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Pope announces resignation

Benedict’s opposition to same-sex marriage, condom use sparked controversy

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Pope Benedict XVI, gay news, gay politics dc

Pope Benedict XVI condemned efforts to extend marriage to same-sex couples, Monday. (photo by Rvin88 via Wikimedia Commons)

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced he will resign on Feb. 28.

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he said in a statement the Vatican released.

A papal conclave elected Benedict, 85, in 2005 to succeed Pope John Paul II. He is the first pope to step down from the papacy since Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415.

Gay Catholics and others have repeatedly criticized the pontiff for his statements against nuptials for gays and lesbians — including his description of same-sex marriage as “a manipulation of nature” during his annual Christmas message in December. He also described global efforts to allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot as a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity itself” during his 2012 ‘State of the World’ address.

Benedict, who was previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, also enforced the Vatican’s moral doctrine before his election to the papacy.

He wrote in a 1986 letter that gay men and lesbians are “intrinsically disordered.” Benedict also said in the same document that gay organizations could no longer use church property.

The Vatican’s ongoing opposition to condom use as a way to stop the spread HIV/AIDS has also sparked outrage among advocates.

“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering,” the pope said. “However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan applauded Benedict’s legacy.

“Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism,” he said shortly after the Vatican released the pope’s resignation letter. “Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.”

LGBT Catholics respond to papal resignation

Marianne Duddy-Burke, president of Dignity USA, a group comprised of LGBT Catholics, is among those who said they hope Benedict’s successor will temper the Vatican’s opposition to homosexuality and reach out to the gay faithful.

“We commend Benedict for stepping down for the benefit of the church and I think now’s the time to look ahead,” she told the Washington Blade from Boston. “We would obviously be looking for a pope who is committed to ending the dehumanizing attacks on LGBT people and our families that have been the hallmarks of the last 25-plus years. We would call for our new pope to enter into a real dialogue with our community.”

Bob Miailovich, treasurer of Dignity Washington, agreed.

“He is the leader of the church,” Bob Miailovich, treasurer of Dignity Washington, added. He and other LGBT Catholics held signs along Rock Creek Parkway in 2009 as Benedict’s motorcade drove from the White House to the Vatican embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest Washington during his visit to the United States. “We disagree, but there’s still a respect. His opinion matters and we’d like for it to change because his opinion would have great effect on society.”

Former D.C. resident Phil Attey and other LGBT Catholics and advocates remain fearful, however, Benedict’s successor will be even more anti-gay than he.

“What it means to me is that the most hateful and mean spirited pope in the history of the Catholic Church is so determined to continue his reign of terror beyond his life on earth,” Attey said. “He’s going to orchestrate his succession, ensuring the next pope carries on his mission to demonize, marginalize and oppress every gay man who comes out of the closet and demands to be treated as equals among God’s children.”

Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a tweet earlier on Monday he hopes the cardinals elect a new pope “who will reform the Catholic Church, accept women priests and defend [the] dignity and rights of LGBT people.”

“Whatever comes of this, I only pray that our next pope will guide the church back to the original role of educating, helping the poor and needy and practicing the faith as intended and stop getting involved in so many political and social issues,” D.C. resident Rich Lewis added. “God is love and all Who Live in God, live in love. [I] pray that they get back to that message.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jeremy L. Pierce

    February 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Wow… I had no idea.

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World

Dutch government formally apologies for forced sterilization of trans, intersex people

Gender Change Act was in place from 1985 to 2014

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Dutch government on Saturday formally apologized to transgender and intersex people who were forced to become sterile in order to legally change their gender.

The Gender Change Act, which was also known as the Transgender Act, was in effect in the Netherlands from 1985 until its repeal in 2014.

Education, Culture and Science Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven and Law Minister Sander Dekker last year on behalf of the Dutch government apologized to trans and intersex people who had undergone forcible sterilizations. The Dutch government also agreed to pay 5,000 euros ($5,633.68) to around 2,000 trans people who had sterilization surgeries.

A ceremony did not take place because of the pandemic.

Van Engelshoven issued Saturday’s the formal apology during a meeting with trans and intersex people that took place at the Ridderzaal, a 12th century building in The Hague that the Dutch government uses for speeches from the country’s royal family and other important ceremonial events.

“For decades we have had a law that has harmed transgender and intersex people,” said van Engelshoven. “People have undergone medical treatment that they did not want, or have been forced to postpone becoming themselves. Today, on behalf of the entire Cabinet, I make our deepest apologies. Recognition of and apologies for what has been done to these people and which has caused a lot of grief for those involved is extremely important and is central to this special day in the Ridderzaal.”

Transgender Netwerk Nederland in a press release said the Netherlands is the first country in the world to issue such an apology. The advocacy group notes the Dutch government last month began to compensate trans and intersex people who were forcibly sterilized, but adds the amount of money they will receive remains too low.

“The government has structurally disadvantaged and damaged transgender and intersex people for almost 30 years,” said Willemijn van Kempen, who spearheaded the campaign for the formal apology. “It is important that it now apologizes for that.”

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Botswana Court of Appeals upholds decriminalization ruling

‘Today is a momentous day in history’

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(Public domain photo)

The Botswana Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a 2019 ruling that decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country.

Five justices unanimously ruled sections of the Batswana Penal Code that criminalize homosexuality with up to seven years in prison “violated the right to privacy … the right to liberty, security of person and equal protection under the law … and the right to freedom from discrimination” under the country’s constitution.

Botswana’s High Court in 2019 unanimously ruled these provisions were unconstitutional.

The Batswana government appealed the landmark decision. The High Court heard the case last month.

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, which challenged the criminalization law with the support of the Southern Africa Litigation Center, applauded Monday’s ruling.

“Today is a momentous day in history, a victorious win in ascertaining liberty, privacy and dignity of the LGBTIQ persons in Botswana and definitely, this judgement sets precedence for the world at large,” says LEGABIBO CEO Thato Moruti. “Moreover, a new dawn for better education and awareness about the LGBTIQ issues. I anticipate that more engagement with various arms of government will also set a trajectory towards a more inclusive and diverse nation.”

Pan Africa ILGA in a tweet proclaimed Monday as a “beautiful day” in Botswana. UNAIDS described the ruling as “a great win for human rights.”

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Chilean House approves marriage equality bill

Vote took place two days after presidential election’s first round

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Chile, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

VALPARAÍSO, Chile — The Chilean House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The measure passed by a 101-30 margin roughly three months after the Chilean Senate approved by a 28-14 vote margin.

Two lawmakers abstained. The bill now goes back to the Senate for a final vote.

“After three decades of struggle, there is only one Senate vote left to achieve the so far elusive legal equality that all couples and families deserve,” said Javiera Zúñiga, a spokesperson for the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBTQ rights group, in a press release. “We celebrate this new step, now with the total conviction that we are at the final leg.”

Tuesday’s vote took place two days after the first round of Chile’s presidential election.

José Antonio Kast, a far-right former congressman, will face off against Congressman Gabriel Boric, who previously led a student protest movement, in a Dec. 19 runoff. Outgoing President Sebastián Piñera in June announced he supports the marriage equality bill.

Esteban Guzmán contributed to this story.

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