Thursday, September 30, 2010

Notes: Thursday, September 30, 2010

An interesting fact about the application of the Statute of Westminster to Australia

Second paragraph of this letter in today's Herald:

It took a while …

Lewis Hewertson (Letters, September 29) fails to see how Australians could be compelled to fight ''for England'', since Australia received self-governance in 1901. This overlooks the fact that Australia's foreign policy (and that of Canada, New Zealand and South Africa) was controlled and directed by London by law.

The Statute of Westminster of 1931 awarded full independence to the British dominions, including in foreign policy, but the Australian government of the day did not ratify it.

Robert Menzies, declaring war on Germany in 1939, stated that Australia was at war because Britain was, ipso facto. The statute was only ratified by the Curtin government in 1942, marking the point where British and Australian interests diverged.

Hugh Sturgess Balmain


Some figures on the prospects for children from broken homes

The latest developments regarding so-called gay marriage ...

1. "Bandt attacks [The Australian]'s coverage of [The Greens' "legislative timetable"]

See also the editorial and the "Cut & Paste" section of today's edition of The Australian.

2. From the first link in item 1:

Yesterday, on the first full day of the new parliament, the Greens reintroduced a bill into the Senate legalising gay marriage.

3. "Gillard says no conscience vote on gay marriage"

4. "Tasmania to recognise same-sex marriage"

Second paragraph of that news item:

An amendment to Tasmania's Relationship Act was passed unopposed in the state's Upper House, meaning marriages performed in countries where it's legal will now be recognised in Tasmania.

(Thanks to Terra for highlighting those last two news stories, which I didn't see covered at or today.)

... and euthanasia

"Church responds to renewed euthanasia efforts"

First paragraph of the body of the CathNews item:

Catholic Health Australia is co-ordinating a national response to the renewed nationwide promotion of euthanasia, while the country's bishops have re-issued a submission previously made on the rights of the terminally ill.

Mr. Brent on the history, merits, and demerits of compulsory voting and compulsory voting enrolment

"Joshua" on "The Legend of the Leonine Prayers"

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Jerome, Priest, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Notes: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mr. Kelly on euthanasia


The entire key to the euthanasia debate lies in its great paradox: consistent polls showing a majority in favour. But what, exactly, are people supporting? The 1996-97 debate provides the answer: most people think that turning off life-support machines and discontinuing life-preserving treatment is euthanasia. In fact, this is nothing to do with euthanasia. Indeed, it is the precise opposite of euthanasia. If a family turns off a life-support machine, the patient dies because of their illness, not because of the doctor. But if the doctor gives a lethal injection, then the patient is killed. This is a fine yet critical distinction.

Because euthanasia involves one person being sanctioned to kill another, it cannot be seen just within a human rights framework. It is an ethical and intellectual failure to pretend that euthanasia is merely a human right awaiting recognition. It is about society and its norms and values. There is no escaping the chasm that euthanasia crosses. Creation of a legal framework to permit killing must affect the way all people perceive their lives and the expectations that friends, family and doctors have of patients.

This issue was best put by former NSW politician Tony Burke, now Minister for Sustainability and Environment in the Gillard government, when he led the 1996 campaign from Labor's side: "There is a maxim often used in the capital punishment debate which applies perfectly to legalised euthanasia: whether you support it or oppose it in principle, if one innocent person is going to be killed, that is too high a price." Exactly.

Former Labor MP Lindsay Tanner, on October 28, 1996, tore to shreds the logic of the Northern Territory law. Asking where the line should be drawn, Tanner asked rhetorically: "Why is it that it is only the terminally ill? Why shouldn't it also be the severely disabled? Why not somebody with an incurable mental illness? Why not children who are terminally ill?"

Tanner's point is that lines cannot be firm or fixed. Reinforcing his argument is that many euthanasia advocates, such as Peter Singer, actively promote its extension more widely.

Tanner also dismissed the furphy about territory rights, saying it was absurd to let the Northern Territory, representing 1 per cent of the people, make such a decision affecting all Australians. Finally, he asked: What about the terminally ill who do not want to die? Good question. It was the question hammered by Burke and Andrews. Once the killing culture is established, the aged, sick and disabled will have to consider whether to put up their hands. They will feel obligated. Financial pressures, healthcare costs and expectations of family will assume new dimensions.

The old joke for the sick is that euthanasia is "putting us out of your misery".

Yes, some people in pain want to die and it is hard to deny their claim. Yet there are many others glad to be alive today who would have volunteered for euthanasia if it had been legal five years ago. As Andrews said in 1996, a well person who is suicidal is offered counselling, but under euthanasia an ill person who is suicidal becomes an option for death.


"Nitschke says GP poll shows euthanasia support"

Body of the CathNews article:

One in three GPs in major cities believe people older than 70 who feel "tired of life" should have the right to professional help in ending it, a poll conducted by Philip Nitschke's Exit International has found.

More than 33 percent of 500 doctors surveyed in Sydney (35 percent), Melbourne (36 percent) and Adelaide (43 percent) agreed with the provocative question. In Perth, 28 percent endorsed it, according to a report in The Australian.

Dr Nitschke said he was surprised by the support for a proposition that sits at the radical end of the euthanasia spectrum. He conducted the poll during weekend workshops convened by Sydney-based Elixir Healthcare Education on "clinical controversies" that GPs attended in July and last month, the news report said.

People feeling "tired of life" are a potentially enormous group of elderly citizens who may not be suffering from chronic health problems.

"My feeling is, and not everyone agrees, is that this opens up a much broader debate around the fundamental idea of control towards the end of life," Dr Nitschke said. "Baby boomers want control."

About half the GPS surveyed from the four capital cities agreed that they want legislative reform to allow euthanasia for the terminally ill, said the report.


Some figures on the knowledge (or agreement?) Catholics have of (with?) Catholic teaching

See also here:

"Catholic-Orthodox talks: officials optimistic but ... [sic, but no breakthroughs]"

Mr. Robertson on, among other things, the Vatican City State and Pius XI.


This is perpetuated, Mr Robertson writes, by the ''pseudo state'' of the Holy See that was created in 1929 in a deal between Mussolini and the pro-fascist Pope Pius XI, and which the Vatican describes as an ''absolute monarchy''. As its head of state, the Pope is immune from prosecution, to which Mr Robertson says he has no rightful claim.

At the time of the (needless to say, illegitimate) overthrow of Papal civic sovereignty over the States of the Church, the Pope's title to that sovereignty was the strongest of the respective titles of all the European rulers (they (the Popes) had held that title for a good thousand years or more). Given this, it's hard to begrudge the Popes the tiny concession of the present-day Vatican City State. And as for Pius XI. being "pro-fascist", well that's just ridiculous, though I don't have the time to do a proper rebuttal of it.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Michaelmas, A.D. 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Facts and figures: "One in five [practising] gay men in US has HIV"

From last Saturday's edition of The Sydney Morning Herald:

WASHINGTON: One in five sexually active homosexual men in the US has HIV, and almost half of those who carry the virus do not know they are infected, a study has found.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention tested more than 8000 men in 21 cities in 2008, and found that even as infection rates were climbing among men who have sex with men, young, sexually active gay men and those in minority groups were least likely to know their health status, while the rates of other at-risk groups - heterosexuals and intravenous drug users - were falling.

The findings were published this week to precede US National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day on Monday.

[...] Cities in the study include Baltimore, where the prevalence of HIV among men who have sex with men was highest at 38 per cent, and Atlanta, where it was lowest at 6 per cent.

