Is it me, or is the Vatican starting to get a little paranoid? Check out the latest from Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, author of a recent 57-page sweeping indictment of contraception, abortion, in-vitro fertilization and same-sex marriage, but most famous for his personal belief that condoms spread AIDS. Trujillo recently told the Catholic news magazine Famiglia Cristiana, “We worry especially that, with current laws, speaking in defense of life and the rights of families is becoming in some societies sort of a crime against the state.” Uhm, sort of. Or, more like: the reality-based universe is slowly coming around to the notion that illegal abortions are as good at killing and maiming women as they are at ending pregnancies, embryonic stem cell research could potentially save millions of lives, and gay people deserve civil rights—or even human rights!
Of course, according to the Vatican, defining and defending human rights is obviously a job best left to…the Vatican. Last week, when Amnesty International announced plans to begin a democratic process of consulting its 2 million members on whether it should drop its neutral stance on abortion and start pushing countries to decriminalize it, the Vatican blew a gasket. Here’s what Cardinal Renato Martino had to say: “I have great esteem for Amnesty but doing this, they cut off their hands. I hope they don’t do this because if they do, they are disqualified as defenders of human rights.”
You hear that, Amnesty? You’re disqualified. Says who? The Vatican, bastion of democracy that it is, with a whopping population of 932 made up entirely of men save two orders of nuns; a permanently male head of state who holds supreme executive, legislative, and judicial authority and is also the head of government; and the highest per capita crime rate of any nation on earth.
Hmmm. On second thought, maybe Trujillo has a right to be worried. Of course, he’ll have to check out that right with the Pope first.