Title: THE VATICAN'S MEDIEVAL DICTUM Vatican issues medieval dictum on lesbians, gays By L

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Title: THE VATICAN'S MEDIEVAL DICTUM Vatican issues medieval dictum on lesbians, gays By Leslie Feinberg The Vatican issued a letter on July 23 intended to rally U.S. bishops to actively block lesbians and gay men from winning basic civil rights or domestic-partner benefits. In classic double-speak, the letter claimed that laws barring lesbians and gay men from adopting children, working as teachers or joining the military are not "unjust discrimination." By what authority do the cardinals rally the wealth and power of the church apparatus to stymie the fight for elementary social justice? Was it a voice from on high? Or is it a struggle launched from a much lower altitude? The letter was circulated by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith--the actual historic successor to the Inquisition. Today they are not land-owners in crimson robes, as they were under feudalism. They are bankers in clerical garb, inextricably tied to monopoly capitalism. The wealth of this institution is staggering. A decade ago Fortune magazine reported that the church's assets in the U.S. alone were more than three times that of AT&T. The new Vatican directive to U.S. bishops is consistent with the actions of this vast monied institution as a right-wing, anti-communist spearhead of reaction. For instance, the U.S.-engineered selection of the current Polish pope facilitated its pro-imperialist role in the counter-revolutionary struggle in Eastern Europe. It's never bothered the papal upper crust that Solidarity leader Lech Walesa called for the extermination of lesbians and gay men after his counter-revolutionary clique came to power in Poland. `An act of hatred' Catholic supporters of lesbian and gay rights blasted the Vatican's letter as an "act of hatred." They charge that the church hierarchy is waging a counter-offensive against the enormous social gains and social enlightenment the modern lesbian and gay movement has won. This support was reflected in recent polls that proved church members are way to the left of the papal brass. A recent Gallup poll showed that 46 percent of Catholics believe same-sex love is "morally acceptable" and 78 percent oppose job discrimination. The Vatican letter states "there is no right to homosexuality." Says who? Isn't it an elementary human right for a woman or a man to love someone of the same sex without suffering persecution as a result? The letter claims that ending discrimination against lesbians and gay men may have "a negative impact on the family and society." The system of monopoly capitalism--which is socially and economically ravaging the nuclear family and society asunder--is thus offered heavenly absolution. The Vatican letter does offer a solution for lesbians and gay men who suffer discrimination in areas such as employment and housing. It "suggests" living "chaste lives." Those who "do not want or see no reason for their sexual orientation to become public knowledge" will be relieved of these earthly pains. Live under the crushing weight of isolation, guilt, shame, fear and threats of extortion? No thanks. Trying to stuff tens of millions of gay men and lesbians back into one big closet would only intensify the oppression that the modern lesbian and gay liberation movement and its supporters are fighting to eradicate. Big business as a whole would like to reverse the gains made by the Third World liberation movements, and the fight for lesbian and gay rights and reproductive freedom. They are using Vatican edicts and right-wing Protestant shock troops as political weapons. But those who are exploited and oppressed are not waiting for pie in the sky. They are fighting to win justice right here on earth. (Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more info contact Workers World,46 W. 21 St., New York, NY 10010; "workers@cdp!igc.org.")

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