“Contrary to what is being inferred, Christ never
mentioned or condemned homosexuality. I see Christ as a great Jewish prophet. To that end, I have no doubt that if he were to return to earth, Christ would feel far more at home with out and proud gay men and lesbians than with those who seek to camouflage (unsuccessfully, might I add!) their sexuality behind religious drag”
Joseph Carmel Chetcuti
I read with some disbelief (and horror) a statement attributed to Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, as set out in a Maltese newspaper on 25 January. Mgr Grech is reported to have said that “Whoever does not accept Christ’s teachings should be honest with themselves and excommunicate themselves from the Church.” This is not Mgr Grech’s first comment on the subject of homosexuality. And, with respect, he is increasingly coming over as someone who is very ill-equipped to tackle the complex issues surrounding sexuality and Christianity in the modern world.
That a bishop should promote or be seen to promote self-excommunication is incredible in the extreme. It demonstrates yet again the Church’s disregard of the spiritual needs of gay men and lesbians. Gay men and lesbians are and continue to be dispensable. Instead of entering into meaningful dialogue with gay men and lesbians (an unlikely prospect under the papacy of Benedict XVI), this Church opts for self-excommunication. Whatever happened to the role of bishop as pastor, a role that is supposedly one of nurturing?
My comments follow immediately.
Contrary to what is being inferred, Christ never mentioned or condemned homosexuality. I see Christ as a great Jewish prophet. To that end, I have no doubt that if he were to return to earth, Christ would feel far more at home with out and proud gay men and lesbians than with those who seek to camouflage (unsuccessfully, might I add!) their sexuality behind religious drag. With St Paul, out and proud gay men and lesbians can loudly proclaim that they have rejected the “hidden things of shame” and no longer walk in deceit: see 2 Corinthians 4:2. To this end we encourage our gay brothers and sisters who still make the religious closet their home to join us in our noble struggle for equality.
Gay men and lesbians are sick and tired of those who seek to justify their dislike, hatred, fear and what have you of gay men and lesbians by resorting to Scriptural texts. Let us be quite blunt about the Christian Scripture:
1. The Old Testament belongs to the Jews, not to Roman Catholics;
2. The Books of Scripture started off as oral tradition, not as written texts;
3. No original manuscripts of the Bible have survived and what we have today are copies of copies and translations of translations of what is claimed to have once been the inspired word of God;
4. We do not know the identity of most of authors of the Old and New Testaments;
5. Many of Paul’s letters were not written by him;
6. The authors of the four Gospels were not Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or, more appropriately, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John as Mark’s Gospel is believed to be the first to have been written;
7. The books of the Old and New Testaments contain more than “the word of God”: see, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:12 and 25;
8. There have been interpolations, bad copying and worse translations, and deliberate manipulation and distortion of what is today seen as the “word of God”: see, for example, the use of the word “homosexual” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 as translated by Librerija Preca’s Bibbja.
It is high time, I respectfully submit, for gay men and lesbians to confront head on the “encouragement” for gay men and lesbians to excommunicate themselves. For far too long, gay men and lesbians have been treated like mushrooms.
In the context of Christian theology, baptism is a device by which a person becomes a Christian. No passage in Scripture suggests that baptism is a device by which a person becomes a member of that Church that calls itself one, holy, catholic and apostolic: see, for example, Acts 2:38 and 22:16 and 1 Corinthians 12:13. Significantly, St John the Baptist who baptised Christ was, as far as I know, not a Roman Catholic!
Given Pope Benedict’s decision to put an end to limbo, infant baptism is an abusive practice and one that disregards the rights of children.
As yet again demonstrated, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is all about structure and doctrine. It stubbornly refuses to accept its children in all of their diversity.
I now wonder whether heterosexuals who do not accept the Church’s teachings on the pill should also excommunicate themselves. And what about those abusive priests and nuns? Will the Church continue to protect them as it has done in the past?
For the record, let me say loud and clear that I was baptised when only a few days old and without my informed consent. I rejected Roman Catholicism in the early 1970s. I am not a Roman Catholic. I see no reason whatsoever why I should excommunicate myself from a Church to which I have not belonged for well over 30 years. As I see it, self-excommunication requires me to submit yet again to another precedent of this Church which I have long rejected. Even so, I respect the right of others to follow a different path. I do in no way seek to minimise the political significance of those who have chosen to follow a different path and I would greatly support a movement of those who excommunicate themselves!
Joseph Carmel Chetcuti
is a Barrister and
Solicitor in Australia