Monday, June 29, 2009

Mr. Marr on the Stonewall riots

The journalist and leading member of the Sodomites’ League Mr. David Marr had an essay (not available on-line) in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Saturday Spectrum supplement entitled “Myths and lessons” on the infamous Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969. Now although Mr. Marr’s sympathies are well-known, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t be objective and critical, and indeed some of what Mr. Marr reports casts the event in a far less flattering light than his fellow-travellers might have preferred. To begin with, the police weren’t raiding the Stonewall Inn in order to enforce anti-buggery laws, but rather, they were just enforcing basic law and order matters and some fairly unobjectionable standards of attire:

Police hadn’t come for a mass round-up of homosexuals. They planned to seize only the liquor, Mafia types, bar staff and anyone in breach of the 19th-century labour law requiring the citizens of New York to wear no less than three articles of clothing appropriate to their sex. The targets of the raid were women in overalls and men in frocks.
[David Marr, “Myths and lessons”, The Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum supplement, June 27-28, 2009, p. 12]
And I was horrified to read of the violence which these degenerates attempted to inflict on the police, who, once the Inn's patrons had vacated the building, had to take refuge in the same building when the mob of those patrons and their supporters threatened to overwhelm them (the police):

Celebratory accounts of Stonewall usually skate over the details of the next hour or so. About 400 people took part in the melee. Most of them were street kids. Everything was being hurled at the bar. All its windows were being smashed. Attempts were made to set it alight. An uprooted parking meter was used to batter open the bar's heavy doors. Crude molotov cocktails were thrown inside and extinguished by the police.
[my emphasis, ibid., p. 12]
Let me note, before I go any further, that Mr. Marr does not use the term “street kids” in the usual sense of the word—he uses it to denote a sub-contingent of the Sodomites’ League:

[The Stonewall Inn’s 200-odd patrons that night] were joined by street kids – the scruffiest end of the gay world – who would be the shock troops of the confrontation.
[ibid., p. 12]
And how many police officers were there initially? Mr. Marr does not say, but given that they had only a single paddy wagon with them, there had to have been a good deal fewer police than the 400 or so angry perverts arrayed against them. So we have a 400-strong mob attempting to burn to death a vastly outnumbered contingent of police whom the sodomites had already neutralised, as is clear from the fact that the police had “retreated into the club and barricaded the doors”. Now let’s try a little exercise in absurdity and consider whether the Sodomites’ League’s actions were justifiable in anyway. This requires us to suppose (preposterous though it is) that people have a ‘right’ to dress up as members of the opposite sex. Now when someone attempts to violate a right one can repel the violence with force proportionate to the threat and to the right under threat. So if one’s right to life is under threat then one can use potentially lethal force against the assailant. But if one’s property rights are being violated by, say, a pickpocket attempting to purloin one’s wallet, one can’t very well take out a knife and stab the urchin in the heart. And it’s pretty clear that trying to incinerate someone is not a proportionate response to that person’s attempt to violate one’s ‘right’ to masquerade as a member of the opposite sex. But moreover, the threat to this ‘right’ had already been neutralised, so this action was vengeful retaliation, not self-defence, the same as shooting a pickpocket to death when he’s already running off with one’s wallet. And we’re supposed to celebrate this event?! (With Mr. Obama proclaiming June 2009, during which the fortieth anniversary of this riot occurs, to be the U.S.’s official ‘LGBT Pride month’?!)

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, A.D. 2009

Fr. Flader on the morality of tyrannicide

In his weekly Question Time column in the Sydney Catholic Weekly yesterday, The Rev. Fr. John Flader dealt with the conditions under which tyrannicide is ethical. Although the first 90% or so of the article seemed to deal with the topic quite well, his concluding remarks contained something rather strange:

Significantly, [the Dominican moral theologian Fr. Germain] Grisez, in giving the criterion to be followed when one is unsure of the morality of a particular course of action, gives the example of Germans “uncertain about the moral permissibility of killing a tyrant, yet convinced that if such killing is permissible, they had an obligation to participate in a plot to assassinate Hitler” (Ibid, p. 287).

Grisez concludes that if such people, although in doubt, thought it more likely to be true that killing Hitler was permissible, they could proceed. All in all, it seems that Hitler’s regime was one where a good case could be made for armed resistance to authority.
[my emphasis]
But isn’t this the error of probablism? Surely one needs to have ascertained beyond reasonable doubt, not merely on the balance of probability, that tyrannicade is the right thing to do before one embarks on that course of action?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, A.D. 2009

On an obituary of Ms Jean Hale, the mother of Ms Sylvia Hale M.L.C.

Two Saturdays ago The Sydney Morning Herald ran an obituary on Ms Jean Hale, in which the reporter recorded that

Jean's father died when she was seven, and her mother [Kathleen] remarried and had another daughter, Zelma. The family moved to Sydney but the collapse of the marriage meant that Kathleen had to work and Jean was sent to Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College to board - an experience that set in place an enduring loathing of the Catholic Church.
[my emphasis]
The article concluded with the following information:

Jean Hale is survived by Ronald, Sylvia (a Greens member of the NSW Parliament), Lesley, and their families, including six great-grandchildren.
[my emphasis]
Like mother like daughter, then?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, A.D. 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mr. Muehlenberg on property rights

Given that, in my link to his blog on the right-hand side of this blog page, I say that Mr. Bill Muehlenberg “is usually spot on about social morality”, I ought to point out where he has gone wrong, and he has gone quite wrong in the combox in a post at his blog. In response to this example given by Mr. Michael Webb

… if a man takes a banana off of a tree of a rich landowner and eats it and cannot pay for it, it is not a sin against the 8th commandment if the man is starving and without a penny.

Mr. Muehlenberg made the following comment:

Thanks Michael

But now you are starting to drift into dangerous territory. Are they 10 Suggestions, or 10 Commandments? Stealing is stealing. Sure, we want to be sensitive to the needs of others, and if, say, a believer stole a banana to stay alive, in his defence he should not say, “Well this commandment is relative, and can be bent in certain circumstances”. What he should say (to the judge, or whoever), is “Yes, I did steal, and that was wrong, but I am also very needy, and I ask for your understanding and mercy” or some such thing.

So Mr. Muehlenberg seems to think that property rights are absolute, not relative. In fact, they are relative, by reason of the universal destination of goods (as Mr. Webb rightly mentioned in reply to Mr. Muehlenberg), and so in cases of extreme (i.e. the difference between life and death) necessity it is licit to take someone else’s property (but not if the necessity is merely grave; cf. the following error, condemned, among other moral errors (the list is quite interesting), by the Holy Office:

It is permitted to steal not only in extreme, but in grave necessity.
[Decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679, no. 36., Dz. 1186,])
I wonder whether the problem for Mr. Muehlenberg arises from the Protestant understanding of how present-day Christians are bound by the Ten Commandments. Until Christ fulfilled the Old Testament, Jews were bound by the Ten Commandments (and the other commandments) because they were injunctions of Divine positive law (like how today, Catholics are bound by the precepts of the Church). But the Ten Commandments are binding on Christians because they provide an accurate synthesis of the (Divine) natural law, as the Roman Catechism explains:


Now among all the motives which induce men to obey this law the strongest is that God is its author. True, it is said to have been delivered by angels,10 but no one can doubt that its author is God. This is most clear not only from the words of the Legislator Himself, which we shall shortly explain, but also from innumerable other passages of Scripture that will readily occur to pastors.

Who is not conscious that a law is inscribed on his heart by God, teaching him to distinguish good from evil, vice from virtue, justice from injustice? The force and import of this unwritten law do not conflict with that which is written. Who is there, then, who will dare to deny that God is the author of the written, as He is of the unwritten law?

But, lest the people, aware of the abrogation of the Mosaic Law, may imagine that the precepts of the Decalogue are no longer obligatory, it should be taught that when God gave the Law to Moses, He did not so much establish a new code, as render more luminous that divine light* which the depraved morals and long-continued perversity of man had at that time almost obscured. It is most certain that we are not bound to obey the Commandments because they were delivered by Moses, but because they are implanted in the hearts of all, and have been explained and confirmed by Christ our Lord.
[my emphasis,]
But I wonder: even before the abrogation of the Mosaic Law, did the injunction against stealing cover even stealing in situations of extreme necessity? I wonder what Orthodox Judaism’s understanding of the question is?

