Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Catholic Church in Costa Rica and homosexuality: An open letter to Archbishop José Rafael Quirós Quirós

In June 2014, Archbishop José Rafael Quirós Quirós of San José, Costa Rica, published a note (full text at bottom of this page) in which he asserted that the Catholic Church does not discriminate against homosexuals simply because it opposes same-sex marriage. This note provoked Dr. Luis Paulino Vargas Solís, director of the Centro de Investigación en Cultura y Desarrollo (CICDE) at Costa Rica's Universidad Estatal a Distancia, to write a scathing open letter of rebuttal on his personal blog on behalf the country's homosexual minority.

by Dr. Luis Paulino Vargas Solís (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Soñar con los pies en la tierra blog
July 6, 2014

Monseñor José Rafael Quirós Quirós, Metropolitan Archbishop:

I am writing attentively and respectfully to you to comment on the note you published recently which you titled "The Church does not discriminate."

I am glad you deplore -- as you do at the beginning of your letter -- that around issues related to sexually diverse minorities in Costa Rica, there have been attitudes and arguments that promote confrontation. However, and with all the respect you deserve, I'd like to point out that your letter is, in itself, an open invitation to confrontation in two ways. First, because, explicitly, you deny the recognition of some of the basic rights that these minorities are demanding. Or do you imagine perhaps that those of us who are part of those minorities ought to interpret being denied even the most elemental rights as a gesture of friendship? Second, because at the same time and quite clearly, you slip in offensive and degrading insinuations against people who are part of these minorities. So your argument is contradictory, but it's also incorrect when you state that it is "some media" (sic) that "...stimulate an atmosphere of confrontation." It's not the media that is doing it. Confrontation pulsates -- intensely and warlike -- in the words you have written.

Of course, I have to say that it's very inspiring and gratifying to read once again that the Church welcomes and respects homosexual people. Although you don't say it in your note, one could validly suppose that you subscribe to the condition imposed by official doctrine, that this respect and welcome is subordinate to homosexual people remaining in chastity and renouncing their sexual lives. However, I have to say that such an imposition really constitutes another form of violence against such people -- as such, an invitation to confrontation -- that is no less so, however much "love" makeup you want to embellish it with. That's how it is, especially with respect to Catholic homosexual people who have been so rudely mistreated by their church.

We well know and respect that priests have chosen to live in chastity (a commitment that, as is generally known, is often forgotten), but that doesn't entitle them to claim to impose the same prescription on people who are not interested in following that life plan. The sex of the person with whom one sleeps should never be, anywhere, a reason to determine the treatment a person is given. It is also unfortunate that Catholic officialdom does not understand that a satisfying sex life is, for most people, a necessary condition for achieving a good quality of life.

There is also violence in the affirmation that we homosexual people are a detriment and prejudicial to the "institution of marriage and the family." Something that is reiterated and reaffirmed when, a few lines down, you state that "the union between man and woman...should be protected from any threat that jeopardizes its solidity and existence." It's perfectly clear, given the stated context, that such a "threat" comes from these same minorities.

All this is simply false but, above all, it's offensive. The problems experienced by the types of families you support and the concept of marriage to which you cling are not caused by these minorities. That is also a stigmatizing insinuation, which calls forth violence and discrimination against these minorities. They are words of confrontation that contradict Jesus' gospel preaching of love and inclusiveness.

You also say things that are so foolish, they are very striking. For example, this phrase of yours: "... it is necessary to note the difference between homosexual orientation as a private phenomenon and as public behavior." It is an obscure and confusing phrase that lends itself to a variety of interpretations. One possibility is that it refers to homoerotic practice. If that is the case, we would be entering the realm of total nonsense because, to our knowledge, these minorities have never claimed the "right" to have sex in public. Now, if what this is about is preventing homosexuals from making our condition public, then we would be looking at a call for the violation of fundamental constitutional principles relating to freedom of expression.

Another detail: the type of matrimonial union to which you refer -- and the corresponding type of family -- aren't "natural" at all as Church officialdom argues and you clearly suggest in your note. It is disturbing that the Catholic hierarchy still doesn't know it. The Bible itself illustrates this since stories about polygamy abound in it; it isn't clear why you insist on giving eternal validity to some contents of that book (particularly those that provide the material to fuel hatred against sexually diverse minorities), while conveniently ignoring some others that are less favorable to the ideology that you defend.

The Bible is certainly a complex book, whose exegesis requires much study and that can be read and interpreted in various ways. Hence it is possible to extract justifications that promote confrontation, to feed the hatred of some people, especially those who are sexually different. But this book could also give reasons for promoting the loving embrace, which is only such if it is respectful of the diversity that exists in the human race. It is deplorable that -- even in spite of what was said by Pope Francis -- you favor the former over the latter.


The Church does not discriminate

By Mons. José Rafael Quirós Quirós, Arzobispo Metropolitano (English translation by Rebel Girl)

Every time a new attempt to legally recognize same-sex unions reappears on the political agenda a new attempt of legal recognition of marriages between same sex, ex officio, in the social debate, some of the sectors advocating for this legal provision aim their barrage of smears and discreditation at their opponents including, of course, the Catholic Church.

Some media, in addition to insisting invariably on the subject at hand, stimulate an atmosphere of confrontation that doesn't help in any way to shape public opinion through clear criteria on the basis of ethical principles and to the benefit of the public good. Generally, their approach which is aligned with the cause, invokes arguments such as the principle of equality and non-discrimination against individuals, making their opponents appear to be conservative, homophobic religious fundamentalists.

There are those who present these seemingly harmless projects as a decision that is limited just to legalizing a reality that does not necessarily imply an unjust act for anyone.

We have always stressed, based on the magisterium of the Church, that men and women with homosexual tendencies should be equally welcomed and respected, attending to their spiritual needs, avoiding any sign of unfair discrimination.

On the pastoral level, "undoubtedly" these people should be sustained in hope. As the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (no. 10, 1986) reminds us: "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs."

This position doesn't lead us to ignore the fact that it is necessary to note the difference between homosexual orientation as a private phenomenon and as public behavior, legally approved, converted into and promoted as a legal institution to the clear detriment of the institution of marriage and the family as such. In other words, respect towards homosexual people does not include legalization of unions between people of the same sex.

The union between man and woman is etched in human nature itself that wisely has established it that way. It is on this union that the family is built, whose permanent value to society and human beings is undeniable and should be protected from any threat that jeopardizes its solidity and existence. Therefore, the legal protection of the family institution -- which has existed as such before the state --, and not acting arbitrarily against it by denying its duty because of political calculations or commitments to activist groups, is a basic obligation of the state.

The issue should be seriously debated, presenting rational arguments, authentic anthropology and legal certainty. Merely emotional arguments from hotheaded spirits only lead to a society without a future.

As Church, we reject any initiative or action that insults the dignity of any person, and we will continue to promote love and understanding for all. But also we will be consistent in the defense of permanent values, including heterosexual marriage, the foundation of the family. I invite the people of God, faithfully following the one Master, not to get confused when they are told that domestic partnerships are just a response to the recognition of personal rights.

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