In the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's unprecedented announcement yesterday that he would resign the papacy effective February 28, many people took to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to express hope that the next pope would look more kindly on the LGBT community than the notoriously homophobic Benedict. However, as I wrote yesterday, I believe such hopes are sadly misplaced:
Benedict has appointed a majority of the cardinals who will elect his successor, and the vast majority of bishops around the world were named by either Benedict or his equally anti-gay predecessor, John Paul II. Given the fact that popes tend to appoint prelates who share their views, institutional homophobia in the Roman Catholic Church isn't likely to go away anytime soon, even as Catholics in Western countries continue to drift further away from the church on these and other issues.
As the chatter within the Catholic world turns from shock over the Pope's resignation to speculation about who might succeed him, the name at or near the top of nearly everyone's list is that of Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. He was appointed by Benedict in 2009 to serve as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and (surprise!) he's incredibly anti-gay.
How anti-gay, you ask? Believe it or not, Turkson is so anti-gay that he actually defended draconian laws that criminalize homosexuality and gay sex, including Uganda's notorious "Kill the Gays" bill. Speaking last year to the National Catholic Register, Turkson opined that while the penalties imposed by such laws are "exaggerated," the desire of many Africans and African leaders to incarcerate or even execute their gay citizens is actually perfectly understandable, and that the "intensity of the reaction [to homosexuality] is probably commensurate with tradition."
Translation: demonizing and persecuting gay people shouldn't be condemned. Rather, it should be understood because in many nations, it's traditional.
Turkson's comments get even worse from there. Pick your jaw up off the floor and meet me after the jump.