And I wonder also: if (which is not certain, I know) Mr. Muehlenberg regards the Ten Commandments as binding not only as distillations of the natural law, but also binding as positive law, then to which, if any, of the other commandments of the Mosaic Law does he also submit?

Mr. Muehlenberg’s next paragraph in that comment is quite preposterous:

In your scenario you wipe our absolute morality and make everything conditional. That is situation ethics, a la Joseph Fletcher, and not biblical ethics. Of course the Marxists simply notched up your scenario a few levels: “The capitalists are robbers who are oppressing people, so if we simply ‘expropriate’ (read: steal) their assets, it is the just and right thing to do”
But the fact is, some moral judgments are contingent; to acknowledge this does not make everything contingent.

There is more that is fallacious in Mr. Muehlenberg’s reasoning:

… But it is a hidden assumption of [Mr. Webb’s] that is more problematic for me – namely that there is some bibilcal command or right to self-preservation.

Of course suicide is out, as is murder. We are not to take our own life, or unjustly and illicitly take the life of another. But we have no command to preserve our life at all costs. That is not a biblical summon bonum.
Just take your scenario and expand it a bit. It is right for me to pinch a banana to keep from starving to death? Probably. But is it right for me to commit adultery in order to stay alive? Or betray a brother in order to stay alive? Do I have a right to stay alive that trumps all other moral claims?
[my emphasis]
Mr. Muehlenberg is clearly knocking down a straw man here; no-one here is arguing that the right to stay alive trumps all moral claims or that it is to be preserved “at all costs”, just that it permits one to steal in a situation of extreme necessity by reason of the universal destination of goods. Adultery is always wrong, but taking someone else’s property without his consent is not always wrong.

Interestingly though, Mr. Muehlenberg seems to soften somewhat, at least in tone and emphasis if not in principle, in his opposition to stealing in extreme necessity in his last comment on the subject:

To wrap up our particular discussion, I would simply recognise that there has been a very rich and deep tradition of moral theology within the Catholic church over the centuries. They have thought long and hard about many of these moral issues. Sadly we Protestants - or at least we Evangelicals - have not always intellectually and theologically wrestled as much in these areas. But there are a number of excellent Protestant ethicists and moral theologians out there who are doing a good job nonetheless.
Not backpedaling, by any means, but a curious way to end the discussion nonetheless.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. William, Abbot, A.D. 2009

Request for sources of information on an aspect of original justice

Here is a post which I have published at the Angelqueen forum; I hereby direct the request to readers here at my own blog too:


In a discussion at the blog of Australian Catholic blogger Mr. David Schütz, the topic of which things the Faith requires us to believe about the origins of man came up. I suggested a brief list of these truths, one of which was that Adam

would have passed, after his earthly life, into Heaven without dying. []

Surprisingly, Mr. Schütz and another commenter contested this. I was surprised because I thought that this was a fairly unobjectionable, widely-acknowledged truth about man in the state of original justice, and Mr. Schütz and the other commenter are fairly knowledgeable on Catholic doctrine (though they are not Traditional unfortunately). I adduced the Catechism of St. Pius X in support of what I said:

39 Q. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, would they have bee [sic] exempt from death? A. If Adam and Eve had not sinned and if they had remained faithful to God, they would, after a happy and tranquil sojourn here on earth, and without dying, have been transferred by God into Heaven, to enjoy a life of unending glory. []

That’s good enough for me, but it did not seem to satisfy my interlocuters. AQ users seem knowledgeable in these matters, so I’d like to ask if you could provide me with any sources, whether Magisterial, Patristic, Doctors of the Church (particularly Scholastics, because one of the commenters said that my suggestion was “certainly not scholastic”), or whatever, or any proofs from reason, which support the doctrine that before the Fall people would have gone to Heaven after life on earth. I’d appreciate any assistance greatly.

Reginaldvs Cantvar


Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. William, Abbot, A.D. 2009

Yet more nonsense from the pro-gaymarriage lobby

The Herald has published another four letters on the topic of gaymarriage in today’s edition of the paper—three for, one against. Here’s the first one (small-type, indented-paragraph text is from the Herald letters, regularly-formatted text is what I have to say):

I was born in the mid 1970s to an unmarried teenage mother, father unknown. I was adopted by a couple who were unable to have children of their own. When I was four my adoptive mother died and from then on I was raised by my father, who afforded me all the intellectual, physical and spiritual nourishment and love any child could hope for.

Chris Meney (Letters, June 22) has grave misgivings for children who do not know their biological parents or who grow up without both a mother and father. But the provision of love, nurturing and guidance is surely what defines good parenting; it has nothing to do with the gender or sexuality of the people involved.
Come on, even an ardent feminist like Ms Naomi Wolf can see that men and women tend to have different parenting styles and that “[o]ne can see the advantages to children of having both parenting styles” (source). Furthermore, the fundamental requirement (after the basics like providing food, clothing, shelter) for loving one’s children is to instruct them, by word and example, in the natural law; the end of the law is love, after all. Any “guidance” towards defiance of the natural law, which is what same-sex couples do at least by example, and probably by word too, is a betrayal of one’s parental duties.

Once the red herring of parenthood is cast aside,

Marriage usually entails a civil right to adoption, so parenthood is no “red herring”.

Meney's attempt to dictate the "proper role of the state" in denying full equality to same-sex couples reeks of religious dogma and intolerance.
More to the point, what it “reeks of” is natural law, and this is what really terrifies the Sodomites’ League—in an ultra-secular country like Australia it’s easy turn people against something by linking it with “religious dogma and intolerance”, but most people’s natural reason has not yet been so crippled by positivism that they can’t see, when it’s pointed out, that children ought to have a mum and a dad and that a marriage based on sodomy is no marriage at all. The problem is that they’re too apathetic to do anything about it. Mr. Mark Latham once remarked that ‘multiculturalism’ owes its success (I use the term advisedly) to the apathy of the Australian populace, and I fear that this same apathy will lead to the triumph of gaymarriage and same-sex adoption.

No one is demanding that religious groups bless same-sex unions;

Really? So when a pair of Rainbow Sash Catholic blokes demand a Church wedding the relevant Ecclesiastical authority will be free to reject the demand with impunity, despite the fact that it’s a civil right?

simply that they stop meddling so vocally in what should be a secular debate.

Stephen Gray Erskineville
So Catholics can participate in public discourse so long as they betray their principles. Got it.

Please let us be clear on the difference between marriage and procreation. Chris Meney's description of heterosexual marriage neglects the obvious - the next generation of Australians were not necessarily conceived in a married relationship. Clearly procreation cannot be used as an argument to exclude same-sex couples from state-approved marriages.

Alicia Zikan Invergowrie
What?! How does the conclusion in the second sentence follow from the preceding observation?! Procreation is the primary end of marriage, and marriage is the best environment in which to raise the products of procreation. How does the fact that some children are born out of wedlock disprove either of these two things?

I agree with Chris Meney: we must protect the sanctity of divorce.

Byron Kelly North Epping
Some kind of attempt at wit, I suppose. There’s truth in there, though: given the well-known homosexual aversion to fidelity the divorce rate is sure to go up once gaymarriage is legalised.

The Herald did at least allow one refugee from the dictatorship of relativism to have his say, though:

The headline on yesterday's letters page says: "Society won't collapse if we allow same-sex marriage". True enough. The fact that such a ludicrous and unnatural notion is even on the agenda shows there is no need to blow the trumpets, for the walls have already collapsed.

Reverend Peter Barnes Revesby
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. William, Abbot, A.D. 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More nonsense from the pro-gaymarriage lobby

Mr. Meney’s letter in yesterday’s Herald has evoked quite a response from that paper’s readers, published under the heading “Society won't collapse if we allow same-sex marriage” in today’s edition. Let’s have a look at the arguments advanced by these marital positivists (no defences of the truth about marriage were published today). The first letter was from one Samantha Chung of Randwick (small-type, indented-paragraph text is from the Herald letters, regularly-formatted text is my response):

Chris Meney (Letters, June 23) lays much emphasis on the longevity of marriage as a social institution and views same-sex marriage as a "transient societal whim". However, marriage has always evolved to adapt to "societal whims".

