So tsar Vladimir spoke..

vladimir-putin-patriarch-kirill-2012-4-6-12-11-3It’s around 8.20 here in Italy and, as every evening , I’m watching the news on tv (once a day a lash of optimism is something everybody would need).

Suddenly, in an ocean of war tragedies, political scandals, economical crises, environmental catastrophes, criminal attitudes and various humanity gossips, a fresh stream of pleasure hits my tired nerves: someone in this world finally praised Italy for something: “great, quite out of normality”, I think, curious to understand what present days Italy could be praised for.

Then, the sudden disillusion: the political leader praising Italy is actually the least  person in the world I’d like to be praised by: tsar Vladimir Putin of Russia. I don’t know why but if I have to think about all I hate about politics I can’t help thinking about this para-dictatorial, cold blooded Russian pseudo-superman managing to mix all the despotism of former USSR with all the slimy hypocrisy and lack of respect for the human dignity of rampant capitalism…

Immediately after this, the disillusion becomes disgust and shame when I get to know the core of his praise to Italy: “Russia won’t allow foreign adoption of Russian orphans by couples from USA or European States, but for the ones from Italy as Italy is one of the few remaining European nations in which homosexual marriages are illegal”. Great: to see my adoptive state praised to be primitive and tyrannized by a vetero-clerical oriented political vision and to be praised by the most narrow-minded male chauvinist dictator in Europe was all  could expect from life…

Ok. I admit there was nothing to be surprised about. In the end we are speaking about a former “spetsnatz”  (any memory of Beslan, when the Russian spetsnatz attacked the terrorists totally unconcerned by the presence of hundreds of young hostages on the fire line?). We are speaking about the person managing to become the puppeteer  of the new oligarchy led, tycoon enslaved, mafia pervaded, glamour shining Russia, whose capital , Moscow, has become the new “never sleeping city” with hundreds of clubs, while millions of Russians in the town suburbs have become the  almost “never eating people”. We are speaking  about the “strong man” hypnotizing the Russian electorate, leading the opinions of a slice of the world in an interested pseudo-pacifism that has forced, in occasion of the Syrian crisis, many pacifists to close their eyes and side him, the “strong man” not suffering any dissent from his line (any memory of  Lebedev, Litvinenko, Politkovskaja?). Finally, we are speaking about the man who, with an incredible poker face, a few days ago, in presenting  an icon to the pope, kissed the image of the Virgin after a large, blatant Orthodox sign of the cross (hey man, did you forget you were the director of FSB, the former KGB? Did you forget you worked for East Germany STASI for five years? Do you need to have a chat with some non-sold out clergymen to be reminded of the meaning to be a true Christian under your former lords?).

Here we come to the point.  What does Vladimir Putin pretend to be now in front of the Russian electorate? He shows to be the man restoring Russia to its previous power, defending Russian honour  and Russian heritage, including a Russian Orthodoxy he, former pioneer of the Soviet Communist Party, couldn’t care less about.

Unluckily, some elements of the Russian cultural heritage are deeply related to the most stubborn machism, unluckily to grow up in the army of a USSR in which homosexuality was seen as a “criminal deviation against the state” means something in the subconscious of a former KGB colonel, unluckily the Russian Orthodox Church, as many other Churches in the world, has never changed its vision about sexuality in last 1000 years.

The result of all these elements is in front of everybody.  Let’s forget about assertions like the one related to Mr. Berlusconi’s impeachment  in a judgment for pimping (“If he had been a gay they wouldn’t have accused him”): the two are close friends and many people understand why. Let’s forget about the clear violations of the rights of gays in Russia and the police abuses in occasion of some gay prides: well, unfortunately many people go on acclaiming such things as “acts of morality” all over the world. What shocks the most is the attempt to give to this total lack of mental openness a sort of legal status, with the new, just passed Russian law banning “dissemination among minors of information promoting the attractiveness of nontraditional sexual relationships and providing a distorted notion of social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional sexual relationships.”

