Heterophobia.

In a similar parallel with racism and speaking in degrees of its occurrence; I believe that homophobia can be found in some if not most heterosexuals and heterophobia can be found in similar levels in homosexuals. I don’t have any proof of this but I have an intuition of this state of affairs as a reasonable hypothesis of these phenomena, and I think that they are very much a part of human and social affairs. What are your thoughts?

Here are the relevant comments as at 0939 31 October.

stjoseph says

Thats a strange word Phobia-it can mean anything really.
I have a phobia toward spiders however I have a little friend who comes to sit by my feet most nights,
I say hello( I hope I am not at the risk of being sectioned) it just sits there for while and then scurries of to where it came from. I would not dream of hurting it.
If I see a very very big one I put a glass over it an put it in the garden.
When I was in the licensed trade we had all sorts of customers.Maybe we didnt agree with their life style but that didn’t mean they were barred-unless of course they were causing trouble or bad language etc.There were all Nationalities, and it was a small town and those with different coloured skin was unusual. We were all one big family and socialised together, and most customers helped the Church financely with Fetes Raffles etc. No bad feelings ,also Homosexuals no problem.
It it through ignorance to my mind that people are objectional.Live and let live.
People used to ask if we would put a condom machine in the toilet,my husband not a catholic they thought we should.
As catholics we have a duty to uphold the Faith even if we fall ourselves!Because we are weak that is not to say we deny it -either we believe it or not.

st.joseph says:

Am I wrong in thinking that before Jesus came to save us that the union between male and female was a Civil one and it was He who raised it up to a Sacrament.
Now to my mind it can not be hi-jacked between 2 people of the same sex.
So as the Church is a Christian way of life,it can not by law be made to impose marriage in Church, Christianity upholds the Civil law with the Registrar present. The same respect should be due to the Church. Does one think?

Iona says

St Joseph, I think you are probably right (here I’m going back to the beginning of this discussion, which I’ve only just caught up with) to suggest that the possibility of gay marriage may founder on the question of what would count as consummation.

There was a suggestion earlier that racism has always been with us. But has it, I wonder? Is it just a form of tribalism (which is certainly alive and well, and contributing to likely problems in Libya and many other parts of the world)? St. Augustine came from north Africa. Was he black? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Did anyone care at the time he was around?

Back to St. Joseph, and on a lighter note: I had a similar little friend. Our friendship lasted for three years. Each year the little friend became bigger. By the third year it was so intimidatingly large that I resorted to the glass-and-card and out-into-the-garden method of disposal

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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54 Responses to Racism, homosexuality and prejudice

  1. st.joseph says:

    St Martin de Porres the Patron Saint of the mixed race people and all those seeking inter-racial harmony.
    Illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman,and a black former slave.
    First black Saint in America. Born in 1579-1639.
    Canonized in 1962 by Pope John 23rd.
    My mothers favourite St .No racism there! A popular magazine in Ireland

  2. st.joseph says:

    Let us not confuse homophobia or prejudice with homosexuality.
    We could be muddeing the waters here if we confuse the two.
    Yes people are prejudiced- but that is not the Christian message. We know what the Church teaches!
    We can go back as far as Pope Leo X111 – Arcanum (On Christian Marriage) Feb 10 1880.
    We will understand the definition of Marriage as a Sacrament.
    Then we will understand more about the relationship between male and female,within a marriage-not to say that all keep to it

  3. st.joseph says:

    I dont wish to hog the blog, but must mention my experience at 14 ,whether it be racism or not.
    I was staying with my grandmother in Ireland and (I may have mentioned this before forgive me if I did), She being a War Widow 1916 1st day of the Somme (never married)It is a seaside place where she lived ,and in a town consquently I did’nt have any friends there.
    I used to walk down the Prom on my own, one day I met a girl my age-we got talking and I took her home to meet my grandmother. This girl was German and my Gran told her to leave, as the Germans killed my grandmother. I was very upset and so was the girl! I never forget the bitterness she felt-and remained so -but still strangely enough a very holy lady-if one can understand that.
    It taught me a lesson-Probably why my mother had no prejudices against anyone,she learned from that too.

