Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two January Speeches by Heads of State Couldn’t be More Different


Pope Benedict XVI Vs. President Barack Obama

The Pope Has Not Evolved
In his global message for World Day of Peace, on January 1, 2013, His Holiness condemned same-sex marriage “ a serious harm to justice and peace.” The pope delineated his views that the cause of preserving the institution of marriage should be supported by everyone concerned about the family whether or not they are Christian, and that “it is a union only between a man and woman even though some attempt to make it juridically equivalent to “radically different types of union.” 

If gays and lesbians are allowed to wed, it will do harm and help to destabilize marriage which will in turn ”obscure marriage’s specific nature and its indispensable role in society," according to Pope Benedict’s conviction. “They are principles inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. “

Bolstered by Roman Catholic leaders in Britain, the Pope also gave public warnings to heads of state (directed especially to David Cameron without naming him) that plans for same-sex marriage will undermine the family. His message warned that coalition’s reforms will reduce the status of marriage and harm the families that are built around it.

As expected, LGBT activists the follow Sunday during the Pope’s weekly prayers gathered near St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City to protest comments the Pontiff made about gay marriage during his New Year’s Message. 

Earlier in the year, Benedict called same-sex marriage a threat to “human dignity and the future of humanity itself” and that a weakened appreciation for “traditional marriage” has led to “grave social problems bearing an immense human and economic cost.”

Obama’s Second Inaugural Address:  A New Year
In contrast to the Pope’s declarations, Obama, in his Inaugural Address, declared that ‘our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” For a President who nine months ago, stated he did not believe in same-sex marriage, “he’s come a long way, baby.”

The above remarks indicate that Obama believes we haven’t gone far enough to support LGBT rights in this country. How best the nation should address “the little girl born into the bleakest poverty, the parents of a child with disability, the gay men and women seeking to marry, voters facing hurdles because of their race and immigrants seeking a toehold in a land of opportunity.”

As he began his second term, President Obama made two references to gay rights, even invoking The Stonewall Riots of 1969 in Greenwich Village regarded as the birth of the gay rights movement. He chose the first Latino gay man as his Inaugural Poet and had Luis Leon, gay-friendly Priest of St. John’s, execute the Inaugural Benediction.  The Inaugural Address was inclusive and well received by the LGBT community.

The Similarities
The President and the Pontiff are both world leaders, peace messengers.  They are simpatico with their distaste for unbridled capitalism and the inequality between the rich and the poor, but the similarities end, unfortunately, there.