What does this new pillar of Tsar Vladimir’s thought (let’s not forget that the main author of the bill, Alexei Zhuravlev, is a member of Putin’s ruling party in the State Duma), mean? It basically means that you cannot publicly say anything positive about being gay or tell a child that there is nothing wrong with being gay or being raised by gay parents! The aim of the law, according to the Russian government spokesman is “to protect children from psychological trauma” and pertains to “those parents who do not conceal their same-sex sexual relationships” but  the message sent to LGBT people is clearly “If you don’t want your kids taken away from, you you’d better keep your mouth shut”. Particularly ironic (if not tragic) is that just days later, in his much discussed New York Times interview, Putin urged the Americans not to forget that “God created us all equal”…

God… What a strange world on Putin’s lips… But, perhaps, this insisting of the tsar on religious matters gives reason of the further turn of the screw ,in an already homophobic environment, against the LGBT rights in Russia (with Putin closer and closer alliance with the Orthodox Church) and of the linkage between the Russian situation and the Italian one: in both countries the weight of diktats from the “national” Church (Orthodox, as said, in one case, Catholic in the other) is heavy in politics, so heavy to allow, in a favourable social environment, resistances and preclusions to any opening towards a natural recognition of homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation not liable of any moral judgment.

To try to discuss the reasons of the ecclesiastical position (at least of the position of many ecclesiastical realities) about homosexuality would be really too long here. Only by the way and parenthetically I’d just like to mention the confutation of four very common misinterpretations:

1) the idea that the Bible defines homosexuality an “abomination”. Well, for the ones knowing some Latin (like the majority of Church people should), I’d like to  remind them that “AB OMEN” means just “not desirable” (which was perfectly understandable in a nomadic society of 4000 years ago, in which the idea of procreation was so strong to be defined a “will of God”, as obviously necessary in an environment in which, for a tribe, number meant power) and not a sort of “monstrous behaviour” as later intended by Middle Ages commentators;

2) the often quoted destruction of Sodom doesn’t take place, according to the majority of modern exegetes, because of the “sin” which later took its name from the city but for the lack of hospitality and charity of the Sodomites;

3) clear episodes of homosexuality are present also among some of the most notable and loved Biblical characters (think about King David and Jonathan, but it’s not the only case) and this is not, in any case, reason for their condemnation;

4) in the New Testament, only Paul condemns homosexuality (well, a condemnation by Paul about anything related to sexuality is nothing shocking, coming from a clearly sex-phobic writer) but not a single word of condemnation is ever pronounced by Jesus.

Moreover, the most important point, the one many Churches will never agree with, is that the Bible is not a sort of transcription of a dictation  by God himself (sorry for the “literalists”, but, in any case, over 300 major variations in the codes would make what we read today very far from any possible dictated text), but just the report of a religious experience lived by people influenced by their cultural environment, a cultural environment which has changed in time.

Anyway, whatever one could say or write, the idea of a moral repugnance of God towards homosexuality (why should God feel repugnance of a orientation which He gave to so many people?) will persist in many Churches, as well as the idea of un-natural behaviour of the homosexuals (it doesn’t matter if homosexuality can be constantly found in nature… well in this case you can always say it is a beasty behaviour… the roads of stupidity and narrow-mind thinking are so many and so creative… ), as well as the conception of homosexuality  as a vice which can easily be spread to young generations (who cares if almost all scientists agree that one’s sexual orientation is totally independent from the orientation of the parents? Who cares if you make people notice that generally speaking homosexuals are sons of heterosexual couples  and all the sons of homosexual couples result being heterosexuals?)…

So, for people like tsar Vladimir, it will always be easy to politically speculate  on the bases of a well-rooted persuasion (well, just if we don’t want to think that under such an inveterate hatred there could be, as often, unconfessable personal fears and instincts by Putin himself …) , so states like Russia and Italy will be able to go on thinking that an homosexual marriage is unthinkable, that homosexuals should live in total chastity, that God would be offended by people of the same sex simply loving each other and will go on creating an incredibly unfair categorization of their citizens in A citizens and B citizens with less rights than the others…

Honestly, Mr. Putin (I know you’ll never read what I write but… just in case…), it is already horrible enough that you think that for a Russian orphan your lager-style orphanages could be better than a loving and caring adoptive family of any possible orientation, but please, I beg, you, next time you want to praise Italy for something, in particular for its shamefully backward legislation, avoid doing it: any praise by a person like you sounds like an insult for all the Italians dreaming to live in a free, modern country.

