My colleague Father Martin has pointed out the ridiculousness of Cardinal Bertone’s comments linking pedophilia with homosexuality. I find the Cardinal Secretary of State’s remarks not only offensive but completely inexplicable. Why would he cite studies that do not exist or which were fabricated without recourse to science, to make a point the Pope has already refuted, which, in turn, only make him look like a man desperate to shift the blame for the clergy sex abuse scandal anywhere so long as it is away from himself and his boss? Bertone may not be a Donatist, but I suspect he is listening to some. I also have an alternative theory. I think Cardinal Bertone is planning to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
Not to be outdone by the Cardinal, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee told a group of college students that he was opposed to gays being able to adopt, and in the process of explaining himself compared being gay to being a drug abuser, or someone guilty of incest, or a polygamist. Huckabee went further than most fundamentalists who hold that they love gay people but they detest the sin of homosexuality. The Church teaches something similar, distinguishing between being gay and acting upon that inclination. Such distinctions never seem to recognize that this construction raises a new variety or category of sin. After all, most sins are choices, you do this bad thing or that, but being gay or straight is not experienced as a choice. All human beings are susceptible to the seven deadly sins, we are all tempted to pride or envy, but certainly not everyone is susceptible to gay feelings. So, the "hate the sin, love the sinner" approach, in this case, seems to raise a new category of sin unknown to the tradition or to the Scriptures.
Huckabee, at least, scored lower on the bigotry barometer than fellow Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who compared homosexuality to bestiality. The former senator from Pennsylvania, in a 2003 interview with AP said: "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." The reporter stopped to comment, "I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about ‘man on dog’ with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out." Santorum also invoked comparisons to incest and polygamy. This week, Santorum headlines a GOP fundraiser in Pennsylvania, a pro-life banquet in Kentucky, and a Tea Party Rally back in Pennsylvania before beginning a tour of South Carolina. In other words, he is running.
The fact that Santorum is running is evidence of how skewed the GOP primary electorate is. In 2006, Santorum ran for re-election in his home state and got shellacked, losing to Robert Casey, Jr. by 18 points. I can’t recall an incumbent senator losing an election by eighteen points except in cases where a personal scandal was involved. Yet, he might stand a chance in the GOP primaries. Go figure.
The reason the GOP is likely to remain the minority party for the foreseeable future is that its leading candidates say such ridiculous things in public, things that do not only offend gay people because of the bigotry, but offend others because of the stupidity. The next time one of them is tempted to speak such bigotry, they should bite their tongue and go hiking on the Appalachian Trail or something. Perhaps Cardinal Bertone would enjoy the view from the Trail, too. When your finger is wagging at others, it is not only your finger that is out front of you, it is your chin, and you shouldn’t be surprised when someone lands a punch. Better to use one’s finger to write in the sand than to point an accusatory finger, for politicians as well as for cardinals..
Michael Sean Winters