  4. John Nolan says:

    Thanks to John Candido for his interesting and balanced contribution. The problems with terms like racism and homophobia is that they mean what people want them to mean. When the law defines a racist comment as one which the recipient, or anyone else, perceives to be so, and uses this broad definition to criminalize the one making the comment, we are on very dangerous ground indeed. When a footballer (as recently happened) is alleged to have called another player a f****** black c***, the only word to be deemed offensive was the middle one, despite the fact that the outer ones were asterisked out in the news reports. Racism, strictly speaking, is the belief that some races are inherently superior to others. Ironically, this was less prevalent in the eighteenth century (Europeans confronted with Asian civilisations did not regard them as inferior and often ‘went native’) than it was in the nineteenth, although the eighteenth century condoned negro slavery whereas the nineteenth did not. Preference for one’s own ethnic and cultural milieu is not racism, and may indeed be considered ‘politically correct’ under the buzzword ‘diversity’.

    ‘Homophobia’ is a neologism coined by people ignorant of etymology, and is only listed in dictionaries because compilers fall over themselves to reflect current usage. It literally means ‘an irrational fear of the same’, which is of course meaningless. Phobia has a precise definition – it should not be used to describe dislike, aversion, hatred or reasonable fear. You can’t have a phobia about death or about swimming in shark-infested waters. But even if we take the COD definition of ‘an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexuals’ it is clear that what is commonly termed homophobia is nothing of the sort. I happen to agree with Church teaching that homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral. So do a good number of non-Catholics and indeed non-Christians. People are at liberty to disagree, and I would not stigmatize them as extreme and irrational for doing so, but I would expect the same tolerance and courtesy in return. As I have said before, it is entirely possible that aversion to homosexuality may not simply be a matter of cultural conditioning, given that the primary reason for sexual congress is reproduction.

    Terms like ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ and ‘homophobic’ are usually thrown around by the ignorant or mischievous either as crude terms of abuse, or (which is more sinister) to stifle debate.

    • Quentin says:

      Some interesting thoughts here. I have had cause recently to coin the word homophobicphobia. It identifies an irrational fear that anyone who holds that homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral cannot have reached a rational decision and so are necessarily homophobic in the sense which you take care to define.

      May I just take this opportunity of saying that I may be misunderstood — in fact I have been in some instances. I have been careful not to express a view on the question of homosexuality. And anyone who thinks that they know my view is only guessing.

  5. Peter D. Wilson says:

    I think a measure of racism is almost inevitable; for instance, I am more comfortable with people of Asiatic than of sub-Saharan African origin, even before any issue of their personal qualities or behaviour may arise, and can only do my best to prevent the prejudice from influencing my own conduct in any way.

    As for homosexuality, I dislike it, but it is none of my business so long as it is not thrust upon my attention. That proviso would itself probably be considered homophobic in official circles

    • John Candido says:

      Thank you Peter for your honesty as well as your humility. This is exactly what I am alluding to in my post. Thank you very much for your reply.

  6. st.joseph says:

    John when the footballer used that bad language- he ought to have been sent off the field.
    I would call that ‘low life or bad breeding’. What would one call what I said.
    Mind you I would’nt say that to his face-but think it!

  7. mike Horsnall says:

    I have been wondering for years if my ‘measure of racism’ which mirrors Peter Wilsons is the result of:
    a) The cultural mileu of my Windrush youth when large scale black immigration came to the Midlands and was fiercely resisted by my local community..my dad being at the forefront and taking care to inculcate in his children a hatred of immigrants.
    b) The fact that during my youthful sojourns around dubious Manchester night clubs the only two people ever to threaten me with knives were black immigrant youths.
    c) Some other factor.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that its a bit of all three. As may be evident by now my view of the human psyche without restraint is rather Hobbesian so it isn’t difficult to suppose a certain antipathy towards others is there just waiting to be channelled. Like Pete I take care regarding the antipathy and do not express it.
    Certainly ‘racism’ is a cross cultural issue. When I worked in China factory workers used to hand out of the windows shouting to each other :
    “look, here comes the big nosed foreigner”…..Not realising that I could understand them!
    And in X’ian gangs of Chinese youths would regularly corner and beat Ghanain students whom they accused of going after Chinese women.
    I don’t know if this is racism or just general viciousness, but I think it runs deeper than culture.

    Regarding homosexuality, despite the fact that I’m personally generally quite well disposed toward the individual homosexuals I meet and can see the attraction of same sex relationships-I tend towards John Nolans view and agree that an aversion to homosexuality also probably runs deeper than mere cultural influence into something more basic. I also agree with John Nolan that the terms ‘racism’ and ‘homophobia’ are in themselves verbal tools whose primary purpose is political and offensive in nature designed to stereotype and mark out for attack those with whom the liberal lobby disagree.

