Could it be divine intervention? Or would that be divine punishment?
This week, just days after Catholic Charities cut off spousal insurance and employment benefits for all employees to protect itself from the scourge of gay marriage in the District of Columbia, the Vatican is embroiled in a gay sex scandal.
Last Monday, employees at Catholic Charities were told they would lose spousal health benefits to "avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers," the latest spiteful move of Catholic Charities and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, which has been threatening hell-fire and damnation ever since DC began the process of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, persons "within the household of the Pope" were engaging in what could only be called "solicitation and trafficking" for the purpose of homosexual sex.
With respect to homosexual persons, it seems the institutional Catholic Church can't decide whether to love 'em or leave 'em.
The Church of course, has a very, very strong moral stance about sex, sexuality, and reproduction. You know, the one that leads organizations like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to try to dictate to everyone else in the world how to live and what decisions to make from "conception to natural death," including with whom and how to have sex in between.
That Church, for which the "truth," and "morality," and "god's will" is so immutably clear that the very laws of the United States of America--and all the hospitals and health care centers within it--are, if the Church has its way, to be governed by Church principals, never mind public health or medical science. The Church whose own religious teachings demand that marriage be defined between one man and one woman--even civil marriage--and for which sex can only be had within marriage.
Unless of course you are a priest, and have sex with children or men, and can of course keep it a secret, as clearly those folks in Vatican City were hoping to do.
This whole finger-wagging and hypocrisy thing is getting so old, especially for an institution that professes to care about every one. Every one being of course fetuses before birth and all heterosexual men. The rest of us be damned...quite literally, as I understand it.
So first the benefits. The Washington Post reports employees were informed early this week that Catholic Charities would no longer offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in their plan.
"We looked at all the options and implications," said the charity's president, Edward J. Orzechowski. "This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city's new requirements and remain faithful to the church's teaching."
A former executive at Catholic Charities strongly criticized the change, according to the Post:
Tim Sawina, who was until last year one of the group's highest-ranking executives, called the elimination of spousal health benefits "devastating" and "wrong" in a letter Wednesday to the governing boards of the social service organization.
The Archdiocese and Catholic Charities, which receives $22 million from the city for social service programs, tried to have it both ways, first through a bit of, shall we say, strong-arming. Catholic Charities threatened to withdraw its services from DC: To protest the same-sex marriage proposal, Catholic Charities stated it might not be able to continue its contracts with the city, including operating homeless shelters and facilitating city-sponsored adoptions.
According to the Post:
Being forced to recognize same-sex marriage, church officials said, could make it impossible for the church to be a city contractor because Catholic teaching opposes such unions.
That effort fizzled big time when numerous other agencies stepped up and said they'd gladly take over those contracts. In the end, that is what happened: According to the Post, "[a]fter the council voted to legalize gay marriage, Catholic Charities last month transferred its foster-care program -- 43 children, 35 families and seven staff members -- to another provider, the National Center for Children and Families."
So I guess they had to find a way to pout further for fear that the charity receiving funds from taxpayers might actually be forced to do the abhorrent thing and actually help support the partner or spouse of a gay person.
The church faced two options with the approval of the new law, said Robert Tuttle, a George Washington University professor who studies the relationship between church and state. One choice was to expand the definition of domestic partner, as the Archdiocese in San Francisco did years ago, to include a parent, sibling or someone else in the household.
The second choice was to do what the Washington Archdiocese has done: eliminate benefits for all spouses.
"For decades, the church has been at the forefront of worker benefits, so this move cuts against their understanding of social justice and health benefits to all possible," Tuttle said. "But obviously, you can see they felt there was a real conflict between those values. They feel they weren't left with much of a choice."
Staff members at the charity were not given advance notice of the new policy and will not be able to add a spouse now because the most recent open enrollment period ended in November.
Yep. Those values.
Meanwhile, back at the Vatican ranch, so to speak, there's been some hanky-panky going on. The Guardian UK reports that
"the Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict's household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting." [Emphasis added...couldn't help it.]
According to the Guardian:
Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him. Transcripts in the possession of the Guardian suggest that numerous men may have been procured for Balducci, at least one of whom was studying for the priesthood.
This has caused "grave embarrassment to the Vatican, which has yet to publicly comment on the affair."
While Catholicism does not condemn homosexuality outright, its teaching is that homosexual acts "are intrinsically disordered." The Catechism of the Catholic church states unequivocally: "Under no circumstances can they be approved."
The procuring of services for sexual activity was discovered during an investigation into Balducci's involvement in "widespread corruption." Here I guess we are talking about political and economic corruption, which apparently is different than the "moral corruption" of homosexuality about which the Church is so worried.
Balducci is also a senior adviser to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the department that oversees the Roman Catholic church's worldwide missionary activities.
Since 1995, he has been a member of one of the world's most exclusive fraternities - the Gentlemen of His Holiness, or Papal Gentlemen, the ceremonial ushers of the papal household. In the words of a 1968 ordinance, they are expected to "distinguish themselves for the good of souls and the glory of the name of the Lord".
According to a report, there was a hidden side to Balducci's life. (Really?)
"In order to organise casual encounters of a sexual nature, he availed himself of the intercession of two individuals who, it is maintained, may form part of an organised network, especially active in [Rome], of exploiters or at least facilitators of male prostitution."
The Vatican's response? No loss of employment benefits for this guy!
According to one source, there was no provision for the dismissal of a Gentleman of His Holiness. Another said: "We shall wait for the judiciary's definitive verdict."
Of course not! If the previous sex scandals in the United States are any indication, the Church will go to all lengths to protect this guy.
Meanwhile, employees in DC will lose their health benefits and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will go on fighting health care for millions of people in the United States, because they are morally opposed to the federal funding of abortion, a case of political shadow boxing if there ever was one because there is no federal funding of abortion included in any existing health reform bill.
Moral absolutism. It's a great thing.
This article was originally published at RH RealityCheck