So for her, marriage can never be anything other than the product of positive, rather than natural, law, contained in customs, legislation, and so on; there is, for her, no immutable essence discernable by the light of natural reason.

We no longer view women as property

That was never essential to marriage.

nor marriage solely as a vehicle for two families to amalgamate their wealth

That was never essential to marriage.

We no longer believe women must be eternally subservient to their husbands

A family is not a two-headed monster; it has one head—the husband—and one heart—the wife. And servility is antithetical to true obedience anyway.

or that husbands are entitled to beat and rape their wives.

That was never essential to marriage.

We no longer condemn interracial marriages

That was never essential to marriage.

or discriminate against "illegitimate" children.

That isn’t even relevant!

These changes fundamentally altered the nature of marriage

No they didn’t; marriage was, from the beginning, and is to this day a conjugal union of a man and a woman. All the things she listed were either abuses of the nature of marriage or were not essential to it, with the exception of a wife’s obedience to her husband, which Ms Chung misrepresented anyway.

We now accept that same-sex attraction is not a crime

Yes, but sodomy should be.

or a mental illness

That depends on whom you ask. Some in the ‘G.L.B.T. community’ resent the suggestion, whereas those covered by the initial "T” tend to welcome the notion that transsexuality involves ‘feminised’ or ‘masculinised’ brains in male or female bodies, respectively, and clearly this theorised brain/body mismatch is a defect of nature, an illness, if not, by clinical criteria, a mental illness (with homosexuality differing from transsexuality in degree rather than in kind according to this theory—gays and lesbians would be regarded as having brain ‘masculinisation’ or ‘feminisation’ but to a lesser degree than with transsexuals. Understandably though, gays aren’t too keen on the notion that they have ‘feminised’ brains, or vice versa for lesbians.).

and that same-sex couples exist.

So do incestuous couples. Shall we ‘celebrate’ their ‘love’ too?

Some of those couples would like the privilege heterosexuals take for granted. This does not detract from heterosexual couplings, nor will it lead to a reduction in such relationships.

That’s not the point; it’s not primarily a question of the consequences, it’s primarily a question of whether two individuals of the same sex are even capable of consummating a marriage, which, of course, they aren’t.

The letter concludes with a laughable non sequitur:

The opposition to same-sex marriage appears to stem from a view that the basis of heterosexuality is marriage, and without it everyone would declare themselves to be same-sex attracted.

The next letter was even worse (if you can believe that), and hardly needs any additional comment:

What on Earth can the Catholic Church offer us on the topic of normal societal relationships, when it forces its representatives into an unnatural lifelong denial of their sexuality? What wisdom can it volunteer on parenthood, when its officers are institutionally denied that experience? What can it contribute on children's "natural rights", when it has been revealed around the world to have fostered an environment in which its representatives abused and defiled children, and to have shamelessly attempted to cover it up?

Chris Meney talks about damaging children and society - this at least is a topic in which his organisation can claim expertise.

Graham Price Waterloo

The striking irony, of course, is that the Church’s “representative” in this instance, namely Mr. Meney, is a married man with a good-sized family who, as is well-known, has much “wisdom” to “volunteer on parenthood”, both from experience and from research. And one doesn’t need to be married or have children in order to understand the natural law; the willingness to follow natural reason rather than positivist illogic suffices.

Now for the next letter:

So, Chris Meney, does this mean infertile couples should be denied marriage?

Not necessarily, because infertility with opposite-sex couples is a defect in their respective, or collective, natures, whereas with same-sex couples it is the very nature itself of the relationship which is sterile. Though of course, if the opposite-sex infertility is because of impotence on the part of either prospective spouse or both prospective spouses together then clearly they cannot marry.

Should the process of getting one's tubes tied or a vasectomy automatically annul marriage if there are no children?

Presumably by ‘annul’ he means ‘dissolve’, and the answer then is no if the marriage has been consummated.

Should people who lose their spouse through illness, injury or divorce have their children taken away?

No, because they did not set out from the beginning to deprive their respective children of a father or a mother, which is what same-sex couples do.

All Meney's arguments would mean a yes to those questions.

James Crawley Macquarie Park

Er, no.

The following letter at least had the virtue of confining itself to a single logical fallacy:

Chris Meney sees marriage as a pillar of society holding up all moral fabric, so sacred that to allow same-sex couples to enter would belittle its meaning. I would be interested to hear him argue how Britney Spears's first marriage (which lasted 55 hours) or Elizabeth Taylor's eight marriages make a positive contribution.

Matthew Dunn Cronulla

So Mr. Dunn picks two completely unrepresentative pieces of data—rather than doing something like, say, taking an average based on a large, randomly-selected sample—and proposing them as some kind of counter-evidence for Mr. Meney’s arguments. The folly of this is obvious. But perhaps more to the point: where did Mr. Meney ever say that either of these examples signifies a “positive contribution” to society?

Now for the last letter on this topic:

Chris Meney seems to think "redefining" marriage would damage society. I would like to know what evidence he has. In Scandinavia, where gay marriage has been allowed since 1989, studies by William Eskridge and Darren Spedale indicate that, far from being a threat to heterosexual marriages, it has strengthened understanding of the relationship. There have been more heterosexual marriages and the divorce rate has dropped significantly.

It is Meney's bleak and narrow-minded interpretation of ancient religious texts, resulting in the denial of basic human rights to a significant minority, that is damaging to any civilised society.

Ian Matthews Bondi

Right, so gaymarriage actually increases “understanding of the relationship”. Not changes by substance, but actually increases by degree. How does that work?! What, precisely, did the authors of this study report in their findings? And not only does it improve our “understanding of the relationship”, gaymarriage is also some sort of panacea for problems involving opposite-sex marriages!

There have been more heterosexual marriages and the divorce rate has dropped significantly.

Wonderful! We really can destroy the institution in order to save it! Seriously though, isn’t that just a textbook case of the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy? How is gaymarriage supposed to improve a society’s real-marriage situation? Where is the causality? Can someone explain this to us poor, benighted religionists? Speaking of religion though, Mr. Matthews, by mentioning "ancient religious texts", has, like all these correspondents, failed to grasp that marriage is fundamentally a matter of natural law, not Divine positive law, or any other positive law for that matter.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, A.D. 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rebuttal of “Religious Freedom FAQ's”

Here are three comments which I have submitted to Mr. Keith Gurries’s Opuscula blog. I recommend that you read his “Religious Freedom FAQ’s” post first, otherwise the comments might be difficult to follow:

Comment 1 of 2

Mr. Gurries,

You say that

[Q1.] “In other words, a person following the dictates of an honestly erroneous conscience acts in true moral freedom – in spite of his error.”

But the action of disseminating his errors is still objectively evil, and therefore can only ever be the object of tolerance on the part of his countrymen and of the State.

“The reason is that the moral law commands us to obey a certain conscience under pain of sin – even when honestly erroneous.”

True, but we must be careful to avoid what Msgr. Lefebvre rightly denounced as a false symmetry between being forced to disobey one’s conscience and being prevented from obeying one’s conscience.

“Furthermore, the moral law confers the corresponding moral right (the means) to fulfill ones moral obligations.”

But isn’t it circular reasoning, a sort of tautology, to assert that one’s duty to obey one’s conscience implies a right to obey one’s conscience?

Q3. “… sometimes we tolerate error or evil for the sake of a higher good or a superior right (e.g., toleration in order to respect the rightful domain of conscience …”

But to prevent someone doing what he has perceived to be good, but which is objectively evil, implies no violation of his conscience, since an imprisoned heretic, for instance, continues to conform his will to what his intellect has judged to be good (the dissemination of his errors), and is just biding his time till he has the opportunity to resume his ealier activities.

“[Suarez writes that] The reason is that such observances do not in themselves violate the natural law, and therefore, the temporal power of even a Christian ruler does not confer a right to forbid them.”

But they violate the objective truth and, in a society whose members are united in the Catholic Faith, it harms the common good, which is the proper end of the State.

“[Suarez writes that] Such action would be based on the fact that what is being done goes contrary to the Christian Faith, but that is not enough to compel those who are not subject to the spiritual authority of the Church.”

But the State, in repressing offences against the Catholic religion, does not compel offenders to submit to the Church’s authority; it merely prevents them from harming the common good.

“[Suarez writes that] This opinion is also supported by the fact that such a ban would involve, to some extent, forcing people to accept the Faith; and that is never permitted.”

