The pope has called together a coalition of faiths.
The fires of Smithfield and Madrid; the wars that tore apart Germany and Palestine and the Punjab – in the end, none of it was all that important. All that blood and death can be set aside. The acres of print and manuscript that defined the crucial importance of the incarnation and the precise nature of the Trinity, the arguments about the status of different revelations, the verbal and occasionally literal vitriol poured over the heads of theologians and clerics – all irrelevant.
From now on, between the faith communities of the world, it is what Tom Lehrer once called National Brotherhood Week. Only this time it's not – as in Lehrer's song – the Jews everyone can agree to hate, because parts of Judaism are joining this particular coalition; it's the queers.
Honestly, we should be proud. Ask, not for millennia of reparation for torture and murder in the name of faith, but just for the right to have committed relationships celebrated on an equal footing – and all the horrible old men who normally spend all their time disliking each other are suddenly in love. In a totally chaste way, of course.
A thousand years ago, popes called the warring principalities of Europe together for crusades against Islam. These days, Pope Benedict asks Orthodox bishops, and those rabbis inclined to co-operate and "the more significant representatives of Islam" – typical Vatican arrogance to have a view on which ones that is – to lobby against the growing tide of legislation to permit those churches that disagree with him to celebrate and bless same-sex partnerships. Of course, most of those other faiths regard his commitment to lifelong celibacy in the name of God as equally perverse, but in the name of brotherly oppurtunism are prepared to forget that too.
We might think the little token gesture of equal marriage trivial in the face of global warming, mass starvation, the banking crisis, the war of rival imperialisms – but the pope knows the truth. Equal marriage is, at the same time, the greatest threat there is and a symptom of what leads to all the others. Which, when it comes down to it, is the other thing that obsesses Benedict apart from other people's sex lives – a particular interpretation of post-modernism. Benedict is a theologian after all, and regards philosophies, especially philosophies he misunderstands, as being totally his business.