Monday, December 29, 2008

On the reaction to H.H. The Pope’s end-of-year address to the S.R. Curia,25197,24840277-2703,00.html

Firstly, let me say that I hope that you had a merry Christmas and are looking forward to the new year.

Now I know I’m getting round to this topic a bit late, but my tardiness has given me the advantage of letting me absorb the way that this latest episode of secularist hysteria has played out. Let’s start by looking at what H.H. The Pope actually said (in contrast to what his enemies fancy he might have said). The following extract comes from the Vatican Information Service (V.I.S.) e-mail bulletin of December 22, 2008:

While highlighting that the Church "cannot and should not limit herself to transmitting just the message of salvation to her faithful", the Holy Father said that it must also "protect the human being against self-destruction. It is necessary to have something like an ecology of the human being, understood in the proper manner. It is not a surpassed metaphysics when Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected. ... That which is often expressed and understood by the term 'gender', is definitively resolved in the self-emancipation of the human being from creation and the Creator".
So what the Holy Father has done is to question the positivism and constructivism of the ‘Gender Studies’ intelligentsia and its fellow-travellers. But the remarks are brief enough and vague enough to open them to all sorts of wild misinterpretations, and as such they constitute a sort of Rorschach (ink blot) test, revealing a lot more about their self-appointed interpreters than they do about the thoughts of His Holiness. Hence the Sodomites’ League takes the remarks as an attack on ‘gay rights’, the ‘gender identity’ theorists takes them as an attack on transsexuals/intersex, feminists take them as an attack on women, and somewhere out there there’s probably an anti-sodomite Catholic environmental group lamenting the diversion from green issues!

The reaction from the Sodomites’ League was swift and predictable. Hysteria reigned:

“It's the latest homophobic attack by this Pope,” said Gustav Hofer, co-director of a documentary on the life of a gay couple in Italy called Suddenly Last Winter.

[…] Reverend Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, called the comments “totally irresponsible and unacceptable”.

[…] Reverend Doctor Giles Fraser, president of the pro-gay Anglican movement the Inclusive Church and vicar of a London parish, said: “The Pope is spreading fear that gay people somehow threaten the planet, and that's just absurd.
Some of the straw men and non sequiturs in the reactions of sodomite activists were simply preposterous. Had any of them actually read what the Holy Father said? This Mr. Hofer went on to assert that

“The Vatican talks about homosexuality or transsexuality as if it were a whim, never as suffering,”
But this is quite false. The S.R. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke explicitly of the suffering of those with homosexual tendencies in its Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:

12. What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian's suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.
And unsurprisingly, Mr. Hofer invokes the old identity vs. behaviour stratagem when he says that the Church

“reduces sexual orientation to the sexual act as if it had nothing to do with a person's identity.”
First things first: sexual orientation means the sexual orientation of a man towards a woman and vice versa; anything else is properly called a sexual disorientation, since reproductive faculties are ordered towards procreation. Secondly, has it occurred to this man that a “[pseudo-]sexual act” that tends to anal fissures and penile infections might indicate an inherently unhealthy identity?

And the priestess Sharon Ferguson asserts that

“When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement, then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way because they feel that they are doing God's work in ridding the world of these people,” she said.
What nonsense. By the same logic, does Ms Ferguson fear that her own remarks might incite sodomite extremists to acts of violence against Catholics?

As for the pseudo-priest Dr. Fraser, for him to assert that “The Pope is spreading fear that gay people somehow threaten the planet” is the true absurdity here, not anything that His Holiness said. An assertion like this indicates just how naturalistic this Anglican pseudo-priest’s thinking is—did it not occur to Dr. Fraser that the Holy Father might have been speaking of moral and spiritual self-destruction rather than biological and material self-destruction? The ravings of the gender theorists won’t do much to advance the cause of the lunatics in the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, but they certainly serve to corrode society’s moral fibre. (I might add that Mr. Schütz had a blog post quoting Dr. Fraser as inferring that The Pope had said that

"gay people threaten the existence of the planet in a way that is comparable to the destruction of the rainforest."


How preposterous. The detonation of a hand grenade causes destruction ‘in a way that is comparable to’ the destruction wrought by a nuclear bomb, but there’s a pretty considerable difference in scale. And again, it’s a question of spiritual destruction, not necessarily material destruction.)

