Friday, November 28, 2008

H.R.H. The Prince of Wales on consumerism and technology

Some wise words from H.R.H. The Prince of Wales at a speech for the Foreign Press Association of London:

The Prince of Wales has delivered an impassioned plea against Western civilisation's burgeoning consumerism, warning that it is leading to an increasing dislocation between humanity and nature.

[…] Speaking at the Park Lane Hotel at the annual Foreign Press Association media awards, Prince Charles said he believed that living in an age in which technological ease had become an accustomed and easy part of life had also contributed to a loss of natural connection with nature and its patterns.

This, he argued, has led to a loosening of what he described as man's inner moorings, shifting a natural orientation outward onto "something extraneous to us".

And he asked if the increasing dependence on technology had begun to make human beings also believe - like the modernists [as in “scientific Modernist rationalism”] - that they and the world are merely part of "some enormous mechanical process".

[…] Prince Charles said that, despite enormous levels of consumption in developed nations, more and more people admitted to feeling dissatisfied and depressed and neurological and sociological research is showing similar results.

[…] "One of the downsides of consumerism, it seems to me, is that it forces us to compromise on issues that should not be compromised. I'm sure there are many people who know that it is wrong to plunder the Earth's treasures as recklessly as we do, but the comprehensive world view which we now inhabit persuades us that such destruction is justified because of the freedom it brings us, not to say the profits," he said.

"In other words, our tendency to consume is legitimised by a view of the world that puts humanity at the centre of things, operating with an absolute right over nature. And that makes it a very dangerous world view indeed."
The text of the speech is available at His Royal Higness’s website:

Note that I applaud much (but not all) of the letter of the speech, but not necessarily the spirit of it, if you know what I mean. Nonetheless, the advance of technology has certainly had the unfortunate consequence of the human race starting to think that it can not only subdue nature but even re-write it, so to speak; hence the tinkering with natural institutions like marriage and the obscene production of ‘animal-human hybrids’.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
28.XI.2008 A.D.

Discovery in Australia of the world’s only extant portrait of Lucrezia Borgia?,22049,24704370-5001028,00.html

From the Sydney Daily Telegraph:

A MYSTERY painting held by the National Gallery of Victoria for 43 years is being hailed as a "revelatory" portrait of the infamous, incestuous [???] Italian Renaissance woman Lucrezia Borgia.
Note, however, that the article’s reference to the ‘historical record’ is not necessarily accurate.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
28.XI.2008 A.D.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

R.I.P. Gen. Francisco Franco, Knight of Christ

In your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of His late Excellency General Francisco Franco, Knight of the Supreme Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the anniversary of whose death in 1975 we mark today. His flaws notwithstanding (such as his early Fascist leanings, his excesses in dealing with the national emergency, his failure to curb the post-War influence of the technocrats, and his caving in to the Vatican’s new post-Conciliar anti-Confessional State diplomacy), he was a distinguished anti-Communist, anti-Masonic, pro-family statesman who, for a time at least, stood for Catholicism as State religion and the Catholic Church as the Established Church. May he rest in peace.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Felix of Valois, 2008 A.D.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A sinister flash of scarlet across the otherwise monochrome liberal-democratic spectrum of Australia’s corrupt system of rule

This one doesn’t need too much extra comment:

With 4 million Australians accessing pornography, The Australian Sex Party, says it has a real chance of winning seats in State and Federal parliaments.

Its platforms include a national sex education curriculum, reducing censorship, abolishing the Government's proposed internet filter and supporting gay marriage.

Party convener Fiona Patten [a former prostitute] says the internet filter would put the Australian sex industry out of business in five years.
(my emphasis)
The internet filter “would put the Australian sex industry out of business in five years”? Full steam ahead, then! Unfortunately that's probably a bit of an exaggeration though. When even the New South Wales State Premier The Hon. Nathan Rees M.P. can't or won't shut down a brothel operating illegally above his own electorate office and which Mr. Rees regards as a mere "inconvenience" (source) it's clear that the 'sex industry' is pretty well entrenched. And how’s the following for a nice piece of what must pass for logic among this corrupted pack of pimps and prostitutes:

The new party would advocate a national sex education curriculum, something other countries were developing, Ms Patten said.

"There's so much concern about the sexualisation of children, children being exposed to material. I would have thought our first action would be education."
(my emphasis)
Exposure of children to more sexual material is supposed to curb the sexualisation of children?!?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

On a worthy attempt to advance the Catholic case against evolution

I read an interesting C.N.S. article, carried in yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly, about what seems to be an otherwise unpublicised gathering of Catholic scientists opposed to the evolutionists’ account of the origins of the human race:

One group of detractors [from the Darwinian account of man’s origins] came to Rome Nov. 3 to offer its opinions and evidence that Darwin's theories of natural selection and the appearance of complex organisms out of simpler beings are outdated, erroneous hypotheses that prevent the discovery of the real origins of life and humanity.
With the help of Hugh Owen, founder and director of the U.S.-based Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, the French-based Center for Studies and Prospective on Science organized a conference dedicated to "A Scientific Critique of Evolution."
The French center invited five Catholic scientists to reveal "the bankruptcy of the evolutionary hypothesis," said a Kolbe Center press release.

