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

Monday, December 22, 2008

On an A.C.B.C. initiative to improve doctrinal literacy

I read an interesting little item in yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly which is also available in much the same form at the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (A.C.B.C.) website. Here it is:

Accessible new pamphlets on Catholic doctrine to be issued next year

The Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals is preparing to publish a series of easy-to-read pamphlets on key areas of doctrine.

It is proposed that six pamphlets will be prepared by the members of the Commission, Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Bishop Christopher Prowse, Bishop Anthony Fisher. Bishop Peter Elliott will also prepare one of the pamphlets.

They will be released to coincide with the feasts of Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption, Exaltation of the Cross, Christ the King and Christmas.

The pamphlets will examine the subjects of Christology, Truth in the Church, Christian understanding of the Body, Moral Truths, Eschatology and Salvation.

The Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals has also commissioned Dr Anne Hunt to develop a booklet on the Trinity. The booklet is directed to a general audience, including secondary students. It is expected that the booklet will be ready for publication during 2009.
Now this is a welcome initiative, and clearly a timely one given the recent ravings of a certain Australian priest (not to mention the nonsense that one can find any day of the week at websites like Mr. Coyne’s little project). And it is good to see that the prelates leading this initiative are ones who are regarded as orthodox. The thing is, they are orthodox, but none of them is Traditional, and so while I’m confident that most of the pamphlets will be doctrinally sound, I worry about what to expect from the pamphlet for the Feast of Christ the King. I blogged recently on His Eminence Cardinal Pell’s recent inadequate attempt to explain Christ’s Kingship, and unfortunately it appears that Msgr. Elliott conforms to the truncated ‘in men’s hearts’ (and therefore not truly and properly social) view of the Social Reign of Christ:

But, if I emphasise the social reign of the Lord Jesus, I need to place this in the spiritual or, let us say, the supernatural perspective. It is a simple call to faith: 'Let Jesus reign!'

Let him reign in our hearts, families, houses and apartments, schools and universities, workplaces, farms, factories, shops and offices. Let him reign among our circle of friends and family as we witness and strive to establish on earth the Kingdom of truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace.
Let Him Reign “in our hearts, families, houses and apartments, schools and universities, workplaces, farms, factories, shops and offices” by all means, but what of His Reign over the State, which is society taken at its highest natural level? Nowhere in His Lordship’s article does he affirm that Christ’s Reign must be acknowledged by the State and that it must, in justice, do Him homage. This is particularly odd given that His Lordship began this article lamenting the ‘spiritualisation’ of Christ’s Reign.

So what can we do to avert any diminution of Christ’s Social Kingship and take advantage of this opportunity to promote His Reign? I am considering writing (under my real name, of course) an e-mail to the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Sr. Elizabeth M. Delany S.G.S., with the following sentiments:

Sr. Elizabeth M. Delaney, S.G.S.
Executive Secretary,
Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals

My Venerable and Dear Sister in Christ,

I was pleased to read in the Sydney Catholic Weekly of December 21, 2008 that the Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals, of which you are Executive Secretary, is going to issue several pamphlets dealing with some fundamental Catholic teachings. I write to you regarding the pamphlet to be issued for the Feast of Christ the King. I am concerned that the pamphlet might fail to uphold explicitly the dogma of the Social Kingship of Christ, and that Christ’s Social Reign might be reduced to a mere reign ‘in men’s hearts’ taken individually, which would, therefore, not be truly and properly social. I would like to express my hope that in any pamphlet treating Christ’s Kingship there will be an affirmation that Christ’s Social Reign is not just a matter of people in a society acknowledging Christ’s Kingship, but that it demands that people as a society acknowledge Christ’s Kingship, with the implication necessarily being that the State, which is society taken at its highest natural level, must acknowledge Christ as its King and as the Source of the blessings that it enjoys, of its authority and of its very existence. His late Holiness Pius XI wrote about this in his Encyclical Quas Primas:

18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."[28] Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved."[29] He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?"[30] If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. …

I look forward to hearing more about this welcome initiative to improve doctrinal literacy and, in particular, I hope to see a strong affirmation of the dogma of the Social Kingship of Christ. I would be interested to hear back from you with any information regarding the Commission’s intentions in this connection.

Yours faithfully in Christ,
So what do you think? Do you think that I have expressed myself diplomatically enough here (I want to maximise the likelihood of an endorsement of the Traditional teaching on Christ’s Kingship, so I want to avoid anything harsh or polemical)? Would you be interested in supporting my little initiative by sending an e-mail of your own to Sr. Elizabeth, using the words provided here, or a composition of your own? Would a written letter enjoy a better reception than an e-mail, do you think? Let me know in the combox if you have any suggestions for making my attempt to promote Christ’s Social Reign succeed.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
22.XII.2008 A.D.

Fr. Brennan on the National Human Rights Consultation Committee,25197,24831528-7583,00.html

Rev. Fr. Frank Brennan S.J. A.O. has an interesting piece in today’s The Australian on a charter of rights and the work of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, of which he is the Chairman. It begins by reminding the reader that

The Government has asked the four-member committee to consult the Australian community on three questions:

Which human rights (including corresponding responsibilities) should be protected and promoted? Are these human rights currently sufficiently protected and promoted? How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?
The first question is, though: what do the Government and its collaborators mean by a ‘human right’? In an age in which the Sex Discrimination Commissoner can make the inexplicable, but apparently unchallenged, assertion that ‘there can no longer be any doubt that paid maternity leave is a basic human right’, and the Victorian charter of rights explicitly excludes coverage of child destruction and abortion, one has to begin by clarifying just what are human rights, and when exactly does a human begin to enjoy them?

It’s interesting to note also that Fr. Brennan says that

Any options for change "should preserve the sovereignty of the parliament and not include a constitutionally entrenched bill of rights".
It’s interesting that the word ‘sovereignty’ is used, rather than saying instead something like ‘should preserve the power/influence of Parliament’. As students of political science know well, there is ‘soft power’ and there is ‘hard power’, and it’s hard to see how a legislated bill of rights could avoid transferring power and influence to the judiciary from the legislature.

And I was a little surprised to read Fr. Brennan writing that

During the abortion debate in Victoria this year I argued that politicians, public servants and some civil libertarians showed scant regard for the Victorian Charter's right to freedom of conscience when they insisted that the new abortion law include compulsory referral of a patient by a doctor who had a conscientious objection to abortion.