In the District of Columbia, where the general HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is one of the highest in the nation, at about 4 per cent, or more than 16,000 adults, the study found a 14 per cent prevalence rate among men who have sex with men.

In the Atlantic region, New York had a rate of 29 per cent, Philadelphia had a rate of 11 per cent and Newark had a rate of 19 per cent.

The more impoverished the men were, the more likely they were to be infected, the study found.

A spokeswoman for the centres said the recent study's findings were similar to those of a study conducted between June 2004 and April 2005, when one in four gay men tested positive for the virus.

However, the percentage of minorities who tested positive had changed dramatically in the three years since the previous study, although black gay men outpaced white and Hispanic men in both studies.

In the earlier study, 46 per cent of gay black men tested positive, compared with 40 per cent in the more recent study.

In the earlier study, Hispanics represented 18 per cent of the infected compared with 23 per cent in the more recent study.

White men comprised 21 per cent of the infected in 2004-05 and 20 per cent in 2008.


Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Wenceslaus, Duke, Martyr, A.D. 2010

Notes: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mr. Williams on the possibility of Australian States legislating for so-called gay marriage

"Egyptian Coptic Pope Shenouda III Fined For Stand Against Divorce"

From via AQ:

... The Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court has issued a decision requiring Orthodox Coptic Pope Shenouda III to pay damages of approximately 19,500 Egyptian pounds to church member Magdi William who sued the Coptic Church over its refusal to issue a certificate to re-marry after he divorced his wife.

In May, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of another litigant seeking re-marriage, Hani Wasfi Naguib, stating that under Egyptian law the Coptic Orthodox Church must allow its members to divorce and remarry.

However, after an appeal of that decision by the Coptic Church, the Supreme Constitutional Court overturned the ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court, stating that marital matters are under the sole jurisdiction of the church because civil marriage without a religious ceremony is not recognized in Egypt.

The Orthodox Coptic Church forbids divorce and re-marriage except in cases of proven adultery or religious conversion of a spouse.

In the current case, Pope Shenouda lost an appeal to overturn the court verdict in favor of William, despite the Constitutional Court ruling.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm news service, the Coptic pope has refused to pay the fine, and instead said he would defrock any priest who allows a divorced Christian to remarry, except under the allowed conditions.


Fr. Flader on the philosophical influences on John Paul II.

Good to see the following acknowledged by a member of the Novus Ordo Establisment:

In 1913 [St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, née Edith Stein] transferred to the University of Göttingen, where she studied philosophy under the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl.

There she also met Max Scheler, another philosopher, who directed her attention towards the Catholic faith. Pope John Paul II, as is well known, was very much influenced by these philosophers.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Wenceslaus, Duke, Martyr, A.D. 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Notes: Saturday-Monday, September 25-27, 2010

A letter in The Australian on contraception

When I read His Eminence The Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney's opinion piece in last Saturday's edition of The Weekend Australian I feared that there would be a flood of anti-Pell, pro-Pill letters, but The Australian has so far published only one letter on the topic, and I was pleased that it was supportive of His Eminence:

THERE will be any number of reasons submitted as to why Cardinal Pell is wrong to reject the pill ("The relationships market after 50 years of the pill", Commentary, 25-26/9) but they could be boiled down to one: argue as you will but don't deprive us of the pleasure of easy sex.

As to the argument that celibate priests know nothing about sexual relationships, it can fairly be stated that a Catholic priest learns more via the confessional in one year than the average person learns in a lifetime.

Bob Denahy, Holbrook, NSW

Leo XIII. on Christendom, social unity in the Faith, and union of Church and State

In an AQ thread on the Eastern Schism, someone posted Leo XIII.'s Apostolic Letter Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae, some of whose excerpts are also worth highlighting for their reiteration of some points of Traditional socio-political doctrine:

Nothing is more foreign to her disposition than to encroach on the rights of civil power; but the civil power in its turn must respect the rights of the Church, and beware of arrogating them in any degree to itself. Now, what is the ruling spirit of the times when actual events and circumstances are taken into account? No other than this: it has been the fashion to regard the Church with suspicion, to despise and hate and spitefully calumniate her; and, more intolerable still, men strive with might and main to bring her under the sway of civil governments. Hence it is that her property has been plundered and her liberty curtailed: hence again, that the training of her Priesthood has been beset with difficulties; that laws of exceptional rigor have been passed against her Clergy; that Religious Orders, those excellent safeguards of Christianity, have been suppressed and placed under a ban; in a word, the principles and practice of the regalists have been renewed with increased virulence.

Such a policy is a violation of the most Sacred Rights of the Church, and it breeds enormous evils to States, for the very reason that it is in open conflict with the Purposes of God. When God, in His most Wise Providence, placed over human society both temporal and Spiritual Authority, He intended them to remain distinct indeed, but by no means disconnected and at war with each other. On the contrary, both the Will of God and the common weal of human society imperatively require that the civil power should be in accord with the Ecclesiastical in its Rule and Administration.

Hence the State has its own peculiar rights and duties, the Church likewise has hers; but it is necessary that each should be united with the other in the bonds of concord. Thus will it come about that the close mutual relations of Church and State will be freed from the present turmoil, which for manifold reasons is ill-advised and most distressing to all well-disposed persons; furthermore, it will be brought to pass that, without confusion or separation of the peculiar interests of each, the people will render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.

[...] As regards the political question, which aims at reconciling liberty with Authority--two things which many confound in theory, and separate too widely in practice--most efficient aid may be derived from the Christian Philosophy. For, when this point has been settled and recognized by common agreement, that, whatsoever the form of government, the Authority is from God, reason at once perceives that in some there is a Legitimate right to command, in others the corresponding duty to obey, and that without prejudice to their dignity, since obedience is rendered to God rather than to man; and God has denounced the most rigorous judgment against those in Authority, if they fail to represent Him with uprightness and justice. Then the liberty of the individual can afford ground of suspicion or envy to no one; since, without injury to any, his conduct will be guided by Truth and rectitude and whatever is allied to public order. Lastly, if it be considered what influence is possessed by the Church, the mother of and peacemaker between rulers and peoples, whose mission it is to help them both with her Authority and Counsel, then it will be most manifest how much it concerns the commonweal that all nations should resolve to unite in the same belief and the same profession of the Christian Faith.


With that in mind I was dismayed to read this comment by a confused individual at Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog.

Mr. Farr on Sen. Brown's (changing) priorities

I was interested to read the following in Mr. Malcolm Farr's column in the Sydney Daily Telegraph last Friday:

Expectations of loopy legislative rants by the Greens, and of instability caused by them, will be disappointed.

Personally [Sen. Bob Brown] strongly opposes what he calls discrimination against same-sex marriage but as leader of the third-biggest voting bloc in Parliament he won’t attempt to end it by legislation.

So let me get this straight: Dr. Brown went into the election with, if I'm not mistaken, so-called gay marriage, but not euthanasia, among his stated priorities, but now he's given up on the former but is pursuing, in effect, the latter?

More from Mr. Muehlenberg on euthanasia

A couple of excerpts:

And the argument for a right to suicide is a very strange argument indeed. A person seeks to use his autonomy to end his autonomy! Suicide thus means the end of personal autonomy. It seems to be the ultimate oxymoron to speak about the choice to rob oneself of choice. As Leon Kass points out, “In the name of choice, people claim the right to choose to cease to be choosing beings.”