How can preventing someone from acting on his conscience possibly imply, to even the slightest extent, “forcing people to accept the Faith”? The imprisoned heretic continues to conform his will to the dictates of his conscience.
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Comment 2 of 3 (sorry, this’ll have to go to three comments)

Q4. “Where do we draw the “due limits” to religious freedom?”

Leo XIII’s answer in Libertas was unequivocal:

33. … But if, in such circumstances, for the sake of the common good (and this is the only legitimate reason), human law may or even should tolerate evil, it may not and should not approve or desire evil for its own sake; …
34. … [T]he tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires. Wherefore, if such tolerance would be injurious to the public welfare, and entail greater evils on the State, it would not be lawful; for in such case the motive of good is wanting. …
[my emphasis]

Dignitatis Humanæ, however, treats the common good as a set of certain elements (“matters”), and identifies a strict subset of those elements as providing the proper criterion for whether or not to repress offences against the Catholic religion:

“[…] These matters [listed in D.H.’s preceding paragraph] constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.”
[section 7.]

That the common good is, for D.H., one set of elements composed of two strict subsets—one, the ‘just public order’, and the other, whatever is not contained in the ‘just public order’—is clear from the mention of a certain subset of “matters” (the ‘just public order’), with other matters—“the rest”—not contained therein. So for D.H., the proper criterion is not the common good in all its elements, but rather, the strict subset of elements called the ‘just public order’. And the following portion is of particular interest:

“the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary”

So activity covered by the strict subset of elements belonging to the common good but outside the ‘just public order’ subset is to receive ‘as much freedom as possible, as little curtailment as necessary’. How is one to interpret this slogan? Not ‘in the light of Tradition’, surely, since it has no place in Tradition. Quite the contrary: if the Traditional doctrine were to be encapsulated in a nutshell it would be to invert this slogan to something along the lines of ‘as much curtailment as possible, as little freedom as necessary’. Bizarrely, this is clear from Msgr. de Smedt’s quotation from Ci riesce in his relatio of 19 November 1963:

“Hence the affirmation: religious and moral error must always be impeded, when it is possible, because toleration of them is in itself immoral, is not valid absolutely and unconditionally.”
(my emphasis,
Michael Davies, The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty, Appendix IV, 1992 (1999), The Neumann Press, Long Prairie, Minnesota, p. 293)
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Comment 3 of 3

So it is only plausible to do what Msgr. Tissier de Mallerais argued recently and interpret the document according to the meaning of its authors. And in fact, that bit at the end of D.H.’s section 7. derives from an article by none other than Fr. John Courteney Murray S.J. in Theological Studies, XXV, p. 530. PRF, p. 4:

“In what concerns religious freedom, the requirement [for knowing whether “the public powers are authorized to intervene and to inhibit forms of religious expression”] is fourfold: that the violation of the public order be really serious; that legal or police intervention be really necessary; that regard be had for the privileged character of religious freedom, which is not simply to be equated with other civil rights; that the rule of jurisprudence of the free society be strictly observed, scil., as much freedom as possible, as much coercion as necessary.”
(my emphasis,
quoted in Davies, op. cit., p. 78)

So D.H.’s ‘as much freedom as possible, as little curtailment as necessary’ is little more than a liberal slogan, it is “the rule of jurisprudence of the free society”, incompatible with the juridical criteria proper to the best plan for society, that is, the Catholic society.

So to the question of whether the State can repress heretical/schismatic activity that is harmful to the common good in the common good’s non-‘just public order’ component, the likes of Msgr. von Ketteler can answer an unambiguous ‘yes’. But the devotee of Dignitatis Humanæ can only answer that such activity must receive ‘as much freedom as possible, as little curtailment as necessary’.

Q5. “Man is a social being according to his nature and therefore he has the duty and corresponding right to worship in private and in public.”

There is strange logic here; man is a social being, therefore he has a right to generate occasions of sin for his neighbours?!

“Furthermore, to ban the public expression of all false worship is to apply another form of coercion as Suarez noted: “…such a ban would involve, to some extent, forcing people to accept the Faith, and that is never permitted.””

This remains a pure assertion; how does Suarez explain the notion that “such a ban would involve, to some extent, forcing people to accept the Faith”? He does not seem to elaborate on this here or in quotations from him in the earlier post in which you quote from him at length.
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Reginaldvs Cantvar
Vigil of St. John the Baptist, A.D. 2009

Facts and figures: on I.V.F. success rates and the number of embryos in cryostorage

Here are some interesting data on I.V.F. success rates, from Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

The president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Ted Weaver, said there was a misconception that assisted reproductive technology was a fail-safe back-up plan because success rates drop significantly with age.

Figures show that the live birth rate for women under 35 undergoing IVF is 31 per cent. This falls below 5 per cent for women over 42.
[my emphasis]
Quite aside from the moral objections to I.V.F. then, why are taxpayers required to fund elective procedures for which there is barely a statistically significant chance of success?

And in the Herald’s Good Weekend magazine from two Saturdays ago I read the following information:

[…] Accurate figures about frozen embryos are scarce but a 2006 survey by the National Perinatal Statistics Unit, based on information supplied by 57 IVF clinics around the country, found there were 118,709 embryos in cryostorage. Most, just over 90 per cent, were in “transit”, the clinics claimed, earmarked for future patient use in another cycle; 5.6 per cent were earmarked for donation to research; 2.7 per cent for disposal; and only 1 per cent for donation to another couple.
[Maybe Baby, Fenella Souter, The Sydney Morning
’s Good Weekend magazine, June 13, 2009, p. 19]
And it was interesting to read about the experiences of the poster-couple, so to speak, for that article:

Despite the Christian community’s notions about human life beginning at fertilization, and in spite of the Archibalds’ personal view against abortion, in the end they chose to discard the embryos. For us, there wasn’t an issue with destroying embryos because there wasn’t a heart,” she says. “They were only four cells. A heart, I think, is your soul; that’s how we viewed it.” She [Jan Archibald, wife of Lindsay] didn’t see it as taking away life. “They wouldn’t have existed outside a body anyway.” … After the viewing, the Archibalds poured the contents of the Petri dishes into a potted azalea that they’d brought with them. They took the bush home, waited for spring and planted it in the backyard. They got on with their lives, happy to have closed the book on IVF.
[ibid., p. 19]
“A heart, I think, is your soul”; that’s a new one. That’s just their intuition, is it? What is their basis for that notion? And the article’s author offered the following observation:

Yet it [an embryo] is not a body, or anything like it, with a body’s years of lived experience and conscious-ness, with a name and, once, a personality. But is it something more than just a bunch of cells?
[ibid., p. 21]
But if an embryo is not a human body then what is?! What is it other than a human body at an early stage of development? And if we’re going to be strict materialists, then are any of us ‘more than just bunches of cells’?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Vigil of St. John the Baptist, A.D. 2009

More evidence of the cynicism and ingratitude of the Sodomites’ League

I’ve commented on other occasions on the ingratitude with which the Sodomites’ League has responded to changes—changes for which it had vigorously lobbied!—to government recognition of same-sex couples for social security purposes, and now we have further evidence of the audacity of this ingratitude. Right at the end of the article, almost as an afterthought, the reporter notes that:

The Government has agreed to a range of measures to ensure the changes are introduced as sensitively as possible.

These includeissuing concession cards with only one partner's name after people said they feared they might be publicly identified as homosexual or lesbian if cards continued to have both people's names on them.
So the government is bending over backwards to accommodate the sensitivities of the gay contingent—and, most importantly, it is not going to try to recoup the cumulative difference between a couple payment and the sum of two single-person payments for same-sex couples who were ripping off taypayers by claiming more than they needed all the previous years—yet still these reprobates are whining. If they’ll whine about getting equal welfare treatment then what’ll they do when they get ‘equal marriage rights’—start rioting?!

