Last month, RBC Royal Bank and WE brought one of the world’s largest youth empowerment celebration, WE Day Community, to T&T. This is the second time WE Day has been held in Port-of-Spain.
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LGBTQIA, who am I to judge?
“If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?”
The Pope said he was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church “where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalised…people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies.”
Earlier this month, religious heads here held a press conference and called on the Government not to amend the Equal Opportunity Act to accommodate the LGBTQIA community and to change the Marriage Act to specify that marriage is a union between a biological male and female. According to press reports, these leaders believe that the fabric of society is “at risk” and see “a clear and present danger in our midst.”
Religious institutions must honour their doctrines and therefore, the churches are within their right to marry and welcome whomever they want in their hallowed places. I don’t think the law should force churches to marry anyone or give him or her any other “sacrament,” if the principle of separation of the church and State holds good. It is their right under the Constitution to exercise “freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance.” That right should be respected and so too, the churches should respect the fundamental right of the individual “to equality before the law and the protection of the law.” What is socially unjust is denial of anyone’s recognition under the Equal Opportunity law and to imply that same-sex relationships pose a risk to society and denigrates it. Judge not and ye shall not be judged.
Given the extent of child abuse, murders, domestic violence, and other violent crimes, poverty, illiteracy, corruption, racism, and the many other issues affecting society, none of which was motivated by the LGBTQIA community, it would be stretching bigotry and homophobia at the seams to suggest that recognition of this community under the law would taint the moral fabric of society. It begs the question; how have gay priests in the Catholic Church–a church that influences the lives of over one billion of the world’s population affected the moral fabric of their societies? Many of them were and are teachers and confessors to millions of people.
Catholic Catechism condemns homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder,” and gay sex “an intrinsic moral evil,” but there is empirical evidence that it is rampant in the church—in the US between 15 per cent and 50 per cent as against a population average of around 3.8 per cent. Known by the Vatican and its churches, these priests performed the holy sacraments–giving their members the “body and blood” of Christ—the very agents of God and who according to the bible committed an “abomination” and should be put to death. Of course, long ago the church solved its dilemma as to the efficacy of sacraments given by priests who had sinned grievously; the sacrament act does not depend upon the human minister but the “power of Christ.” So be it, but there is no denying that the Catholic priesthood became a “haven for many gay men,” a situation with which the Catholic Church is struggling. Its position on inclusion in a Refugee Law of same-sex couples and transgender people who may seek asylum here would be interesting.
The churches’ concern for the preservation of “traditional family values” is an interesting one if only because the concept of family has evolved to different dimensions in our time. Space does not permit elaboration; suffice it to say the “traditional family” continues to change with trends toward secularity. That trend is not likely to change no more than the decreasing attendance in traditional churches worldwide.
Our nation does not need more divisiveness, hate, and bigotry, rather social justice for all under the law while respecting the wise principle of the separation of church and State. What has put society at risk is social inequity and hypocrisy.
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