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Germany

Germans Criticize Pope's Views on Gays

The German Green Party and a major gay rights group have criticized a speech by Pope Benedict XVI in which he said gay marriage was “based on a trivialization of the human body.”

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The Bavarian pope is no friend of gay marriage

The Green Party and Lesbian and Gay Federation have broken the silence in Germany among groups that disagree with the Pope’s stance on social issues. Green parliamentarian Volker Beck said that Pope Benedict XVI’s attitude toward homosexuality was “marked by theological mercilessness and the haughtiness of the Pharisees.”

Manfred Burns, spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Federation, called Benedict’s remarks on Monday an “insulting sermon of hate.”

Benedict had told Italian Catholics that gay marriage involved a “trivialization of the human body.”

“Gay marriage is an expression of an anarchic freedom, which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man... man is not just his body, and that which is biological, is not just biological, but an expression and fulfillment of his humanity,” the Pope said.

Continuing John Paul II's mission

Benedict’s position is not radically different from his predecessor’s, Pope John Paul II: although gay marriage is theologically unfounded, discrimination against gays is also sinful. John Paul was the heavy target of criticism by the Lesbian and Gay Federation. It called on German bishops to distance themselves from the John Paul’s ideas on homosexuality in his last book, Memory and Identity, which the gay advocacy organization called “inhuman writings.”

Until now, German political groups have been careful not to criticize Benedict XVI publicly. Although many Germans disagree with his stance on issues regarding sexuality, public sympathy has been strong for Benedict, the first German pope since 1523.

Gay-Pride-Parade in Oklahoma 1999

One couldn't see the rainbow flag waving for the new pope

Since he took office almost two months ago, Benedict has not focused his speeches on sexuality, but rather on encouraging peace between nations and reaching out toward Protestantism and non-Christian religions. Those ideas are not controversial among many Western European Catholics; but in issues of sexuality, their attitudes tend statistically, world-wide, to be more libertarian.

Many Catholic voices in the German media had expressed hope that Benedict would deviate from his predecessor’s line on gay marriage, contraception, abortion, and other sexual issues. But Monday’s speech, and the reaction to it, appear to signal no change in the frustration among gay advocacy groups with the Pope’s conservative views on sexuality and social issues.

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