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Vigil of St. John the Baptist, A.D. 2009

Ms Pryor on gaymarriage: defenders of the natural law are just a bunch of bigots

Ms Lisa Pryor had a tedious, vacuous, fallaciously-argued opinion piece in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. She began with a brief two paragraphs on recent survey findings on Australian popular support for gaymarriage, and then in her third paragraph got stuck into gaymarriage’s opponents:

The stance Rudd and Turnbull are taking [against gaymarriage] may be unpopular, but not everything in politics is about popularity. Obviously they have decided in this case it is more important to protect the persecuted minority of Australians who identify as bigots, a minority whose lifestyle is under attack.
But opposition to the insanity of same-sex ‘marriage’ is not a matter of unthinking prejudice against something which one doesn’t even understand; it’s a matter of applying one’s natural reason, giving a rational consideration to the question of whether or not the proposal suits the natures of the individuals involved.

Continuing with the sneering tone with which she began, she then says

Sorry, I shouldn't use "bigot"; apparently that's not politically correct these days. I'll be rapped over the knuckles by the thought police. I'm sure they prefer to be called something euphemistic like "People Living With A Need To Exclude Other People From The Institution Of Marriage Because It Makes Their Own Marriages Seem More Special".
By erecting this straw man, Ms Pryor suggests that she has failed to perceive the crux of the matter: the crux of the matter is whether or not the very definition of marriage is applicable to same-sex pairings. Or, from another angle: does marriage have its basis in natural law, or is it just the product of positive law? Now the definition of a thing is that which signifies its essence, and essential to marriage is the conjugal union—it isn’t just some kind of long-term Platonic union of two friends; it needs to be consummated. But two individuals of the same sex are physically incapable of any kind of conjugal union with each other, and the pseudo-conjugal means by which they simulate—or rather, by which they parody—real conjugal relations defy natural reason. So it is quite absurd to speak of two individuals of the same sex ‘marrying’ each other. Presumably, though, part of the problem for Ms Pryor and those of her ilk is that they have fallen for the Sodomites’ League’s strategy of focusing on gay identity rather than gay behaviour, and so when they are reminded that there is certain behaviour that is intrinsic to the institution of marriage they are ill-equipped to defend what they advocate. (And of course they can’t plausibly try to downplay the significance of physical marital relations: somehow I think that what the Sodomite’s League is advocating involves more than just cuddles and deep and meaningful conversations!)

Then Ms Pryor says

Even though laws have been tweaked to remove many forms of discrimination against gay couples, neither major [political] party is willing to go all the way. They are not prepared to follow the radical lead set in godless, radical jurisdictions such as Belgium, Canada, Spain and the US state of Iowa …
Clearly Ms Pryor intends to sound sarcastic when she speaks of “godless, radical jurisdictions”, but although I don’t know about Iowa, I know that Spain has a Socialist government which is busy trying to expand ‘abortion rights’ (even to the extent of allowing expectant under-sixteen-years mothers to procure abortions without the involvement of their respective parents—see here), and, as horrifying news stories from a few years ago indicated, Belgium is a hotbed of paedophilia, and as for Canada, three letters should suffice: MgS.

Ms Pryor invokes the following analogy for the offering of same-sex ‘civil unions’ in lieu of same-sex ‘marriage’:

The philosophy is something akin to saying: "Hey, gay people, you say you want some chocolate? Have some delicious no-frills carob drops. I don't want to eat them myself, but I'm sure they taste just like the real thing."
But if one wants to have some chocolate, one inserts it in the proper orifice—namely, the mouth—and lets the proper bodily system—namely, the digestive system—perform its proper functions. If sodomites want some chocolate, then they are free to purchase it and use it in the same manner in which heterosexuals use it; but obviously it defies reason to insert chocolate into bodily orifices other than the mouth, and while the State might have to tolerate such evils—evil being that that does not suit the nature of the thing desiring it, and clearly only the mouth is suitable for the use of chocolate—if it expects prevention of them to produce even worse evils, it can’t very well legislate for and participate in what elementary natural reason condemns.

Now we see Ms Pryor’s wit reach its climax (presumably that’s what it’s meant to be, at least, since it was the portion which the Herald selected as a preview on its Contents section on page 2, and it forms the centrepiece of the article):

It may just be possible to find a solution which respects the values of both the majority and the minority in this debate. And to this end I would like to propose a novel legislative solution: what if the Government introduced gay marriage as an option - but didn't make it compulsory? So that you don't have to have a gay marriage unless you want to? So that if you believe in marriage only between a man and a woman, you only have to enter into a marriage with someone of the opposite sex?
Mmmm, not terribly clever; perhaps one had to be there as she triumphantly added those italics. Interesting, though, that Ms Pryor has confined herself to same-sex ‘marriage’ when her proposed solution would be equally applicable to remedying the grievous injustice—presumably that’s what she thinks of it, if consent is all that matters for her—of people being forbidden to marry their respective parents. Or could it be that Ms Pryor is a closet incestophobe? Is there a latent ‘bigotry’ of her own here?

Later on she has another gem:

Some will still be concerned that allowing gay marriage will erode "Christian values" in our society. This concern is wrongheaded, as it assumes most Christians are bigots, and I happen to believe that most are not. Most Christians, I would like to think, see love and acceptance as the most important elements of the Christian message.
‘Love’ means desiring the highest good for another, and the good is that which suits the nature of the thing desiring it. Buggery and the various natural-law-defying things on which same-sex ‘marriage’ is founded don’t suit anyone’s or anything’s nature. And as for ‘acceptance’: tolerance is virtuous only when it involves tolerating the least evil in a range of evils, and gaymarriage is pretty high up on the list of evils in the West today.

In her penultimate paragraph Ms Pryor says that

All gay marriage will do is further erode the role of biblical literalism in our society, the same biblical literalism which, if we were serious about it, would allow us to own slaves, as long as we bought them from neighbouring nations such as New Zealand and Indonesia, as allowed in Leviticus chapter 25, verse 44, and compel us to execute anyone who pops into the office on a Sunday, as is the intention of Exodus chapter 35, verse 2.
and thus reinforces the impression that, like gay activists like the nominally-Catholic Mr. Stephen Hough, she has failed to grasp that marriage is a matter of natural law, not just positive law, whether of God or of the State. As a matter of natural law, one must devote a certain portion of one’s week to lifting one’s mind to God and refraining from servile labour, but in the absence of positive law, the question of whether that portion of time be Sunday, Monday or another day is a matter of indifference. And as for slavery, if by ‘slavery’ one merely means the sale of one’s lifetime supply of labour, then there is nothing in that to contradict natural law.

Ms Pryor concludes thus:

For those who are still concerned, here is a better dilemma to ponder: what is so Christian about an institution which lets in straight atheists and even Satanists, but excludes gay Christians?
For the last time: marriage originates as a natural institution, not a positive, Christian one. Given that it is the conjugal union which is the essence of marriage, and only a man and a woman can unite themselves thus, any one man and any one woman of whatever religion may unite themselves in marriage (though I’m not sure that a Satanist’s pledge of undying love would be terribly plausible), and so may a gay man and a lesbian woman (though that’d probably be an offence against prudence, if not, strictly speaking, against justice). But obviously a man and a man or a woman and a woman can’t marry each other—that’d just be silly!

For further reading, Mr. Muehlenberg has a good post on Ms Pryor’s rubbish:

In the letter which he has submitted to the Herald he hits the nail on the head:

Ms Pryor resorts to the usual gutter tactic of not actually addressing the arguments of her opponents, but simply smearing them instead. Attacking the person is always a lot easier than dealing with the argument. So guess what: we learn in this piece that everyone who disagrees with her is a “bigot”.
Nobody likes a bigot—even the word is unpleasant-sounding—and Ms Pryor’s use of this word is just an ad hominem tactic, as Mr. Muehlenberg rightly notes.

And unlike Ms Pryor, he gets to the heart of the matter:

Marriage has always been a social institution concerned with regulating human sexuality and rearing the next generation. If people don’t like the inherent limitations of marriage, redefining it out of existence is not the answer.
Mr. Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Life, Marriage and Family Centre, has an excellent letter—published as the lead one, would you believe it—in today’s Herald:

Redefining marriage on a whim is not the state's job
June 23, 2009
Lisa Pryor fails to appreciate that marriage does not belong to government ("Here's an idea: what if the Government introduced voluntary gay marriage?", June 20-21). Marriage is a social institution that predates nation states and was inherited by government. As such, all government can legitimately do is reaffirm why marriage warrants recognition and support.

