Monday, February 10, 2014

Cathlophobia


Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently observed that some Catholics are homophobic. I've no doubt he's right. Likewise, I am sure there are some gay people who are 'Cathlophobic'. What do I mean? Let's get the definitions out of the way - first of all for homophobia, via Wikipedia:
Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs.
Seems like a fairly comprehensive (and fair) definition. So what about Cathlophobia? It goes something like this:
Cathlophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward Catholicism or people who are identified or perceived as being Catholics, priests, bishops or cardinals (RC). It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs.
Of course, most homophobes are not Catholic, and most gays are not Cathlophobes. Indeed, one of the more interesting things I've noticed in conversations throughout Ireland lately - even between heterosexual strangers - is the casual anti-Catholicism that many feel free to voice. It's an interesting sign of the times, and reflects a sea-change in the Irish sense of a shared identity from one that defaulted (often erroneously) into 'we're Irish so we must be Catholic', to a new identity that is, well, something else. It's something, oddly enough, like the anti-Catholic sectarianism I grew up experiencing in Northern Ireland. Though of a 'secular' variety, needless to say. 

Of course, Irish Catholicism is itself experiencing a sea-change, alongside attitudes towards it in the media, among politicians and so on. Where that might lead who knows. The chart is from a recent survey of Catholic attitudes around the world. Over half of Catholics in the United States support gay marriage - just 1% of Catholics in Uganda are in favour. Catholics have catholic tastes and preferences it seems. Likewise, Cathlophobia takes on many forms around the world, from Argentina to Germany.

Catholic identity, just like Irish identity, is proving a far less stable and far more fluid phenomenon that in times gone by. But the two will remain synonymous for some time to come (for 84% of the population anyway), although the shifting zeitgeist will likely accelerate the process of change. Especially an increasingly phobic zeitgeist.


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