Or as Arthur Dyck asks, “how can suicide be considered a right, when the freedom to undertake it puts an end to all possibilities to act, to freedom and life, and hence is an act that abolishes these basic rights?” So much for choice and autonomy.

And as J.P. Moreland says, “Suicide is also a self-refuting act, for it is an act of freedom that destroys future acts of freedom; it is an affirmation of being that negates being; it serves a human good (e.g., a painless state) but, as a means to that end, violates other, more basic human goods (e.g., life itself).”

Also, it is a very strange kind of compassion which says that the way to relieve suffering is to kill the sufferer. We should be concentrating on removing the suffering, not the sufferer. That is why the many advances in palliative care and the treatment of pain are so important: it really is quite unnecessary to argue for the legalised killing of patients, even if done in the name of compassion.

"Athanasius" on the 'death-bringing' Old Law

Athanasius citing Johannes Baptist Franzelin:

... On the other hand, the doctrine and practice of the Quattordecimans are of a different species altogether, for they contended that Christians were required to keep both the rite and time of Jewish celebration from the Mosaic law, which is the error of the Ebionites. Thus it was no longer a matter of simply apostolic tradition, but of Divine Apostolic tradition, as it stands the rights, laws and types after their fulfillment through Christ the anti-type are dead and, the gospel being sufficiently promulgated, are also death bringing (mortiferos esse). -De Traditione, Thesis I

Athanasius in his own words:

Moreover, Christ revealed exactly Who God is, by the Divine economy He established by which His preaching was entrusted in toto to the Apostles and passed down to us. When the Jews deny the incarnation or the distinctions within God of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, after this revelation has been made they are no longer worshiping the same God. ...

Mr. Hennessy on the withholding of information about the trialled ethics classes

In yesterday's Sydney Catholic Weekly, Mr. Jude Hennessy, director of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine from The Diocese of Wollongong, was quoted thus:

“Like Mr O’Farrell, we have concerns about the process that first led to the implementation of the ethics classes and subsequently the review. In the first instance, the schools that volunteered their own involvement in the trial, have also written their own report card for Dr Knight.

“Anyone else who wanted to get access to the lessons were unable to do so, and in fact we are still awaiting access to eight of the 10 lessons under Freedom of Information requests.

“Certainly, we regarded it as strange that review process was formulated after the conclusion of the trial, and then not properly communicated to stakeholders.”


Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs, A.D. 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

On some recent pronouncements by H.H. The Pope

(I'm finally getting around to highlighting some recent Papal pronouncements I've been meaning to blog about.)

"Message for the 26th World Youth Day"

I was encouraged to read the second-last sentence of the following paragraph:

4. Believing in Jesus Christ without having seen him

[...] Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him. He will never betray that trust! “Faith is first of all a
personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Thus you will acquire a mature and solid faith, one which will not be based simply on religious sentiment or on a vague memory of the catechism you studied as a child. You will come to know God and to live authentically in union with him, like the Apostle Thomas who showed his firm faith in Jesus in the words: “My Lord and my God!”.
[Bold, italics, and hyperlink in the original,]

Modernism's doctrine of religious sentiment is, of course, one of its keynote errors:

10. Therefore the religious sentiment, which through the agency of vital immanenceemerges from the lurking places of the subconsciousness, is [for the Modernist] the germ of all religion, and the explanation of everything that has been or ever will be in any religion. ...
[Italics in the original,]

so the Holy Father's rejection of it as a basis for Faith is a rebuff to those who fancy that His Holiness is a Modernist in the strict sense (though that's not to say, of course, that there are not difficulties, sometimes great difficulties, in the theology and philosophy of Josef Ratzinger--some of which are apparent in the style and diction of that very same World Youth Day Message paragraph--and I think that it could still be maintained that he is a small-m modernist, in the sense of someone inordinately fond of modern philosophy and theology).

The Old Law: A bringer of blessings, or a bringer of death?

An item from a recent edition of the Vatican Information Service (V.I.S.) daily e-mail bulletin:


VATICAN CITY, 10 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, for the Jewish festivities of Rosh Hashanah 5771 (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which all fall in the month of September.

On these feast days, writes the Pope, "it is my pleasure to express the most cordial and sincere best wishes to you and to the entire Jewish community of Rome, together with the hope that these festivities may bring copious blessings from the Eternal One and be a source of intimate joy. May we all feel a growing desire to promote justice and peace, of which the world today has such need.

"With gratitude and affection I recall my visit to the Great Synagogue. May God, in His goodness, protect the entire community and enable it to develop in shared friendship, both in Rome and in the world".
TGR/ VIS 20100910 (170)

But there can be no hope that the festivities of the Old Law will bring "blessings", "copious" or otherwise, because the Old Law is now a bringer of death, not of blessings; see St. Thomas, Ia-IIæ, q. 103, a. 3, ad 2 and a. 4, ad 1, and the Council of Florence's Decree for the Jacobites (Dz. 712), among others.

H.H. The Pope's address in Westminster Hall during his State Visit to the U.K.

There are some good points in this speech (quoted from the V.I.S. daily e-mail bulletin), though from a Traditionalist perspective it's a bit mixed:


VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. today the Holy Father met with representatives from British civil society, and from the worlds of culture, academe and business, as well as the diplomatic corps and religious leaders. The meeting took place in Westminster Hall which, built in 1099, is the oldest part of Westminster Palace and is used for events of national and international significance.

[...] "In particular", he added, "I recall the figure of St. Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose 'good servant' he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process".

"The fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More's trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy".

The Holy Father continued his remarks: "The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as 'every economic decision has a moral consequence', so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore".

"The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is ... to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles".

Without the "corrective" role of religion, the Pope explained, "reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilisation.

"Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue - paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination - that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life".

[...] "For such co-operation to be possible", he concluded, "religious bodies - including institutions linked to the Catholic Church - need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed".
PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (1180)

H.H. The Pope on religious liberty and the natural-law basis for marriage

Excerpts from another V.I.S. daily e-mail bulletin:


VATICAN CITY, 13 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received the Letters of Credence of Walter Jurgen Schmid, the new ambassador of Germany to the Holy See.

The Pope began by mentioning Fr. Gerhard Hirschfelder, a martyr priest who died under the Nazi regime and who is due to be beatified in Munster on 19 September. He also referred to the beatifications of four other priests and the commemoration of an Evangelical pastor, scheduled for 2011.

"Contemplating these martyrs", said Benedict XVI, "it emerges ever more clearly how certain men, on the basis of their Christian convictions, are ready to give their lives for the faith, for the right to exercise their beliefs freely and for freedom of speech, for peace and human dignity".

