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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 6, 2006

Newspaper names pope 'Anti-Gay Person of the Year'

Washington, D.C.--Pope Benedict XVI was named the Anti-Gay Person of the Year by the Washington Blade GLBT newspaper in its December 30 issue

Benedict, who ascended to the papacy eight months ago, served for two decades as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, presiding over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In that position, he was the source of many of the anti-gay dicta that came out of the Vatican through Pope John Paul II.

Ratzinger�s office was known for 700 years as the Inquisition, charged with ferreting out heresy in the church.

He was responsible for the dictum which called homosexuality an �intrinsic moral evil� as well as the move in the last two years instructing Catholic politicians to oppose same-sex marriage.

After ascending to the papacy, Benedict has issued orders barring men who �practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the �so-called gay culture� � from entering seminaries or teaching in them, while saying that men who experienced �transitory� homosexuality but had been in the clear for three years could enter seminaries.

The letter came in response to the sex abuse crisis in the church, leading to increased accusations that the church is scapegoating gay priests.

�He knows very well the kind of claims he makes have political implications--he intends for them to have political implications,� Chester Gillis, chair of the Georgetown University theology department, told the Blade�s Dyana Bagby. �He wants to influence public policy in numerous places in the world and hopefully sway the powers that be to his side, especially on so-called social issues.�

The issue of same-sex marriage provided Benedict his first defeat when the Spanish legislature passed a law last year making Spain the fourth country that allows them. Despite being a traditionally Catholic country, the liberal ruling party refused to be bullied by the clergy in the matter.

A similar situation arose in Canada, where 42% citizens identify themselves as Catholic. Former Prime Minister Jean Chr�tien, who introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage nationally after the majority of the population were already covered under provincial court rulings mandating the unions, lashed out at the church after being threatened with having communion withheld.

The prime minister responded by noting that he represented all the people of Canada, not just the practicing Catholics.

The church was also one of the prime movers behind the petition drive to amend Massachusetts� constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. However, despite the major efforts the dioceses put into the process, in the Springfield diocese only 20 percent of the priests signed the petitions themselves.

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