I thought interference with the doctor's right could not be justified because the intended purpose of the interference could be met by the state providing the patient with information about available abortion providers.
(my emphasis)
But I would have thought that interference with the doctors’ right could not be justified simple because it is involved an explicit directive to defy one’s conscience, regardless of whatever alternatives might have been available.

Fr. Brennan goes on to provide some data on support for a legislated bill of rights. He notes that submissions to inquiries on the matter largely supported human rights legislation, but Father fails to note what proportion of these submissions came from activists rather than citizens with no explicit political/activist affiliations, or what proportion of citizens even bothered to participate in the inquiries. I was surprised, though, to read that

A public opinion survey revealed that 89 per cent of respondents believed that WA should have a law that aims to protect the human rights of people.
It would have been interesting to know exactly what the survey question was. Not at all surprising, though, was Father’s observation that

The result has been the passage of human rights laws in Victoria and the ACT without any strong, broad-based community opposition.
But a lack of “strong, broad-based community opposition” is probably just a sign of apathy, not approval.

Fr. Brennan gets to the crux of what he would view as the case for a charter here:

From my 27 years of involvement in issues relating to human rights and civil liberties, I am convinced our existing arrangements are most under strain in three instances: when the major political parties acting in the "national interest" agree to overlook the basic rights of a powerless minority; when the government of the day controls the Senate; and when the majority of High Court judges cannot see their way clear while interpreting a statute to uphold long-treasured common-law rights and freedoms.
What exactly he means by ‘powerless minorities’ is not clear; if he is referring to refugees then there is clearly a whole range of other issues to consider that aren’t relevant to the question of how to balance the liberties of local citizens with their duties to the common good. Meanwhile on the domestic front one can imagine that the Sodomites’ League would be only too happy to claim for itself the title of ‘powerless minority’ and demand its confected ‘rights’ by appeal to this status. As for problems with the High Court, this is connected to Fr. Brennan’s interesting observation that

Those who oppose bills of rights in any form face a novel problem. In the past, Australian judges could refer to decisions by their colleagues in Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Those jurisdictions now have their own bills of rights, with the result that their judicial decisions are less likely to be useful to judges who continue to work without the aid of a bill of rights. This judicial isolation is compounded by internal judicial fragmentation, with Victorian and ACT judges deciding cases through a bill of rights template while other judges do not.
But the argument that ‘they have one, so let’s get one too’ could have done with a bit more elaboration by Fr. Brennan; I would have been interested to see the implications of this teased out.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
22.XII.2008 A.D.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on the Magisterial status of Quanta Cura

I have been discussing with Mr. Schütz at his blog Sentire cum Ecclesia the Magisterial status of the condemnations in Bl. Pius IX’s Encyclical Quanta Cura. I have shown at Mr. Schütz’s blog (and at my own blog some months ago: that it satisfies the four criteria that characterise Acts of the Extraordinary Papal Magisterium (E.P.M.), and that accordingly every Catholic must join with Bl. Pius in condemning those errors as most certainly false. But Mr. Schütz has protested that the errors do not apply universally, therefore (he argues) their condemnation does not belong to the E.P.M. I have also shown at his blog that several of the errors do indeed apply universally. And I have discovered that none other than the Ven. John Henry, Cardinal Newman (in his famous Letter to The Duke of Norfolk) agrees with me on this, on at least one of the errors:

[Firstly, the error in question:] "Liberty of conscience and worship, is the inherent right of all men. 2. It ought to be proclaimed in every rightly constituted society. 3. It is a right to all sorts of liberty (omnimodam libertatem) such, that it ought not to be restrained by any authority, ecclesiastical or civil, as far as public speaking, printing, or any other public manifestation of opinions is concerned."

[Now, Cardinal Newman’s observations:] […] Which of the two in this matter is peremptory and sweeping in his utterance, the author of this thesis himself, or the Pope who has condemned what the other has uttered? Which of the two is it who would force upon the world a universal? All that the Pope has done is to deny a universal, and what a universal! a universal liberty to all men to say out whatever
doctrines they may hold by preaching, or by the press, uncurbed by church or civil power.
(italics in the original,
But Cardinal Newman does not leave it to the reader to infer what he thinks of the status of Quanta Cura—he spells it out for him or her:

who will dream of saying, be he Anglican, Protestant, unbeliever, or on {317} the other hand Catholic, that Honorius on the occasion in question did actually intend to exert that infallible teaching voice which is heard so distinctly in the Quantâ curâ and the Pastor Æternus?
(my bold type,
And if one requires more evidence for the infallibility with which the errors in Quanta Cura were condemned, one need only look to the authoritative Catholic Encyclopedia:

The binding power of the Syllabus of Pius IX is differently explained by Catholic theologians. All are of the opinion that many of the propositions are condemned if not in the Syllabus, then certainly in other final decisions of the infallible teaching authority of the Church, for instance in the Encyclical "Quanta Cura".
So Quanta Cura contains final decisions (Catholic Encyclopedia) on universal moral matters (Cardinal Newman), delivered with Apostolic authority (Quanta Cura, §6) and imposed as binding on all the Faithful (Quanta Cura, §6) . What more does one need to be convinced that the condemned errors of that Encyclical are condemned as an Act of the Extraordinary Papal Magisterium?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
17.XII.2008 A.D.

More from Prof. Irving on an Australian Bill of Rights

Prof. Helen Irving of The University of Sydney had a letter published in The Australian yesterday in which she challenged (rather more mildly than I would have) the arguments of Prof. George Williams, a bill of rights advocate:

Recognising such doubts [regarding proposed High Court ‘Declarations of Incompatibility’], [Prof. George] Williams suggests that the best way to proceed is to legislate for such a model, and see what the High Court says. To promote an Act that might be struck down before it begins can hardly be satisfactory, either for advocates or for the Government’s credibility. Williams also argues that New Zealand provides a suitable alternative model for Australia. The NZ Bill of Rights Act only requires courts to interpret legislation consistently with the rights and freedoms it contains. It prohibits the courts from ruling that any laws are invalid or unenforceable for inconsistency with these rights. This will not satisfy most Australian rights’ advocates. It may also impact adversely on the High Court’s constitutional powers to rule on the validity of other laws.
I had been wondering how a legislated charter of rights could possibly have any value (other than as a symbol) if it did not provide for ‘Declarations of Compatibility’. Now we know: there could be a requirement for the High Court to interpret future laws according to the legislated Charter. But clearly this raises problems of its own, as Prof. Irving suggests. Also, I thought that the High Court’s role was to interpret legislation according to the Constitution—not according to other pieces of legislation! Wouldn’t this be unconstitutional too? This is all very baffling. It is becoming clearer by the day that the human rights mafia does not have a leg to stand on in this matter. But that hasn’t stopped it on other occasions, I suppose.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
17.XII.2008 A.D.

