It never ceases to amaze me that while individual Catholics are decent, humane and tolerant people, their leaders are a bunch of fuckwits.

In Washington DC, the diocese is trying to blackmail the city council into weakening its pending same-sex marriage bill.

The hierarchy says it mustn’t be forced to provide employee benefits to same-sex couples, or to help gay and lesbian adoptions.

So unless they’re exempted from the anti-discrimination provisions of the bill, Catholic Services will close their Food for the Poor program, homeless shelters and adoption services.

They are currently funded by the city to care for 68,000 poor and disadvantaged, including housing one-third of Washington’s homeless.

Raymond Panas, of gay Catholic organisation Dignity said, “While this may be the decision of the hierarchy, it certainly does not reflect the views of all of us who were baptised as Catholics and make up part of the Catholic Church.”

Clearly, professional Catholics — as distinct from the normal everyday domestic variety — live in a world of their own.  This was starkly displayed at the Senate hearings into marriage equality.

Christopher Meney, director of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, said marriage can only be between a man and a woman because that is the only “inherently procreative” sexual union, even if, due to age or infertility, it “cannot give life at a particular point in time, or ever. Marriage between a man and a woman always has an inherent capacity for and orientation towards the generation of children, whether that capacity is actualised or not”.

The speaker clearly has no fertility problems of his own: his inherent capacity for and orientation towards the generation of bovine manure appears abundantly actualised.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s repeated demands for a clear explanation finally exasperated Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney.

In an uncharacteristically honest moment, this lifelong celibate summed up his objection to same-sex couples equality.

“You steal the word ‘marriage’, ” he said.

Your Grace, you don’t own marriage. It is not a theoretical concept. It is the reality of men and women, gay and straight, living out their commitment to one another in the real world. Something, sadly, you and your kind will never know or understand.

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