[...] "The Church", the Holy Father explained, "looks with concern at the growing attempts to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is the lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is always open to the transmission of human life". In this context he identified the need for a "culture of the person", using an expression of John Paul II. Moreover, he continued, "the success of marriages depends upon us all and on the personal culture of each individual citizen. In this sense, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society". [...]
CD/ VIS 20100913 (620)

Again, a mixture of the pleasing and the displeasing. It was pleasing to hear the Holy Father speak of marriage's basis in the natural law (sometimes Catholics need to be reminded of this, because we sometimes think of marriage exclusively as a Sacrament, when the Sacrament of Marriage, though certainly a Sacrament between a baptised husband and his baptised wife, is nevertheless, in the words of The Catechism of St. Pius X., "nothing else than the natural contract itself, raised by Jesus Christ to the dignity of a sacrament", and an understanding of the meaning of that natural contract can be attained by, and defended by, unaided reason), but His Holiness's talk of 'freedom of speech', &c., was disappointing, but of course unsurprising. There is also the question of what a 'culture of the person' means.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, A.D. 2010

Notes: Friday, September 24, 2010

Fr. Zuhlsdorf on 'servitude', the Mass, and priesthood

The Rev. Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf provided a useful reminder of the meaning of the Papal title of 'servant of the servants of God':

... Servitus was sometimes in ancient times used as a form of address. We mustn’t stretch this too much, but tune your ear to how our ancient forebears would have heard words such as servitus. In the writings of the Fathers of the Church servus is used for the priest or bishop. St. Pope Leo I, “the Great” (+461) refers to himself in this way (ep. 108, 2). Servitus or “Servitude” was much as Sanctitas or “Holiness” is for the Pope today, or Excellentia or “Excellency” is for a bishop. I don’t hear of many bishops today welcoming the title “Your Servitude”. St. Augustine (+430) used servus servorum (ep. 217). One of the venerable titles of the Bishop of Rome is, from the time of the aforementioned St. Gregory I, “Servus Servorum Dei… Servant of the servants of God”.

And Father continues well, with the following reminder of the meaning of the Mass:

The altar is the supreme place of priestly service. An altar is about sacrifice. Priesthood is about sacrifice. Priesthood and sacrifice must never be separated in our minds.

We must never lose sight of Mass as propitiation, or of the priest as offering sacrifice to God. This deep current in Holy Mass must inform every word and gesture, ornament and sign.

Unfortunately, Fr. Zuhlsdorf then messes things up by introducing a little Vatican-II-ism:

For example, when the priest is standing at the altar in the place of Christ,
Head of the Church (in persona Christi capitis), ...

Another letter in The Australian on euthanasia (and the on-line comments which that letter has elicited)

Note: The web-page for the letter (published under the heading "Double standards") seems to have cut off the opening sentence, which, judging by the Letters main page, was

THE sanctity of life is a cornerstone of liberal democracy.

followed by

Its primary importance is pragmatic, not philosophical -- it provides ultimate protection of the weak in society.

=Unless we want to re-run the last 500 or so years of political evolution, we can't afford to abandon the principle that no individual or group has the right to kill others. The Greens' proposed euthanasia legislation does just this, devaluing human life and exposing its proponents to the accusation that they have double standards.

How can we concede that the sanctity of a life may be negotiable in some circumstances and then credibly campaign against capital punishment? How can we solve some people's problems by quietly euthanasing them and then hope to persuade teenagers that suicide is not a viable solution to their own problems?

The unconsidered social consequences of adopting this very unprogressive measure are potentially profound and likely to go well beyond its superficial aim of providing the ultimate in pain relief.

John Francis, Lauderdale, Tas

It was interesting to see some of the comment writers rejecting that the "sanctity of life is a cornerstone of liberal democracy":

v Posted at 8:33 AM Today

John Francis, I am afraid that yours is one of the most dishonest letters I have ever read. The "sanctity" of life is NOT a cornerstone of liberal democracy. ...

robert thomson of brisbane Posted at 9:43 AM Today

The sanctity of life a cornerstone of liberal democracy? What sort of bilge is this? ...

Well, there you have it. Liberals rejecting that the sanctity of life is a cornerstone of liberal democracy. Why would anyone support such a political system?

"Vatican joins commemoration of Rome capture"

Full body of the text posted at CathNews:

For the first time, the Vatican has joined in anniversary celebrations of the 1870 capture of Rome by Italian troops which ended the Papal States' domination of the city for more than 1,000 years.

"We are here to take part in a symbolic gesture and to re-affirm the fact that Rome is the indisputable capital of Italy, just like it is the heart of everything that concern the Church," Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said before the ceremony, the Times of Malta reports.

Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano and the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, also took part in the celebrations of the 140th anniversary of the "breach of Porta Pia," when on September 20, 1870 Italian troops broke into Rome close to the city gate, completing the country's unification.

Mr Alemanno said Cardinal Bertone's presence had "a special meaning", even though the ceremony "was no longer a matter of healing the historical wound between the Italian state and the Holy See".

Dr. Kok on euthanasia

One of the regular commenters at Mr. Muehlenberg's blog had some interesting things to say in a couple of comments at the latter's blog. Large excerpt from the first of those comments:

Jereth Kok
21.9.10 / 2am

[...] Bill, I am a medical practitioner who has spent time working with many dying patients. Arguments about there being a thin line between turning off life support and euthanasia are (to use the academic term) “complete bollocks”.

Life support (which includes such things as respirators, dialysis and artificial feeding) is artificial intervention which maintains life when it would otherwise cease. On the other hand, euthanasia is administration of a drug to a living patient which will shut down their body systems and kill them.

In a life support situation, if medical staff elect to “do nothing”, the patient will die in a way that is completely natural. Sometimes a patient is put on (artificial) life support in the hope that their body will recover to a point that life can be sustained naturally once again; life support is only switched off when it is clear that there is actually no prospect of recovery.

In a euthanasia situation, if medical staff elect to “do nothing”, the patient will continue living. Ongoing life is natural; euthanasia is artificial — the exact reverse of the former set of circumstances.

There is therefore a world of difference between withdrawing medical treatment which artificially prolongs life, and deliberately administering a drug to kill somebody. Contrary to your claim, there is not a hint of “grey” in this at all.

Jereth Kok


See also Dr. Kok's comment of 23.9.10 / 10pm in that same combox for details on how nurses deal with end-of-life situations.

Blog comments by me

Just one, at Terra's blog:

Cardinal Pole said...

Another thing of which Islam reminds us is the social rights of God. If we take the following proposition as the basic principle of Islamism:

Men not just in societies but also as societies must profess Islam.

then that is false not because of the form of the syllogism by which it is argued or because its major premise is false, but because its minor premise is false:

Men not just in societies but also as societies must profess the true religion.
Islam is the true religion.
Therefore men not just in societies but also as societies must profess Islam.

September 24, 2010 3:11 PM

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, A.D. 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Notes: Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Angelus [magazine] Now Online"
(Link added at the right of this screen too. I discovered that link here:

A letter in The Australian on palliative care and euthanasia advocacy:

I WONDER whether your readers are aware of the appalling state of palliative care and pain management services in this country? If any of them have attempted to find palliative care services for a terminally ill relative or friend who wants to die at their appointed time in their own home with their family and friends around them, they will know what I mean.

It's a struggle to find someone to monitor pain relief and nutrition and help with nursing care to enable this most precious of times to proceed with dignity and love. Good end-of-life care is expensive and time-consuming, and doesn't win votes.

I will not accept that Bob Brown, Marshall Perron, Philip Nitschke or any other euthanasia campaigner has anything other than economics and convenience in mind until they lobby as noisily for good and accessible palliative care services as they do for so-called "mercy-killing".

Sally Parnis, North Adelaide, SA


Mr. Muehlenberg on euthanasia

A timely piece, citing various authors who explain some of the concepts involved in discussion of euthanasia. Some excerpts:

Monique David puts it this way: “Currently, there is much confusion; many accept euthanasia because they do not want their lives to be maintained artificially nor to become victims of excessive treatment. However, these practices can be legitimately refused by the patient or their family through the ethical perspective of the right to die within the limits of natural death. Euthanasia and assisted suicide advocates claim something else: the right to terminate life at the moment and in the way that the individual chooses – or that someone chooses for them.