More evidence that sodomy is harmful to one’s sense of humour,22049,24804194-5001021,00.html

I’m not sure whether to label this one with a ‘humour’ tag or a ‘human rights’ tag; whatever it is, it’s a scream. I’ll post the whole article with no additional comment except to suggest that you might care to read this in the context of the latest thrust for an Australian bill of rights:

Gay activist told: Get a sense of humour over Telstra ad [I liked the original print edition headline more: “Lighten up, it’s only two blokes in a tent”.]

EXCLUSIVE by Joe Hildebrand
December 16, 2008 12:00am

A GAY activist says his human rights have been violated by the human rights watchdog itself - because it refused to ban a "homophobic" Telstra ad about two men in a tent.

Glebe-based advocate Andrew James has now lodged an official complaint, prompting a call from Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes for people to lighten up.

In the ad, two men on a camping trip become suspicious when their two mates disappear into a tent. It later emerges they are simply watching cricket on the same mobile phone.

"Gay men who do choose to have sex in a tent should not have to be afraid of getting caught by their friends," Mr James' writes on his website,

He complained to the Australian Human Rights Commission about the ad but found there was no official category because it did not occur in the workplace.

Instead, he complained under the category "My human rights have been breached by a federal government agency" . . . namely the commission itself. In his formal complaint, he wrote: "You're the one place that should stand up for my rights and my equality, and your own website is discriminatory in nature."

AHRC complaint handling director Karen Toohey said there was no legal basis to act against the ad.

Mr Innes, meanwhile, suggested people needed to have a sense of humour about such things.

"It's important not to vilify or treat people differently on the basis of their sexual orientation," he said. "However, that's got to be taken in the context of the Australian sense of humour and sense of fun."
The reporter, Mr. Hildebrand, also had funny opinion piece on this silly story. It had me laughing out loud:

Human rights violations just not cricket

RARELY a day goes by when I don't have my human rights violated. In fact I had them violated just yesterday and if they're not violated again by lunchtime I will have to hire someone.

So naturally I was not surprised to read that a Sydney gay activist had his human rights violated by the Human Rights Commission. After all, they would know how to do the job, wouldn't they?

(Another reason I was not surprised to read the article was that I had written it the
previous day but let's not get mired in detail.)

Andrew James said the commission had discriminated against him by not allowing him to be discriminated against.

In particular James wanted to be discriminated against by a Telstra ad about two men watching cricket in a tent while their camping buddies suspect they are climbing Brokeback Mountain.

But the commission's complaints director Karen Toohey told him that even though he thought the ad was homophobic there was no legal basis for discrimination. Andrew James could not be discriminated against.

This of course is in itself discriminatory. Not only that it is homophobic and, one can only presume, racist.

Toohey suggested in a highly discriminatory way that James take his concerns about the ad to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, who naturally told him it was a matter more suited to the Human Rights Commission. Yet again, a government agency had prevented him from being discriminated against by the Telstra commercial - which, incidentally, features a man with a moustache.

Adding insult to injury, the ACMA was likewise unable to help James with the fact that his human rights had been violated by the Human Rights Commission.

This meant, by my calculations, that he had been violated three times in one day.

Of course James is not alone in this. Recently pansexual lobbyists claimed they were being discriminated against by the lack of a fourth official gender - defined as "other" - on top of the traditional male, female and intersex.

And of course John Laws was taken to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal for calling Carson Kressley a pillow-biter*, an outrageous comment given that the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy host is flagrantly heterosexual.

What a great relief it is that so many selfless citizens are keeping our bureaucrats employed in these challenging economic times.

* Every time I hear this term I am reminded of the great surrealist joke: "Last night I dreamt I was eating my pillow and when I woke up my giant white marshmallow was gone".
Reginaldvs Cantvar
17.XII.2008 A.D.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the socio-political Magisterium of Leo XIII: in summary

1.1 Recognising that the State derives its blessings, its authority and its very existence from Christ, the State must, in justice, do Him homage (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21)

2.0 The State must not only not hinder the Church in her mission, but also positively assist her (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21)

2.1 This is because the highest good of the State’s subjects is their salvation (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21) and also because of the temporal blessings that follow from promoting the Church’s mission (Immortale Dei §1, 19)

2.2 There is a differentiation of the powers of the Church and of the State (Immortale Dei §10, 13, 14) (though the State’s purpose, the common good, is indirectly subordinate to the Church’s purpose, the salvation of souls—Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21) and the Church has exclusive competence in sacred matters (Immortale Dei §11).

2.3 But ideally there should not be a separation of powers (Immortale Dei §14, 21, 22, Libertas §18, 38, Longinqua Oceani §6).

2.4 The union of Church and State is like the union between body and soul (Immortale Dei §14, Libertas §18, 38)

2.5 The Church should be separated from the State neither collectively nor in her members (Libertas §39) and the State cannot content itself only with abiding by natural truths while ignoring readily-accessible supernatural truths (Libertas §38).

2.6 The union of Church and State is ideally one in which there is “between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man (Immortale Dei §14)”, that Church and State should be “happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices (Immortale Dei §21)”, that between the two there should be “complete harmony” (Immortale Dei §35).

2.7 Successful Church-State relations during the Middle Ages exemplify this ideal (Immortale Dei §21, 22)

2.8 Union of Church and State is desirable for the individual good of the State’s subjects (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21), for the common good (Immortale Dei §6, Libertas §21, though with limitations to be described in §4.0 of this post), and because of the frequent overlap between civil and sacred matters (Immortale Dei §14, §35, Libertas §18)

3 Leo reiterated the teaching of Bl. Pius IX in condemning the principles of democracy and liberalism (Immortale Dei §24, 25, 26 and 32), particularly the false liberties of worship (Libertas §20, 21), speech (Libertas §23) and conscience (Libertas §30).

