Joseph C.Chetcuti | Sunday, 08 March 2009

Debate the book, don’t ban it

The decision of the Catholic Media Centre to stock a book that purportedly vilifies gay men and lesbians has led to calls for the book to be withdrawn from sale. These calls, I believe, are misguided in that they embrace the same unwise strategy that has become the hallmark of the Roman Catholic Church. The gay and lesbian movement, I submit, is big enough and smart enough to face up to homophobia that comes under the guise of theology. We simply have to stop thinking and acting like Catholics.

The blurb

The Media Centre features a number of books on its website. On 3 February 2009, I was directed to a blurb accompanying a book by Atila Sinke Guimaraes that had the title The Catholic Church and Homosexuality – The Appendix to In The Murky Waters of Vatican II. The blurb, amongst other things, made a number of useless comments including the absurd inference that the book resolves all issues surrounding homosexuality. Significantly, it described homosexuality as an ugly and abnormal practice. Beauty, I respectfully submit, is in the eye of the beholder. But an abnormal practice, I wondered? Why are gay men and lesbians being saddled with anal and oral intercourse? Are these practices not also indulged in by heterosexuals? And why depict homosexuality as abnormal at a time when, during the televised program of Xarabank of 30 January 2009, both Archbishop Cremona and Anton Gouder made every effort to avoid such offensive labels? The blurb annoyed me greatly and provoked an email to the Media Centre which contained not a few expletives. On rereading it, I only regret my brand of Australian diplomacy was so restrained.

Does the book vilify gay men and lesbians?
I have ordered the book and eagerly await its receipt. My comments are, therefore, based on some pages that have been provided to me which have been deemed most offensive. Put simply, the central question is: does the book vilify gay men and lesbians?
It is well worth saying something about the book’s author. Atila Sinke Guimaraes is reportedly a traditional Catholic, the kind of Catholic that has gained increased legitimacy under this papacy and, ironically, the previous pontificate. He is co-author of the book “We Resist You to Your Face”, the ‘you’ apparently being Pope John Paul II. He and others like him intend to restore traditional Catholicism, as they see it, by resisting changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. In another book, Vatican II – Homosexuality and Paedophilia, the author alleges that homosexuality and paedophilia have infiltrated high positions in the Catholic hierarchy (surprise! surprise!) and that denunciation of both homosexuality and paedophilia is tantamount to self-destruction. I wonder whether the Media Centre has offered this book for sale?
So what are we to expect from an author like Atila Sinke Guimaraes who thinks he has a God-given right to challenge the Vatican but denies the same right to Catholic gay men and lesbians? Not bloody much!
In the book, the author falls back on a number of sources to denounce homosexuality. The reality is that Catholic tradition and the Catholic Scriptures are riddled with homophobia and the vilification of gay men and lesbians. You can virtually justify anything on the basis of Scripture and tradition including incest. After all who were the husbands and wives of the daughters and sons of Adam and Eve if it were not their parents and their siblings? Anyone remotely acquainted with Christian theology knows full well there is a very ugly side to this faith. Those calling for the book to be banned are probably unfamiliar with this ugly side of Christianity which the hierarchy has tried hard to suppress. Leviticus does indeed call for the death penalty for a man who lies with a man (20:13). Leviticus also condones discrimination and the ostracism of a range of people (18:29). There is also Scriptural basis for suggesting that AIDS is a punishment from God (Deuteronomy 28:27-28 but see John 9:1-3). God even sent haemorrhoids as a plague (1 Samuel 5:6-12). And what do we make of the poor Philistines who had to come up with golden haemorrhoids and golden rats (1 Samuel 6:1-9)? And look at the list of abominations in Scripture (Deuteronomy 22:5, Leviticus 18:12, 7:21, 11:4-20, 11:41-42 and Revelations 18:2). I mean why single out the poor eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, the black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl and the osprey? What a charming God Catholics believe in. Did not God create them after all? And did he not think they were all good (Genesis 1:25) until he changed his mind?
Much of this nonsense that has for far too long masqueraded as the word of God may well come as a shock to most decent Catholics irrespective of their sexual orientation! What the gay and lesbian movement needs to do is to attack traditional Christianity at its very core. Something I and many others have been calling for years.

Should the book be censored?
No, most definitely not. On the contrary, we must encourage loony Catholics to carry on with their mission that alienates most decent and right-minded human beings. Censorship conceals the venom and hideous past of Roman Catholic theology. We must expose it for all to see. We must take pride in having liberated ourselves from a medieval mentality. We must promote an “open society”, a society that offers a variety of thought including that which we find unpalatable. At the end of the day, we must reason our way to liberation and victory. This is not to say that there should not be anti-vilification legislation but such legislation needs to respect freedom of expression. We need it far more than our adversaries.

Joseph Chetcuti is a gay activist who formed part of the 1978 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. He has served on Victoria’s Pride Board and is the author of Il-Ktieb Roza: Dnub, Dizordni u Delitt? His next book, in English, on homosexuality in Malta, is expected to be published shortly


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



All the interviews from Reporter on MaltaToday's YouTube channel.


What a carnival


Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email