Are all Catholics homophobic? If you were to listen to what a lot of what is being said in the newspapers and on the radio and TV these past few days, you would have to assume that the answer is yes.
Over the past couple of weeks the warm-up for the referendum on 'gay-marriage' has been taking place, and people with strongly opposing views on the subject have been making noises and beating their war-drums.
One of the main views that is being proffered is that all Catholics are homophobic. But I would contend that such a statement is not necessarily true, because maybe, just maybe, some Catholics aren't homophobic at all. Maybe some Catholics have family members and friends who are gay and whom they actually love rather than hate. Maybe even some Catholics are gay themselves. Now wouldn't that be a crazy thought!
Could we then describe such people, who are gay Catholics, as self-loathing homophobic gay people? So we end up with a situation where we have homophobic gay people running around chanting anti-LGBT bile. As the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin said last week; yes - there are some people who are catholic, who also happen to be homophobic. Similarly there are some people who are catholic who happen to be claustrophobic (fear of small spaces), and hagiophobic (saints or holy things), hierophobic (sacred things), hadephobic (hell), and even heterophobic (straight people).
There are also some people who happen to be gay who are all of those things and more. The simple truth is that there are as many different opinions and feelings as there are people.
My point is, that so far the entire argument and discussion that been clogging up the airwaves and plastered across our newspapers for too long already, is simply ridiculous nonsense. It's back to the same thing of tarring everyone with the same brush, and it's on both sides of the debate/discussion. In the same way as people in the media dislike being accused of having an anti-church agenda, so too people in the media must stop accusing all Catholics of having an anti-gay agenda.
Some people do hold prejudicial views about people who are gay - they might think of them as psychological messed-up, or 'sick' and in need of a cure; they might think that they shouldn't be let near children for fear of what they might do to corrupt them, and that they should never be allowed to adopt children. Such views don't fit with the vast majority of people, and most people today can't believe such views even exist, but they do.
My question is this - why all the hate? Why, when it comes to discussing a simple thing such as 'gay-marriage', do we have to resort to hate? Surely 'gay-marriage' is all about love between two people, and celebrating that love, so why the hate? When some commentators legitimately offered their views and opinions that 'gay-marriage' shouldn't be allowed, they were met with a barrage of hate.
Being accused of being homophobic is being accused of having a hatred of gay people. I don't believe any of those commentators involved ever said anything hateful about gay people. Yet hate is thrown at them hatefully. They are being treated with hate. The same thing happened in the recent abortion referendum, hate was being thrown around like confetti, by both sides of the debate. There were hateful messages emanating from both pro-life and pro-choice groups.
Is it possible that as a mature modern society, we can have a reasonable debate about social issues without resorting to hate? Is it possible that instead of hate, we can show a bit of compassion and love for a change?