4.0 Leo teaches that ideally whatever “is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law” (Libertas §32) but that, although the State is free to repress error simply because it is erroneous, the State’s higher purpose is not repression of error, but the common good, so it may permit the activity of false religions if it expects by this permission to procure a greater benefit to the common good or avert a greater damage to the common good (Immortale Dei §36, Libertas §33).

4.1 Nonetheless, “to judge aright, we must acknowledge that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires.” (Libertas §34, cf. Longinqua Oceani §6)

5 And the summary of the summary: the State can and must confess Christ, it must unite itself to and co-operate with His Church, and it can repress false religions, though the norm of repressing error is, for the State, subordinate to the norm of building up the common good.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Eusebius, Bishop, Martyr, 2008 A.D.

On the socio-political Magisterium of Leo XIII

At his blog Sentire cum Ecclesia Mr. David Schütz has said that

Some might say the great watershed in Catholic Social teaching came with Vatican II, but it is undeniable that in fact Leo XIII marked the real turning point. I would contend that the turning point was not a change in the faith and morals of the Church, but a readiness on the part of the Church to address her faith and morals, for the first time, to that society which today we would call "modern". In fact, Leo is usually accredited with inventing the idea of a "social encyclical".
For my part, I find that Leo XIII, in Immortale Dei (1885) goes a very long way to providing the positive teaching with regard to the State which "connects the dots" between the condemnations of Pius IX in Quanta Cura and the seemingly opposite affirmations of the Second Vatican Council and the modern popes. Even Immortale Dei requires reading within its context, but it at least gives a measured foothold on which to carry out the dialogue between what goes before and what comes after.
So is the notion that the socio-political Magisterium of Leo XIII is some kind of ‘missing link’ between post-Concilar Vatican policy and the consistent teaching and practice of the previous sixteen hundred years supported by the key texts, such as Libertas, Immortale Dei and Longinqua Oceani? No, not at all, and what follows is a confutation of this notion:

In must firstly be noted that it was Leo XIII while still Cardinal Pecci who, it seems likely, proposed the very idea of a collection, or Syllabus, of contemporary errors, so we can say a priori that any 'break' between Bl. Pius IX and Leo XIII is unlikely. (Mr. Michael Davies says in The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty that it was Cardinal Pecci who conceived of the idea of the Syllabus , while the Catholic Encyclopedia says that it was "probably" moved by Cardinal Pecci: And I will go on to show that there is indeed perfect continuity and congruity between the teachings of Bl. Pius IX and his illustrious successor, evident in Immortale Dei, Libertas and Longinqua Oceani. The first of these three texts, and probably the most important one, is the Encyclical Immortale Dei of 1885. The following quotations come from it unless otherwise specified. Libertas draws heavily from it, so much so that Libertas’s §21 is a veritable summary of much of the teaching of Immortale Dei on the proper relations between the State and Christ the King and the State and the Church. In Immortale Dei, Leo XIII teaches that the State is a creature of God (§3, Libertas §21):
every body politic must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its Author. Hence, it follows that all public power must proceed from God.
and that it must confess Christ and honour Him according to the forms of the true religion, Catholicism, which it may recognise as the true religion by its clear marks (§6, Libertas §21):
the State, constituted as it is, is clearly bound to act up to the manifold and weighty duties linking it to God, by the public profession of religion. … [M]en living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose ever-bounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings. Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its reaching and practice-not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion -it is a public crime to act as though there were no God. [also §7: “Now, it cannot be difficult to find out which is the true religion, if only it be sought with an earnest and unbiased mind; for proofs are abundant and striking.”] So, too, is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will. All who rule, therefore, would hold in honour the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favour religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety. (§6)
So here Leo teaches that the State must not only avoid impeding the mission of the Church, but must positively assist it in this mission—favouring it, protecting it and establishing it in law (Libertas §21 as well). The State must not only favour Christ’s Church out of its duty to God and the common good, but also for the highest good of each individual, namely, his salvation:

civil society, established for the common welfare, should not only safeguard the well-being of the community, but have also at heart the interests of its individual members, in such mode as not in any way to hinder, but in every manner to render as easy as may be, the possession of that highest and unchangeable good for which all should seek. (§6, Libertas §21 as well)
But the imperative of promoting the Church follows not only from the eternal welfare, so to speak, of the State’s subjects, but also from their temporal welfare (§1, 19):

in regard to things temporal, she is the source of benefits as manifold and great as if the chief end of her existence were to ensure the prospering of our earthly life. (§1)

the abundant benefits with which the Christian religion, of its very nature, endows even the mortal life of man are acquired for the community and civil society. (19)
Naturally, Pope Leo teaches that there is a differentiation of the powers of Church and State (§10, 13, 14):

Whatever, therefore in things human is of a sacred character, whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls, or to the worship of God, is subject to the power and judgment of the Church. Whatever is to be ranged under the civil and political order is rightly subject to the civil authority (§14).
and that the Church has exclusive competence in sacred matters (11):

In very truth, Jesus Christ gave to His Apostles unrestrained authority in regard to things sacred
but that ideally there should not be a separation of powers (§14, 21, 22):

But it would be most repugnant to them to think thus of the wisdom and goodness of God. Even in physical things, albeit of a lower order, the Almighty has so combined the forces and springs of nature with tempered action and wondrous harmony that no one of them clashes with any other, and all of them most fitly and aptly work together for the great purpose of the universe. There must, accordingly, exist between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man. (14)
Note the powerful comparison to the union of body and soul, which Leo repeats in Libertas as well (§18):

This harmony has been not inaptly compared to that which exists between the body and the soul for the well-being of both one and the other, the separation of which brings irremediable harm to the body, since it extinguishes its very life.
Death is, of course, the separation of the soul from body, so Leo is not exaggerating when he speaks of the separation of Church and State as that “fatal theory” (Libertas §18), that “fatal principle” (Libertas §38). And as if all this were not explicit enough, he says quite clearly in the Encyclical of 1895 to the American Hierarchy Longinqua Oceani that

it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. (§6)
Some Catholics, then and now, sought to distinguish between the separation of the Church taken collectively/corporately from the State and the separation of the Church taken in her individual members from the State, but in Libertas Leo rejects both these errors together:

