Gitanjali Sudhir (New York)
The Vatican has moved into high gear to bolster its opposition to same-sex unions. What other purpose could there be for a three-day meeting touted as an “interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman?” Especially when it includes representatives of faiths that have widely different views of marriage, particularly when it comes to the role and rights of the woman. The November 17-19 gathering in Rome will not only include Christians from various denominations, but also Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Taoists and people from several other faiths.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is the driving force behind the event; his Vatican office the main sponsor. Three different pontifical councils that deal with the issues concerning the family, ecumenism and interfaith dialogue have also thrown their support behind the colloquium. According to the official website (humanum.it), it intends to be a “gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.”
Which type of marriage and family life would that be? And what type of flourishing of human society might it entail? Where the men refuse to shake hands with the women? That's the policy (religious conviction) of a chief rabbi that will be present. Or where the women must be fully covered in public and keep several paces behind their husbands? That's the rule among many Muslims. And how will the Anglicans and other non-Catholic Christians react when Vatican officials insist that using artificial birth control is a moral evil? Check out the all-star line-up at the website. This ought to be a heck of a conference.