On Monday, Pope Benedict equated saving the rainforest with saving gay men and lesbians: “(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed,” the pope said in a holiday address. “The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.” According to Reuters, the pope also defended the Church’s right to “speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected.”
Recent Vatican news has been dominated by both LGBT rights (specifically, the Church’s opposition to these rights) and the Vatican’s efforts to be more ‘green.’ So, the pope is trying (not necessarily successfully) to connect the two by a very, very thin thread.
Now, the pope is leading a church that does not even recognize the commonly accepted definition of gender (i.e. socially constructed roles, power, etc) and instead opts to just stick to ‘sex.’ Nonetheless, it is difficult to accept that this world leader still can’t understand why human nature might be more expansive than just “man and woman.”
In his statement, Pope Benedict is trying to reference the doctrine of the institutional church that—while tolerating the homosexual—denounces “homosexual acts.” So, this “destruction” that the pope mentions is equal to these denounced acts.
While the rainforests and LGBT persons are indeed both living things that need to be cared for, by equating the two the pope is furthering the Church hierarchy’s dehumanization of LGBT persons. Gay men and lesbian women, unlike like tropical forests, have souls that need to be nurtured and hearts in order to love. By expecting LGBT persons to be chaste, in the same way that loggers might desist from logging, the Church hierarchy is taking life away from the world. LGBT persons do not need to be saved from themselves; rather, they need to have their dignity and right to love upheld by the Catholic Church and society-at-large.
So, maybe the pope is on to something. Maybe if the Vatican cared as much about the true well-being of LGBT persons (not the Church hierarchy’s misconstrued idea of their well-being) as they did about their new solar panels, then indeed the “order of creation” would be respected.