Many wish the State to be separated from the Church wholly and entirely, so that with regard to every right of human society, in institutions, customs, and laws, the offices of State, and the education of youth, they would pay no more regard to the Church than if she did not exist; and, at most, would allow the citizens individually to attend to their religion in private if so minded. Against such as these, all the arguments by which We disprove the principle of separation of Church and State are conclusive; with this super-added, that it is absurd the citizen should respect the Church, while the State may hold her in contempt. (§39)
The source of these two errors, writes the Holy Pontiff in the same Encyclical, is an error that has become quite current among Catholics in the present day: the idea that the State ought to legislate according to the Divine natural law but abstain from legislating in favour of the Divine positive law—the notion of abiding by natural truths while turning a blind eye to the question of supernatural truths. But Leo rejects this too:

Libertas §38. Next comes the system of those who admit indeed the duty of submitting to God, the Creator and Ruler of the world, inasmuch as all nature is dependent on His will, but who boldly reject all laws of faith and morals which are above natural reason, but are revealed by the authority of God; or who at least impudently assert that there is no reason why regard should be paid to these laws, at any rate publicly, by the State. How mistaken these men also are, and how inconsistent, we have seen above.
Related to this is the error of Catholics who want to abide by Catholic morality themselves but not see it ‘imposed’ on the State or non-Catholics:

Libertas §18. There are others, somewhat more moderate though not more consistent, who affirm that the morality of individuals is to be guided by the divine law, but not the morality of the State, for that in public affairs the commands of God may be passed over, and may be entirely disregarded in the framing of laws. Hence follows the fatal theory of the need of separation between Church and State. But the absurdity of such a position is manifest. Nature herself proclaims the necessity of the State providing means and opportunities whereby the community may be enabled to live properly, that is to say, according to the laws of God. For, since God is the source of all goodness and justice, it is absolutely ridiculous that the State should pay no attention to these laws or render them abortive by contrary enact menu. Besides, those who are in authority owe it to the commonwealth not only to provide for its external well-being and the conveniences of life, but still more to consult the welfare of men's souls in the wisdom of their legislation.
So the Sovereign Pontiff taught that while Church and State are differentiated in their respective powers, they should by no means be separated, but rather united. The ideal is that there should be “between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man (§14)”, that Church and State should be “happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices (§21)”, that between the two there should be “complete harmony” (§35). This unity is demanded for the reasons already adduced and for the reason that, although the respective spheres of Church and State are differentiated, they frequently overlap (§14, §35, Libertas §18):

Even in physical things, albeit of a lower order, the Almighty has so combined the forces and springs of nature with tempered action and wondrous harmony that no one of them clashes with any other, and all of them most fitly and aptly work together for the great purpose of the universe. There must, accordingly, exist between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man.(§14)

In matters, however, of mixed jurisdiction, it is in the highest degree consonant to nature, as also to the designs of God, that so far from one of the powers separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them. (§35)

And, what is still more important, and what We have more than once pointed out, although the civil authority has not the same proximate end as the spiritual, nor proceeds on the same lines, nevertheless in the exercise of their separate powers they must occasionally meet. For their subjects are the same, and not infrequently they deal with the same objects, though in different ways. Whenever this occurs, since a state of conflict is absurd and manifestly repugnant to the most wise ordinance of God, there must necessarily exist some order or mode of procedure to remove the occasions of difference and contention, and to secure harmony in all things. This harmony has been not inaptly compared to that which exists between the body and the soul for the well-being of both one and the other, the separation of which brings irremediable harm to the body, since it extinguishes its very life. (Libertas §18)
And if anyone might imagine that the Holy Pontiff might have had in mind a kind of unity other than that which prevailed during the fifteen hundred year era of Christendom, listens to how he speaks lyrically of those times and identifies religion as the source of its achievements, and that it could have continued if not for the Protestant Revolution:
21. There was once a time when States were governed by the philosophy of the Gospel. Then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions, and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society. Then, too, the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, established firmly in befitting dignity, flourished everywhere, by the favour of princes and the legitimate protection of magistrates; and Church and State were happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices. The State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all expectation, whose remembrance is still, and always will be, in renown, witnessed to as they are by countless proofs which can never be blotted out or ever obscured by any craft of any enemies. Christian Europe has subdued barbarous nations, and changed them from a savage to a civilized condition, from superstition to true worship. It victoriously rolled back the tide of Mohammedan conquest; retained the headship of civilization; stood forth in the front rank as the leader and teacher of all, in every branch of national culture; bestowed on the world the gift of true and many-sided liberty; and most wisely founded very numerous institutions for the solace of human suffering. And if we inquire how it was able to bring about so altered a condition of things, the answer is-beyond all question, in large measure, through religion, under whose auspices so many great undertakings were set on foot, through whose aid they were brought to completion.

22. A similar state of things would certainly have continued had the agreement of the two powers been lasting. More important results even might have been justly looked for, had obedience waited upon the authority, teaching, and counsels of the Church, and had this submission been specially marked by greater and more unswerving loyalty.
As well as expounding on the principles of the ideal relations between the State and Christ the King and between the State and the Church, Leo identifies the principles that work to undermine the moral development of society, namely the evils of democracy (when taken as a principle, not just a form, of government) and liberalism (meaning freely choosing to believe, say and do as one pleases). The former is so pernicious because it means that the populace, not God, is the principle of State authority, and so “it follows that the State does not consider itself bound by any kind of duty toward God” (§25), while the latter implies that the individual obeys no authority in religion but his own. These are condemned, not as mere slogans or buzzwords, but as principles, in sections 24, 25 and 26 (and the latter in 32 as well); in these sections we see how these principles harm the State and the individual, while in §27 the Holy Pontiff shows how they harm the Church (and we see this damage done even in the supposedly benign secularism of today):

