John M. Becker

Cardinal Calls Potential U.S. Ambassador a 'Faggot'

Filed By John M. Becker | July 03, 2013 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: Catholic Church, Catholicism, Dominican Republic, evangelicalism, homophobia, incitement to violence, James "Wally" Brewster, James Brewster, Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, Pablo Cedano, Wally Brewster

brewster.jpegControversy has erupted in the Dominican Republic over President Barack Obama's nomination of James "Wally" Brewster -- a gay man, top campaign fundraiser, and LGBT civil rights advocate from Chicago -- as ambassador to the Caribbean island nation.

Religious leaders have reacted angrily and indignantly to news of Brewster's nomination, and the country's highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate resorted to petty name-calling, slandering the would-be ambassador with a vicious anti-gay slur.

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the powerful Archbishop of Santo Domingo and Primate of the Americas, referred to Brewster as a "maricón" during a recent press conference. The word "maricón" is commonly translated as "faggot."

Watch Lopez's press conference after the jump. Video and subtitles via Andrés Duque at Blabbeando.

Eight-eight percent of Dominicans are Roman Catholic, and religious leaders have long felt free to exercise their influence in civic matters, as in 2010 when the country placed a marriage discrimination amendment in its constitution, as well as a controversial recent push to outlaw abortions.

This is not the first time that Lopez has referred to gays as "faggots" or made other equally offensive anti-gay remarks. From Blabbeando:

When discussing proposed changes to the national sexual education curriculum in 2007 Cardinal Lopez told reporters he was opposed to promoting condoms as a prevention tool because the Catholic church was "opposed to promiscuity between heterosexuals and maricones."

As I wrote then, those statements are par for the course for the Cardinal and follow other equally offensive statements he had made over the years:

On the presence of gays in Santo Domingo's historic colonial district: "They should stay in Europe or the United States, we don't need that social trash, we don't need it" and "Take all of them away... We cannot allow this place - the historical center of Santo Domingo - to be converted into the patrimony of foreign and Dominican degenerates" (Associated Press, April 7, 2006).

On the U.S. Catholic church sexual abuse scandals, which he chalked up to the country's tolerant policies and American churches allowing "effeminate" men in the priesthood: "If someone is effeminate or whatnot... those who are effeminate have to go elsewhere. I don't want them anywhere near a place of responsibility. I don't want them in the church" (Reuters, April 30, 2002).
There are other more recent statements:

On gays and lesbians using a public park to gather on weekends and the violent measures that "moral" people will have to take if authorities do not put an end to it: "The more [authorities] wait to take action, the worse the solution will be, because the time will arrive in which the people will see themselves compelled to react in a manner that nobody wants" (Listin Diario, April 6, 2010).

lopez.jpgLopez also warned: "If the government of Washington considers they are apt to send that kind of ambassador, let the government in Washington go ahead," but if Obama proceeds with Brewster's nomination, "the United States can expect anything."

Monsignor Pablo Cedano, the auxiliary bishop of Santo Domingo, stood at Lopez's side and said the appointment showed "a lack of sensitivity, of respect by the United States." Cedano added that if Brewster is confirmed, "he's going to suffer," due to the cultural differences, "and he'll have to leave."

The cardinal has received some pushback for his homophobic slur: LGBT activists have claimed that his remarks may incite anti-LGBT violence, members of President Danilo Medina's administration have publicly spoken out in defense of Brewster's nomination, and an informal survey conducted by HOY -- a leading newspaper -- found that 60% of respondents disagreed with the Catholic Church's anti-gay attacks.

Additionally, a Jesuit Catholic priest by the name of Jesús María Tejada refused to toe the official church line, saying instead that Brewster should not face discrimination because of his sexual orientation. (Don't hold Tejada up as some kind of beacon of progressive Catholicism, though -- in that same interview, he told the reporter that the Catholic Church doesn't accept gay men as seminarians because in his view -- scientific facts be damned -- gays can become "pedophiles and other sexual deviations."

Evangelicals in the Dominican Republic have also joined Lopez in condemning President Obama's nomination of a gay man. BuzzFeed reports:

In a joint letter calling on the Dominican president to refuse Brewster's appointment, the Community Christian Church and the Dominican Evangelical Fellowship called the nomination "an insult to the good Dominican customs" in "a country where gay relationships are not approved legally nor morally."

The U.S. embassy and a representative of the United Nations have both denounced Lopez's anti-gay attacks and defended Brewster's nomination.

Brewster must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking the Dominican ambassadorship.

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