“Therefore, we should not use these terms to refer to the right to die (because this right is intrinsic), but rather to the right to be killed. This desire, expressed as a personal right, demands the intervention of a third party and a legal system that authorizes it. In other words, euthanasia and assisted suicide imply that doctors become agents of death and that society legally recognizes a criminal act to be lawful; or even more pernicious, a medical act.”

[...] Margaret Somerville points out the differences between euthanasia and pain-relief treatment: “In both cases there is an effort to relieve suffering. The difference is that the primary aim of euthanasia is to do so by inflicting death, whereas the primary aim of pain-relief treatment is simply to relieve pain – not to shorten life or cause death (although either might be a secondary effect).”

Euthanasia, then, is about one thing only: the killing of another person. The intent is to kill someone. It does not matter whether this is done with a gun or a lethal injection – the effect is the same. No civilised society can permit the legalised killing of its own citizens, even if done in the name of compassion.

One point which Mr. Meuhlenberg does not make in there is the problem of consequentialism. If one judges the morality of an act by, and only by, the consequences which it produces, so that an evil act is an act whose evil consequences outweigh its good consequences (and vice versa for a good act), then there is no reason intrinsic to euthanasia for opposing it. Influenced by this kind of thinking, someone like Prof. Mirko Bagaric, who has written that

The doctrine of double effect has been discredited in philosophy schools for decades. In the end, there is no inherent distinction between consequences that are intended and those which are foreseen. The fact civilians will be killed is often just as certain as the killing of combatants. We are responsible for all the consequences which we foresee, but nevertheless elect to bring about. Whether we also "intend" them is largely irrelevant.

will also write, as I mentioned the other day, that "from the perspective of the parties directly involved in euthanasia (the patient and health worker), the practice is not inherently objectionable" (, though as I also mentioned, Prof. Bagaric opposes, for other reasons, moves to legalise euthanasia.

Union and university write "gender neutral" industrial agreement

In The Australian today:

Modern transition

THERE are times in the troubled history of industrial relations when the populace can only stand still and marvel. One such moment is upon us: the Community and Public Sector Union and the University of NSW have reached an enterprise agreement that is completely gender neutral. Take it away, CPSU secretary John Cahill: "This is an important start in making a safe and welcoming environment for . . . staff who may be trans or intersex workers who may not identify as either male or female, or who are transitioning."



Full text of an item from the Vatican Information Service daily e-mail bulletin:


VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At the end of his catechesis during this morning's general audience, and before greeting those present in various languages, the Holy Father invited people to pray for the success of the work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which is currently meeting in plenary session in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

"The theme of the current phase", he said, "is the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Universal Church, with particular reference to the first millennium of Christian history. Obedience to the will of the Lord Jesus and consideration for the great challenges facing Christianity today, oblige us to commit ourselves seriously to the cause of re-establishing full communion among the Churches. I exhort everyone to intense prayer for the work of the commission and for the ongoing development and consolidation of peace and harmony among the baptised, that we may show the world an increasingly authentic evangelical witness".
AG/ VIS 20100922 (180)

Which is a reminder that one can still pray for the Consecration of Russia. See also the discussion on this in the combox to this post at Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog, in which combox we read of the interesting story of St. Sergius of Radonezh, or of Moscow, in the first comment there.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Ember Wednesday, and, feast of St. Linus, Pope, Martyr, and of St. Thecla, Virgin, A.D. 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Notes: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"James Bond the MI6 killer was just artistic licence"

That article made me think of the assassination attempts which Reginald Pole parried while living in Italy.

Mr. Hildebrand on euthanasia


If people genuinely want to die it is almost impossible to stop them. And once they are in any form of palliative care they are often effectively euthanased anyway via the administration of painkillers. Doctors know that there are already plenty of informal avenues for achieving a peaceful and humane death and they use these everyday.

And there’s a reason why they should stay informal: Because more important than any individual’s ``right to die’’ is the right of all of us to be free from any pressure to die - and by that I mean the slightest, tiniest, most minuscule suggestion that the world or their loved ones might get along easier without them.

If you legalise euthanasia, if you institutionalise the concept that people should be weighing up the pros and cons of their own existence, that pressure is inevitably going to follow.

People battling vicious diseases or just the onset of time may start to feel selfish for doing so, when in fact the will to live is the most fundamental and decent desire within all of us. It drives our quest for peace, for democracy and for progress.

If my grandmother or anyone like her felt guilty for living because of a new law passed in her own country, it would be a country that had betrayed its weak and muffled the divine spark in each of its citizens.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Thomas of Villanova, Bishop, Confessor, and of St. Maurice and Companions, A.D. 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Notes: Saturday-Tuesday, September 18-21, 2010

"Bishop Fellay Sends Bouquet of Rosaries to His Holiness for the Consecration of Russia on June 24th 2010 Feast of Saint John the Baptist"

Mr. Carlton on a bygone era
(the second of the three items at the web-page to which that link leads)

Prof. Bagaric on euthanasia

Interesting to see Prof. Bagaric's reasons for his opposition to its legalisation here, given that he thinks that "from the perspective of the parties directly involved in euthanasia (the patient and health worker), the practice is not inherently objectionable":

(Interesting to see that The Sydney Morning Herald is opposed too, though the three letters on the matter which it has published today are all supportive. Check those letters out if you want to refresh your memory of the standard arguments for it so that you can be ready to refute both their logic and their rhetoric.)

Interesting books reviewed in the weekend papers

Just one this week (and a brief review at that):

"Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity
"Andrew Robinson, ed.
"Palazzo, 256pp, $29.99"

Two interesting speeches by politicians

Mentioned by Mr. Phillip Adams in his column in last Saturday's edition of The Weekend Australian Magazine (apparently not available on-line, so my transcript of the excerpt follows):

I remember Billy McMahon delivering the speech of his life, supporting a woman's right to choose abortion. Ditto Edward Heath in the Commons denouncing capital punishment.
["Spare the whip", The Weekend Australian Magazine, September 18-19 2010, p. 3]

I would be interested to read the text of those speeches.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist, A.D. 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Notes: Friday, September 17, 2010


In the column on June 12 Mr Carlton said that the previous column had led to ''hundreds of Jewish emailers'' responding to him. He added: ''It is a ferocious beast, the Jewish lobby. Write just one sentence even mildly critical of Israel and it lunges from its lair, fangs bared.'' And: ''The Israel lobby, worldwide, is orchestrated in Jerusalem by a department in the Prime Minister's office.'' In the item on June 19, Mr Carlton wrote: ''With bottomless irony, the Jewish lobby spent much of last week assuring anybody who would listen that there is no such thing as the Jewish lobby.''

[...] The Sydney Morning Herald replied by emphasising that the writers of opinion articles are entitled to express their views and to do so in a forceful manner. It referred to ''hundreds of emails, some of them crude and racist'', being received by Mr Carlton and to his use of ''strong and colourful language … to describe the ferocity of those who wrote''. It denied the allegations of anti-Semitism but said that Mr Carlton believed many of the email responses showed very clear evidence of co-ordination and that ''there is such a thing as a 'Jewish lobby' ''. It provided details on a department in the Israeli government it said was the originator of many of the arguments used in emails to him. The newspaper provided the council with some quotations from emails and press releases supporting his assertions about co-ordination of responses, and also with copies of the 12 letters that it had published, many of them critical of Mr Carlton, in which the issues raised by Ms Maynard were canvassed.