    • John Candido says:

      I agree with Mike that racism can come from any ethnocultural group. While I do not resile for a second all that I have expressed about homosexuality on Secondsight, I also tend to believe that an aversion to homosexuality is probably latent in most heterosexuals. Each and every one of us needs to responsibly deal with this self-knowledge, in their own manner.

      • John Candido says:

        What I neglected to say in the above reply is that, while I do not resile for a second all that I have expressed about homosexuality on Secondsight, I also tend to believe that an aversion to homosexuality is probably latent in most heterosexuals, including myself. And I say this with no sense of triumphalism or disrespect towards any LGBTIQ person.

        Sincerely yours, John Candido.

    • Quentin says:

      Mike, you might want to feed in an additional factor here. Just as altruism is an evolved instinct which leads us to care unselfishly for our community, so the other side of the coin is to defend against those who are not part of it. In addition, our very primitive instinct is to suspect the “other”. In primitive times those who did not treat the “other” as dangerous were unlikely to survive.

      Quentin de la Bedoyere 10 Edge Hill London SW19 4LP +44(0)2089467166 quentin@blueyonder.co.uk http://www.quentindelabedoyere.com http://www.secondsightblog.net

  8. claret says:

    I’m still trying to decipher the explantion of Quentin’s addition to the dictionary with his made up word. I also have a difficulty with the word ‘fear’ in the way he uses it. Why would anyone need to fear an homosexual unless you felt in danger of a sexual assault by one ?
    There is though surely some kind of element of free choice here. I would not willingly seek the company of known homosexuals because the thought of homosexual acts is repugnant to me and would make me feel uncomfortable so i would make a free choice to avoid such company but accept that I may well be in such company without even knowing it.
    Lastly are we really comparing oranges with oranges by lumping race and homosexuality togther as though they had some inherent link ? When in fact they are quite distinct and totally separate issues.

  9. claret says:

    Perhaps some explanation is appropriate regarding the free choice I speak of. For example I would never knowingly go into what was reputed to be a place mainly frequented by homosexuals. ( A gay club for instance.)

    • st.joseph says:

      I have been in one Claret, for a certain reason I wont disclose here, but I can tell you-you would not want to go there.

      • st.joseph says:

        So that I am not considered prejudiced -nor would I have any wish to go into a strip club with hetrosexuals .
        I will just say that the video that was showing in the gay club was most vulgar ,explicit, and distasteful.
        That is not to say that hetrosexuals dont display themselves in the same manner.
        We can only speak as we find,and what we know to know true.

  10. Horace says:

    John Candido states “The other important thing about racism is that it is found in every one of us . . . . in different levels from one person to another.

    Could one perhaps say “The other important thing about homosexuality is that it is found in every one of us . . . . in different levels from one person to another. “?

    I note with interest that scientific studies refer to the “heterosexual-homosexual continuum” and give widely different estimates of the proportion of homosexuals in society (varying from 2% to nearly 50%).
    Much of this difficulty must relate to the way in which ‘homosexual’ is defined.
    [Incidentally the same is true of studies of homosexual behaviour in animals.]

    John Candido ends the first part of his comments with “Most of us at least have a preference for our own ethnocultural group.” implying that when this ‘preference’ is exacerbated it becomes ‘racism’.

    So we might similarly say “Most of us at least have a preference for people who share our feelings about sexuality.” implying that when this ‘preference’ is exacerbated it becomes ‘homophobia’ (or perhaps ‘heterophobia’).

    • John Candido says:

      Horace’s post I must say is wonderfully informative and incisive. I never knew that there is a heterosexual-homosexual continuum that equally applies to humans and animals, or that depending on the individual, heterosexuals have degrees of homosexuality in them. John Nolan has referred to my point about a preference for one’s own ethnocultural group as not equating to racism. I am inclined to agree with him and Horace who states I imply that ‘when this preference is exacerbated it becomes racism.’ This is what I meant but could not adequately express.

      Horace’s last statement is a real gem.

      ‘So we might similarly say “Most of us at least have a preference for people who share our feelings about sexuality.” implying that when this ‘preference’ is exacerbated it becomes ‘homophobia’ (or perhaps ‘heterophobia’).’ Thanks Horace.

  11. John Nolan says:

    I’m sure Horace is right in saying that human sexuality is much too complex to be described simply in terms of ‘homo’ and ‘hetero’ with a bit of ‘bi’ thrown in. Why, for instance, are some people monogamous while others quite patently are not? A glance at the crime pages of any newspaper shows that sex and money are the root of most evils, although we need both. It follows that sexual licence and greed must be subject to some restraints, if only for the good of society.

