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Tour de Life: The past imperfect of the Vatican
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Tour de Life: The past imperfect of the Vatican

by Beau Burriola - SGN European Correspondent

I feel like such an imposter when I step into the centuries-old churches scattered around Brussels. I'm not Catholic, or even religious, but I always walk into them when I go near one because I love seeing the manifested internal philosophical battle of humankind given form and shape and persona, carved, painted, and sculpted into a building whose every detail represents some aspect of that struggle.

That casual affection for old buildings is where my association with the Vatican begins and ends, so I was surprised this week to learn that I, along with all Gay folks, am the real reason for the Vatican's child sex scandal.

Most Gay folks - myself included - had never heard of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone until this week, when he made this highly learned and deeply thought-provoking contribution to the discussion about the Vatican's child sex scandal:

"Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and paedophilia, but many others have shown, and I've been told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia. That is the truth. I read it in a document written by psychologists, so that is the problem."

Ouch. Is it me, or is the Vatican steadily disproving the timeless notion that a good defense is a good offense? Every time they send a church official to speak to the press, they end up with exactly what you might expect when you take a man who looks like he is from the Counter-Reformation and put him in front of a microphone and an audience from the modern world.

While it is greatly entertaining to see the Church try to deflect criticism with the same grace Pope Benedict himself might have on Dancing With the Stars, I'm a little disappointed that thousands of years of personal insight, revelation, and instruction have given the Vatican no better argument than, "That is the truth. I read it in a document written by psychologists."

Just once, I would like to imagine that the people speaking on behalf of the anti-Gay crowd would be able to help me at least understand why they believe a certain way, but all we seem to get are religious zealots whose answer to every rational point on fairness and equality sounds like the adult equivalent of a first-grader putting his fingers in his ears and mumbling, "Nuh-uh, not listening, la-la-la-la."

If you're going to have someone you don't know morally denounce everything you are in a reality you don't even imagine yourself existing in, you'd at least like to think they could work up a bit of moving eloquence or stirring emotion - maybe muster up a story or two and close with a rousing rendition of any of the zillions of years of hymns they've collected. But no, none of that. Just, "I read it somewhere."

Could it be that the reason Cardinal Bertone believes that Gay people are pedos is because the only Gay men he ever sees are priests whose sex crimes the Vatican has to cover up? I mean, I'm sure one trip to the Folsom Street fair will convince him for certain that Gay is no more related to pedophilia than he is to a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.

For being a group of people who know so little about me, the Vatican has a surprising impact on my life. To lead the very belief of a billion people is no small thing, and this whole saga would be comedy only if it weren't for the billion Catholics in the world today. It's those billion people that make any of this worth talking about at all.

And that's why I hope that the Catholic folks out there can see the scandal for what it really is (the Vatican not reporting child sex abuse) and for what it really isn't about (Gay people). Because while I would like to imagine the people of the world have enough sense and reason to tell when they are being point-blank lied to, it's never really that simple.

Gay people have no more to do with the Church's scandal than we do when Fred Phelps says we are the reason for dead soldiers. We are the old, reliable phantom to conjure up and then shoot down in a big show of holiness - a useful thing when you've got a Bible in your hand and something to cover up. In the case of Phelps, it's probably closet homosexuality, but in the case of the Vatican, it's trying to get away with a crime.

Perhaps I'll never live to see a day where the moral decisions of mankind are made from the goodness of our being and content of our character, but if I can't have that, I'm sure tickled to bits to have people like Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, and Cardinal Bertone who entertainingly remind us that the world is changing simply by being such contrasting relics of the past.

"Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it." - Pope John Paul II

Beau Burriola is a Queer writer and blogger who wonders what life as a Vatican fashion writer must be like. beaubrent@gmail.com

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