In good time the G.L.B.T. bloggers got in on the act. Rather than making any attempt seriously to engage with what the Holy Father actually said, the Canadian blogger MgS simply found the piece of yellow journalism that best suited her own prejudices and ran with it. In doing so she brought out another of the reliable assertions of Sodomites’ League, the idea that somehow speaking out against private violence (sodomy, for instance) is somehow exclusive of speaking out against public violence:

He would do far better for the world to focus his attentions on the horrors in Africa
Given that the Holy Father speaks out against violence in war-torn countries EVERY YEAR IN THE URBI ET ORBI ADDRESS she really should have known better. Ms Zoe Brain, meanwhile, appeared to make a serious attempt to determine what His Holiness had actually said, but ended up with pretty much the same inferences anyway; if anything they exceeded MgS in their lack of charity. For instance, Ms Brain speaks, in all seriousness, of the Sovereign Pontiff implying that transsexual/intersex individuals

can only be described in a purely ecological sense as human-created vermin, though that word in merely implied, not stated. Something undesirable and dangerous to the Ecology, the product of Humanity's prideful nature in wishing to be in sole and exclusive control of his own destiny. He does not go so far as to say that such (purely ecologically speaking, no pejorative meaning is implied) "vermin" should be exterminated, he leaves the question of what to do with them open. He merely states that they are a danger to all Humanity, and against the Natural order as ordained by God.
Come on, Zoe, vermin? The only things pestiferous around here are the ravings of the Pope’s enemies.

And eventually the mainstream media commentators and letter-writers got round to venting their spleen at what the Holy Pontiff never even said. Ms Adele Horin had her say in an opinion piece in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herod, headlined “It's time to sing out if you're gay, Catholic … and angry”. Now presumably Ms Horin did not write the headline, but already readers ought to be suspicious, given that ‘gayness’ implies freely immersing oneself in the so-called gay culture, and hence is a freely-chosen identity, distinct from mere homosexual inclinations. It is an identity whose tenets are totally incompatible with Catholic teachings and hence gayness and Catholicism are two mutually-exclusive and competing identities.

I can agree with Ms Horin on at least one point though:

Why gays want to belong to a club that despises their way of living and loving is beyond me
I would modify this slightly though, preferring to describe it, if ACON’s figures are anything to go by, as a way of dying rather than of living, and therefore a sickening parody of loving rather than a legitimate expression of it.

Curiously, Ms Horin asserts that

What the Pope said about homosexuals is rather opaque, but the subtext was the usual denunciation.
She must have superhuman powers of inference, because the Sovereign Pontiff made no reference to homosexuality. Surprisingly though, she goes on to offer a pretty accurate summary of what The Pope had to say:

He attacked what he called "gender" theories and said humanity needed to listen to "the language of creation" to understand the intended roles of man and woman, and that behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations was a "destruction of God's work".
That small portion of a single paragraph was, unfortunately, about the extent of Ms Horin’s powers of logical argumentation. She goes on to say that

The church teaches that homosexual people are not sinful, but that homosexual acts are. The spurious distinction condemns a significant minority to a loveless, lonely life. The Pope may see no problems in choosing life-long celibacy, but many of his priests failed the test.
A spurious distinction? Only if one is a determinist and thinks that material circumstances dictate behaviour. And what does the failure of some priests to abide by their vows of continence have to do with the matter at hand?

Then she invokes the ‘speaking out against something gives justification to acts of violence’ non sequitur:

As well as its lack of humanity, the church's view provides bigots with the moral justification for their homophobia.
What nonsense. More nonsense follows though:

They have instead maintained a hardline interpretation of a few scattered references in the Bible.
Well, a single reference would suffice, and I’m not sure which part of ‘sodomites shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven’ Ms Horin finds ambiguous. These objections notwithstanding, Ms Horin humbly tells the Hierarchy how to do its job:

Church leaders should be spreading a message of love and acceptance of gays. Instead, they are part of the problem.
Indulging people in whatever self-destructive behaviour they fancy might be Ms Horin’s idea of small-l love but it’s a pretty pathetic substitute for capital-C Charity.

And that brings us to what the letter-writers had to say. A Mr. David Sayers of Gwandalan offered his variant of the ‘speaking out against sodomy means not speaking out on other issues’:

We would have been better served if he had told us he was dedicating his energy to investigating and getting rid of all the child molesters in his own organisation.
Then a Mr. Des Mulcahy offered a textbook case of how not to write a well-argued letter:

The pontiff's decision to attack homosexuals and transsexuals this Christmas was a triumph of dogma over pastoral care.

He has vilified men and women who are at times marginalised and ostracised, while grappling with a lifestyle which has chosen them; people often battling with disease and other disadvantage, yet who immeasurably enrich society.

He, however, represents a group of men who have chosen an unnatural lifestyle, whose ranks are contaminated with pedophiles, who in turn have been protected by his organisation. He and his close associates in religion live in wealth and splendour.

Were Christ alive and living among us today, with which group would his sympathies lie?

Des Mulcahy Orange
So firstly Mr. Mulcahy asserts some sort of conflict between dogma and pastoral care, without bothering to demonstrate this, of course. Then he makes the baffling assertion that the so-called gay lifestyle has chosen the sodomites. But if it’s a lifestyle then it was their own free choice, I would have thought. And he notes that many sodomites are battling disease, but these diseases are the direct result of the so-called gay lifestyle that they have chosen! As for the assertion that sodomites “enrich society”, the recent decision of the N.S.W. Government to fund the annual Sodomites’ Parade and the millions of dollars poured into the pro-sodomite lobby group that laughingly calls itself the A.I.D.S. Council of N.S.W. suggest that the ‘enrichment’ is flowing in the opposite direction. And his assertions in the second-last paragraph could just as easily be applied to the Sodomites’ League (not to mention the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ logical fallacy). Then he finishes of with the oldest one of them all, the idea that Our Lord would be siding with the poor, downtrodden sodomites rather than the teaching, ruling and sanctifying authority that He founded and continues to protect.

