If there was any shred of doubt left that the new Pope is taking the Catholic Church in an increasingly anti-gay direction, the latest proposal being considered by the Vatican should put those hesitations to rest.
Apparently, it isn't enough for the Vatican to go on an anti-gay witchhunt and start prohibiting gay men from becoming priests, as the Church apparently plans to do soon.
Now, the Catholic Church is going to damn those who oppose its antiquated views on homosexuality to hell, so to speak: The latest proposal being considered is one that would call on priests to deny the sacrament to Catholic politicians who have voted in favor of policies and laws that go against official Vatican teaching. In other words: Vote for gay marriage, go to hell.
This isn't the first time the Catholic Church has threatened to use the sacrament as a political weapon. The issue of denying holy rites to independent-minded Catholic politicians has come up in the past, particularly with respect to the issue of abortion.
This proposal also comes on the heels of reports that the Catholic Church apparently intends to bar gay men from entering the priesthood.
The move to ban gay men from entering the priesthood is being played by the Catholic Church as part of its efforts to clean up the priesthood in the wake of the sex abuse scandals that rocked the church, particularly in America, in the past few years.
But banning gay priests not only confuses the issue of homosexuality with pedophilia, it does little to protect parishioners from the real sex-offending culprits, gay or straight.
It's clear that, under Pope Benedict, the Catholic Church is using the sex abuse scandal as a flimsy excuse to purge gay men from the priesthood. There's no denying the irony in that move, as some observers have estimated that the American Catholic priesthood may be as much as 25 percent gay.
In the past, the Catholic Church has ordained gay priests, reasoning that sexual orientation was irrelevant, since all priests, gay or straight, must take a vow of celibacy.
Before he was elected Pope Benedict, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was perhaps the most highly placed and certainly one of the most vocal anti-gay mouthpieces for the Catholic Church. In 1999, he ordered two Americans, Father Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick, to cease their ministry that reached out to gay and lesbian Catholics.
He was the author of the 2003 Vatican directive that called on priests around the world to work actively to prevent governments from legalizing same-sex marriage. He also called on priests to work to repeal existing laws that gave gay and lesbian unions any kind of legal recognition, such as civil unions or domestic partnership protections.
He opposes the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.
As Pope, he has been vocal in his opposition to same-sex marriage, calling it 'pseudo-matrimony.'
And in June, he issued a rant against gay and lesbian families.
While some politicians would probably buckle under the pressure of the newist edict, it's also likely that a large number of voters would start looking more closely at a candidate's religious affiliation before casting a ballot. Another scenario would be that many Catholic politicians would simply ignore the threat, and vote their conscience. If such politicians were denied sacrament, it would only make the politicians look all that more brave and trustworthy.
And make the Vatican look that much more irrelevant.