Here is Mr. Carlton's opinion piece of June 12. That "department in the ['Israeli'] Prime Minister's office" is called the "Ministry for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs", by the way. (Perhaps publishing this article was Fairfax's way of appeasing the beast.)

1917 Code of Canon Law and commentary available on-line:
(Discovered here:

The atheist non-murderer as coward

Mr. Rowney on Dr. Hawking's "stunning lack of philosophical subtlety"

For once, an interesting 'CathBlog'. Particularly interesting was this section:

Hawking fails to grasps Leibniz's great insight that the universe must have a contingent cause. Without positing a contingent cause everything is necessary. For example the fact of "high winds in NSW on Fathers' Day" is just as necessary as "the law of gravity". Of course this is just bizarre and goes against our ordinary intuitions. It is also contrary to much of modern science. Leibniz was brilliant enough to discover a contingent cause in God's free choice to create the universe. Hawking doesn't have a contingent cause, he offers a (physically) necessary cause and so fails Leibniz's criterion. This error is again common to many recent physicists.

Two comments by me at AQ:

The first regarding Egypt's court ruling that the Coptic Orthodox Church must have divorce-'n'-remarriage:

The other regarding the socio-political doctrine of St. Robert Bellarmine:

H.H. The Pope praises Saints of the Confessional State and their patrimony

Excerpts from the item in today's Vatican Information Service daily e-mail bulletin:


VATICAN CITY, 16 SEP 2010 (VIS) - [...]

"The name of Holyroodhouse", [the Holy Father] said, "recalls the 'Holy Cross' and points to the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland. ... Many of them consciously exercised their sovereign duty in the light of the Gospel, and in this way shaped the nation for good at the deepest level. As a result, the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your forefathers' respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike".

[...] "Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms; and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well, constantly inform the example your government and people set before the two billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking nations throughout the world. [...]
PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100916 (1050)

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of the Impression of the Holy Stigmata on the Body of St. Francis, Confessor, A.D. 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Notes: Wednesday-Thursday, September 15-16, 2010

Graduates of independent schools were more likely to hold socially liberal views on gay marriage, abortion, IVF and foreign aid than graduates of public or Catholic schools. Non-government school graduates were more likely to be tolerant of free speech by religious extremists, while government school graduates were more likely to be in favour of reducing immigration.

Graduates of independent schools were more likely to have participated in a demonstration, attended a political rally, and donated money or raised funds for a social or political activity than graduates of government or Catholic schools. Graduates of independent schools were also more likely to be members of environmental groups and aid organisations.

Madness: Moves to end the banning of practising male homosexuals and practising male bisexuals from donating blood

That brings to mind an opinion piece by Mr. Piers Akerman some years ago, unfortunately apparently not available on-line, on why they were banned in the first place; the success of 'gay rights' activists in initially keeping sodomites eligible to give blood back in, if I'm not mistaken, the early '80s on the grounds of 'equal rights' had disastrous consequences.

Msgr. Williamson on doctrine and the possible regularisation of the S.S.P.X.

Copied and pasted from the e-mail:


Why is doctrine in general so important to Catholics ? And why in particular does the Society of St. Pius X, following Archbishop Lefebvre and now Bishop Fellay, insist that agreement on doctrine must precede any other kind of agreement with Conciliar Rome ? Why can the SSPX not accept to be regularized by Rome now, and leave the doctrinal differences to be worked out later ? Here are two connected but different questions. Let us start with the general question.

The word "doctrine" comes from the Latin doceo, docere, meaning, to teach. Doctrine is a teaching. In our liberal world where everybody wants to think and talk just as he likes, the word "indoctrination" has become a dirty word. Yet to put an end to indoctrination, one would have to close down all schools, because wherever a school is open, indoctrination is going on. Even if a teacher is teaching that all doctrine is nonsense, that is still a doctrine !

However, everyone in fact agrees on the need for doctrine. For instance, who ever would climb into an aeroplane about which he was told beforehand that its designer had defied the classic doctrine of aerodynamics, and turned the wings upside down ? Nobody ! Aerodynamic doctrine which is true, for instance, that wings must taper downwards at the back and not upwards, is not just words being spoken or written out of the blue, it is life and death reality. If a plane is to fly and not to crash, true aerodynamic doctrine, in fine detail, is essential to its design.

Similarly if a soul is to fly to Heaven and not crash into Hell, Catholic doctrine, teaching it what to believe and how to act, is essential. "God exists", "All human beings have an immortal soul", "Heaven and Hell are eternal", "I must be baptized to be saved", are not just words being imposed on souls to believe, they are life and death realities, but of eternal life and eternal death. St. Paul tells Timothy to teach these truths of salvation in or out of season (II Tim. IV, 2), and for himself he says, "Woe to me if I do not teach the Gospel" (I Cor. IX, 16). Woe to the Catholic priest who does not indoctrinate souls with the Church's infallible doctrine !

But the question remains: surely the SSPX, to obtain from Rome that precious regularization which Rome alone has the authority to grant, could come to a practical agreement by which no Catholic doctrine would be denied, but by which the doctrinal differences between Rome and the SSPX would merely be bracketed out for the moment ? Surely there need be here no betrayal of those great truths of salvation mentioned above ? Bishop Fellay himself answered that question briefly in an interview which he gave to Brian Mershon in May of this year, published in the "Remnant". Here are his words: "It is very clear that whatever practical solution would happen without a sound doctrinal foundation would lead directly to disaster... We have all these examples in front of us - the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King and all of the others are totally blocked on the level of doctrine because they first accepted the practical agreement." But need that be so ? Interesting question...

Kyrie eleison.

"Russian Orthodox official blasts liberal developments in Anglicanism" (and does so in the very presence of the pretender Archbishop of Canterbury)

See also

Particularly interesting was that Russian official's talk of "the possibility of establishing an Orthodox-Catholic alliance in Europe for defending the traditional values of Christianity". When the Consecration of Russia is done there will be something much better than a mere strategic alliance between us and them.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Cornelius, Pope, Martyr, and St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyr, and of St. Euphemia and Companions, Martyrs, A.D. 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mr. Baker on the validity of the Second Vatican Council as an Ecumenical Council

In his latest post at his website, the New South Wales solicitor and amateur Thomist Mr. Michael Baker has repeated his argument that the Second Vatican Council was not a valid Ecumenical Council. (I had intended to refute that argument when he advanced it earlier but I never got around to it.) Mr. Baker asks

how, if Vatican II was an ecumenical council, could [its teachings] conflict with ["hitherto established or infallible Catholic"] teaching?
[italics in the original, my square-bracketed interpolations]

The answer is the same one as the answer to the question of 'how, if Pope N. was a true Pope, could his teachings conflict with hitherto established or infallible Catholic teaching?' And that answer is: Because those teachings (of a Pope or Ecumenical Council) were not teachings of the Extraordinary Magisterium, whose distinguishing characteristics ('distinguishing', that is, from teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium) are definitiveness and imperativeness. The teachings of the Second Vatican Council were not definitive, so they were not necessarily inerrant. It is strange that Mr. Baker fails to grasp this, especially given that he mentions in that very post the characteristics of ex-Cathedra-level, i.e. Extraordinary-Magisterium-level, teachings.

Mr. Baker sets out his argument for the invalidity of the Second Vatican Council as follows:

The gratia gratis datae of infallibility is given to the college of bishops only for adequate reason. An ecumenical (or general) council is called by a pope to address some issue whose determination is essential to the welfare of the Church and the faithful. The welfare of Church and faithful is its end; its finality. Now the form (essence) of anything follows its finality.

