Rome's gays welcomes Benedict's exit

2013-02-19 22:13
(Picture: Supplied)

(Picture: Supplied)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Rome - Across the road from the Colosseum, the ancient Roman stadium consecrated as a holy Christian site, clients at a busy bar are raising a glass to the pope: Toasting the departure one of the worst church leader they can imagine.

For drinkers in Rome's best known gay bar, Benedict's abdication is a blessing.

"He was less human than the last one," said Flavia Servadei, co-owner of Coming Out a small bar in Via San Giovanni in Laterano, which has been so successful since it opened in 2001 that the road has been renamed Gay Street.

In warm Roman summers, the bar attracts scores of men and women, spilling onto the pedestrianised street.

On the chilly February day when Benedict announced his abdication, drinkers huddled inside to absorb the news, unprecedented in the past 700 years.

"This was the most reactionary pope ever, who made homophobia one of his battle cries," Franco Grillini, founder of Italy's biggest gay advocacy group Arcigay, said in a telephone interview. "So his resignation was good news."

Italian gays and lesbians resent the influence that the Catholic Church, from its headquarters in a walled city state on the other side of Rome, continues to have on politics, despite dwindling congregations and a largely secular society.

‘Cowardice’

While Britain, France and several US states have allowed or are considering allowing gay marriage, in Italy attempts to create some limited form of civil partnership for same-sex couples have failed.

"In Italy, politicians are much more servile to the Vatican, they are very obedient, there is an element of cowardice," said Grillini.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are a "grave depravity" and "do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity".

 Homosexuals themselves, however, should be "accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity".

Although remembered by many people as a gentler figure than his successor, John Paul II criticised an international gay pride parade through Rome in 2000 as an "offence to Christian values" and reaffirmed that the church considered homosexuality "objectively disordered".

Benedict, 85, who in his youth was considered a liberal theologian, made the battle against Western secularism a central part of his papacy and called gay marriage a threat to "human dignity and the future of humanity itself".

"I'm not even talking about marriage," said Servadei, one of three women who co-own the bar, instantly recognisable by the rainbow logo above the door which has become an international symbol of gay rights.

"Just the right to visit my partner if she is ill in hospital. In Italy they can stop me doing that... I want the recognition of equality between people that is in our constitution."

The 41-year-old accepts that no pope is ever likely to endorse her views on many issues - "He's a pope!" - but said she was shocked when he received an African politician who is pushing anti-gay law through parliament, something she saw as a papal stamp of approval.

Social issues

In December, the pope welcomed Ugandan Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, one of the proponents of a bill that, in its first draft, sought to impose the death penalty on gays.

At the heart of Africa where Catholicism is thriving, the Ugandan parliament is still debating the bill, which no longer has the death penalty clause but would still punish anyone who "abets homosexuality".

The Catholic Church is totally opposed to the death penalty but Grillini blames Benedict for encouraging the developing world to make laws that oppress gays.

Under Benedict, Grillini says, the Church has gone to more conservative "extremes" due to the "fierce competition" from radical Islam and evangelical Christianity.

"They are trying to stem the competition posed by the religious radicalism of Islam or Christian fundamentalism by adopting the same message... The Catholic Church is squeezed by competition from new religious extremes that I believe represent the real danger in today's world."

As the pope retires to a convent in the Vatican gardens, anyone hoping that his successor will be more liberal on homosexuality or other social issues such as contraception or divorce, is likely to be disappointed.

All 117 men who will enter the conclave next month were appointed cardinal - giving them the right to vote in the secretive papal election - either by Benedict or his predecessor John Paul.

"The College of Cardinals is made up of very old people - a male chauvinist gerontocracy," said Grillini.

"So we have no illusion about a new pope having more moderate views about civil rights and homosexuality."

Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  pope john paul ii  |  italy  |  gay rights  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
14 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 07:08 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    DELAYS between the R300 Highway and the Satellite Station
  • Friday Cape Town - 07:06 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between Jip De Jager Drive and the M5 Koeberg Interchange
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Pre-order the Xbox One

Get this all-in-one entertainment system with live TV, movies, social networking and gaming. Pre-order now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1433.60

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be putting too much effort into someone or something. You are doing it out of love and compassion but there is a chance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.