One of the trials of being a regular leaflet deliverer is that people complain of the huge proliferation of free newspapers, fliers and charity bags that make their way onto my constituents’ doormats unwanted on a daily basis. As a public representative, the photocopied leaflet for me is the essential organ of community information, which now has to compete with pizza menus and business circulars for the attention of the householder. I have to say myself that this invasion of my letterbox does not upset me unduly, except when I am confronted with the narrow-minded musings contained in the Catholic monthly newspaper, Alive.
Take, for example, the following headline: ‘Professor rejects notion of women priests’ – an article which attempts to undermine moves within the Church to move for gender equality by quoting a female professor in the well-known Catholic University of Notre Dame. Another eye-catching headline along gender lines tells us that ‘Boys do better in schools that make tough demands’. Need we say more?
How about this one: ‘Amnesty is now part of the evil it set out to oppose’ – a piece which criticises the respected organisation Am-nesty International’s policy ‘shift’ by supporting abortion in very particular circumstances. What a nasty commentary on the important work being carried out by Amnesty all over the world in highlighting cases of injustice and campaigning for truth. A Fr Kevin Doran tells us on the next page that it’s ‘Time the Crisis Pregnancy Agency had its wings clipped’. Remarkable that an agency that has assisted thousands of young women who find themselves in distress over an unexpected pregnancy should have earn the ire of a disciple of the supposedly compassionate Church.
But it’s against our homosexual community that Alive unleashes its most vicious assaults. First we’re told on page 3 about a ‘Family Pride March in Brussels’ whose aim was, among other things, to show public Catholic support for the ‘natural’ family. Then on page 10 there is a triumphant report on a ‘Rome Rally for natural marriage’, which describes the promotion of a homosexual agenda as ‘a problem of domestic moral terrorism by those who flagrantly agitate to undermine the most basic values of society’. However, it is on page 13 that the real stuff comes.
The use of the inverted commas in the following headline is particularly disgusting, attempting to undermine the entire validity of homosexuality as a sexual orientation – ‘Number of ‘gays’ is lower than claimed’. The article attempts to show how research in Canada uncovered that only 1.4 per cent of adults surveyed had engaged in homosexual acts. Again, they leave the best to last – ‘recent reports from Scandinavia indicate that the life expectancy of homosexuals is 20 years shorter than that of heterosexuals’, apparently.
Of course this is not just nonsense but dangerous nonsense. It is dangerous because of the increasing number of homosexual young people who are suffering homophobic attacks on Dublin’s streets. It is dangerous because of the high number of suicides that we know occur among gays and lesbians. It is dangerous because it gives a licence to those narrow-minded bigots to justify homophobic attacks or verbal assaults.
Last week I had the privilege of joining the Dublin Pride march on an open-top bus through the streets of our capital city. The colour and excitement of the march were remarkable, and the sense of joy that went with it was infectious. Any true Christian would have marvelled at the display of warmth and humanity that the Pride march brought to Dublin. Any true Christian should also bin the Alive newspaper as soon as it arrives in the door.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is a primary school teacher in the Sheriff Street area of Dublin, a member of the Labour Party, and formerly Dublin’s Deputy Lord Mayor. His column appears every week in Metro Eireann