  12. mike Horsnall says:

    Yes I think we are all on a continuum of some form or another, In my case I seem to be at several diffeent points along the continuum at any given time-sounds rather like modern particle physics doesn’t it! I guess thatwe are very complex multifacet things and so our visceral response might lie someplace along the line and our cultured response elsewhere.

    You can take this debate a little further down the line so to speak and come to the conclusion that humanness itself is along a continuum. By this I wonder if it is possible to be bipedal, have a job, wear a hat , go to work etc and yet not be fully ‘human’ I have long been fascinated by Pauls description of vessels for noble purposes and for base use ( Romans ch9) Its a discussion I have with my friend who is a Crown Prosecutor and sees some pretty unpleasant things as a matter of routine.What does it mean to be human?

    • John Candido says:

      I fully agree with Mike Horsnall’s clever observation that our visceral response is one thing, and our cultured response is another. As he says, our visceral response is more than likely located on a different point along a continuum between no homophobia and homophobia, than our cultured or measured response of this reality. Wonderful post!

      I also think that he has possibly answered his own question without knowing so. Although I am simplifying things, to be human is to have a dichotomous nature made up of visceral responses on the one hand, and cultured, more thoughtful responses to various stimuli, on the other. This can be completely dispensed with if you are a machine or a robot. In this case there is no visceral response and no cultured response; only a mechanical effect.

      Artificial intelligence is slowly changing this and making these considerations a little more blurred. Consider the advances that our scientists are making in artificial intelligence or AI for short. There is no emotional reaction but there is an independent intellectual reply to the stimuli in its environment. This is a very interesting topic.

  13. Bob says:

    Mike,

    As you mentioned my job as a prosecutor exposes me to some pretty horrendous scenarios. As you also know, I used to defend as well as prosecute. So, I have met many Defendants in the witness box during cross-examination and in the solicitor’s office or prison conference facility as their barrister. In order to advance a cause on behalf of the Prosecution or the Defence in a criminal case one must,in so far as one can, de-humanise the process. To dwell upon the gore would be too distracting, too burdensome.
    However,in spite of the rumours, I do have a beating heart and warm blood. i think some of this gore has seeped into me over the years. Exposure to this type of material on a daily basis must have some kind of effect, even on a hard-nosed lawyer. Images from certain cases I did even 20 years ago remain with me today.
    I think the principal effect it has upon me is to incite me to question the very nature of humanity as you yourself did in your post. Also, if one is not too careful, it might even cloud one’s view of humanity. This is a constant battle for me.
    Why do people sexually abuse members of their own family or murder or deal drugs or commit fraud ? All of these behaviours flow from a break-down in self-control and a decaying of the sense of what is right and wrong. Whether that is the result of intoxication, mental illness, a genetic pre-disposition to commit acts of violence, the fact that they themselves were abused or simply a cold, clinical decision to do something really bad is anybody’s guess although the first four factors are the most commonly encountered certainly by me. I will not address the spiritual dimension here.
    Of course, we are back to nature-nurture to an extent. I think what I have seen in some Defendants is the ‘deadening’ of a moral sense. There just appears to be nothing ‘there’ , in terms of a sense of moral obligation. It is almost as if morality has been knocked out of them by their genes and their upbringing and/or intoxicants.
    The real danger lies in the equation that says such individuals are less human than you or I. The ‘animal’ label could for example quite easily be attached to two women I recently prosecuted for murder. They were not, however, animals but human beings who murdered.
    I think there is some good in everyone but it’s very much harder to see in some than others.

    The good in you Mike, by the way, is very easy to see !

    • Quentin says:

      Bob, a thought occurred to me as I read your note. Your profession will have made you aware of the extent to which the police keep their enquiries into discipline under wraps, and how individual policemen can avoid discipline by resigning early. It was the subject of this week’s Panorama.

      I happen to think that the police are the worst people to look into their own behaviour, but that’s by the way. Is police cover up practice any different from bishop/corrupt priest? They both involve really serious dangers – sometime life and death. They both involve behaviour which is liable to repetition. Yet I doubt whether the police cover up will ever get the headlines that corrupt clergy got.

      Why should this be so? What does it tell us (me?) about our (my?) selective attitudes to different kind of behaviour?

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Speaking of law and corruption here is an interesting question. As we all know there have been percieved problems with the handing over of a small number of priests/ cardinals from their house arrests in the Vatican to the civil authorities-especially America.