Marriage is different from other relationships. The social benefits of committed, exclusive heterosexual unions include the generation of children and the raising of future citizens; a safe environment for the nurturing of those children; two complementary parents who can provide appropriate gender role modelling; parents who are biologically connected to their child and who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of that child; and a vital intergenerational connectedness within families and societies.

Such unions provide a mechanism for more effectively connecting children to their fathers - to satisfy children's longing for their father and to ensure a more equitable distribution of the parenting burden. State interests have never been based on the extent of private affections. We all have emotional ties in which the state has no interest. The reason marriage matters to government is what heterosexual couples offer as a social type.

Most marriages have the capacity to conceive children and all children have natural rights, including the right to know and be raised by one's biological mother and father. Such rights do not originate from the state. However, the state has an obligation to ensure biological parents fulfil their parental duty to the fullest extent they are able.

That is the proper role of the state - not to redefine marriage to accord with transient societal whims. If every relationship has the capacity to be a "marriage", the true understanding of what marriage is will be obscured and undermined. This would damage children and society.

Chris Meney director, Life, Marriage and Family Centre, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Another letter-writer starts off well but then, as you’ll see, goes off track:

Marriage has underpinned the fabric of society for generations. Watering it down is not about eroding "Christian values" in society - it is about eroding society. The Government has rightly altered almost 100 pieces of legislation to remove unjust discrimination against same sex couples, but considering that fewer than 1400 same-sex couples have registered with Centrelink to take advantage of the new legislation, I am not sure that a case to change the Marriage Act has been established ("Same-sex couples wary of changes to benefits", June 20).

Rhonda Murray Calwell (ACT)
I’m not aware of any “unjust discrimination” being directed at homosexuals before the recent social security reforms (reforms for which the Sodomites’ League had lobbied but about which now, with typical cynicism and ingratitude, the degenerates are whinging—see my next post). How can someone fail to see that if one gives the gay contingent an inch it’ll soon be asking for a mile?

And if you’d like more on the topic, see also my rebuttal of the arguments of a pro-sodomite commenter in the combox to the previous post at this blog.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Vigil of St. John the Baptist, A.D. 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Facts and figures: on Australian popular support for so-called gay marriage

Here is a small item from yesterday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph:
Gay marriage support

A NEW survey shows 60 per cent of Australians support gay mariage.
The poll, conducted for lobby group Australian Marriage Equality, found strong support for same-sex marriage including among Coalition voters.
Fifty-eight per cent believed Australia should also recognise immigrating couples who wed overseas.
(The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday, June 17, 2009, Sydney, Australia, p. 16)
More information is available at an on-line version of the article:

Of the 1100 respondents, 60 per cent were in favour of same-sex marriage.

[…] Some 75 per cent of Greens voters backed gay marriage, compared with 63 per cent of Labor supporters, and 49 per cent of coalition voters.

Women were more likely to support gay marriage, with 65 per cent of them in favour of it, compared with 51 per cent of men.

Support for gay marriage was strongest among Australians aged 16 to 24, with 74 per cent in favour, compared with 45 per cent for those aged over 50.

As one would expect, ‘Australian Marriage Equality’ (henceforth A.M.E.) has a website, and quite a slick one (marred by repulsive images of same-sex couples, naturally):

Check out the nonsense on the ‘F.A.Q.’ page (original formatting of the quotations here preserved unless noted otherwise):

Q. What are the benefits of same-sex marriage?


Further, and very importantly, lifting the ban on same-sex marriage is not only about addressing the rights of this minority group; it is about protecting the rights of people in general. If we say exclusion to certain basic privileges is okay for some, then we are opening up the doors to introducing laws as we see fit to exclude others. In a different space and time, it may be your rights or those of your loved ones that are affected.
So it’s a slippery-slope argument. Slippery-slope arguments aren’t necessarily fallacious, but the case that A.M.E. tries to make here is disproven by the facts: all during Western civilisation’s (in)glorious march towards the liberal ‘end of history', ‘freedom’ (understood as liberty of action, not moral liberty, which is, of course unchanging) has been increasing (for the most part regrettably), yet all that time society recognised marriage as the lifelong conjugal union between a woman and a man.

A.M.E. goes on to say that

Equality, respect, dignity, and a sense of belonging are ideals and values endorsed by Australian society.
Equality: same-sex attracted individuals are free to marry just like opposite-sex attracted individuals (obviously they can’t marry each other; that’d just be silly!)

Respect: how does buggering someone indicate respect for that person? Not to mention the flagrant disrespect for the natural law.

Dignity: the unspeakable things that these couples do make a mockery of the very notion of human dignity.

A sense of belonging: does A.M.E. support the ‘sense of belonging’ shared by incestuous couples?

[…] Individual

The lack of opportunity for same-sex couples to formalise their relationships, as do different-sex couples, sends the message that their relationships are not of equivalent standard [1.] and that they are second class citizens [2.]. As same-sex sexuality is no more a choice than heterosexuality [3.], restricting marriage to different-sex couples will not stop committed relationships between members of the same sex [4.].
1. Sodomy-based relationships are not of an “equivalent standard” to truly conjugal marriages.

2. “second class citizens” is an inapt description of members of same-sex couples only inasmuch as it is too generous.

3. Perhaps, but buggery is certainly a free choice.

4. One can permit an evil if attempts to suppress it would produce evils worse than the original one, but one can never participate closely in it, which is what the State and its functionaries do when gaymarriage (sic, and sick) is legalised.

Q. Will same-sex marriage result in the demise of heterosexual marriage?

A.M.E. takes a curious approach to answering this objection, arguing that man-woman marriage rates have not declined where gaymarriage (I’ll think I’ll use this term from now on) has been enacted. That might not happen in the short term, but it certainly debases the true institution of marriage, which is what A.M.E. addresses next:

Q. Will allowing same-sex marriage spoil the character of the institution of marriage?

Some people are of the opinion that by allowing same-sex marriage the institution will be ‘watered down’. For example, ex-Prime Minister John Howard stated “It is a question of preserving as an institution in our society, marriage as having a special character”. Statements such as this are particularly offensive. It suggests that the inclusion of same-sex couples into the institution of marriage will somehow tarnish or spoil its image.
Buggery ain’t pretty, and anyone or anything associated with it is certainly tarnished thereby. In the Australian idiom, to feel ‘buggered’ is to be exhausted, and to ‘bugger up’ something is to ruin it. These people are going to bugger up marriage, in both senses of the term ‘bugger up’!

Q. Isn’t marriage traditionally about love between a man and a woman?

According to historians, the one thing that is consistent about marriage over time is that it has never been consistent. On the issue of traditional marriage, American historian Stephanie Coontz states that “if we can learn anything from the past, it is how few precedents are now relevant in the changed marital landscape in which we operate today” (p. 11, Coontz, 2005). Therefore, if marriage is to survive as an institution it needs to keep abreast with the social conditions of its time.
[emphasis added in the last sentence]
Ahhh, I understand now: we need to destroy marriage in order to save it!!!

Q. Shouldn’t marriage be about procreation?

Yes, that is its primary end, and if we’re talking about a ‘marriage’ which, by its very nature (rather than because of some defect of nature on the part of the husband or wife), is sterile, then whyever would the State treat this household any differently to how it treats, say, a sharehouse household? If the relationship, by its very nature, cannot produce future citizens, or raise adopted children to be citizens, who respect the natural law, and hence the only ‘good’ (so they would call it) that could come of the relationship is the secondary end of mutual help and society, then why would the State bother treating that relationship any differently to any other voluntary society?

Q. If same-sex marriage was to promote same-sex parenting, then what about the impact on children?

Now late last year I noted the following:

… once the Government has legislated to give same-sex couples the same adoption rights as opposite-sex couples, how can it possibly continue to justify its refusal to permit so called gay marriage? For the Sodomites’ League will be able to turn the tables on pro-family forces and demand to know how can they deny ‘marriage’ to same-sex couples when, as the pro-family movement argues (rightly, of course), it is the family based on marriage that produces the best outcomes for children.
[emphasis newly added,]
And what do we see A.M.E. arguing? The following:

It therefore seems quite ironic that those purporting that the rights of children are paramount, are those denying access by the parents to the one institution that would ensure their children’s rights.
The F.A.Q. page concludes with the following (still on the question of the impact on children):

… In addition, opposition to same-sex marriage based on issues of parenting send a negative and very hurtful message to the number of children who are currently being raised in a same-sex couple household. If people who argue against same-sex marriage do this on the premise of the well-being of children, then they need to stop and consider the negative impact of such an argument on these children. It may well pay to ask ourselves how we would feel if the people we relied on for love and protection were depicted by society as somehow being less than capable of delivering such.
The end of the law (here, the natural law) is love. How can these people say that they love their children when they show nothing but contempt for the natural law, by which we tell right from wrong?