Via a Google search I found a bit more information. Apparently the dissenters’ conference was to be hosted by Rome’s La Sapienza University and its five speakers were:

  • Guy Berthault, on ‘Experiments in Stratification do not support the Theory of Evolution’
  • Josef Holzschuh, on ‘The Second Law of Thermodynamics and Evolution’
  • Pierre Rabischong, on ‘The Concept of Evolution in Biology’
  • Jean de Pontcharra, on ‘Are Radio-dating Methods reliable?’
  • and Maciej Giertych, on ‘Impact of Research on Race Formation and Mutations on the Theory of Evolution’

Interestingly, one of the scientists speaking at the conference was from Australia, according to a letter from the Kolbe Centre’s director, Dr. Hugh Owen, posted at the Catholic Answers Forum: Does anyone know any more about the proceedings of this conference? I’d be particularly interested in knowing who the Australian participant is.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

Defender of Faith? Perhaps ‘Syncretismus Defensor’ didn’t have the right ring to it

And if one wanted a bit more evidence of what a mess England has become since the end of the reign of Mary I, I see The Sydney Morning Herod on Saturday (and today’s CathNews) rehashing the old news of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’s stated desire to be known as ‘Defender of Faith’, not ‘Defender of the Faith’. Who knows, perhaps His Royal Highness will even relinquish the (usurped) headship of the Church of England. But if H.M. The Queen lives to anything like the age of her late mother, and if Britain continues on its present course, then His Royal Highness might find that the only ‘faith’ left to defend under the throne to which he accedes is Islam (given, of course, that atheism is a non-faith).

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

R.I.P. Mary I Tudor and Reginald, Cardinal Pole: 450 years on

In your charity please pray for the repose of the souls of Mary I, Queen of England, France and Ireland and Reginald Pole, Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury, the 450th anniversary of whose deaths we mark today. Despite their best efforts to restore Catholicism to its rightful position as State Religion and Established Church, the heresiarch Elizabeth subsequently brought all their work to ruin. Thus did the cousins Mary and Reginald pass into history as tragic figures, the attempts of Protestants to demonise them notwithstanding. What is perhaps most tragic, though, is to see Catholics join in this demonisation, another case of the kind of denigration of the historical Church that Prof. Amerio documented in Iota Unum.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another step in the process of the commodification of human life and the abolition of parenthood

Mr. David Schütz at Sentire cum Ecclesia has a post in connection with the passage of a law in Victoria to give single and homosexual women greater access to fertility treatment and to change surrogacy arrangements. Here is a comment that I made at the blog:


I wonder whether there will be a Parliamentary Inquiry into Senator Conroy’s emotional blackmail? After all, Cardinal Pell was accused of “emotional blackmail” and hauled before an inquiry for his intervention into the debate over stem cell research in N.S.W. last year. Imagine the outcry if, say, Msgr. Hart had used the tactics of Sen. Conroy. Funny how there’s one standard for the supporters of the commodification of human life and another for its opponents.
I wonder, also, whether Mr. Smith thought to ask Sen. Conroy how many of the latter’s child’s embryonic brothers and sisters were tipped down the drain, discarded as ‘excess embryos’?
(Friday, November 14, 2008 5:06:00 PM)


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

Sen. Joyce on the death penalty

A disappointing opinion piece by Senator Barnaby Joyce appeared in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herod in which he argued against the death penalty. Unfortunately, though, Sen. Joyce failed to makes clear whether he opposes the death penalty in every case or just in cases where the imperative of protection of society does not require it. At one point Senator choice says that

We, as a nation, either believe in capital punishment, or we do not. We either believe it is acceptable on occasions, or believe it is never acceptable.
and presumably one would think (at this point) that Sen. Joyce fits into the latter category (opposition in all cases). But later he says that

We have the right to protect life from imminent danger by whatever means available
implying that he supports capital punishment as a method of lethal defence (ignoring the fact that if it’s a defence then it’s not a punishment). So which is it?

Also confusing is Sen. Joyce’s view on punishment:

The harshest punishment for criminals is not execution, no matter how barbarous the act for which they are being punished. Rather, I believe to take the world to a better place, the greater punishment is to maintain that nothing done by criminals like these will alter our belief that all life is precious, even the lives of these criminals, lives which have been defiled by their own actions.
So he asserts that execution is not the harshest punishment, but then goes on to argue something completely separate, namely, that withholding the death penalty shows how highly we value life. But how does the moral state of the rest of society have any bearing on the severity of the punishment of the offender? To begin a paragraph by asserting one thing, and then arguing another is undisciplined thinking and sloppy writing. This is the kind of badly-constructed paragraph that one would expect from a maladroit high-school essayist, not something published in a major broadsheet.

But putting this failure of composition aside, how can Sen. Joyce argue that imprisonment, even life imprisonment, is somehow worse than execution? Presumably, then, there is some lesser crime for which the death penalty should be adequate. Another problem is that, regardless of one’s opinions on which punishment is the worse, the death penalty is the only available earthly punishment we have that fits the crime of murder; comparisons of better and worse in the manner of differences of degree aren’t really all that relevant, since deprivation of liberty and deprivation of life are in completely different categories—they differ in kind, not just in degree. Imprisonment is a completely inadequate punishment for murder.

Sen. Joyce also asserts that

Criminals abrogate the liberties of freedom, and accordingly society has the right to incarcerate criminals for the term of their life if required.
Now if Sen. Joyce can see that criminals forfeit the right to liberty, why is he unable to see that murderers forfeit the right to life? And predictably, Sen. Joyce makes the assertion that

Shooting someone in the heart while they are tied to a wooden stake - or however death is administered - brutalises us as well as them.
But this is a purely subjective argument; no doubt some, perhaps many, would be averse to carrying out an execution personally, but this does not mean that it would be the case for everyone, and the evil of the supposed 'brutalisation' must be weighed against the evil of withholding the just punishment anyway.

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Sheehan on the death penalty

Mr. Paul Sheehan of The Sydney Morning Herod had a thought-provoking, if ambiguous, column on the death penalty today. He writes that at last month’s Ubud Writers' and Readers' Festival in Bali,

… Only one person at the session [that Mr. Sheehan attended], an Indonesian man in the audience, expressed support for the Indonesian Government, and he was monstered. There was no effort to offer, for contrast and complexity, a moral universe different from the one prevailing in Australia where, thanks in part to our legal system, life is cheap, rape is essentially legal, and drug crime has destroyed tens of thousands of lives.

Yesterday, the Australian Government, via the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, reiterated its opposition to the death penalty. "We urge countries who continue to apply capital punishment not to do so," he told the ABC, adding that Australia would co-sponsor a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly calling for a moratorium on capital punishment. Thus the Rudd Government undermined the Indonesian Government instead of just shutting up for a change and supporting a friendly government at a tense, difficult and morally ambiguous time. Indonesia, unlike Australia, is actually on the front lines of fighting jihad.

Whatever one may think of the death penalty, the majority of Australian intellectuals simply will not countenance debate on the issue, as if the matter were not just self-evident but closed, and the incessant lecturing by Australians to their moral inferiors in Asia is perceived there as colonialism and missionary condescension in a new form.

Oppose the death penalty, but at least recognise that the subject is not a debate about barbarism, immorality or counter-productive retribution. As one Sydney woman, Maria Kotronakis, who lost two sisters and two cousins in the 2002 Bali bombings tearfully told CNN yesterday: "We've waited a very long time for this and this is our justice … It's something that's been infesting us every single day … There's big relief that they're not around any more … They showed no remorse. Nothing."

The argument most often used against these executions was that it raised the spectre of martyrdom for the murderers, creating an appetite for more revenge and more martyrdom. Perhaps, but this is entirely speculative, especially as the Indonesian Government has been effective and committed in tracking and containing terrorist cells since the bombing in 2002 …
It is good that another writer, along with Mr. Linnell and Mr. Verrecchio in recent weeks, has noted the paradox of life being cheapened, not by imposing the death penalty, but by withholding it. And it is refreshing to see a broadsheet journalist admit that the death penalty is not a matter of “barbarism, immorality or counter-productive retribution”, but of justice. I look forward to the reaction in the letters page; who knows, we might even see someone advance a reasoned argument rather than echoing the usual inane slogans of the death penalty abolitionists.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

Mr. Verrecchio on Islam, Nostra Ætate and the Regensburg address

Mr. Louie Verrecchio’s latest Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II column in the Sydney Catholic Weekly was rather disappointing, dealing with Vatican II’s teaching on Islam in connection with the now-concluded First Seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, but failing to dissect Islam as trenchantly as one might have hoped. Mr. Verrecchio quotes the following portion of Nostra Ætate (the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions):

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

The Muslims might worship (such as they do) the one deity, but not the one God, since
Neither can we rightly say that in one God is the Trinity, but that one God is the Trinity
(my emphasis,
Dz. 278,
It is important that the Council Fathers noted that Muslims “take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees”. Christians would agree that they must obey God’s commands regardless of whether they understand them, but the manner in which the respective commands of the Holy Trinity and of the Muslim deity are ‘inscrutable’ differ profoundly. Now the only three things that the Holy Trinity cannot do are lie, sin or die (see, for instance, the Catechism of the Council of Trent on the First Article of the Creed). Now if one uses the presently-fashionable definition of sin as ‘something that harms one’s relationship with God’, then it is tautological to say that God cannot sin. Hence St. Thomas’s definition is to be preferred: sin is an offence against reason. This was H.H. The Pope’s point in the famous Regensburg address: “not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.” So whatever God commands us to do, we can trust that it will not contravene the moral law. Indeed, as Prof. Amerio points out in Iota Unum, even if the present universe were to cease to exist and God were to create a new one, He could not create a new moral order.

But this is not the case in Islam; the Muslim deity is the creator, not only of ‘things visible and invisible’, but even of morality—he can call good evil and evil good (allusion to Isaiah fully intended). Whereas the Holy Trinity will only ever permit evil in order to avert a greater evil or procure a greater good, the Muslim deity can do what would in the prevailing moral order be considered evil. Hence the Holy Father pointed out that

for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality … Here [Prof. Theodore] Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry …
And remember, idolatry is about the worst sin there is, hence its inclusion in the First Commandment, ahead of murder and adultery. There are two conundrums involved in this: firstly, given that idolatry (First Commandment) is worse than disobedience (Fourth Commandment), oughtn’t one disobey the Muslim deity rather than worship false gods? Perhaps the Muslims order their precepts differently. Secondly, given that the Muslim deity can do evil, why ever should he be trusted? He could be lying to us in order to avert a greater evil or procure a greater good. Quite apart from any questions of external motives of credibility, there is the serious problem of this internal contradiction.

I can think of two possible origins of Islam, then, the first possibility more generous than the second. The first is that the false prophet Mohammed genuinely felt some sense of a calling from God, and so he made up and disseminated the teachings of the Koran. But given how diametrically opposed to Christianity Islam is, and given how clearly it overturns the moral order, I fear that this possibility is the more likely: that the Devil, seeing that he was defeated in the grand scheme of things but desiring to drag as many souls down with him as possible and inhibit as much as possible the spread of Divine Revelation, appeared either in person or in one of his minions to Mohammed and seduced him with his lies.

It is interesting also to note, then, an important area of agreement between the Muslims and the secularists—for both of them, morality is a created thing, and not at all immutable. It is unsurprising, then, to see informal alliances crop up between them on issues such as polyamory and the Our Father being prayed in Parliament.

As for the First Seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum of November 4-6, Friday’s Vatican Information Service Bulletin reported that

Each of the two sides in the meeting was represented by 24 participants and five advisers who discussed the two great themes of "Theological and Spiritual Foundations" and "Human Dignity and Mutual Respect". Points of "similarity and of diversity emerged, reflecting the distinctive specific genius of the two religions" the English-language declaration says.
It goes on to enumerate these points, all them predictable. It would have been nice, though, for the Muslims to qualify all their statements with the disclaimer ‘unless Allah says otherwise’.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

Another new parish church that is a monument to modernism, of both the architectural and theological varieties

Yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly had a parish profile of St. John the Baptist’s Parish, Woy Woy, whose curate is Rev. Fr. John Hill. The parish has a new church building; from the outside it makes one think of a steel version of the Colosseum, with a large wedge attached with a cross surmounted (presumably this portion is the equivalent of a traditional spire). It does not say so in the article, but presumably the building is meant to evoke the early Christians martyred in the Colosseum. No doubt the designers were quite pleased with their cleverness. And I suppose it is refreshing to see a church building that makes some allusion, however vague, to sacrifice. The problem is that the building is quite ugly. But of course this is to be expected from a building designed chiefly for functionality, as Fr. Hill himself says:

We needed a church that had a good gathering area that would double as an overflow area in certain circumstances. It has been very effective that way … We didn’t want it bigger; we wanted it more flexible so that it would look alright for Sunday Mass and weekday Masses, and then allow us to adjust to extra numbers.
The article contains nothing to suggest that a church ought to glorify God even when not in liturgical use, so we have another example of the pervasive post-Vatican II architectural utilitarianism. The church’s interior is no better either; it reminded me of the scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where Indy and his dad are getting tickets for a blimp trip. Indeed, from the outside it is somewhat reminiscent of a Nazi German Zepellin terminal as well. As for the furnishings, it is a predictably minimalist affir, with the seating ‘in the round’, a semi-circle with the sanctuary (if one can call it that) jutting into it from the diameter, evoking that other great post-Conciliar theme of anthropocentrism. As you can imagine, the altar is really more of a table. What a sad state of affairs.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

What are they being taught at Sydney’s Archdiocesan seminary?

[Updated, November 18, 2008, approx. 0010hrs.: Correction: Rev. Fr. Anthony Percy does not, in fact, become Rector of the Good Shepherd Seminary until January 2009.]

Yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly published a letter by Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Percy, Rector of Sydney’s Good Shepherd Seminary. Unfortunately, in the course of attempting to allay fears over the orthodoxy of the next generation of priests, Father gives rise to fresh suspicions as to the flavour of theological studies on offer. I reproduce the letter here in full in order to avoid any possibility of misrepresentation:

9 November, 2008
Christian doctrine

The Australian [newspaper] of October 29 – reported that Fr Peter Dresser, a Catholic priest, no longer believes that Jesus Christ is God – specifically, “This whole matter regarding Jesus being God … does violence to my own intelligence.”

This is an unfortunate state of affairs: a man entrusted with the mysteries of Christ no longer embraces the realities the mysteries make present.

Of course, in defence of the Christian doctrine that Christ is fully human and fully divine – truly man and truly God – one could go back through the entire Old Testament and see how Christ is prefigured there.

One could see the truth in the New Testament itself and then go to Church councils that were called when the truth of the matter was being called into question.

But perhaps the best way forward is to ask any ordinary Christian who believes in Christ to tell you what they know – not intellectually – but experientially.

And they will tell you, with absolute certainty, that Christ is God.

Furthermore, they will confirm, through their own deaths and resurrections, that Christ really did die, that he indeed is truly risen and that they look forward to his return. Ordinary Catholics should not be disturbed by these minor eruptions in Church life. They happen every now and then.

They can be assured that the men studying for the Catholic priesthood at Good Shepherd Seminary, Sydney, will receive what the Church has handed down through the ages. Namely, that Christ is alive and that he not only woos our hearts with his sacred heart, but also raises our minds to think with divine wisdom.

Fr Anthony Percy

Good Shepherd Seminary

Sydney, NSW
(my emphasis)
Now what the ‘ordinary Christian’ knows ‘experientially’ is neither here nor there. Given the post-Vatican II collapse of religious literacy, it would not surprise me if a majority of those who label themselves ‘Catholic’ in the census disputed the Divinity of Christ. Indeed, one wonders what the ‘experiential knowledge’ of the typical Catholic married couple tells them about the liciety of contraception.

But there is something even more worrying about this exaltation of experience. Does it not have a whiff of Modernism about it? Think of what St. Pius X had to say in section 14 of his brilliant encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis:

… For the Modernist .Believer, on the contrary, it is an established and certain fact that the divine reality does really exist in itself and quite independently of the person who believes in it. If you ask on what foundation this assertion of the Believer rests, they answer: In the experience of the individual. On this head the Modernists differ from the Rationalists only to fall into the opinion of the Protestants and pseudo-mystics. This is their manner of putting the question: In the religious sentiment one must recognise a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the very reality of God, and infuses such a persuasion of God's existence and His action both within and without man as to excel greatly any scientific conviction. They assert, therefore, the existence of a real experience, and one of a kind that surpasses
all rational experience. If this experience is denied by some, like the rationalists, it arises from the fact that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in the moral state which is necessary to produce it. It is this experience which, when a person acquires it, makes him properly and truly a believer.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

More from Fr. Harris and Dr. Costigan on the death penalty

A quite dreadful article appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly, in which we heard more from Rev. Fr. Tim Harris on his opposition to the death penalty:

He said the Church’s position is clear: “we are against the death penalty in all cases”.

“We are pro-life in all its forms,” said Fr Harris, parish priest at Corinda Graceville in Brisbane.

“From my perspective I do not support the death penalty for the Bali bombers because I have no intention of stooping as low as they have in terms of their lack of respect for human life.

“I believe that humanity needs to retain its dignity and come up with other ways of punishing people who have done wrong.

“Murderers are individuals who need a punishment that fits the crime. A reciprocal putting to death is not the answer.”

Firstly, Fr. Harris is clearly quite wrong about the Church being “against the death penalty in all cases”; even if one were to concede that the death penalty were only permissible as a kind of lethal defence, the case of the Bali bombers is a good example of an execution justifiable on the grounds of protecting society, since the bombers remained influential while imprisoned and there was a risk of their supporters organising a break-out.

Secondly, ‘pro-life’ is really a shorthand for upholding the right to life, a right which it is possible for one to forfeit by one’s actions, as Pius XII taught in a speech of September 14, 1952.

Thirdly, we see repeated the notion of the death penalty as “stooping as low as [the bombers] have in terms of their lack of respect for human life”. In an earlier post I used a comparison to just war to show the inappropriateness of the notion of the death penalty as ‘reducing oneself’ to the level of the murderer. But an even better comparison might be the case of someone depriving someone else unlawfully of his liberty for a certain period; would anyone deny that imprisonment for an equal period (at least) would be a just sentence? Yet this is (superficially) just what the offender did. The difference, of course, is that the State has the authority to do so, and so it is with the death penalty. Abortion, murder and euthanasia are cases of someone innocent’s life being taken by someone who had no authority to do, whereas execution is the taking of someone guilty’s life by someone who has the authority to do so.

Fourthly, the attempt to imply that the death penalty entails a ‘loss of dignity’ is also false, since nothing can erase man’s ontological dignity, and the offender lost his operative dignity through his actions.

Fr. Harris’ final two sentences illustrate perfectly the illogic of his position: “Murderers are individuals who need a punishment that fits the crime. A reciprocal putting to death is not the answer.” What can one say about such a plain contradiction?

What Dr. Michael Costigan had to say, though, was even more egregious. Let me note firstly that the Weekly lauded Dr. Costigan as a “pro-life champion and former executive secretary of the Bishops’ Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace”. One wonders, then, why it did not contact the present executive secretary of the Committee. Also, what qualifies one to be a ‘pro-life champion’? I can recall no interventions from Dr. Costigan in the controversies over the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Bill or the abortion drug RU-486.

Now Dr. Costigan

says opposition to the use of the death penalty should be “universal and without reservation”.

“This applies to everyone under sentence of execution,” he said.

This is, again, quite false, even by the standards of John Paul II and the New Catechism. Errors of this sort are to be expected, but I was appalled by the following red-herring:

He added: “Of course, all decent people are outraged by the use of the death penalty in scandalous and utterly barbaric cases like the stoning to death of a young girl accused of adultery in Somalia.
Is this some sort of attempt at guilt by association? What does the persecution of an innocent girl who was the victim of rape have to do with the just punishment of three grown men who committed mass murder? Invoking a tendentious irrelevance like this is beneath the standards of mature discourse. Then Dr. Costigan says that

“It needs to be understood, however, that capital punishment diminishes all who use and defend it, whatever the circumstances.

“It is purely and simply an anti-life act of vengeance …

Capital punishment diminishes all who use and defend it? So Innocent III was ‘diminished’ by teaching that

Concerning secular power we declare that without mortal sin it is possible to exercise a judgment of blood as long as one proceeds to bring punishment not in hatred but in judgment, not incautiously but advisedly.
(Dz. 425,
What of the generations of Popes, Bishops and Doctors of the Church who used and defended it? What an insult; what arrogance.

Furthermore, does Dr. Costigan really fail to understand that, just as there is a distinction between righteous and malicious anger, there is a distinction between righteous and malicious vengeance? What of the Divine Vengeance that, for instance, the Catechism of the Council of Trent speaks of in its section on the Sacrament of Penance?

The utterances of Fr. Harris and Dr. Costigan may well represent a new low in the debate over the death penalty.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

Some reasons for why the ‘I’m not pro-abortion, just pro-choice’ line is a nasty, evasive piece of nonsense

This post is inspired by the following comment at The Australian on-line:

Stephen Morgan Tue 04 Nov 08 (10:44am)
It’s time to rename the camps in the abortion as those in favour of full choice and those in favour of restricted choice - because it is the most accurate description of their relative positions.
Most importantly, it’s time for agitators to stop using terms like pro-abortion. 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.
Abortion is an option allowed by law, and morally acceptable if not preferable to most Australians. Open and full debate on the issue is far more constructive than the emotional diatribes of those whose sole motivation is religious fundamentalism.
Of course, were the religious fundamentalists to also engage in sensible debate on family planning and sex education we might be able to reduce the tragic toll of terminations in this country.
It would be truly gratifying to see them stump up properly instead of relying of the failed tactics of the past several millenia - that somehow just because they say it’s right, it must therefore be so.
Now as I pointed out in a response at the same page of The Australian’s letters blog, given that the two potential objects of a pregnant woman’s supposed faculty of ‘choice’ are abortion and non-abortion, and given that no-one contests that non-abortion is a legitimate exercise of this faculty, then it is perfectly fair to speak of pro-abortion individuals.

A parallel between the debate over abortion and the debate over the death penalty illustrates this further. It is well known that I support the death penalty strongly, and I have no problem with being labeled pro-execution; I will not try to weasel out of this with semantic games about being ‘not pro-execution, just pro-choice’, since it goes without saying that I do not want to see the death penalty imposed indiscriminately, without regard to the circumstances of the alleged crime.

Furthermore, if, as the ‘pro-choice’ folk argue, abortion is merely a morally neutral elective medical procedure, then why does Mr. Morgan think that to be called ‘pro-abortion’ “is not only inaccurate it is base and callous insult and nothing more”? Why does it evoke such a strong reaction?

But if one requires documentary proof that pro-choice means pro-abortion, then one need look no further than Victoria’s recently-passed Abortion Law Reform Bill. How can those who acquiesced in this obscene Bill purport not to be pro-abortion when it forces health professionals to perform abortions? Furthermore, the same Bill removes references to ‘child destruction’, despite the fact that one need not end a baby’s life in order to end a dangerous pregnancy.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

Msgr. O’Kelly on the death penalty

Via Thursday’s CathNews I came across a piece on life matters from Most. Rev. Greg O’Kelly, Auxiliary Bishop of Adelaide. The piece was a straightforward exposition of the ‘seamless garment approach’, in which the death penalty is to be opposed along with abortion and euthanasia. Msgr. O’Kelly says that

We must also act to condemn capital punishment, including for the men known as the Bali Bombers. A life set aside from society in imprisonment is appropriate for their crime of mass murder. It is inconsistent for a Christian to oppose abortion and condone capital punishment.
But His Lordship fails to demonstrate the validity of any of these three three assertions. How can life imprisonment satisfy justice in the case of mass murder? And why is it inconsistent to oppose abortion and support the death penalty, when the former is the taking of an innocent life by someone who has no authority to do so, while the latter involves the taking of a guilty person’s life by someone who does have the authority to do so? The ‘seamless garment approach’ seems to me like nothing more than a collection of assertions, cobbled together in a futile attempt to appeal to the secularists; futile, since the secularists value neither human life nor consistency absolutely.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More on the sinister relationship between abortionists and Parliament

Two excellent letters have appeared in The Australian exposing what the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (A.R.H.A.) really stands for. Here they are, reproduced in full:

I WAS present at the tragicomical Senate committee hearing last week into Medicare funding of late abortion, when we learned that senator Clare Moore’s submission on behalf of the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development was identical to the submission from the lobby group Australian Reproductive Health Alliance.

Angela Shanahan rightly described this duplication under two different letterheads as open to allegations of collusion (Opinion 1/11).

But it is the content that is disturbing. No fair-minded person can read the ARHA/Moore submission without understanding it as an argument for late-term abortion of handicapped babies to save society the cost of caring for them.

Exposing this collusion was great comedy, but the chilling reality is that Senator Moore’s discreetly eugenic tract was tabled, in the name of 41 MPs and senators, in the same week as a German doctor was denied Australian residency because of the costs to society of caring for his boy with Down syndrome.

For tragic historical reasons, if such a document were ever tabled in the German parliament, there would be no hint of comedy.
Dr David van Gend
Mackenzie House Medical Centre
Toowoomba, Qld

HEATHER Macdonald’s attempt (Letters, 4/11) to defend the propriety of the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance’s influence on the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development is weak in the extreme.

If, as she claims, the provision of the secretariat to this Parliamentary Group is a “professional relationship”, why doesn’t the ARHA representative leave her agendas at the door when operating as its secretary? Why have members of the group suddenly found that a submission that was supposed to represent their views is word for word the same as the submission of the ARHA?

It is also a rather lame claim to say that the ARHA doesn’t promote abortion. It has on its website as its only two current domestic issues supporting organisations and activists in the campaign to decriminalise abortion in Victoria and its involvement in the RU486 campaign. It touts as its “partners” some of the biggest abortion providers in the country.

As we are tightening up on lobbyists, the Government might do well to include training for organisations like this on what a professional relationship is, before they provide secretariats to parliamentary groups we all think are giving their own considered opinion.

Angela Shanahan is spot on—thanks for the revelation.
Dr Jane Taylor
Canberra, ACT

Furthermore, there is a comment at the on-line edition from a pro-abortion person who reveals more of the horror of the pro-abortion movement:

Iris Ashton Thu 06 Nov 08 (08:46am)

The abortion is not to save the cost of their care, but to save the anguish and heartache of the parents when after many hard years of caring for a deformed or disabled child they find they can no longer give the adult child their care and have to depend on a nursing home or the child’s siblings. It is also to save the child itself the anguish of a life of pain utterly dependent on others. Also to save the siblings of that child the efforts to help the disabled child and to save them from having to care for said child in later life.

Everyone is entitled to have a normal healthy life and if any family can be save the anguish of a life time of caring for a disabled child, who in many cases will not even know them, then that is what this law will provide.
(my emphasis)

Note the aversion to ‘dependence’, which is quite telling. We Christians know that we are completely dependent on God, Who not only created us but keeps us in existence from moment to moment. But the secularist philosophy is one of radical detachment, autonomy and independence, so naturally any reliance on others is viewed with varying degrees of horror. Hence, also, the secularist support for euthanasia as a way of ‘freeing’ the infirm from being a ‘burden on society’. But of course, as this letter also reveals, it is not primarily for the relief of the dependent party from their ‘burden’, but for the release of society from the burden—hence the commenter speaks firstly of the ‘suffering’ of the parents, with the suffering of the child an “also”, a secondary consideration. Msgr. Anthony Fisher summarised the pro-death position quite well when he said ‘it’s not about putting Granny out of her misery, but about putting Granny out of our misery’. Comments like the one from Ms Ashton are useful for reminding us of what we are up against.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
6.XI.2008 A.D.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fr. Harris on the death penalty

In today’s edition of CathNews, Rev. Fr. Tim Harris, the Brisbane pastor of Messrs. Scott Rush and Michael Czugaj (two of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug runners), has protested against the death penalty, saying that it “is not the answer for drug traffickers or for the Bali bombers”. But the article provides an illustration of the confusion inherent in the so-called ‘seamless garment’ approach to life issues. The first problem is that it is the innocent who have a right to life, not those guilty of truly execrable crimes, since, as Pius XII taught, murderers forfeit their right to life by their crimes. Fr. Harris says that

"Our government needs to speak consistently on the death penalty for all," Fr Harris told AAP.

"It can't say 'Save Scott and kill the Bali bombers'.

"It is saying this and I believe is putting Scott's life in danger as a result."

Fr Harris said the Bali bombers should face a harsh punishment, but the death penalty was not the answer.
But to speak consistently means to speak consistently of apples and oranges respectively, not to toss them all into the same basket and speak of them without regard to their essential differences. Why ever can’t the Australian Government say “'Save Scott and kill the Bali bombers”, when drug running is manifestly not in the worst category of crimes, while mass murder is clearly about as bad as it gets? The South-East Asian governments tend to use the death penalty for utilitarian reasons, as a means to ends such as deterrence, when capital punishment should only ever be used as an end in itself (i.e. I am talking about capital punishment strictly so called, capital punishment qua punishment, not merely lethal defence of oneself or of others, which few doubt is licit). That is why we should protest against the way they use it, not because it is intrinsically wrong.

And given that Fr. Harris agrees that the Bali bombers ought to face a harsh punishment, how can he reject the death penalty for them, when it would be absurd to deny that there is a due relation between the crime of murder and the punishment of execution?

Furthermore, Fr. Harris says that he has “ the utmost contempt for what the Bali bombers have done but I will never lower myself to their level”. But how is the death penalty ‘lowering oneself to their level’, when the death penalty can be a just and judicious use of the State’s power over its subjects, whereas the Bali bombing was a heinous and utterly unjustified wanton taking of innocent life? If it is by the bare fact that both acts involve the taking of a human life that Fr. Harris thinks of capital punishment as ‘lowering himself to their level’, then is Father also opposed to just wars, in which one takes up arms against an enemy and thereby, superficially at least (as in the case of the death penalty), imitates the enemy?

It seems to me that the so-called ‘seamless garment approach’ that has taken hold among many Churchmen and layfolk is another example of what Prof. Amerio called a ‘loss of essences’ that has spread during the post-Vatican II years, whereby people fail to make the essential distinctions among different things, and is evident in the secular world as well, such as in the following quotation from a Ms. Helen Pitt writing in The Sydney Morning Herod’s Good Weekend magazine of October 11, 2008, on Mrs. Sarah Palin:

[Mrs. Palin's town is] a place where guns and God are treated with equal reverence; where "right to life" applies to a foetus but not to a fawn.
But just because many fail to understand the meaning of justice, retribution and the pro-life cause is no reason to pander to their ignorance. Catholics ought to stand up for the timeless Traditional teaching on the liceity of the death penalty as a just punishment.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
5.XI.2008 A.D.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dom Prosper Gueranger O.S.B. on the relationship between theological merit and satisfaction

Here is a quotation that Athanasius has provided from Dom Prosper Gueranger O.S.B. in the latter’s book The Liturgical Year (All Souls’ Day):

Every supernatural act of virtue brings a double profit to the just man: it merits for his soul a fresh degree of grace and it makes satisfaction for past faults, in exact proportion to the value, in God's sight, of that labour, privation, or trial accepted, or that voluntary suffering endured by one of the members of His beloved Son. Now, whereas merit is a personal acquisition and cannot be transferred to others, satisfaction may be vicarious; God is willing to accept it in payment of another's debt, whether the recipient of the boon be in this world or in the next, provided only that he be united by grace to the mystical Body of Our Lord, which is one in charity. This is a consequence of the mystery of the communion of saints.
There are, though, at least two personal acts by which one merits but does not make satisfaction; I deal with those here.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

Secret collusion between abortionists and Parliament? No, it’s not secret at all!

It turns out that there is no secret collaboration between the pro-abortion “Australian Reproductive Health Alliance” (A.R.H.A.) and the “Parliamentary Group on Population and Development” (P.G.P.D.). As we learn in a letter to The Australian from someone from the A.R.H.A., their collaboration is quite open and formal! See the following excerpt:

The article [by Mrs. Angela Shanahan] omits to mention that ARHA provides secretariat support to the PGPD. The claim of collusion implies an improper relationship between ARHA and the PGPD, rather than the formal, professional relationship that exists
Nothing to worry about here, folks!

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

Msgr. Elliott and Fr. Flader on Purgatory

[Update: November 10, 2008: the two articles are now available on-line:
Msgr. Elliott's:
Fr. Flader's:
The Most Rev. Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, and Rev. Fr. John Flader have both just had articles published on Purgatory, the former in this month’s AD2000 and the latter in last Sunday's Sydney Catholic Weekly. I was not particularly impressed with either of them, since both failed to set Purgatory in the context of God’s Justice; indeed, neither Msgr. Elliott nor Fr. Flader used the word “justice” even once. Instead, both clergymen emphasised purgatory as an expression of Divine Mercy rather than of Divine Justice; Msgr. Elliott wrote that “[y]et even as there is a painful dimension to purification, Purgatory is best understood as the Divine Mercy beyond death”, and that the “fire of purgation is not so much punishment, rather a way of receiving the saving work of Christ, in atonement for the debt set up by the echoing effects of our many sins”, and Fr. Flader wrote that “we should never forget that God, in his infinite mercy, demands much less punishment than our sins deserve. If it were not for his mercy, we would never get out of Purgatory!”

These opinions notwithstanding, Purgatory is a matter primarily of satisfying Divine Justice; usually one thinks of the Divine Mercy as being applied by the gratuitous reduction of the temporal punishment through the granting of an indulgence rather than the soul’s undergoing of that punishment. It is not clear to me that, as Fr. Flader asserts, “[i]f it were not for [God’s] mercy, we would never get out of Purgatory!”, since if one is in Purgatory then one has, presumably, merited eternal life but just has a debt to pay in justice before he can receive his reward; thus it is, as it were, only a matter of time before one gets out of Purgatory. Nor is it clear to me that, as Fr. Flader says, “we should never forget that God, in his infinite mercy, demands much less punishment than our sins deserve”, since one does indeed receive the due punishment, unless favoured with an indulgence. Given that they repented of their sins during their earthly lives and thus avoided the eternal punishment, they owe nonetheless no more and no less than the temporal punishment due to them for their sins.

Furthermore, I found Fr. Flader‘s explanation of the manner in which suffering in Purgatory might be reduced through the Communion of Saints to be inadequate. Father writes that

Just as God, in his power and mercy, answers our prayers for others here on earth by shortening their sufferings, curing their diseases more quickly, healing broken relationships, etc., so he can answer our prayers for the souls in Purgatory by shortening their sufferings.
But it is by suffering vicariously on someone else’s behalf that the suffering of the other one is shortened, not (usually) by a simple reduction in the total amount of suffering owed; someone still has to pay the debt of sin. But this is not altogether clear from what Fr. Flader writes.

