Cardinal makes an anti-gay gaffe
Fresh from the furore surrounding comments he made to a British journalist on the subject of paedophiles, the Archbishop of Durban, Catholic Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, 72, has landed himself in another sticky spot by airing his sentiments on the subject of homosexuality.
Napier was considered by some to be an outside candidate for the papacy during the recent electoral deliberations among 115 cardinals. The position went to Pope Francis.
In comments published on Friday in the Mail & Guardian, Napier rejected allegations that he was prejudiced against homosexuals, saying: “I can’t be accused of homophobia, because I don’t know any homosexuals.”
Not content to leave it at that, Napier reportedly commented on US conditions for aid, including the distribution of condoms and the promotion of gay rights.
He said that these preconditions constituted “a new kind of slavery”.
Same-sex marriages have been legal in South Africa since 2006, and are regularly performed in some churches.
“With same-sex marriages, we are carrying out someone else’s agenda,” Napier was quoted as saying. “It’s a new kind of slavery.”
Napier recently outraged people the world over by saying that paedophiles needed treatment, not punishment.
He later apologised, said he was misquoted, and explained that, in his view, paedophilia was a psychiatric disorder and only became a crime when acted out.
Reacting to this week’s gaffe, several role models for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community spoke to the Sunday Tribune.
Some of the responses were light-hearted, but others were in a more serious vein.
Writer Peter Machen said: “Isn’t it a little hard to tell, Archbishop, (who is gay) when most of your colleagues wear dresses?”
Said Anthony Stonier, cabaret performer extraordinaire: “I feel a Noël Coward moment coming on… ‘I can’t be accused of cardinalphobia – I don’t know any cardinals!’”
Colette Bodenstaff, who is the editor-in-chief of Alice magazine, said: “We won’t be taken aback by Archbishop Wilfrid Napier’s personal opinions.
“We would rather concentrate on the positive – the numerous Christian churches and congregations that welcome the gay and lesbian community with open arms,” she said.