27. Now, when the State rests on foundations like those just named - and for the time being they are greatly in favor - it readily appears into what and how unrightful a position the Church is driven. For, when the management of public business is in harmony with doctrines of such a kind, the Catholic religion is allowed a standing in civil society equal only, or inferior, to societies alien from it … They claim jurisdiction over the marriages of Catholics, even over the bond as well as the unity and the indissolubility of matrimony.
Leo is perfectly clear about how the State ought to regard false liberties: whatever “is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law” (§32) and

Again, that it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual, either to disregard all religious duties or to hold in equal favour different kinds of religion; that the unrestrained freedom of thinking and of openly making known one's thoughts is not inherent in the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be reckoned worthy of favour and support (§35)
The condemnations of all these sections are reinforced in Libertas, where he identifies them as the false liberties of worship, speech and conscience. Again, these are not mere slogans or buzzwords, but concrete principles whose respective meanings he explains:

Against liberty of worship, at the individual and then at the State level:
§20. But, assuredly, of all the duties which man has to fulfill, that, without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest which commands him to worship God with devotion and piety. This follows of necessity from the truth that we are ever in the power of God, are ever guided by His will and providence, and, having come forth from Him, must return to Him. … And if it be asked which of the many conflicting religions it is necessary to adopt, reason and the natural law unhesitatingly tell us to practice that one which God enjoins, and which men can easily recognize by certain exterior notes, whereby Divine Providence has willed that it should be distinguished

§21. This kind of liberty, if considered in relation to the State, clearly implies that there is no reason why the State should offer any homage to God, or should desire any public recognition of Him; that no one form of worship is to be preferred to another, but that all stand on an equal footing, no account being taken of the religion of the people, even if they profess the Catholic faith. But, to justify this, it must needs be taken as true that the State has no duties toward God, or that such duties, if they exist, can be abandoned with impunity, both of which assertions are manifestly false. For it cannot be doubted but that, by the will of God, men are united in civil society; whether its component parts be considered; or its form, which implies authority; or the object of its existence; or the abundance of the vast services which it renders to man. God it is who has made man for society, and has placed him in the company of others like himself, so that what was wanting to his nature, and beyond his attainment if left to his own resources, he might obtain by association with others. Wherefore, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Parent, and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness-namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic States, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engravers upon it. This religion, therefore, the rulers of the State must preserve and protect, if they would provide - as they should do - with prudence and usefulness for the good of the community. For public authority exists for the welfare of those whom it governs; and, although its proximate end is to lead men to the prosperity found in this life, yet, in so doing, it ought not to diminish, but rather to increase, man's capability of attaining to the supreme good in which his everlasting happiness consists: which never can be attained if religion be disregarded.
Against free speech:
§23. We must now consider briefly liberty of speech, and liberty of the press. It is hardly necessary to say that there can be no such right as this, if it be not used in moderation, and if it pass beyond the bounds and end of all true liberty. For right is a moral power which - as We have before said and must again and again repeat - it is absurd to suppose that nature has accorded indifferently to truth and falsehood, to justice and injustice. Men have a right freely and prudently to propagate throughout the State what things soever are true and honorable, so that as many as possible may possess them; but lying opinions, than which no mental plague is greater, and vices which corrupt the heart and moral life should be diligently repressed by public authority, lest they insidiously work the ruin of the State.
Against liberty of conscience:
§30. Another liberty is widely advocated, namely, liberty of conscience. If by this is meant that everyone may, as he chooses, worship God or not, it is sufficiently refuted by the arguments already adduced.
So given that Pope Leo upheld the imperatives of the State’s profession of Christ and union with his Church, what was his teaching on the State’s relations with the false religions? The State is free to repress them simply because they are false. But the State’s higher purpose is not repression of error, but the common good, so it may permit the activity of false religions if it expects by this permission to procure a greater benefit to the common good or avert a greater damage to the common good: hence the Church does not

condemn those rulers who, for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil, allow patiently custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion having its place in the State (§36)
And again in Libertas:

§33. Yet, with the discernment of a true mother, the Church weighs the great burden of human weakness, and well knows the course down which the minds and actions of men are in this our age being borne. For this reason, while not conceding any right to anything save what is true and honest, she does not forbid public authority to tolerate what is at variance with truth and justice, for the sake of avoiding some greater evil, or of obtaining or preserving some greater good.
Presciently, the Holy Pontiff noted in the latter document that

to judge aright, we must acknowledge that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its justifying cause, the public welfare, requires. (§34)
So pluralism is something to be tolerated, not celebrated; the unity of the populace in the true religion is the ideal. Unfortunately many in the American Hierarchy failed to understand these truths; hence the necessity of Longinqua Oceani. And unfortunately, this error, the keystone of what is called Americanism, has resumed its popularity in the wake Vatican II.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Eusebius, Bishop, Martyr, 2008 A.D.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mr. Akerman and Mr. Kelly on an Australian Bill of Rights,22049,24781015-5001031,00.html,,24791480-12250,00.html?from=public_rss

Mr. Piers Akerman had a good opinion piece in last Thursday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph. Though I did not agree with all of it (particularly, I reject his assertion that “we have a common law system and parliamentary democracy which ultimately derives its power from us, the people”), it offered a timely reminder that

history shows that most Australians are far too sensible to want to remove the power they have entrusted to their elected representatives and pass it to unelected judges.

In September 1988, when proposals which included certain human rights measures were put to a referendum, they were comprehensively defeated in every state. …
The Australian Electoral Commission’s website has a bit more information on this ( There, we read that the defeated 1988 proposal sought

to extend the right to trial by jury, to extend freedom of religion, and to ensure fair terms for persons whose property is acquired by any government
In no State did a majority of electors vote in favour of it, and the national percentage of electors in favour of it was a mere 30.79. One suspects that, twenty years on, these results would only be reproduced if a similar proposal were put to a referendum. So given that Australians have rejected human rights being enshrined explicitly in the very Constitution of the Commonwealth, whyever would they bother having them recognised in a mere piece of legislation? But I suppose that the human rights mafia would answer that we just don’t know what’s good for us.