One last thing, one final little ‘fact or figure’ (a fact, this time): at this link at the A.M.E. website we find another permutation of the alphasexual alphabet soup: “GLBTQ/I or non-labelled”. Fancy that: it seems that some sodomites are so tired of the unceasing expansion of the range of conditions covered by the GLBTIFBKSFOIBF&c. umbrella that they’ve given up on the labels altogether!

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Ephrem, Deacon, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2009

Mr. Hough on ethics and homosexuality

Via CathNews I learnt that concert pianist and “gay activist” Mr. Stephen Hough

has been commissioned to write a theological treatise on Catholicism and homosexuality, It Is Not Good For Man To Be Alone . "I was horrified when a friend pointed out the book can be pre-ordered on Amazon," laughs Hough. "I haven't started writing it yet."

The title is taken from the Book of Genesis, before the creation of Eve. "The philosophical idea of Genesis is that everything God created is good ? If homosexuality is in the structure of things, as we now seem to be discovering, then it has to be good."
Forgive me if it’s impertinent of someone of my modest learning to criticise someone of Mr. Hough’s presumably formidable theological stature—a latter-day Aquinas, no doubt—but: everything God created was indeed good; the problem is that there was this thing called ‘the Fall’, after which all sorts of non-good things started to happen. So unfortunately we can no longer simply say that created = good.

And what does Mr. Hough mean by ‘good’? For him, whatever’s “in the structure of things” is good. For him (and his fellow-travellers), there’s no notion that the good is that which suits the nature of the thing desiring it; there couldn’t be, since it would be preposterous to argue that the unspeakable things which these people do to each other suit the respective natures of the organs involved, the organisms involved or the species involved. Or, perhaps more accurately, the distinction between nature and defects of nature is lost and whatever occurs ‘naturally’ (in the sense of non-artificially) is simply deemed ‘good’, so that we have a sort of parody of natural law—unnatural law, if you will. In this view, if homosexuality has a structural (by which he presumably means biological/genetic) origin then it’s good. I’d be interested to see how the unnatural-law ethicists explain the fact that there are all sorts of biologically-/genetically-based conditions which no-one would ever suggest are in any sense good.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Ephrem, Deacon, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2009

Anonymous bloggers beware!

ANONYMOUS bloggers - from public service whistleblowers to incendiary political commentators - will no longer be able to operate from the anonymity of cyberspace under a landmark ruling handed down by the British High Court.

[…] [A]ccording to the High Court judge, blogging is essentially "a public activity" and the police officer could not have a "reasonable expectation" of anonymity because it is not a private activity.

Mr Justice Eady said even if the officer could have claimed he had a right to anonymity, he would still have ruled against him on grounds of public interest.

… [The police officer’s] QC argued that thousands of everyday bloggers would be horrified to realise that the law would not protect their anonymity if someone managed to unmask them.

Horton argued that if it became public that he had written his blog, he would be disciplined as he had breached police regulations - an argument the judge deemed "unattractive".

However, legal counsel for The Times argued public interest, stating that there was public interest in an officer's decision to breach regulations governing police behaviour as well as breaking laws that require police not to reveal information about investigations. The judge concluded: "I do not accept that it is part of the court's function to protect police officers who are, or think they may be, acting in breach of police discipline regulations from coming to the attention of their superiors.

"It would seem to be quite legitimate for the public to be told who it was who was choosing to make in some instances serious criticisms of police activities and, if it be the case, that frequent infringements of police discipline regulations were taking place."

Consider yourselves warned, my fellow anonybloggers!

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Ephrem, Deacon, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

H.M. The King of Spain and H.M. The Queen of Spain to visit Australia,25197,25646955-26040,00.html

The Australian reports that

SPANISH King Juan Carlos arrives in Australia next week for his first official visit in 21 years as Spain rediscovers the Asia-Pacific.

In Sydney, Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia will open Australia's first Cervantes Institute, a Spanish culture and language agency that has made Asian expansion a priority with new centres in Beijing and Tokyo.

The June 24-26 royal tour will be their first state visit since 1988, when they attended the Brisbane Expo. (Their visit to the 2000 Olympic Games was a "private" one.)
[bold type in the original]
The article contained the following interesting trivia:

In 1606, [Pedro Fernandez de Quiros] mistook present-day Vanuatu for the great south land, or Terra Australis, and christened it "Austrialia," a reference to the Austrian Habsburg ancestry of the Spanish king. Tweaked by Matthew Flinders, the name stuck.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory Barbarigo, Bishop, Confessor, A.D. 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Herald reports: "Anti-abortion group barred from schools"

In August of last year I commented at this blog on a report by Sydney Daily Telegraph education writer Ms Maralyn Parker on a conception/pregnancy/&c. education programme, run by Mr. Bruce Coleman, for use in New South Wales schools. The Saturday Sydney Morning Herald provided information on the latest development:

A LIFE education program created by an organisation with ties to anti-abortion groups in Australia and the United States was endorsed by the NSW Education Department for use in public schools. But since the links were raised by the Herald , the department has banned the group from visiting schools and announced a review of the processes that led to its approval.

The Wonder of Life (Before Birth) was approved by the NSW Department of Education and Training in March to be taught in years 5 and 6 as part of the personal development, health and physical education curriculum. However the program's creator, Bruce Coleman, has strong links to anti-abortion groups here and in the US.

Mr Coleman is a former executive director of the anti-abortion lobby group, NSW Right to Life, a member of the management committee of Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party, and an unsuccessful CDP candidate at the 2004 election.
Now let me make clear that I am opposed to children receiving instruction in these matters from their respective schools and at such a young age. I think that instruction in these matters is, in normal circumstances, the inalienable duty of the child’s parents. (I say ‘in normal circumstances’ because exceptions might arise in the case of, say, a widow who entrusts the task of informing her young son in these matters to a trusted male relative or family friend e.g. the boy’s godfather. But I cannot imagine how it could be licit to have a virtual stranger instructing a mixed class in these matters in a purely biological, ‘ethically-neutral’ context, and at a fixed time which takes no account of the fact that any given child might be more or less mature than his classmates, though I suppose that there is a place for it later on, in non-co-ed science classes at high school, when it may safely be assumed that the child knows the facts of life already.) But it’s interesting nonetheless to consider what this says about the N.S.W. Education Department. Let’s see what the secularists have to say about sex education and Mr. Coleman’s programme:

An expert in sex education in schools, Associate Professor Anne Mitchell of La Trobe University, said it was entirely appropriate for children in years 5 and 6 to be taught about conception, pregnancy and life in the womb.
The fact that a La Trobe University “expert in sex education in schools”—i.e. an expert in corrupting children at as young an age as they can get away with—is all in favour of this sort of thing ought to alert parents happy to shirk their duties in these matters to the immorality of what is going on. But I digress. Prof. Mitchell then says that

"[her] problem would be if it's put in an ideological framework, if it's being used to influence people's thinking about abortion."
But by this criterion there should be no problem with Mr. Coleman’s programme, because

In an interview with the Herald, Mr Coleman said the program was "very much biology", that he "doesn't get involved in the politics at all" and does not mention abortion "in the primary context" because it is "not appropriate". However, when abortion is raised, he responds by "explaining to them the value of life. I just state clearly that abortion is the taking of an unborn life", he said.
And as Ms Parker noted in her report last year, the programme doesn’t even make any mention of abortion. So this is about excluding someone because of his connections and opinions, despite the fact that he (Mr. Coleman) does not seek to foist these opinions on the children. Now the article notes that a “spokesman for the Department of Education and Training said it was reviewing how the program was approved”. Will there be a concomitant investigation into the pro- or anti-abortion views of every N.S.W. late-primary-school teacher? Does the Department intend to enforce a policy of strict neutrality in teaching on matters related to abortion, requiring strongly pro- or anti-abortion teachers to step aside?

