DignityUSA has hit out at comments made by Cardinal Joos of Belgium who has said in a magazine article that 90 per cent of people who identify themselves as either gay or lesbian are actually “sexual perverts”.
The 80 years old Cardinal, who until three months ago was a parish priest in Ghent before being appointed an “Titular See” archbishop by the Vatican in October, raised more than a few eyebrows when he was interviewed by the Belgian soft-core pornography magazine “P-Magazine”.
In the magazine, he said: “I am prepared to sign here in my blood that of all those who say they are lesbian or gay, at most five to 10 per cent are effectively lesbian or gay. All the rest are sexual perverts. I demand you write this down. If they come to protest on my doorstep, I don’t care. I’m just speaking out on what thousands of people are thinking but never get a chance to say. Real homosexuals don’t wander in the streets in colourful suits. Those are people who have a serious problem and have to live with that. And if they err, they will be forgiven.”
DignityUSA, which works for greater understanding of homosexuality in the Catholic Church and for change in church teaching on homosexuality, was “appalled” at the remarks.
“Such statements do nothing to clarify church teaching and only cause more pain to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics and increase alienation from the church,” commented Matthew Gallagher, the executive director of DignityUSA.
“This is just another example of how the hierarchy of our Church is working to discredit gay and lesbian people. The hierarchy says that they reject homosexuality, not homosexuals. But how can we believe that with statements like this from someone in a position to become the next Pope? This statement by the Cardinal indicates either ignorance of decades worth of respected social science research or a political agenda of scapegoating gays and lesbians. Either is deeply disturbing to us.”
During their Biennial Convention last August in Las Vegas, the DignityUSA membership released their declaration in favour of same-sex marriage. DignityUSA continues to work with local Dignity chapters to support gay and lesbian couples wishing to have their commitment of love and fidelity recognized and blessed by their communities and their church.
“Cardinal Joos’ words highlight how the hierarchy is acting upon their pledge made last summer to work against same-sex marriage and adoption,” Sam Sinnett, President of DignityUSA, pointed out. “Their words, last summer, caused great pain and harm to GLBT Catholics and these words of this cardinal add salt to those wounds. It is unfortunate that people in positions of power such as Cardinal Joos would revert to hateful stereotyping when discussing a public policy matter.”
According to Gallagher: “Such statements by this Cardinal, and other bishops, just shows how much they have moved away from being teachers of the love of Christ and towards political extremism.”
According to the Roman Catholic Church’s “hierarchy” website, Cardinal Joos was ordained priest when he was 22 in April 1946. He served as a priest in Ghent, Belgium, for just over 57 years until he was appointed archbishop in October last year. 14 days after his appointment as archbishop – and just 10 days after his bishopric ordination – he was made a cardinal.
He was plucked from obscurity by the Pope as part of the celebrations last year of his 25-year pontificate.