RIO DE JANEIRO, April 30 (Reuters) – The Catholic Church has excommunicated a Brazilian priest after he defended homosexuality, open marriage and other practices counter to Church teaching in online videos.
In a statement released late on Monday, the priest’s diocese said Father Roberto Francisco Daniel, known to local parishioners as Padre Beto, had “in the name of ‘freedom of expression’ betrayed the promise of fealty to the Church.”
I can’t really say this is surprising. Defending homosexuality is one thing given the direction public opinion has been moving, even in predominately Catholic parts of the world like Central and South America. But to go so far as to imply approval for open marriages, well … that’s a paddlin’. He might have expected something like this to come his way eventually.
In one of the recent videos he posted on YouTube.com and his own Website, the priest said a married person who chose to have an affair, heterosexual or otherwise, would not be unfaithful as long as that person’s spouse allowed it. “If someone is in an extramarital relationship and that relationship is accepted by the spouse, then faithfulness still exists there,” he said.
I don’t know; personally I think this makes moral sense. If there exists among any number of consenting adults some kind of sexual relationship – and all parties are thoroughly informed and willing participants – then I don’t see a problem. It’s not my business, and it doesn’t hurt anyone, so have a blast. Just, y’know, stay safe and everything.
Though I keep getting the nagging suspicion that stuff like that always looks better either in erotic literature or in the mind’s eye. Your mileage may vary.
This story brings to mind the larger issue of the Catholic Church pushing back against either groups or individuals who refuse to toe the party line – or just don’t toe it enough. Take, for example, the issue the Church took last year with the group representing the 55,000 nuns in this country. The Vatican had no objection to their helping the poor or ministering to the sick; however they felt that there wasn’t enough focus on condemning secular society’s increasing allowances on moral issues like homosexuality and reproductive rights. I mean, come on, girls … get your priorities in order.
In the long run, maybe this is a good thing. The more the church excommunicates, censures, and rejects those within their fold who disagree with them on human sexuality, morality, and other secular issues when they come into conflict with traditional Catholic teachings, the more insular and obsolete they’ll become. People will still be good, and they’ll consider themselves “Christian”, but that will likely take on a different meaning depending on the person. My guess is that if the Vatican refuses to grow and adapt to the modernization of society (and what we’ve come to understand about human sexuality and psychology during the last century alone), within the span of a generation their membership will fall precipitously as they become obsessed with purging their ranks of anyone who doesn’t view the world through the lens of their long line of predecessors.