Surprisingly, Monday’s Herald contained two letters criticising the Department’s decision and none supporting it (perhaps some might be published in the days to come, though there is none in today’s edition). If the letters editor was prepared to devote space to two letters, both anti-abortion, then that would seem to imply—given that a pluralist paper such as the Herald would usually print one pro- and one anti- letter if it intended to print two letters on the one subject—that either that the Herald received no pro-abortion letters, or that the pro-abortion letters received were in some way unsuitable for publication. Interesting. Anyway, here are the letters, published under the heading “Children need to be told”:

The abortion lobby is obviously worried that children may be getting the scientific facts about human foetal development without the correct ideology ("Anti-abortion group barred from schools", June 13-14). They must think that if educators show respect for the developing child, children will be more likely see human life as a continuum from conception to death, and be less likely to believe in any absolute right to abortion. And we can't have that, can we? One wonders if the Herald would be so assiduous in detecting and advising the Education Department about links between educational material and pro-abortion suppliers.

Joanne Russell Clovelly

An educational organisation has been banned from schools, not because it is teaching anything scientifically inaccurate, but because it has inappropriate political associations. If someone who is teaching the facts about what goes on in the womb happens to be associated with the Christian Democratic Party, he gets gagged. Why? Because the abortion debate has nothing to do with scientific content, but populist ideology.

This ideology allows the Department of Education to decide which educators are approved, not on their content but on their outside political affiliations. This is nothing but political and ideological prejudice.

Mike Southon Waverton

Reginaldvs Cantvar

On yesterday’s Tele’s “on this day” column

Are the only Mediæval events which the mainstream media deem worthy of commemoration the ones which fit into the grand progressive narrative of mankind’s glorious march towards Fukuyama’s liberal ‘end of history’? From yesterday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph:


King John averts a civil war by stamping the royal seal on the Magna Carta at Runnymede, England. It guarantees a list of citizens' rights.


Wat Tyler, leader of the English peasants’ revolt against heavy tax on the poor, is beheaded in London by order of the lord mayor, a day after winning concessions from King Richard II.
(The Daily Telegraph, Monday, June 15, 2009, Sydney, Australia, p. 41)
The rest of the events dated from 1844. There was one listed modern-era event which I found particularly interesting, though:


Communist and fascist parties are declared illegal under the wartime federal National Security Act. It allows their property to be seized.
I had not heard of, or at least did not recall hearing of, this event until reading that entry. As is well-known, the High Court judged a Cold-War-era attempt by Sir Robert Menzies to outlaw the Communist Party to be unconstitutional. I wonder when the effect of the 1940 attempt ceased (which, presumably, it must have, if the later attempt was necessary), and why it succeeded in the first place? Surely it didn’t go unopposed?

Reginaldvs Cantvar

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cardinal Pell on truth, freedom and the moral confusion of young Catholics

In his Pentecost message for this year, His Eminence The Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney had the following observations on the ethics of young Catholics:

The young people at our consultations [for the preparation of the Pentecost message] were keen to participate and happy to be present. Without doubt they are among the best of the crop and the views they proposed were sound and decent. But many spoke as though they were relativists, often not supporting their personal beliefs in faith and morals by claims to the truth.
They vigorously espoused the advantages of tolerance, which is obviously a basic virtue in a pluralist democracy like Australia but they seemed to presume that those who believed in truths could not be tolerant.
Different speakers claimed that the truth depends on how we are brought up and that every person has a different point of view. Others claimed that truth should not be a dictatorship, because truth is only a perception, something in the eye of the beholder. How does one distinguish a terrorist from a freedom fighter they asked?
A significant group emphasized that they did not want to be claiming that other people are wrong, because they didn’t want to impose their views on others. “Live and let live” was the motto, because educated people do not see too much which is black or white. Is there any truth in these claims?
In an interesting aside Professor [Hayden] Ramsay remarked [at a Pentecost message preparation meeting] that Australians are not very good at telling others that they are wrong, because the truth can hurt and cause the truth teller to lose friends!
In 2007 a research report “The Spirit of Generation Y. Young People’s Spirituality in a Changing Australia” claimed that 59% of young Catholics believed that morals are relative, while only 44% of young Anglicans thought in that way and the percentage of other Christians was even lower at 40%. As a consequence young Catholics were marginally less principles in their morals than the national average and not enormously better than young Australians without any religion.
Clearly there is much in there that is troubling, and it is a sad indictment of the failure of Catholic schools to give pupils a solid grounding in natural-law ethics.

As for Cardinal Pell, it is perplexing that someone who sees clearly that moral liberty can only have what is true, good and just as its object, entitling his Pentecost message “No Truth. No Freedom”, can also assert elsewhere things like

Nor is religious freedom simply a right to toleration … It is the fundamental right of religious organisations and individuals, as full participants in the wider society around them, to practise and manifest their beliefs freely in the services they provide.
But if religious freedom involves heretics disseminating their errors then how can it be anything other than a tolerance on the part of the State? Tolerance can have evil for its object, but true freedom can never have what is opposed to truth or goodness as its object. This strange schizophrenia has become rampant in the Church since Dignitatis Humanæ.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Columba, Abbot, A.D. 2009

Ms Wolf on men, women, their relationships and their respective parenting styles

A remarkable opinion piece by the U.S. feminist writer Ms Naomi Wolf appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday. In it, she argued against the notion, embraced by some feminists, of gender as nothing but a social construct. That is the position of extreme feminists, though even more moderate feminists tend to think of gender as having a biological origin, while gender roles are supposed to have only a social origin, but Ms Wolf seems to argue that even these gender roles are not mere constructs, and that rather, there is a certain ‘division of labour’ that follows naturally from maleness and femaleness. Note that there are also Darwinist/determinist overtones to the article, in addition to the author’s already-noted feminism, so I don’t agree with all of it, either in letter or in spirit, but late in the article she says something with important implications for the notion, advanced by supporters of same-sex parenting, that ‘it doesn’t matter whether a child has two mums, two dads, or one mum and one dad, just so long as the child is loved’:

Feminists understandably have often shied away from scientific evidence that challenges this critique of sex roles. Because biology-based arguments have been used to justify women's subjugation, women have been reluctant to concede any innate difference. But, in view of recent scientific discoveries, has feminist resistance to accepting any signs of innate gender difference only created new biases?

… An entire academic discipline emerged out of the wholesale critique of the male tendency to create hierarchy, engage in territoriality and be drawn to conflict.

[…] Now a spate of scientific analyses suggests that we must be willing to grapple with some genuine, measurable differences between the sexes.

[…] Moreover, in her description of our evolution, [Helen] Fisher notes that males who could tolerate long periods of silence (waiting for animals while in hunt mode)
survived to pass on their genes, thus genetically selecting to prefer "space". By contrast, females survived best by bonding with others and building community, since such groups were needed to gather roots, nuts and berries while caring for small children.

Reading Fisher, one is more inclined to leave boys alone to challenge one another and test their environment and to accept that, as she puts it, nature designed men and women to collaborate for survival. "Collaboration" implies free will and choice; even primate males do not succeed by controlling females. In her analysis, it serves everyone for men and women to share their sometimes different but often complementary strengths - a conclusion that seems reassuring.
Reassuring indeed for the defenders of the traditional family (which is to say, the true and natural family)—it seems that not only from a Christian/natural-law perspective, but also from a feminist/Darwinist/determinist perspective, men and women can be acknowledged to have different and complementary strengths. And the corollary of this would seem to be that a child of a mother and a father is better off than a child of a pair of same-sex ‘co-parents’; true parents are, after all, complements, not substitutes. But Ms Wolf does not leave this to readers’ powers of inference to deduce—she spells it out for us:

Moreover, [Michael] Gurian argues that men tend to rear children differently from women for similarly neurological reasons, encouraging more risk taking and independence and with less awareness of the details of their nurture. One can see the advantages to children of having both parenting styles. He urges women to try side-by-side activities, not only face-to-face verbalisation, to experience closeness with their mates.
(my emphasis)
Now lest anyone suspect that I am taking Ms Wolf out of context and exploiting her observations for my own purposes, let me be clear: presumably Ms Wolf does not object to same-sex parenting. But given that she herself notices “the advantages to children of having both parenting styles”, it would be interesting to see how she reconciles these two contradictory points of view.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Columba, Abbot, A.D. 2009