        To a large degree this refusal to hand over suspected paedophiles is seen as a cover up and a failure of the Vatican. However there are other reasons these being mainly to do with the fact that the Church must do what is right in her own eyes not those of the secular authorities; refusal to bend to secular authority is a hallmark of the church and forms the root of outside respect for her when she is faces down corrupt or totalitaran regimes. I am keenly interested to know the kind of theology which could be applied in this particular case. Is there any valid catholic reasoning that can be advanced as to why the church should prefer do deal with these individuals herself? (This is a serious question I’m asking and not an excuse to jeer at the Vatican!)

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Thats very kind of you dear boy…I will send the bundle of grubby tenners as agreed!!

      I take your point about the pitfalls but don’t think its a matter of ascribing ‘animal’ status to persons -though that would be the logical outcome of the line of thought-to allocate a ‘sub human’ category…which of course has been done many times before.
      We already do this redefining to a degree I guess by using categories such as ‘psychopath’ ‘sociopath’ -ways of coping with the suggestion that not everything with a face and a beating heart has a conscience. Then I guess we have ‘diminshed responsibility’ and the catechism’s darling: culpability. In a sense too when we say ‘there’s always some good in everyone’ we are turning our face from the possibility that the amount of ‘good’ in a person may actually be very small. Your argument really supports the basic Catholic view that -made as we are in the image of god there is hope for the most corrupt..I wonder if this is part of the theological framework I allude to below.

      • John Nolan says:

        Going back to Quentin’s and Mike’s earlier posts, professional bodies (including the Law Society, the Bar Council and the General Medical Council) reserve the right to discipline their respective professions. Disciplinary proceedings, in the police force and elsewhere, have a strong whiff of ‘jungle justice’ about them, and rules of evidence are not strictly applied. If an individal prefers to resign rather then submit to such a procedure, then good luck to him; if he has committed a criminal act then he can still be prosecuted.

        Clerical sexual misconduct which constitutes a delict under Canon Law is not necessarily reprobated in other walks of life. This includes relations with women (married or unmarried) and lately many forms of homosexual conduct. In most European countries it is legal for a man to have sex with an adolescent boy; the minimum age in some EU countries is fifteen. The Church needs its own internal procedures to deal with such situations.

        Mike, who are the cardinals suspected of paedophilia (unnatural sexual interest in pre-pubescent children; it is vital we are precise in our definitions here) at present under house arrest in the Vatican?

  14. Peter D. Wilson says:

    I think it was one of the Popes who said that he could see in himself worse than he could be sure about in anyone else. Probably many of us, if not all, might say the same; I certainly could. Maybe it is the residue of Original Sin. Up to about the middle of the 20th century it was broadly accepted the the demon had to be kept under control, but then came the sixties with the fashion to express oneself and let everything out, with consequences that are all too obvious. What, I wonder, are the prospects for getting the genie back into the bottle? Or have I got it all wrong anyway?

    • Rahner says:

      “Up to about the middle of the 20th century it was broadly accepted the the demon had to be kept under control, but then came the sixties with the fashion to express oneself and let everything out…”

      Was the demon under control at Verdun, Auschwitz and Hiroshima?

  15. mike Horsnall says:

    “Genie back into the bottle..”

    Its an interesting question Peter and I think one that is answering itself in these straitened days. I lived through the sixties -as did we all- and imbibed it all wholeheartedly as the spirit of the time and me a wandering. We have seen the end of ‘deference’ its true and the end of unthinking obedience. But I’m not entirely convinced that this was a bad thing. I have been very much cheered over the past six years by exposure to a whole bunch of young malcontented and hoodlum youth at Art college-I did a part time Fine Art degree for pleasure. I was pleasantly surprised by the hundreds of young people I met over that time. Few were formally religious and few seemed to understand the idea of being on time or using a diary…but they looked out for one another, accepted me unquestioningly and, though surprisingly and often habitually foul mouthed, held eloquent and passionate views about all sorts of things.
    I know we live in the graveyard of institutions (including the church to a degree) and we perceive things to be falling apart, but I think there is a slow but steady desire for the good and the true all the more lovely and fresh for being led from the troops themselves. What will happen in the coming 10 years I have no idea at all. It depends really on which genie you were referring to!

