Conservatives have been reticent to condemn the spate of anti-gay violence rocking New York City, and for Catholic Church Cardinal Timothy Dolan, it took ten days after the murder of Mark Carson to address the situation. For 19 seconds on a Catholic radio show Tuesday, Dolan acknowledged “some homosexuals who have recently been beaten and killed, adding, “that flies in the face of divine justice.” This happenstance response came just weeks after Dolan threatened to arrest some LGBT parishioners and allies for trespassing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral with “dirty hands.”
What’s jarring about Dolan’s comment is what the Vatican released the same day: a statement that does not address violence against gay people, but which addresses concerns that Christians are not being permitted to discriminate against gay people in Europe:
There are many areas where intolerance against Christians can clearly be seen, but two stand out as being particularly relevant at present.
The first is intolerance against Christian speech. In recent years there has been a significant increase in incidents involving Christians who have been arrested and even prosecuted, for speaking on Christian issues. Religious leaders are threatened with police action after preaching about sinful behaviour and some are even sentenced to prison for preaching on the biblical teaching against sexual immorality. Even private conversations between citizens, including expression of opinions on social network, can become the grounds of a criminal complaint, or at least intolerance, in many European countries.
The second area where intolerance against Christians can clearly be seen is in regard to Christian conscience, particularly in the workplace. Throughout Europe there have been numerous instances of Christians being removed from the workplace simply for seeking to act according to their conscience. Some of them are well known since they have come even before the European Court of Human Rights.
Incidentally, the statement was released just before the aforementioned European Court of Human Rights ruled against two British Christians who sued because they lost their jobs for discriminating against same-sex couples. This was their final appeal after losing in court in January.
Contrary to the Vatican’s statement, “religious freedom” does not include denying others their full participation in society. If the Catholic Church is particularly concerned with human rights, perhaps it should do more to prevent the violence that its anti-gay condemnations foment instead of doubling down on discrimination.