This open letter schools Elton John on Christianity, Catholicism and the Pope, and it puts Elton John in his place.
First of all, my apologies for not calling you ‘sir,’ but I’m an American and we don’t really go in for all that nobility stuff over on this side of the pond. Don’t fret, however; we still worship celebrities, which is why every single news site I read breathlessly reported your comments regarding Jesus, the Pope and the Catholic Church this week.
As a Catholic myself, I have to take issue with a few of the things you said in yourSky News interview – namely, that Jesus Christ would support gay “marriage,” that the traditions of the Catholic Church are “old and stupid,” and that Pope Francis has “stripped [the Church] down to the bare bones” – a development you find “wonderful.” But before I jump into all that, let me back up about eight years to 2006.
Back then, in an interview with the Observer’s “Music Monthly,” you said, “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”
Pro-tip, Elton: when you wear your hatred for religion on your sleeve like this, it makes it hard to take anything you have to say about religion without a giant grain of salt, or maybe even an entire salt lick. That said, I’ll attempt to suspend my incredulity and address your most recent statements as if they were serious expressions of your theology … you know, as opposed to verbal grenades meant to damage the Church you’ve already admitted you’d delight in seeing destroyed.
Let’s start with this statement: “If Jesus Christ was alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying [gay marriage] could not happen. He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together and that is what the church should be about.”
Okay, first of all, let’s get our facts straight, here: Jesus Christ was not a Christian. Christians are his followers; Jesus Christ himself was a Jew. As such, he followed the Torah, which does proscribe homosexual relations. I’m sure you’re already aware of that, but just in case, I’ll throw a couple of citations at you:
Leviticus 18:22: “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”
Leviticus 20:13: “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.”
Pretty stark, eh? Now, before you freak out, I am absolutely not saying I think practicing homosexuality should get you or anyone else the death penalty. I don’t even believe in the death penalty. What Iam saying is that it’s pretty disingenuous to imply that Jesus Christ, a.k.a. the most obedient Jew who ever lived, would have given the A-OK to something his religion’s most sacred teachings strictly forbade, with horrifying consequences. I think it’s even more disingenuous to say, as you did to Parade in 2011, that Jesus Christ himself “was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man.”
It’s worth noting that in the Old Testament, there are two separate instanceswhere fathers willingly offered their virgin daughters up to rape gangs rather than allow male acquaintances to be sodomized. We could discuss all day how messed up that is, and how much it says about a woman’s worth (or lack thereof) in the ancient Middle East, but the truth is that it also says a great deal about exactly how reviled the practice of homosexuality was by the Jewish culture of Jesus’ time. If Jesus – who was not at all afraid of controversy – really was gay, don’t you think he might have said something about that during his 33-year-long “anger all the elders” tour?
Remember, this was a man who lived his entire public life advocating for the rights of the unfairly oppressed. If he felt homosexuals were among them, I’d like to think he would have said something. But he didn’t. In a world as hostile to homosexuality as Jesus’ was, his apparent silence on the matter actually speaks volumes.
Okay, moving right along. You also told Sky News you think the traditions of the Catholic Church are “old and stupid.” Specifically, you said you thought priests should be able to get married – including gay priests – and that you oppose the priestly celibacy requirement.
You know what I have to say to that? Nothing. Because it’s not really worth addressing. It’s your opinion, and you’re entitled to it. But at the end of the day, that’s all it is. Considering you hate the Church and want to ban it anyway, I should hope no one at the Vatican pays you any heed at all.
That leads me to my next point, which is that while I’m glad you think Pope Francis is “wonderful,” I’ve a feeling you haven’t the first clue who the pope is and what he actually believes. So here’s a tip: If you want to know what Pope Francis believes, check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s all in there. Once you’ve read that, tell us all again how “wonderful” Francis is … because that’s what he believes – every word of it. Until you understand that, you don’t understand the Papacy.
Look, popes will come and popes will go. Some will revel in pomp and circumstance, and some would rather ride the bus. Some preach love, and some preach law and order (most preach both). Some will hold fast to tradition and some are more open to change. But the one thing no pope will ever be able to change is the Faith itself. Like it or not, it is what it is. It’s been this way for 2,000 years, and it’s not going to change.
Bottom line, Elton: You’re embarrassing yourself. Please leave the theology to the trained professionals. Pope Francis wouldn’t presume to tell you how to write and perform music, so stop telling him how to run his Church.