Then another letter-writer made what was presumably some kind of attempt at cleverness rather than the usually ferocious messenger-shooting:

I wonder if the Government, the Opposition and community leaders will publicly condemn the Pope's Christmas comments that homosexuality is a threat to the survival of human race as they did Sheik Hilaly's comparison of unveiled women to uncovered meat?

Paul Sadler Newtown
Perhaps someone could arrange to send Mr. Sadler some apples and oranges.

There was more at The Australian’s letters section over the weekend, with another writer wheeling out the old ‘homosexuality is a part of nature’ fallacy:

IF Benedict XVI really took his teaching on “human nature” from the natural world he would have noticed, along with the biologists, that so-called “homosexual” acts have been observed among literally thousands of species, from insects to mammals. In fact, such acts are normal variations of sexual behaviour.

What kind of nature is he referring to, then? A construction that manipulates nature in the service of church ideology. Religion is part of the problem, not a solution. This pope is fuelling a discourse of divisiveness where he ought to be a healer.

Victor Marsh
Ocean Shores, NSW
So ‘homosexual acts’ have been observed among the lower orders of creation. Some creatures eat their respective mates after copulation. Some creatures consume their young. All manner of internecine behaviour is observable in the animal kingdom. That doesn’t make it any healthier. Sodomy is not a normal variation of sexual behaviour; it is an abnormal variation of pseudo-sexual misbehaviour. Information on its deleterious consequences is available from any G.L.B.T. so-called health advisory body.

And Mr. Marsh asks “What kind of nature is [His Holiness] referring to, then?” Obviously this is where the Holy Father departs most markedly from the positivists, constructivists and nihilists. For the gender theorists and sodomite activists, humanity creates morality, and there is no such thing as natural law. For Catholics, morality is that which corresponds to right reason; to behave immorally—to sin—is, by definition, to offend reason. Hence when we say that God cannot sin this is not a mere tautology; to say that God cannot sin is to say that God cannot offend reason, that it is God’s nature to be reasonable. That is the kind of “nature” to which His Holiness was referring, and which was, of course, the theme of another of His Holiness’s monstrously misrepresented addresses, namely, the Regensburg address of 2006. What a delicious irony then, to see sundry secularist degenerates behaving like the intellectual equivalent of their enemies the Muslims. As I have noted on other occasions, secularists and Muslims have a lot more in common with each other than they might like to imagine.

But if I could offer just one little suggestion, if I may be so bold, for how the Holy Father might have improved the Curia address, I would suggest that it might have packed a bit more punch if His Holiness had ramped up the rhetoric and asked:

How is it that some people can be so vocal about the figurative sodomising and castration of the environment when they remain silent about the literal sodomising and castration of their fellow man?

Finally, just in case any sodomites, positivists, constructivists or nihilists should (as has happened on other occasions) happen across this blog and wish to engage me in debate (which I welcome, preferably after you’ve taken a cold shower though), please READ WHAT THE POPE ACTUALLY SAID and avoid the following non sequiturs, straw men, logical fallacies and preposterous falsehoods in your argumentation:

1. The Pope has implied that sodomites threaten the extinction of the human race.
2. The Pope has implied that gender theorists threaten the extinction of the human race.
3. There are neither teleological nor physiological reasons for criticising sodomy.
4. Criticising homosexual behaviour means vilifying homosexuals as persons.
5. The Pope would have been better off criticising war/disease/starvation/paedophilia, as if criticising these things and criticising the so-called gay culture and gender theory were mutually exclusive.
6. By criticising gays/gender theory The Pope has provided moral justification for vigilantes.
7. The Pope is a sinner therefore he cannot criticise other sinners.
8. The Pope has opposed dogma to pastoral care.
9. Our Lord would side with the sodomites and gender theorists against the very Hierarchy to which He communicated His authority.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, A.D. 2008


Anonymous said...

Lovely little list of their ridiculous arguments, Pole. Thanks for that. They really are a sad lot.

Anonymous said...

Criticising homosexual behaviour means vilifying homosexuals as persons.

Lovely double standard too, for the same people are perfectly happy to criticise Catholicism, but that isn't vilification!

Zoe Brain said...

I've read what His Holiness said, in Italian. I've read what he said, in German. There is no official translation into English yet, and the precis by the Vatican News Service is both overly terse, and less than clear.

During an interview on this morning on Radio 4's Today programme, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said ... that Pope Benedict's comments were "quite difficult to interpret" and as a result of this that he had been "very much" misrepresented in the media.

I agree that his Holiness's comment were "quite difficult to interpret". I did my best.