  16. Iona says:

    I have a lot of contacts with students in their late teens – early 20s, and find them unfailingly pleasant and polite. And recently I had occasion to cross London on the Underground, with a heavy suitcase (with wheels, however!) and was invariably offered help with it; I could hardly get to the bottom of a flight of steps without someone coming along and saying “would you like a hand with that?” and either carrying it for me, or with me.
    (And no; although I have grey hair and can remember the 60s and even the 50s, I do not look especially decrepit or helpless).
    I was very impressed, and definitely don’t think things are falling apart. Not socially, anyway.

  17. Iona says:

    “Getting to the foot of a flight of steps” would have captured my meaning better. To the foot of it, on my way up it.

  18. mike Horsnall says:

    John Nolan,

    I have been following a set of programmes on ‘You Tube’ around the whole issue of Cardinal Law -probably no longer that now- so you are right to clarify. He fled to Rome shortly before being arrested in Boston in 2002. If you google in You tube and then go to ‘Cardinal Law’ or ‘Pope and sex crimes’ you will get the whole series. This was between Cardinal Law resigning and then being given another office. I remember the whole furore quite well. Please feel free to correct my facts if they are wrong. (I’m sure you will anyway!)

  19. John Nolan says:

    Mike Horsnall,

    Thanks for your prompt reply. You say that “he [Law} fled to Rome before being arrested in Boston in 2002”. This is simply not true. He resigned as Archbishop after an investigation by the state authorities into the Archdiocese’s handling of sex abuse cases going back to 1940, although the investigators restricted the scope of their enquiry to allegations made after 1984 when Law was in charge. The cardinal testified before two Grand Juries and his conduct was examined by the Attorney General and the five District Attorneys involved. The conclusion, a summary of which was published in July 2003, was that there had been a “massive and pervasive failure of leadership” in the past, but there was no evidence of “recent or ongoing” abuse, and there was insufficient evidence to instigate criminal proceedings against the cardinal or archdiocesan officials. A curious feature of the executive report was that it refers throughout to allegations of the abuse “of children”. Apart from one passing reference to ‘ephebophilia’ (which when acted on is better known as pederasty) there is no indication that the bulk of the allegations in fact concerned homosexual activity with adolescent boys and young men.

    That is why I maintain that it is important to be accurate in our definitions. The word ‘paedophile’ emerged in the mid-1970s when a group styling itself the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) used the correspondence columns of the Guardian newspaper to set up a forum for those with a sexual interest in pre-adolescent children of either sex. Such an attraction would be classed by the Church as an ‘objective disorder’ which like same-sex attraction is not in itself sinful, but can easily become an occasion of sin (the sin, and indeed crime, would be to possess indecent images of children or to actually molest them). Someone with a predilection for adolescent girls (or boys) is not a paedophile, and it should be remembered in this context that the age of female consent in the UK is now effectively 13.

    The tendency in the US to label all sex with minors as pedophilia (sic) avoids offending the gay lobby, since psychiatrists are always pointing out that ‘most pedophiles are heterosexual’, which may well be true.

    Ironically, Cardinal Law was a liberal who championed civil rights and inter-religious dialogue. Another liberal who covered up abuses in his archdiocese was Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, who also used a considerable amount of diocesan money to buy off his homosexual lover. However, Law is scapegoated whereas Weakland is not, no doubt because the latter posed as a whistleblower in an (unsuccessful) attempt to smear Benedict XVI.

  20. mike Horsnall says:

    John Nolan

    Thanks very much for that. I’m very interested in all this because I think it important that we ‘get our heads around the issue’ so that we can squarely answer people who ask and not just feel ashamed of ourselves without reason. How, in your understanding of the issues, are they dealt with overall? I want to know if Civil/Criminal law come automatically into play and if so at what stage . I found your earlier example of the professional body ovresight of medicine and law very helpful as Osteopaths are also chartered and so we have the same system.

    • John Nolan says:

      The whole issue is complicated by the fact that those who oppose the Church’s moral teachings have a convenient stick with which to beat her. These include not only secularist groups but also liberal elements within the Church who are at odds with the Vatican and the current papacy; a quick glance at the combox of the National Catholic Reporter will reveal them in all their gruesome glory. My advice would be a) keep things in perspective, b) check the facts carefully before making hasty judgements, c) realize that there are people out there who have their own reasons for exploiting the situation, d) admit that evils were done which should not have been tolerated, and e) pray to St Michael to defend us against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Yes that sounds about right; business as usual in other words.

        Thanks John for that

      • Quentin says:

        Although I like to think of myself as flexible in regard to the Church’s behaviour, it only takes me a minute with NCR’s combox to become a passionate conservative.

