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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 8, 2005

As the world mourns John Paul II, some recall his anti-gay side

Vatican City--Following the April 2 death of Pope John Paul II, ending his 27-year papacy, Catholics across the world went into mourning.

However, as people around the globe lined up to praise the first Polish pope, LGBT and progressive Catholic organizations noted that, despite the many positive things he accomplished, his strict adherence to dogma in relation to homosexuality and the ordination of women might not have served the church well in an age of declining attendance, rising divorce rates and scandals surrounding pedophile priests.

�He did not show that same love and respect for individual gay and lesbian people,� said Joe Murray, the United States convenor of the Rainbow Sash Movement. �With all his journeys, this is one journey he could not, or would not, take. He believed in universal truths, he could not allow those truths to be challenged in any way, especially by the reality of gay and lesbian lives.�

Mary E. Hunt, co-director of the Women�s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, noted, �The death of the pope provides a golden opportunity for the Catholic Church to rejoice in his geopolitical accomplishments and take up where he left off in the achievement of justice among Catholics. Women expect the same freedom of choice Pope John Paul II urged for Cubans. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people deserve the same respect and freedom he championed for those who lived under Communism.�

New Ways Ministry executive director Francis DeBernardo, whose organization has faced expulsion from Catholic Churches, felt similarly mixed feelings over the end of John Paul II�s papacy.

�Pope John Paul II was a leader of deep piety and strong convictions,� he said. �Unfortunately, his . . . pontificate was marked by an end to dialogue on many theological issues, including homosexuality. He closed the windows of renewal that were opened by Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council.�

Some of the harshest criticisms came from Sam Sinnett, president of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics that was systematically driven from Catholic churches across the country in the late 1980s.

�This pope led the church in teaching damaging misrepresentations about the health and holiness of our loving relationships--calling them part of an �ideology of evil�--and about the raising of our children while covering up the real abuse of children and related abuse of power by some of John Paul II�s brother bishops and priests,� Sinnett said. �He also misused his authority to stop fellow cardinals and bishops from speaking for the obvious moral good of using condoms in the prevention of the spread of HIV.�



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