Monday, August 31, 2009

Dissident theologians and pro-abortion politicians

The Kennedy clan is the most prominent Catholic family in the highly dynastic world of US politics, and it is firmly pro-abortion. How did this come about? The promise of money and allies from the abortion lobby was underpinned by a group of dissident Catholic theologians who actually had a formal meeting in 1964 to coach family members in the sophistical distinctions they could make to rationalise their position. What they advocated appears to have been basically the familiar claim that a politician can be 'personally opposed' to abortion but as a matter of policy various considerations, from the need to maintain public order to the 'distress' of a woman who might be refused abortion, can justify voting to make abortion easier in every possible way - as if the state's duty to defend the lives of the innocent could be set aside so easily.

From Fr Z, with his emphases and comments in red (see his post):
The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book "The Birth of Bioethics" (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion. [Get that? There was a workshop for them to help them get around the teaching of the Church.]

Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that [AGAIN… pay attention…] "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue." It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians "might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order."

One conclusion to draw from this is that these networks of dissent which this blog has sought to highlight have their importance and can do real damage. Simply by providing 'cover' for dissenting positions they can render inneffective the Church's opposition to some of the greatest evils of the day.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Archbishop Chaput responds to The Tablet

Business as usual in The Tablet last week - claiming that abortion is just 'Catholic' issue and that therefore Catholics should not let it get in the way when they decide what political policies to support (er, right!). This is a central tenat of the implicitly or explicitly pro-abortion dissident network of 'Catholic' organisations which feed off the Church and neutralise her public teaching. On this occasion The Tablet was addressing not a UK issue but an American one, so Archbishop Chaput pf Denver has posted a reply. (H-t Damian Thompson) In part:

Last week a British Catholic journal, in an editorial titled “US bishops must back Obama,” claimed that America’s bishops “have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue - making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion - rather than the more general principle of the common good.”
It went on to say that if US Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, “they could play a central role in salvaging Mr Obama’s health-care programme.”
The editorial has value for several reasons. First, it proves once again that people don’t need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues. Second, some of the same pious voices that once criticized US Catholics for supporting a previous president now sound very much like acolytes of a new president. Third, abortion is not, and has never been, a “specifically Catholic issue,” and the editors know it. And fourth, the growing misuse of Catholic “common ground” and “common good” language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Muslim question: segregation and secularisation

Those who strive to be Politically Correct have been tearing each other apart over the demands of Muslims to adhere to their own customs. Special sex-segregated sessions at public swimming pools with vastly stricter dress codes have been established by many left-wing local authorities, and have attracted criticism from other lefties. A Labour minister walked out of a Muslim wedding when he discovered men and women had separate rooms, and has been practically accused of racism by a Labour peer. Sharia courts have been recognised as legitimate forums for arbitration by the Government, to the dismay of those who think they are sexist.

The strategy of the Left in Britain has been to encourage massive immigration, without any effort at integration, for two reasons. First, immigrants tend to vote for the left, partly out of gratitude for the policy on immigration (which they naturally wish to see continued) and partly because of the economic circumstances in which they find themselves when they have settled in. Second, the whole process undermines the British and Christian values which the left hates. Even if the immigrants are Christians themselves, the social disruption large-scale immigration causes undermines the sense of solidarity around shared values and understandings which are appealed to by popular socially conservative politicians. Socialism, for example, has historically been opposed by appeals to family values, historic local loyalties, religious values, patriotism and the like, appeals which are most fruitful when made to a cohesive electorate with shared values and traditions. Such appeals are becoming harder and harder to make.

However, immigration from Muslim countries is beginning to create sizable subcultures with a degree of coherence of their own. The values and shared traditions of these groups are powerful and are even more radically opposed to the left's agenda than those of traditional British society. In some respects they are similar to Christian values, and in some respects they differ, and even oppose, Christian values. The big picture, however, is that they oppose the left's agenda of secularisation: of pushing religious values out of public view.

So Muslims have been allies with Christians in opposing the secularisation even of Christian festivals like Christmas: they know if secularism rules the day, their own aspirations will be crushed. But a traditional Christian state would not tolerate unlimited Muslim self-assertion - exemplified by the 'mega mosque' plan - any more than a secular one. So should Christians ally with secularists to oppose Muslim demands, or ally with Muslims to oppose secularist ones?

At this point Christians, and Catholics in particular, should be made to realise how they have been backed into a corner. Secularism and Islam are both self-confident creeds. 'Live and let live' is only a short-term compromise where they are concerned. Christians have allowed the process of secularisation to take place under the wholly mistaken impression that it creates a 'level playing field' for 'reasonable' religious views to co-exist. This is totally false: it cannot be true that Christianity should not have a leading role in public life, as the secularists argue, unless Christianity is false. To deal with the current situation Christians should take a leaf out of the book of both secularists and Muslims, and act as if they believe what they profess to believe is actually true: if it is true it has implications for how society should be run.

70% of the UK population professes some kind of Christian belief. Christian leaders should stop kidding them that their values can be preserved in a 'private sphere'. If they campaigned for Christian values to inform public policy at every level, there would be many practical compromises to make along the way, but at least they would be meeting their opponents in debate, and not simply hiding under the bedcovers.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Catholic political party?