The Australian’s Editor-at-Large Mr. Paul Kelly had an even better opinion piece on the latest thrust for a bill of rights at the weekend, offering a comprehensive overview of the case against a rights charter. Again, I did not agree with all of (I don’t share his enthusiasm for democracy as the guarantor of rights, and we probably wouldn’t even agree on what a human right is), but it was particularly welcome for its amplification of the argument that an Australian bill of rights with an advisory role for the High Court would be unconstitutional (Mr. Kelly cited former chief justice Gerard Brennan and even Prof. George Williams, a vociferous advocate for a Federal charter), its reminder of how strongly pro-Charter the Federal Attorney-General is:

McClelland is a passionate believer of long standing who has backed strong change. In his June 2000 speech as shadow attorney-general, he called for a legislated charter of rights, attacked the founding fathers for bigotry over not including such measures in the Constitution, dismissed any notion of common law safeguards, mocked the idea of a democratically elected government being sufficient to safeguard rights, warned that majority law-making had the potential to be "just as hard and oppressive as any totalitarian regime" (yes, this man is now Australia's Attorney-General) and declared that inadequate health, education and employment conditions in country regions were also issues "of fundamental human rights".

Declaring that 'there has never been a greater need" for a legislated charter of rights, McClelland backed a system of "advisory opinions" from courts based on a charter with the onus for correction residing in the parliament. This would be buttressed by new committee arrangements to advise parliament on the extent to which bills comply with the charter of rights.
its pointing out the quandary that Fr. Brennan faces:

The intellectual contradiction on page after page of Brennan's book [Legislating Liberty, 1998] is his conviction that empowering judges is a fundamental mistake while he cannot envisage any other way to advance human rights.
and its demolition of the case for advancing Ahmed al-Kateb as a post-child for the need for a rights charter:

The lawyers enshrine the Ahmed al-Kateb case as proof of their cause. The point should be confronted. Al-Kateb, a stateless Palestinian, was an unauthorised boat arrival. He was not an Australian citizen, not a migrant and found repeatedly not to be a refugee. He was in breach of Australian law and the High Court upheld that law, which meant he was kept in detention. The claims by lawyers that this case of a non-citizen and non-refugee constitutes grounds for Australia to alter its system of governance are, frankly, preposterous. The Australian public would never accept this for a minute and they would be right. Al-Kateb was not going to be held in detention in perpetuity and the idea is ludicrous. The solution was going to come from Australia's democracy: the executive would negotiate a deportation or public opinion would force his release, and this is what happened.
It was also good for its description of

the "charter of rights" culture that almost totally infects Australia's legal system, from university tuition to the High Court. This corrosive culture cannot conceive that representative democracy is the best means of guaranteeing human rights. Distrust of elected government, hostility to executive authority and ignorance about the vast array of measures in Australian governance that safeguard human rights typifies the legal culture.
and of the rise of what Commonwealth Ombudsman Mr. John McMillan called "an entirely new framework for the control and accountability of state power", involving

the growth of auditors-general, ombudsmen, administrative tribunals, crime commissions, privacy commissioners, information commissioners, human rights and anti-discrimination commissioners, security and intelligence oversight bodies. Listed under the executive arm, their purpose is to check the executive.

[Prof. Helen] Irving affirms this argument. "Australia already has a strong record of legislation that protects rights (Sex Discrimination, Race Discriminations Acts)," she says. "We also have a range of common law rights. There are parliamentary committees that have a standing brief to examine legislation for breach of rights, for example, the Senate scrutiny of bills committee. Democracy is the best method of protecting human rights."
It’s a long article, but well worth reading in full. Interestingly, Prof. Williams had a letter published in today’s The Australian, in which he denied that a ‘declaration of compatibility’ was necessary for a charter, but failed to specify exactly what legislation that lacked such a provision would be good for! And, inexplicably, he thinks that despite provision for ‘declarations of incompatibility’ being hard to reconcile with the Consitution,

The best way forward would be to include the mechanism in an Australian law and to see what view the High Court takes. Only it can resolve the matter.
!!!!! So we should just push ahead with it, knowing that it’ll probably fail?! Mrs. Albrechtson’s pessimism is only becoming more and more appealing by the day: follow the power, follow the money, and, judging by Prof. Williams’s opinions, follow the ideological pre-occupations, regardless of whatever Constitutional barriers there might be. I only hope that the Rudd Government has the integrity not to rush whatever charter they concoct through Parliament without bringing it to an election first.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
15.XII.2008 A.D.

Mr. Brown’s three favourite things: abortion, euthanasia, gay clergy

In The Sydney Morning Herod’s Saturday Good Weekend magazine each week, there is a profile of someone as reflected in his or her ‘three favourite things’. Last Saturday’s profile was of “Art collector and retired [Anglican pseudo-] priest” Ian Brown. The three listed ‘favourite things’ were a drawing, the Eiffel Tower and possibly the most hideous chasuble every to pollute my vision. This monstrosity was in what I suppose one would call the ‘Gothic Style’; its bottom half was emerald green and its top half was orange, with tacky little pictures of things like the Opera House and ballet dancers. How did Mr. Brown acquire this thing? In the course of explaining how, he makes a revealing little remark about his three other favourite things:

Ten years ago, Brown spent six months in New Jersey, working in the progressive parish of Bishop Shelby Spong. “He was a strong advocate for abortion, euthanasia, gay clergy, all those things I think we should have. I found it totally liberating.” The congregation gave Brown these embroidered mass vestments as a goodbye present.
(my emphasis)
I note this because it belies the assertions of those who protest that no-one is pro-abortion, just pro-choice. Well, here’s one who’s unreservedly pro-abortion. Perhaps this will assuage the confected outrage of those like the commenter Véronique at the extreme secularist MgS’s blog:

A person who is pro-choice, however, is not in favour of abortion. No one is in favour of abortion, at least no one I know.
or the commenter Stephen Morgan at The Australian’s letter blog:

Nobody is pro-abortion, and for anybody to label another person as such is not only inaccurate it is base and callous insult and nothing more.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
15.XII.2008 A.D.

On the death of Prof. Avraham Biran

There was an interesting obituary in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herod of a Jewish archaeologist and diplomat, Prof. Avraham Biran, who

in 1993, [with] his team uncovered what seemed to be the first extra-biblical reference to King David. On a 30-centimetre-long basalt slab, they found a ninth-century BC Aramaic inscription in which a king from Damascus boasts of vanquishing the rulers of "Israel" and an entity apparently called "Beit David".

