Vatican and gays
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word evil as meaning "the antithesis of good", "morally depraved", "unsound, corrupt, diseased". For Christians, evil has the added meaning that it is the polar opposite to all the good that flows from, and is associated with, God and His son, Jesus Christ.
Thus when the word is used by the main Christian organisation in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, it is reasonable to suppose that the degree of censure being attached is at the maximum end of the scale.
It is against the backdrop of the use of the word evil, among many others, that consideration is given to last week's 12-page document on same sex unions published by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The church's attitude towards homosexuality is well enough known: it is against homosexual practices, believing - sincerely - that they are morally wrong, a view which the church holds is supported by several biblical references. This is fine as far as it goes. The church is entitled to its view on many matters governing the life of man. And others will have their own - equally valid but contradictory - view.
What is less easy to accept, however, is the language through which the Vatican chose to express itself last week. This latest missive bespeaks an intolerance bordering on hatred. There is little evidence of Christian understanding, of love - the greatest attribute, according to Christ. It is simply not good enough for Cardinal Ratzinger and his associates who drew up this document to insert the suggestion - almost as an afterthought - that "men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" when the rest of the document suggest the opposite.
Same sex unions were, says the Vatican, "gravely immoral", homosexual acts went "against the natural moral law", homosexuality was "deviant behaviour", and gay couples seeking to adopt children were "doing violence". Within its own ranks, the church has many who, protected and hidden by the church, did a great deal of violence to children. As regards extending cohabitation rights to same sex couples, the Vatican, in an almost threatening tone, says that politicians considering such a move "need to be reminded that the approval or legislation of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil".
Tolerance is what is sadly lacking from the Vatican. Unleashing weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians is evil. Consciously, knowingly inflicting harm on the defenceless is evil. Falling in love with someone of the same sex and seeking the same legislative protections as apply to married heterosexual couples is not.