It seems that following the demise of the Pro-Life Party as a political party, a new party was formed which would be specifically Catholic. The Pro-Life Party never won any seats but it got some good publicity for life issues at election times, and won a battle with the BBC over an election broadcast. To have the BBC accused of exercising 'censorship' in a court ruling was an important acheivment.

This new party, 'Resurgence', has been going since 2004; the fact that it's only now that a couple of blogs have put a notice about it is surprising. Their documents are a strange mixture of the sensible, the slightly obsessive and the plain barmy. In the last category is the suggestion that they will ban party whips in the House of Commons. First, how? Second, why? In the places where party discipline is weak the efforts of politicians to endear themselves to their voters lead not to high principles, but to pandering to special interests. Just look at the USA. And a party which does not aspire to exercise control over what its MPs do doesn't deserve anyone's vote.

Small parties can serve a useful purpose. They can draw attention to neglected issues; they can educate the public and build networks; they can act as think tanks and lobby groups. Resurgance needs to think about what it can acheive, in the short and medium term, and what it shouldn't be bothering about. Detailed and unimaginative plans for vehicle tax reform are beside the point. Giving substance to Catholic social teaching and the pro-life agenda, setting them in the context of the current legislative situation, and preparing good publicity materials on them would actually be useful. The people currently in this field are nearly all either Catholics pretending not to be (the pro-life groups, some conservative thinktanks) or non-Catholics pretending to be Catholics (groups like the dissident 'justice and peace' brigade listed on this blog). How about some real Catholics who admit they are Catholics?

And how about some public events, guys?

Their list of links exposes the narrowness of their network. They clearly haven't thought at all about the Catholic organisations who might be sympathetic to their cause. Instead they link to the non-Catholic extremist pro-life group UK Life League with its homepage covered in grisly pictures of dead babies (for a critique, see here). What does that say about Resurgence?

Thanks, Paul Kennedy, General Secretary, but you'll have to try again.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Marriage Care caught out again

Archbishop Nichols is the President of Marriage Care. When is he going to do something about it?

Shortly after Marriage Care's Director, Terry Prendergast, gave a talk to a dissident Catholic gay group about how homosexual unions should be recognised by the Church and allowed to adopt children, it has been revealed that Marriage Care's sex education materials are completely amoral.

No surprise there: we pointed this out long ago. But the Catholic Herald had run a story on it, which is good news.

Here it is, in part: The manual, called Foundations for a Good Life, is designed to help to teach pupils at Key Stage 3 and 4 - the last two years of secondary school - and college students about relationships, marriage, the family and sexuality.

The final two modules are aimed at young people over the age of 16 and deals with methods of contraception.

There is no discussion of the morality of the methods with the focus on function and effectiveness. The manual hails condoms as 98 per cent effective in avoiding pregnancy, and the Pill, the coil and hormonal injections as 99 per cent effective, but says that NFP methods are far less reliable.

"If you have a regular menstrual cycle, it [NFP] is 80 to 98 per cent effective, but can be lower if your cycle is irregular," the manual says. "NFP is not often suggested for teenagers who might not be considering committed relationships as yet." The manual was criticised by NFP teachers who insisted that their methods were nearly 100 per cent effective.

The point about the effectiveness of NFT is a side-issue, if a predictable one. The real issue here is that the Marriage Care course, just like the 'All That I Am' course from Birmingham and all the other sex education courses being pushed at children, makes a virtue of the fact that it gives information totally inappropriate to the teaching of children in a whole-class context, and does so without any ethical context. The decision about when and how to have sex is a matter of preserving sexual health - the Church's teaching doesn't come into it.

It is also interesting to note that the claims in these materials for the effectiveness of condoms derive from fantasy - or (in the technical jargon) from 'perfect use'. Use of condoms by teenagers is obviously far from perfect, and effectiveness rates are vastly lower.

...a major study on contraceptive failure reported that in single woman under 18 years of age, using the birth control pill to prevent pregnancy, the first year failure rate was 11%!3 The failure rate of condoms is also seriously higher in the adolescent age group. For example, an article in the journal, Family Planning Perspectives, quotes an annual Practical failure rate of 18.4 percent in teenage girls under 18 years of age who are using condoms to prevent pregnancy. According to these figures, over half of the teenage users will be pregnant within three years. The authors further qualify this failure rate by stating that "these rates are understated because of the substantial under-reporting of abortion among single women; if abortion reporting was complete, failure rates would be 1.4 times as high as they appear here..."4


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sex Ed video from the Archdiocese of Birmingham

Warning: contains nudity.

See Catholic and Loving It for more commentary. If you don't want your 9-year old to see material like this, don't send him or her to a Catholic school where Archbishop Nichols' ideas on sex education have influence.

Don't say you haven't been warned. Wake up!

Now the Government are promoting masturbation for teenagers - yes you read that right. How long before the Catholic Education Service either catches up with that one or realises that the attempt to produce a 'Catholic' sex education is a hopeless one? Here's an image from a leaflet produced by the NHS in Sheffield.


Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen