Harry Knox, an adviser to President Barack Obama's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, accuses Pope Benedict XVI of "insulting Jesus" in statements about condom use.
Knox, a homosexual-rights activist and director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program, says the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is “hurting people in the name of Jesus” and sending the message that “violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable.”
Knox posted his remarks on the Human Rights Campaign’s Web site, which the group says was created to “call out those who maliciously use lies and misinformation to interfere with the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community’s path to equality.”
Knox published a statement on the Web site in March accusing Pope Benedict of “morally reprehensible” behavior in spreading “blatant falsehoods,” according to CNS News.
“The Pope’s statement that condoms don’t help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus,” Knox later told the Associated Press.
“On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV [Africa], it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods,” he said.
“The Pope’s rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community. Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further.”
Knox’s criticism of the Pope is nothing new. In April 2007, he accused the Catholic Church of behavior that was “immoral and insulting to Jesus,” saying the Church's positions include “spiritual and emotional violence.”
In December, Knox and the Human Rights Campaign criticized the Church for not signing on to a United Nations resolution that called for decriminalizing homosexuality and equating all sexual orientations.
“As faith leaders, we were shocked by Vatican opposition to this proposed initiative,” Knox says on the campaign's Web site.
“By refusing to sign a basic statement opposing inhumane treatment of LGBT people, the Vatican is sending a message that violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable. Most Catholics, and indeed most Catholic teachings, tell us that all people are entitled to live with basic human dignity without the threat of violence. The Catholics we know believe that Scripture asks us to be our brother and our sister’s keeper. Many are speaking out against this immoral stance in the name of religion,” he Web statement says.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment on whether Obama agrees with Knox’s statements that the Pope is a “discredited leader” or whether Knox should apologize.
At a news conference Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D.-Calif., said she was unaware that Knox refers to the Pope as a “discredited leader.”
“I’m so sorry. I’m just totally unaware of that statement,” Pelosi told CNS News.
“I really don’t know about that. But certainly, His Holiness is the head of an organization that has done more to alleviate poverty, eradicate disease, and is now addressing climate change issue and the rest. I am just not familiar with the statement and the circumstance.”
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