The Pope went further, stating:
“People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” he said. “They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”
“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned,”
Is there anything here to provoke such vitriolic attacks? Is there anything here not expressed in mild words of sweet reason?
The Pope is saying that our natures are given us by a gracious God. That God loves us. These natures are not socially constructed nor subject to our own will. Male and female, God creates us. Is that what the shouters think is hateful?
Then, what must they think of these words: “…they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Do those words from the American Declaration of Independence conflict with the Pope’s Christmas message on humanity? We do not think so. Every word in the Declaration depends on and is justified by the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Surely, that nature which gives us our sexual identity is part of the understanding of what it means to be human.
In the tsunami of ink that rushed forward to denounce the Pope’s statement, it’s interesting to note—and we express profound gratitude for it—that the Deseret Newsgave the Pope’s statement a respectful hearing. This news outlet, often seen as being close to the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), seems instinctively to understand what it is like to be a persecuted minority.
It was amazing to see how Pope Benedict made use of the powerful statements of France’s Grand Rabbi. Rabbi Gilles Bernheim has issued a statement that shows how creating a right of two persons of the same sex to marry constitutes a radical threat to the idea of marriage and sexuality itself.
In citing the work of this Jewish philosopher and theologian, the Pope was showing the world there is room for leaders of different religions to align in a worldwide effort to defend marriage and family.
You may disagree with everything the Pope said at Christmas. You may think he is wrong and even argue that his ideas are outmoded. After all, President Obama agreed with the Pope’s definition of marriage and family—as recently as last May.
But you cannot reasonably argue that they are motivated by hatred, by bigotry. In embracing Protestants, Orthodox Christians and Jews, and others in a bid to shore up the crumbling foundations of human society, in speaking mildly and with charity for all, we believe that Pope Benedict XVI is speaking sweet reason.