Cardinal Robert Sarah
Cardinal Robert Sarah has some odd priorities | via Vatican News Service

Food insecurity, wars, inflation, climate change and bigotry don’t make the list. Guess what does.

“Gratuitous enemies are conjured up by people with mediocre intellects. They are incapable of making an intellectually honest and persuasive argument without identifying a foe.”

Tuesday, in a press release, Cardinal Robert Sarah asks: What is the Greatest Threat to Families Today? Could that be self-absorbed priests?

Cardinal Sarah is consistent. I will give him that. A few years ago, the obnoxious prelate claimed that LGBTQ rights were part of an “insidious war.”

Sarah’s answers the question in self-admiring terms. The press release, designed to sell Sarah’s latest book and which was undoubtedly approved by the cardinal, begins:

Cardinal Robert Sarah, author of the highly regarded books God or Nothing and The Power of Silence, pulls no punches in his condemnation of the presence of evil in today’s world in his new book, COUPLES, AWAKEN YOUR LOVE!

The gushing continues as the rhetorical questions are answered:

With his typical luminous and profound insight, Cardinal Sarah leads couples through a journey of forgiveness and healing within their own marriages as well as recognition of the greatest threats facing the family today, namely abortion, gender ideology and “counterfeit marriages.”

I am pro-choice. I will leave it there. Beyond abortion, the cardinal is confused and confusing. He is also dishonest. For starters there is no such thing as “gender ideology.” Gender identity is a well documented, evidence-based reality that is neither a philosophy nor a doctrine. The ideology associated with intolerance is another matter.

Furthermore, the presence of gender identity threatens no one. A very small percentage of the population have incongruent gender identity and natal sex. The cardinal believes that is impossible because Church teachings are based on Genesis 1:27.

No one has ever conveyed a legitimate argument that same-sex marriage has any effect whatsoever on opposite-sex marriages.”

It is not families that are threatened by scientific certainties. Cardinal Robert Sarah is threatened by truths that are inconsistent with Church teachings. Sarah is threatened because he has no means of coping with certain facts. All Sarah can do is to relegate a fact to an “ideology” no matter how preposterous his argument becomes.

Catholics are already a rather tolerant group. Sarah wants to further empty the pews. About 10% of the United States’ population as of 2010 (roughly 30 million people) are former or non-practicing Catholics. Catholics attend church less often than Protestants.

Moreover, Sarah is referring to same-sex marriages “counterfeit.” He is entitled to his religious belief. However, for marriage equality to pose a threat one would have to assume that gay people would enter into healthy and happy opposite-sex marriages.

Marriage equality only affects those thus wed. No one has ever conveyed a legitimate argument that same-sex marriage has any effect whatsoever on the institution of marriage or on opposite-sex marriages if same-sex marriage was not available as an option. It is an absurd belief.

The title of Sarah’s pretentious book, “Couples, Awaken Your Love,” isn’t about love at all. At least not in consideration of the press release. “Awaken Your Hate!” seems more applicable.

Furthermore, what on earth would lead Sarah — supposedly a celibate man — to believe that he is an expert when it comes to either love or marriage? Later on in the gush:

Cardinal Sarah seamlessly moves between finding that precious love between couples that may have been lost and the current threats that present themselves to families across the world.

“… when the religious dogma is used to discriminate then the doctrine is externalized. That has no place in a civil society.”

Impossible! It cannot be “seamless” because neither marriage equality nor gender identity have any effect on marriages. Having a kid with gender dysphoria could cause stress on a marriage. However, is denying the existence of gender identity likely to increase or decrease that stress? Moreover, how would that denial affect the quality of life of the child?

Just to summarize, the religious beliefs — the “ideology” — causes me little concern. When a conservative Christian has a suffering child who finds relief in transitioning then the contrary religious doctrine will usually dissipate. People should have enough sense to appreciate the difference between faith-based doctrine and evidence based medical science.

Furthermore, in the United States when the dogma becomes public policy that offends our Constitution.

If people want to believe that same-sex marriages are “counterfeit” then that’s up to them. No one is forcing anyone into a “gay marriage.” However, when the religious dogma is used to discriminate then the doctrine is externalized. That has no place in a civil society.

Despite his obvious lack of experience, if Cardinal Robert Sarah wants to write about Christian marriage, have at it. However, every argument does not require an enemy to be persuasive. Gratuitous enemies are conjured up by people with mediocre intellects. They are incapable of making an intellectually honest and persuasive argument without identifying a foe.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.