  21. st.joseph says:

    I never understood why Archbishop Weakland was invited to address The National Conference of Priests on 5th September 1995 at Newman College Birmingham-one of the most important annual events in the English Catholic Church.
    Someone whose progressive views had provoked criticism as far away as Australia.

    When Monsignor Wrenn was invited to give a talk in my Diocese, we asked the Bishops permission, and he refused. I wont repeat his reason why!!! But I still have his reply.
    Also when a Father O Connor was also invited to speak in a local Church Hall, he was also refused.
    He instead spoke in a Methodist Hall and was made very welcome.
    Why am I still a Catholic?

    • st.joseph says:

      Also Matthew Fox was speaking in the Deanery and all around the Diocese and Country
      Also his side kick a Father Venker in Catholic Schools!
      Plus Starhawk the the witch in Semineries.
      Its a wonder with all that liberalism as it was so popular at the time that we didn’t have a rush of Vocations.

  22. Peter Ball says:

    The main question seems not to have been answered. What causes people to adopt such extreme black and white views? What stops people from being able to tolerate difference and uncertainty? If I may compress the lifetimes writings and thoughts of many wise thinkers into one sentence I would say it is because we have suffered from incomplete emotional development and we are all still in part stuck at the infant stage of needing to chuck out the rattle from our pram if we feel threatened. We have not yet fully learned to be able to hold together the good and the bad as making up the whole and we split them into two and reject one of them.

    • st.joseph says:

      Peter Ball
      As long as we dont reject the good and keep the bad , we have to know the difference!
      We all know there are grey areas!
      But we cant ‘muddy the Truth’.

    • Vincent says:

      Peter Ball, your reason may well be correct, but how would we check whether it is speculation or fact?
      It could be that sexual behaviour simply tends to stimulate strong emotions — either of desire or disgust. I challenge you to imagine, visually, your great aunt and uncle locked in ecstatic sexual embraces. If that”s a yuk, consider the yuk of visualising homo erotic sex if you are not that way inclined.

  23. st.joseph says:

    Vincent you are right as most of the time.

    If I saw my great aunt and uncle locked in ecstatic sexual embraces,I would think ‘Good on Ye’
    But if I saw my great aunt ‘or’ locked in ecstatic sexual embraces with the next door neighbour-behinds their spouses back-then I would say think ‘yuk’.

  24. st.joseph says:

    that included ‘great uncle ‘as well I left him out.

  25. Momangelica says:

    According to a medical student, they study Homosexuality under the heading of Pathology (death)
    but it is the death of the soul we should be concerned about. Our Lady of Fatima said more souls go to Hell for the sins of the flesh than any other sin.
    I happened upon this during the week and it makes for grim reading and to lable our distaste as homophobic is only a ruse by those who want the truth to be bound up.
    Consider: The government do not have parents as school sex- ed advisors but Stonewall who’s website was so foul that they had to remove it when parents got wind of it but it is still shocking and that you can see for yourselves easily.

    In Beyond Equality popular “gay” rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, writes :
    “In many ways, our transcending of het- erosexual mores is a positive and im- mensely liberating experience. Compared with most straights, queers tend to be more adventurous with a wider repertoire of sexual behaviour, less bound by the strictures of tradition- al morality, and more experimental in terms of relationships. We don’t need a marriage certificate to validate our part- nerships … Although getting rid of homophobic discrimination is a laudable aim, it doesn’t go far enough. Ending anti-gay bias will not resolve all the problems faced by lesbian and gay peo- ple. Some of our difficulties arise not from homophobia, but from the more general eroto-phobic and sex-negative nature of contemporary culture… We get equality, but at a price. The cost to our community is the surrender of our unique, distinctive queer identity. The unwritten social contract at the heart of law reform is that lesbians and gays will behave respectably and comply with the heterosexual moral agenda. No more cruising, orgies or sadomasochism!”
    In “Teenage Sex- What Should Schools Teach Children?” he writes:
    “Until very recent times, all sex educa- tion was overwhelmingly biased to- wards promoting heterosexuality, marriage, parenthood and traditional family life. Anything outside this exclu- sive framework was either ignored or condemned… This old-style mono-cul- tural sex moralism is now totally out of sync with our modern multicultural soci- ety where there is a great diversity of cultures and communities, lifestyles and love-lives… Nothing must be off limits… Sex education, to be effective, needs to start at a very early age, beginning gen- tly in the first year of primary school and gradually becoming more detailed and explicit at secondary level…The best way to persuade teenagers to adopt oral sex and mutual masturbation is by making them look and sound sexy.”