In his Opening Speech to the Council Fathers, John XXIII acknowledged that there was no issue of doctrine or discipline to be determined, but that he had convoked the Council to make the Church relevant to the world, a reason conveniently summarised in a word he had coined in an earlier speech—aggiornamento. The Council was “to bring the Church up to date”. But the Church had no such need: the Church is outside time. Since, therefore, there was nothing essential to the welfare of the Church and the faithful to justify its convoking, Vatican II was not an ecumenical council.

[italics in the original]

That is, as Mr. Baker writes, his a priori argument against the validity of the Second Vatican Council. But from what I can tell, he orginally reached his conclusion a posteriori, and indeed he tells us what his a posteriori argument against the validity of Vatican II is:

Since the Church does not contradict herself, it is therefore impossible that the teaching of the Council’s bishops in Dignitatis Humanae was uttered by the Church.
[italics in the original]

The argument fails because the "Since ..." part is incomplete: It should say 'Since the Church does not contradict herself in exercising her Extraordinary Magisterium or her Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, ...' to which the 'it is therefore ...' part does not then follow. Thus is the a posteriori argument refuted.

Now to return to the a priori argument: Mr. Baker's argument there is basically that since the Second Vatican Council did not, so he argues, have the final cause, the end, of an Ecumenical Council, it therefore cannot have been an Ecumenical Council. His argument fails because Mr. Baker neglects the distinction between finis operis (end-of-work) and finis operantis (end-of-agent). A thing's end-of-agent need not be the same as its end-of-work in order for it truly to be the thing in question. To use an example which Mr. Baker has used: A table's end-of-work is to provide a stable surface on which to work or dine or whatever. It might have been that the carpenter's motive, his end-of-agent, in making the table was something completely different, but so long as it has the matter--the wood and nails and so on--and form--the 'tableness'--of a table, it is still a table, and capable of being put to a table's proper use. (Another example would be marriage. We know that matrimony's (primary) end is procreation and child-rearing. But if this were not the motive of the husband and wife, or even if the husband and wife had motives exclusive of this end, would it be a valid marriage? So long as the matter and form were there, there would still be a valid marriage.) Likewise for the Second Vatican Council: It had the matter--the world's Catholic bishops gathered together--and form--gathered together under the Pope--of an Ecumenical Council, so it cannot but have had the final cause of a Council, regardless of whatever novel motives the Pope might have had in convoking it, and regardless of whether or not it performed Acts of the Extraordinary Magisterium. (Though I'm not even sure that Bl. John XXIII.'s stated motive--explaining the Faith in a manner tailored to the needs of his time--was entirely novel, given that Reginald Pole gave something like that as one of the reasons for the Council of Trent.) Hence the only successful way to prove the invalidity of the Second Vatican Council by the lack of one or more of the four Aristotelian causes would be to reason like the Sedevacantists do and argue that Bl. John XXIII. or Paul VI. or both were false Popes, hence Vatican II lacked the formal cause and the efficient cause necessary to be a Council (and the material cause too, since a "Catholic bishop" is, by definition, a validly-consecrated bishop in communion with a true Pope). But there is no need to do so, since whatever difficulties there are in the documents of Vatican II, those documents are not (and don't pretend to be) Acts of the Extraordinary Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council was a true Ecumenical Council, albeit one which taught problematically, just as there have been true Popes who taught problematically--but never, in the cases of Councils or Popes, in their respective definitive pronouncements.

Perhaps now Mr. Baker can move on from his futile denials of the validity of the Second Vatican Council and, having come to see the problems with Dignitatis humanæ, turn his attention to the problems with the Novus Ordo Missæ.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, the feast of St. Nicomedes, Martyr, A.D. 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Notes: Saturday-Tuesday, September 11-14, 2010

Interesting article on Islamic 'Church'-(Super)State doctrine as expressed in an Islamist party's manifesto

Interesting to read Ms Neighbour's article while keeping in mind the corresponding Traditional Catholic (i.e. true) socio-political doctrines. There is much in that article which would (or I suppose should) be unobjectionable to a Catholic*. Two key points of disagreement are, however, the Islamist lack of a distinction between the State and the Islamic counterpart to the Church (the true and Catholic doctrine is that there is a distinction but, ideally, not a separation between Church and State) and the apparent Islamic imperative for all the Islamic Confessional States to unite into the one Super-State (in the true and Catholic doctrine there is no imperative for Catholic Confessional States to unite into the one State; on the contrary, it would seem preferable that there would be no 'Universal State' to rival the Universal Church, though of course this would be no problem in the Islamist schema since, as I said, in it 'Church' and State aren't even distinct from each other).

*This should come as no surprise, since in the following syllogism:

Men not just in societies, but also as societies, must profess the true religion.
Islam is the true religion.
Therefore men not just in societies but also as societies must profess Islam.

the conclusion, which is perhaps the core principle of Islamism insofar as it is a body of socio-political doctrine, is false not because of the form of the argument or because of its major premise but because of the minor premise.

"Vocations Crusade for Holy Cross Seminary, Australia"

An AQ comment on some inadequacies in The Archdiocese's of Melbourne's "Guidelines for Catholic Funerals"

Transcript of Compass episode "Schools of Thought" on ethics classes

Interesting CathNews 'blog' which reminds us that any State will have public religious, or at least quasi-religious, rites

The relevant excerpt:

Why do we give more solemnity to the public rites of the nation, rather than the public rites of the Church? This has to do with a movement of the sacred from Christianity to the nation; where public rules and rituals are associated with the nation while private wants and tastes apply to everything else, including “religion”.

There will always be a State religion; it's just a question of whether that religion will be the true one or a false one.

Interesting books reviewed/mentioned in the weekend papers:
"The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages
"By Robert Fossier
"Trans. Lydia G. Cochrane
"Princeton University Press, 400pp, $64"

Mentioned on page five of the News Review section of The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday:

"People Power: The History and Future of the Referendum in Australia by George Williams and David Hume (UNSW Press, $34.95)"

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, A.D. 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Notes: Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Same-sex adoptions law faces further vote"

In today's Herald:

THE NSW Legislative Council voted last night in favour of same-sex adoptions but approved an amendment which means the legislation will now return to the Legislative Assembly for a further vote.

After a lengthy debate, 22 voted in favour of the legislation in the upper house and 15 voted against it in a conscience vote.

The margin was much greater than the two-vote margin in the Legislative Assembly.

After approving the legislation in principle, the Legislative Council debated a series of amendments.

The most notable was one moved by the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, seeking to tighten an earlier lower house amendment that Frank Sartor had moved and which sought to release faith-based organisations from the application of the legislation.

This amendment was approved by the same 22-15 margin, which will now result in the legislation returning to the Legislative Assembly where it will be subject to a further vote.

This has triggered concerns that the legislation could be voted down, since two MPs absent last week are expected to oppose the legislation. That would then give the Speaker the casting vote and the legislation could be blocked.

At the conclusion of yesterday's debate, Penny Sharpe said: ''The bill does nothing but give same-sex couples access to applications.''

Ms Sharpe moved the legislation on behalf of Clover Moore, who introduced the legislation to Parliament. [...]


A couple of points:
  • I wonder what, precisely, was Mr. Hatzistergos's amendment?
  • Interesting that the reporter speaks of "concerns" being "triggered", rather than, say, 'hopes' being 'raised', or if he wanted to sound neutral, a 'possibility emerging'
A surrogacy Bill for New South Wales (plus an example of the kind of mayhem which makes such legislation desirable for surrogacy's supporters)

From yesterday's Sydney Daily Telegraph (page thirteen of the print edition, on-line version posted below):

SURROGACY laws will be introduced into NSW, giving people legal rights as parents when someone has a child on their behalf.

The proposal was brought to Cabinet by Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, with a conscience vote planned in both houses.

The proposal would ban commercial surrogacy but allow gay couples to use surrogates to have their children.

Strict age limits would be provided on the "carriers" of children, with the minimum age for carrying a child to be 25.

The laws follow a conscience vote at the national ALP conference on the issue and a parliamentary committee report earlier this year which found parents raising a surrogate child were not recognised as legal parents.

That committee recommended allowing parents in surrogacy arrangements to apply for legal parentage of a child six weeks after the child is born. At present, surrogacy is not illegal, but parents of a surrogate child have no rights.

[...] The conscience vote follows that on same-sex adoption which was expected to pass the Upper House last night.

Creating conscience votes on social issues were partly intended to create a "wedge" between Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, who tends to vote as a small "l" liberal on such matters, and religious-right powerbroker David Clarke, Labor sources said. [...]


And here's the example to which I referred in the heading for this item:

"Struggle over 'ownership' of baby split gay parents"

Expect a future Parliamentary inquiry into 'multi-parent adoption/surrogacy' (the possibility of such an inquiry was mooted in one of the pro-gay-adoption submissions to the gay adoption inquiry, but I don't have time to track down the reference). A surrogate child can, of course, have as many as five persons who can be said in some sense to be his or her parents--the sperm donor, the egg donor, the surrogate mother, and the two (or I suppose that that should be 'at least two') persons who intend to raise the child.

"The gender myth"

Interesting to read that article in the light of the thoughts of that 'female-to-male transsexual' last week. Also, two of the experts whom that article quotes say respectively that "[y]es, there are basic behavioural differences between the sexes" and that "[y]es, boys and girls, men and women, are different", but the author's thesis is that these differences can be mitigated (or, for that matter, reinforced and exaggerated). One of the experts says that

We are being told there is nothing we can do to improve our potential because it is innate. That is wrong. Boys can develop powerful linguistic skills and girls can acquire deep spatial skills.

But by acknowledging that there are innate, if not insuperable, differences between the sexes in these abilities, potentials, and tendencies, she seems implicitly to say that men and women respectively have a sort of 'comparative advantage' over the opposite sex in these abilities, potentials, and tendencies. Actually, those advantages would seem to be absolute, not comparative, since an absolute advantage is a greater productive capacity, whereas a comparative advantage is just a lower opportunity cost--hence boys can indeed "develop powerful linguistic skills", but girls can do so more easily, and similarly for spatial skills. I'd have to give this more thought, though.

H.H. The Pope and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Inter-religious Dialogue on religious liberty

Two items from today's Vatican Information Service daily e-mail bulletin:


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Following his general audience this morning, the Holy Father received members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The meeting marked the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, which "commits member States of the Council of Europe to promote and defend the inviolable dignity of the human person".

Speaking English, Benedict XVI referred to the topics on the parliamentary assembly's agenda, such as "persons who live in particularly difficult situations or are subjected to grave violations of their dignity". He made particular mention of "people afflicted with handicaps, children who suffer violence, immigrants, refugees, those who pay the most for the present economic and financial crisis, those who are victims of extremism or of new forms of slavery such as human trafficking, the illegal drug trade and prostitution, ... victims of warfare and people who live in fragile democracies". The Pope also dwelt on the organisation's efforts "to defend religious freedom and to oppose violence and intolerance against believers in Europe and worldwide.

"Keeping in mind the context of today's society in which different peoples and cultures come together", he added, "it is imperative to develop the universal validity of these rights as well as their inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility. On different occasions I have pointed out the risks associated with relativism in the area of values, rights and duties. If these were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgements, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe? ... How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable, universal principles understood in the same way by all member States of the Council of Europe?"

He went on: "These values, rights and duties are rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning. The Christian faith does not impede, but favours this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity".

The Holy Father concluded by expressing his conviction that "these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage - rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman - and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents".
AC/ VIS 20100908 (440)


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue today released an English-language communique describing its "great concern at the news of the proposed 'Koran Burning Day' on the occasion of the anniversary of the 11 September tragic terrorist attacks in 2001 which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and considerable material damage.

"These deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community. Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection. We are speaking about the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters.

"The reflection which necessarily should be fostered on the occasion of the remembrance of 11 September would be, first of all, to offer our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorist attacks. To this feeling of solidarity we join our prayers for them and their loved ones who lost their lives.

"Each religious leader and believer is also called to renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion. Pope John Paul II affirmed: 'Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions' (address to the new ambassador of Pakistan, 16 December 1999). His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI similarly expressed, 'violence as a response to offences can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion' (address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, to the new ambassador of Morocco, 6 February 2006)".
CON-DIR/ VIS 20100908 (300)

It's always disappointing to see the Vatican preaching religious liberty, but it's interesting to see how this supposed right was qualified in each item: His Holiness spoke of "[k]eeping in mind the context of today's society in which different peoples and cultures come together", which can be interpreted in an orthodox manner so that religious liberty is conceived of as a legitimate policy of prudent tolerance in societies which are far from unified in the true Faith (though I don't mean to suggest that that is how the Holy Father would want his words interpreted), and while the P.C.I.D. speaks of

Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, ha[ving] the right to respect and protection.

which is in itself false, because obviously a false religion has no innate right to respect and protection, the P.C.I.D. explains this respect as

the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters.

which remedies some of the heterodoxy of the preceding sentence, since obviously we need to respect everyone for their (ontological) dignity, but since a choice of falsehood and evil deserves no respect, the heterodoxy is not completely eliminated.

Blog comments by me

Just one, at Mr. Schütz's blog:

Cardinal Pole
September 9, 2010 at 5:34 am

Earlier on, Paul G asked

“If gay “marriage” is made legal, can anyone explain to [him] the reason for keeping polygamy illegal?”
Peregrinus wrote in response that

“The fact that someone rejects one of the key characteristics of the Christian concept of marriage (heterosexuality, openness to procreation*) doesn’t necessarily mean that they will must reject another of them (exclusivity).”

That’s true, but the problem is that the characteristic which advocates of so-called same-sex marriage reject at least implicitly is the characteristic of the complementarity of the spouses. ‘Marriage’ in the most general sense of the word is the uniting of two complementary parts into a whole. Hence a carpenter might speak of ‘marrying up’ two interlocking pieces of timber. The complementarity which is the defining feature of matrimony is primarily and at least initially sexual complementarity (and ‘sexual’ in the proper sense of the word, not the at best semi- or quasi-(really, pseudo-)sexual complementarity of a sodomite and his current catamite).

So for ‘gay marriage’ advocates, husband and wife are conceived of not as complements, but as substitutes. And if so, and there can hence be a husband and a husband or a wife and a wife in a marriage, then why not a husband and a husband and a husband, or four husbands, or two husbands and a wife, or whatever? If spouses are substitutes, not complements, then it seems arbitrary to fix the number of them at two per marriage.


Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Peter Claver, Confessor, and of St. Gorgonius, Martyr, A.D. 2010