The Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM) agrees with scholars who are saying the repercussions of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation could reach beyond just changing how pontiffs leave to ultimately shape perceptions about the authority and significance of the pontificate.
Benedicts XVI papacy will end at 8PM, Thursday, February 28th. What affect if any will this have for LGBT Catholics is yet to be answered. Already we are witnessing attempts to lay all the Church’s troubles at the feet of LGBT Catholics, rather than the abuse of power within the inner circles of the Vatican around the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
We are not naïve enough to disregard the fact that College of Cardinals has been stacked with conservative/homophobic Cardinals by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. They have embodied the massive cover up and denial when it comes to Cardinal’s partaking in the Conclave that will elect the new pope.
There is a danger for the Cardinals who enter this conclave each one brings their own baggage when it comes to the clergy sexual abuse scandal and their response to it such as Cardinal Mahony’s public disgrace, and Cardinal Dolan’s behavior while Archbishop of Milwaukee and his alleged approval of the transfer funds from the Archdiocese to the Archdiocese’s cemetery account in order to put these funds out of reach of the victims of sexual abuse.
The same manipulation of funds has happened in the Archdiocese of Chicago who is also on the verge of bankruptcy. These attempts to juggle funds to remove them from the reach of priestly sexual abuse victims is scandalous and very possibly illegal. Yet Cardinal Francis George supporters are claiming he will play a pivotal role in the conclave.
The conclave itself is developing into to grab for power by many of the more contentious factions.
Even among such papal contenders such as Cardinal Peter Turkson who has publicly suggested that gay priests are in part are to blame for the child sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church that have broken and rippled worldwide.
Joe Murray, Executive Director of the Rainbow Sash Movement said “I would not be surprised if this Conclave goes longer than expected because of greed and a unapologetic grab for power. The culture of homophobia in the Church will be the center piece of this conclave”.
According to an AP Press Release “The pope is regarded as a teacher, an international diplomat and an administrator, but he is also the Vicar of Christ — a leader with a divine mission. Benedict’s retirement raised fears that the pontificate could be viewed as less holy. Some questions have even focused on the much misunderstood Catholic teaching on papal infallibility: With two popes, one emeritus and one in power, who will have the final say? In fact, infallibility applies to the office, not the person, and only when a pope invokes apostolic authority to define doctrine or morals for the entire church.”
“A lot of what it will mean has to do with what subsequent popes do. Does this become a precedent for future popes to follow or not?” said Phillip Thompson, executive director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University.
His resignation will only raise more concerns than it will solve. Joseph Bottum, writing in The Weekly Standard, a conservative U.S. publication, called Benedict “a terrible executive of the Vatican.” “There’s the relationship part — he’s your father — and your father is always your father. Then there’s the functional part — whether he’s up to the job,” said Chicago Cardinal Francis George in a phone interview. “The functional concerns, those have come to the fore now. We’ll see what, if any, impact that has as we go forward.”
According to The Guardian a UK newspaper “A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.
La Repubblica said the cardinals’ report identified a series of meeting places in and around Rome. They included a villa outside the Italian capital, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlour in the centre, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop.
The pope’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica”. The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were “united by sexual orientation”.
Cardinal George Pell of Australia has asked the Vatican to immediately investigate the allegations that were raised in this report. Cardinal Pell like Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has condemned the Rainbow Sash Movement for their actions in confronting the culture of homophobia that exists not only in the Papacy, Roman Curia, but also within the College of Cardinals. If the alleged network does exist, like the Popes resignation it would not surprise us.
We are a people of faith and look for unexpected surprises to come out this conclave. LGBT Catholic’s must now focus on prayer that the next pope will begin to heal the deep division within our Church, and that we can face our public scandals honestly, and hold those responsible for these publicly accountable.
Rainbow Sash Movement News