  26. st.joseph says:

    So Peter Tatchell must think that hetrosexual married life is boring and sad.
    How does he know?

  27. Iona says:

    Going back to Peter Ball’s point (I may come to Peter Tatchell in a minute!) – I’m inclined to think it’s fear that stops people being able to tolerate difference and uncertainty. A “straight” man may well feel at least wary of a “gay” man because he doesn’t know what to expect from him, – “maybe this gay has designs on me, how would I I know, how am I to ‘read’ him?” Similarly with people from a very different culture, we don’t recognise what social messages they’re giving us and this makes us nervous of them.

  28. Iona says:

    As for Peter Tatchell, if Momangelica is quoting him correctly, I hardly know where to start. But if he thinks contemporary culture is “eroto-phobic and sex-negative”, he’s living in a different culture from the one I see around me.

    • momangelica says:

      The reality is that “real men” do not like to contemplate what a homosexual is prepared to do in his sexual urges, it is so against the Natural order of things in their make-up that they actually recoil and would rather not even think about it.
      My husband and three sons are sensible, kind people but through the pro-life pathway I come upon that subject and my men will not tolerate me discussing it. I have learnt a lot through their reactions. They do not speak badly of Homosexuals as a norm but they tell me that men to men do not like the topic. I feel that is a safeguard and should be respected, unfortunately, the governments do not believe that, they have a theory that if they condition children to view the sexual orientations as equal through teaching at nurseries,kindergartens, and eventually schools, they will succeed in normalizing the life style. So, in the month of February,it is the homosexual month where they are told about famous people who “may” be homosexual. not based on fact but only that they could be. Infants are to be taught about the pleasures of homosexual sex. And so on. Christian Institute have produced a leaflet which warns against the sex ed bashing through decency to get at the infants in state establishments.
      As you can see from the quote of P.Tachell, they will never be satisfied with the “acceptance” alone,they will always want to go further. I do not condemn all men with same sex attraction at all, it is the machinery with an agenda that I fight against..
      E.S.Williams wrote an excellent book called Lessons in Depravity, and Randy Engal wrote the Rites of Sodomy and the most scary is Stephan Greens excellent research called The Sexual Dead End. Read, then reconsider.

  29. mike Horsnall says:

    The glaring error in Peter Balls thinking is to assume that human beings in their ‘ideal’ or ‘adult’ state would be tolerant. I fear this notion is based on some kind of fabrication. Why do we all persist in this kind of ‘noble savage’ delusion that human beings are intrinsically noble and would continue as such if only they were properly brought up? Or perhaps it is that Peter thinks we are only at the infant stage of our cosmic development? Sorry but the analogy drawn is unclear and doesnt really explain anything, or does it?

  30. st.joseph says:

    When Jesus mixed with prostitutes I wonder are we supposed to think that He enjoyed their company.
    I would think that Jesus would want us to tell them about Him and Eternal Life.
    I think He would tell them that Himself also Homosexuals and Lesbians
    Do we think it is more Christian to stay quiet so as not to offend?
    I dont think I could go up to a Lesbian and tell her.
    I was in a hospital waiting room a while back and a lady was waiting for her friend.And we got talking, and obviously knowing me I mentiond the Monastery I go to. She told me she would like to go-but she said I dont think I am allowed. I asked her why and she said she was living with her friend who was a lesbian.
    I told her she ought to go if it worried her as she would feel better and speak to a priest.
    I hope she did go to her parish Church.

    • st.joseph says:

      My comment jumped before I could say the lady was a catholic, and I felt she needed some help!

      • st.joseph says:

        I must tell you all my experience a couple of years ago.
        My husband and I ,the first Mass we went to the morning after we married was the Catholic Church in Soho where the Masses are celebrated for Homosexuals and Lesbians(I dont know if they are the same) but it was our anniversary and my husband had died and I wanted to go to that Church as we had been before at times when in London.
        I was chatted up in the back seat by a women- it was very awkward especially as she told me she was looking to find a friend and invited me downstairs for tea,
        Obviousley I didn,t go.I dont think I look butch.
        An elderly lady sat next to me and she told me she hadnt been there for years and she said to me quietly in a low voice ‘I dont think we ought to be here, I am going to leave and maybe you should too. She could see I felt awkward.At least she didn’t think I was a lesbian. She did leave.But I would’t go again! Not because of their company! Because I didn’t feel it was right.

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