“Who am I to judge a gay?”

gay-pope“Who am I to judge a gay?”. After this words from Pope Francis Italy and the whole World entered in a state of fibrillation. Was this Pope, who accustomed us to a rather new mental indipendence in comparison to his predecessors, opening to the LGBT world? “What an important step forward!”, someone said. “What a scandal!” someone else replied.

Well, I took my time to think about the whole thing and, actually, my conclusions could be expressed with a Shakespeare’s title: “Much ado about nothing!” Obviously I can’t know what turned in Francis’ mind but I simply try to analyze the situation. Pope Francis is, as I wrote somewhere else, a very good person in my opinion, a person full of love and charity, but I don’t forget he is also the absolute theocratic leader of the Catholic Church! What does this mean? Well, I suppose you don’t spend something like 50 years of your life in a Church, more so making a career in it, if you don’t agree with the basic principles of that Church.

I’d like, therefore, to remind to the many “enthusiasts” of the Pope’s new course what the Church he served for all of his life says about homosexuality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated in 1992, accepts that the “psychological genesis of homosexuality remains largely unexplained“. Nevertheless, as Scripture presents homosexual acts as “acts of grave depravity” and “tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” being “contrary to the natural law“, the Catechism states that all homosexual acts “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity“, and thus under no circumstances can they be approved. It is true that, theoretically, the same Cathechism adfirms that, though homosexuality is “an objective disorder” as it tempts one to do something that is sinful (the homosexual act), temptations beyond one’s control are not considered sinful in and of themselves and so, while the Catholic Church does oppose attempts to legitimize same-gender sexual acts, it also urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions.

To make it short, if you have homosexual tendencies and you are living in perfect chastity you must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, without any unjust discrimination BUT if, on the contrary, like the majority of human beings, you want to live your sexuality in a normal way… well boy, sorry but no way, you are just a sinner. Ok, one could say that, theoretically, according to the Catholic vision, anybody having sex outside of the marriage is a sinner. True, but the point is that if you have homosexual tendences you simply can’t get married, which makes the situation very similar to a dog chasing its tail.

We all know these things and, for sure, Francis does know them very well. Could he change the situation? Yes and no. As the “Vicar of Christ” he has the absolute power on any Church decision but, tendencially, he couldn’t, even if willing, go against one of the two pillars of Catholicism, the “Traditio Fidei”, so that, has the Traditio always showed to be against homosexuality, it would be very hard also for him to change anything in the Catholic position.

By the way the big question is another: was Francis expressing any personal opinion about a possible enlargement of the very strict vision of the Church about homosexuality? Well, I don’t think so! We don’t have to be cheated by the fact he is trying to purge the Catholic Church from the many deviations hidden inside of its body: one thing is to correct deviations to canalize the Church into a more Scriptural direction, another is to revolutionize a historical theological interpretation about such a delicate point. If we read what Francis really said we can easily see he said absolutly nothing strange for a Pope: 1) he readfirmed his humbleness considering himself a simple Christian and, as such, a person following the rule “don’t judge and you won’t be judged”; 2) he followed the Cathechism prescribing respect for anyone with homosexual tendences (if chaste). Nothing else.

What I ask to myself is the reason of all the hullabaloo about such a statement. Is it an opening? Not at all. It is, on the contrary, a reaffirmation of closure. I don’t even want to speak about the use of an expression like “The gays”, which I personally hate thinking to how unfair it is to define a whole human being using just one of the thousands of (natural) characteristics forming a person (how would, in example, a woman react being called “a blonde”?). What I’d like to ask to the Pope (and to any other priest or pastor with the same ideas) is just one thing: “Holy Father, why should you, anyway, judge a gay?” The verb “to judge” implies at least the suspect of a misfit. I am a man, a so-called heterosexual man: could anybody even think about the Pope saying “Who am I to judge an heterosexual male?” Which is the difference, Holy Father?