Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s UN representative, has set out the Catholic Church’s understanding of the important distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behaviour as moves continue at the UN to grant homosexual persons special status under human rights international legislation.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi makes it clear a couple of times in his speech that people should not be punished or suffer violence because of their sexual orientation.
‘The Holy See takes this opportunity to affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings, and to condemn all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts, or sexual behaviors. ‘
‘ for the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other. A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.’
Having said this, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi stated the obvious fact that states do have the right to have laws about sexual behaviour:
‘But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.’
Some commentators have mistakenly or mischievously sought to misrepresent this last statement as the Holy See proposing that homosexual behaviour should be criminalised. Paul Sims of the New Humanist is one of the commentators who attempts to wildly spin this into the Vatican seeking to criminalize ‘gay sex’. He writes on his blog:
‘The statement condemns violence, it must be acknowledged, but in his second main point the Archbishop says “certain kinds of sexual behaviours must be forbidden by law”. The implication here seems to be that states should be allowed to forbid gay sex. Are we to assume that a non-violent sanction, such as a prison sentence, would be acceptable?’
Nowhere in Archbishop Silvano Tomasi’s speech does he refer to homosexual behaviour or the criminalization of ‘gay sex, neither does he list homosexual acts alongside incest and pedophilia as behaviors that must be forbidden by law.
So why does Paul Sims make his unwarranted accusation? What really drives the gays and secularists crazy is that the Holy See’s representative at the UN publicly re-iterates the Church’s moral teaching about marriage:
‘the Holy See wishes to affirm its deeply held belief that human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage. Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension: It is an activity which puts the individual will at the service of a finality; it is not an “identity.”…Denying the moral dimension of sexuality leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter, and undermines ultimately his/her ontological dignity. This belief about human nature is also shared by many other faith communities, and by other persons of conscience.’
Protect the Pope comment: All the archbishop has done is set out why it’s wrong for states to intervene in the area of sexual orientation, while at the same time upholding the state’s right to regulate sexual behaviour, including criminalizing deviant sexual acts like incest, and pedophilia. Every culture throughout human history has regulated sexual behaviour, this is one of the things that makes us different from animals.
Homosexual acts in private used to be criminalised in this country, and many individuals suffered terribly as a result. One has only to re-call the harrowing cases of Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. It is good that those days are gone. Though the Catholic Church does teach that sexual love is only moral within marriage it does not seek the re-criminalization of homosexual acts, and it is totally misleading to suggest otherwise.