It is unfortunate that, in an age in which there is widespread confusion about the meaning of justice, Msgr. Elliott and Fr. Flader did not take this opportunity to make explicit the implications of Divine Justice for this life and the next. And if clergymen fail to emphasise the punitive aspect of Purgatory and ignore Divine Justice, then belief in Hell as one of the Last Things can only weaken, since Hell, with Heaven, signifies the very triumph of justice. Temporal punishment reduces with time but, as Prof. Romano Amerio says in Iota Unum, no amount of time can remove the difference between right and wrong, hence the necessity of eternal punishment.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop, Confessor, 2008 A.D.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A comment on restorative justice

Here is a comment that a made in my “More on 'restorative justice'” post:


Mr. Redekop and Mr. Wright,

Thank you both for your comments.

Firstly, to address your points, Mr. Redekop:

1) When I said that justice is essentially about getting what one is owed, that was not just ‘my argument’—that’s what justice is! The first problem with restorative justice is that it tries to include something in the meaning of justice that is really external to it. Given that, strictly speaking, justice is a matter of reward and punishment, it is clear that to withhold either a due reward or due punishment would be an injustice in itself. Such an injustice would be permissible according to the criterion I mentioned in the original post, namely, the injustice may be permitted if, by doing so, one expects to avert a greater evil or bring forth a greater good.

2) As to the relationship between offender and offence, the only relationship that is directly relevant is whether or not the offender was morally responsible for the offence. If the (alleged) offender were “confused, disturbed, or mistaken”, then these are clearly circumstances that excuse from culpability.

3) As to the case of murder, the amount of time that the victim might have had left to live is totally irrelevant; what matters is that his life was taken, not the quality or quantity of his life remaining. This is a most curious objection for you to raise.

4) The different circumstances that you enumerate for consideration in sentencing—whether the offender is a hardened criminal, or how wealthy he is if the penalty is to be financial—merely show that sentencing is difficult. But difficulty is no reason to abandon justice.

5) The case of a young offender is a case where I would not necessarily have a problem with imprisonment being commuted to some lesser sentence, for the reason I have mentioned already—namely, that a greater good could be procured. All I am asking is that people recognise that withholding the due punishment is, by definition, an injustice in itself.

6) You appear to hold to the ‘integral humanist’ view of the State, in which the State has a very limited role. I, however, adhere to the traditional view of the State as having the common good as its proper end, and is therefore entitled to investigate into what you call “the true virtue and happiness of all the other persons involved”.

7) This point is really the most important one: “how can a second harm make up for the first?” If one adheres to the restorative justice ideology, than retribution clearly makes no sense in itself. But justice is a metaphysical concept, not at all a utilitarian, pragmatic one. It is undeniable that, metaphysically, a second harm balances a first harm, just as a just wage metaphysically balances an hour’s work. Your example of the broken arm is completely inappropriate, since it deals with an accident, and with two harms being inflicted on the same victim.

8) Your charge that “it is clear that efforts to define the right to punish in moral terms fail to identify clearly the criteria for this right” is completely unfounded; the criterion is simply the due relation between crime and punishment.

9) Powerlessness, poverty, class structure and so on are quite secondary circumstances. The poor and powerless are still responsible moral persons, and moral responsibility is the key criterion for determining culpability.

Now Mr. Wright,

1) You say that “In restorative justice it is reparation, not rehabilitation, that trumps punishment, altough many offenders have themselves been victims”. But I have to ask then: what is your idea of reparation? Reparation means satisfaction, expiation, atonement, and so on. Punishment is an excellent form of reparation.

2) You ask: “can the state be justified in causing deliberate harm to one of its members, even a wrongdoer”? The answer is yes, of course, since this harm is due to the offender because of his transgression.


Reginaldvs Cantvar
All Souls’ Day, 2008 A.D.

Sir David Smith, Mr. Harry Evans and republicanism by stealth

Mr. Alan Ramsey’s Saturday column in The Sydney Morning Herod contained an account of a fascinating exchange of correspondence between Sir David Smith K.C.V.O., a monarchist and former Official Secretary to the Governor-General, and Mr. Harry Evans, a republican and present Clerk of the Senate.

Sir David wrote in protest against Mr. Evans’ interpretation of the following sections of the Constitution:

59. The Queen may disallow any law within one year from the Governor-General's assent, and such disallowance on being made known by the Governor-General by speech or message to each of the Houses of the Parliament, or by Proclamation, shall annul the law from the day when the disallowance is so made known.

60. A proposed law reserved for the Queen's pleasure shall not have any force unless and until within two years from the day on which it was presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's assent the Governor-General makes known, by speech or message to each of the Houses of the Parliament, or by Proclamation, that it has received the Queen's assent.
Mr. Evans asserted in the eleventh editions of Odgers' Australian Senate Practice that “'(Provisions in the Constitution - ss 59 and 60 - for a bill to be reserved for the Queen's assent are now not operative).'” But sections 59 and 60 have not been changed in a referendum and remain fully operative, recent non-use notwithstanding. Mr. Evans said that they were inoperative in

the same sense as a ship is inoperative when tied up at the breaker's yard with her engine dismantled
which is plainly a misrepresentation. Sir David rightly expressed his surprise that Mr. Evans

should take it upon [himself] to make a judgment about what some future government might or might not do in relation to a section of the Constitution that is still alive and well and full of life.
The exchange of letters ended in a compromise: Mr. Evans changed his comment to

Provisions in the Constitution for the interpolation of the monarch into the legislative process do not now operate
in the twelfth edition of Odgers' Australian Senate Practice. ‘Do not now operate’ is an improvement, but now the involvement of the monarch has become an ‘interpolation’, which is hardly the best choice of words.

What we see here is another example of ‘republicanism by stealth’, softening us up for the inevitable second thrust to depose H.M. The Queen.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
All Souls’ Day, 2008 A.D.