Could this, wondered Biran, be the House of David that governed ancient Judah from Jerusalem? If so, the upright slab tallied with accounts in the Book of Kings and made the putative [?????] ancestor of Jesus real to Christians.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
15.XII.2008 A.D.

On a new call to ban the smacking of children (but first, a little flight of fancy),22049,24782164-5001021,00.html
(quotations in my post taken from the print version)

An academic has called for sodomy to be made illegal, though she has stopped short of asking that it be criminalised as well:

"If the defence is removed it should be done in conjunction with an education campaign so sodomites are not left powerless,” she said.

“The aim is not to criminalise sodomy but send the message that it is not safe, effective nor morally defensible.”
A scholar calling for sodomy to banned. Could you imagine it? No, neither could I. It would mean career death, and possibly legal action against her. In fact, the quotation provided here comes from an article in last Thursday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph in which it reported on Sydney University Associate Professor Judy Cashmore’s call for the smacking of children to be banned altogether (though not criminalised), even if it’s just a simple tap; I have substituted ‘sodomites’ for ‘parents’ and ‘sodomy’ for ‘a light smack’, respectively.

These silly demands crop up from time to time, and demolishing the arguments underpinning them is like shooting fish in a barrel, but the article was interesting for a few reasons so I thought I’d have a closer look at it. The article notes that

At present smacking of children by parents is legal under the common law, as long as reasonable force is used and the sole intention is to correct behaviour.
So we see here how deeply utilitarianism pervades present-day Australian society, at least in New South Wales. Parents are forbidden to use corporal punishment purely as a punishment, mirroring the justice system’s virtual refusal to impose punishments unless it contributes to the reform of the offender, almost never as an end in itself.

Assoc. Prof. Cashmore says that

“You shouldn’t try to change people’s behaviour by hitting them. They are smaller and more vulnerable and you are teaching them to hit others. If you listen to what children say about it, some say they are really hurt by it emotionally and physically and they are very angry.”
But how exactly does this woman propose to change the behaviour of children who are too young for other forms of discipline to be effective? A raised voice might be the only alternative, but Prof. Cashmore would probably regard this as abuse too. As for the notion that smacking ‘teaches children to hit others’, that is clearly preposterous. It teaches children that legitimate authority has the right to use force against offenders. And as for being ‘really hurt by it emotionally’, I was smacked as a child but I have never woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, tortured by nightmares of the wooden spoon. As for the physical side, Prof. Cashmore well knows, and the article notes that,

Smacking involving force or leaving lasting physical effects is already an abuse under child protection laws.
What nonsense this woman is spouting. And keep in mind that it is people like Prof. Cashmore who are going to play a leading role in shaping the Federal Government’s human rights charter policy.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
15.XII.2008 A.D.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A comment on the Magisterial status of the condemnations in Quanta Cura

Here is a comment that I have posted at Mr. David Schütz’s blog Sentire cum Ecclesia:


Mr. Schütz,

Thank you for your response.

You said that you
“do not deny that Quanta Cura was "an Act of the Papal Magisterium" - although I would think "ordinary" rather than "extraodinary".”
Now an Act of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium is something that is pronounced

1) On a matter of faith or morals
2) In the Pope’s capacity as Head of the Church Militant

Acts of the Ordinary Papal Magisterium are infallible when they are universal (i.e. in common with the other Popes). But Acts of the Extraordinary Papal Magisterium (E.P.A.) are infallible in and of themselves, and the criteria for judging whether any given Act belongs to the E.P.A. are that the teaching be pronounced

1) On a matter of faith or morals
2) In the Pope’s capacity as Head of the Church Militant
3) As binding on all the Faithful
4) In a definitive and irrevocable manner

So I suppose I am really asking you to show that one or more of these criteria are not to be found in Quanta Cura. But Section 6. is quite clear:

Amidst, therefore, such great perversity of depraved opinions, we, well remembering our Apostolic Office, and very greatly solicitous for our most holy Religion, for sound doctrine and the salvation of souls which is intrusted to us by God, and (solicitous also) for the welfare of human society itself, have thought it right again to raise up our Apostolic voice. Therefore, by our Apostolic authority[2], we reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all the singular and evil opinions and doctrines severally mentioned in this letter, and will and command that they be thoroughly held by all children of the Catholic Church as reprobated, proscribed and condemned[3].
(my emphasis and numbering)
2) and 3) are clearly present in Section 6., and 1) and 4) are clear from the letter of the condemned errors, e.g.

“the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones.”

“that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require.”

“liberty of conscience and worship is each man's personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.”
I would summarise your other objections as follows:

A) The circumstances that elicited the condemnation
B) The circumstances in which the condemnation applies

Now A) is clearly an invalid objection, since the errors are condemned in and of themselves; the circumstances that elicited them and the arguments on which the condemnations are built up do not matter. This is as true for Quanta Cura as it is for Ineffabilis Deus. (Speaking of which, compare the definition in that document to the condemnations in Quanta Cura:

“by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own[2]: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin[4], is a doctrine revealed by God[1] and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful[3]."”
(my numbering)
All the same criteria are there.) I am aware of His Holiness’s apparent endorsement of some opinions on the supposedly Christian foundations of liberalism (I blogged on this last week), but the origins of European or American liberalism are irrelevant to the question of the infallibility with which the errors were condemned in Quanta Cura.

Objection B) is also invalid; you mention that you

“have pointed out that they did not apply at the time to the missions in the highlands of New Guinea.”
But this is irrelevant for two reasons: firstly, it would be like saying that Catholic teaching on the just wage does not apply to the Papuan highlands because there is not yet a market economy there. That might be true, but once a market economy does begin to operate, Catholic economic teaching will certainly begin to apply. And secondly, in any case, the three errors I quoted apply universally to the human race, since they pre-suppose only one key circumstance, namely, man’s social nature.

Then you mention that you

“could also point out that there is no sense in which they could have applied to the United States in 1864.”
But you have asserted this, not demonstrated it; in fact, the American system of government and society was founded largely on those three errors that I have quoted. I would have thought that to be indisputable.

So in fact, the errors condemned in Quanta Cura were condemned with the seal of Papal infallibility; they remain binding on the conscience of every Catholic.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 4:04:00 PM


Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Damasus I, Pope, Confessor, 2008 A.D.