Papal Nuncio Backs Moscow Gay Parade Ban

Back to Russia, where Papal Nuncio Antonio Mennini is backing the mayor of Moscow’s ban on a Gay Pride parade. Interfax-Religion reports:

I think it is a wise decision. Complying with all the arguments dictated by Christian faith against such public actions, I would like to point out what is essential and indisputable to any reasonable person: such a manifestation would certainly lead to an aggravated tension in Russian society and possibly even to violence, which is inadmissible in any case.

And there’s nothing worse than “tension” in society, so clearly it’s far better if the authorities simply enforce public conformity.

As is well known, the Vatican is very keen to improve relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, and it seems that homophobia is providing at least some common ground for the two churches. This is part of a wider interfaith trend: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy recently ditched links with the Church of Sweden over gay rights and made common cause with Iranian Islamists to “counter attempts to impose secular values all over” (see my entry here). The ban on the parade has also been praised by acting mayor of Jerusalem Yigal Amedi (as I blogged here).

Mennini also discounted US concerns about religious freedom in the country:

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any specific facts prompting the US Congress to make this kind of reproaches. Therefore, it is easier for me to base my answer on what I know not through hearsay. I am delighted to testify that the current Russian legislation provides for a real opportunity for the communities and structures of the Catholic Church in Russia to exist normally and to develop.

Why should Mennini care if Jehovah’s Witnesses, followers of ISKCON and other groups are being denied freedom of religion? The Catholic Church is doing OK, and that’s all that matters, it seems. As I blogged some time ago, the Jewish leadership in Russia has a similar policy of failing to criticise religious persecution; their caution may be understandable, but it has proved disastrous, with increased anti-Semitism resulting anyway. Mennini may find that his similar refusal to stand up for basic freedom of expression will make his position, and that of Russian Catholics, more comfortable in the short term; but the final consequences are likely to be grim.