sexta-feira, 6 de setembro de 2013

Why We Should Respect Someone Else’s Conscience - by Anthony Esolen

In Crisis 

The scene is from C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.  The callow young sociology professor, Mark Studdock, an atheist and a social climber, has been detained in a cubicle deliberately fashioned with odd annoying angles and not-quite-right pictures on the wall.  His detainers aim to break down in him any last sense of the inner harmony between beauty and the moral good, or even between ordinary presentability and decency.  The fight is for the man’s soul.

His instructor presents him with a crucifix and asks him to tread upon it.  It’s a meaningless act, he says.  It isn’t a man, only a cheap piece of carved wood.  There is no moral import to it.  But something in the young man recoils.  He does not believe there was anything special about Jesus.  As far as he knows, Jesus was only a man condemned to a shameful death by his enemies, on a trumped-up political charge.  And all of Jesus’ friends abandoned him on Calvary, and all of the intellectual people that matter to him in England have long abandoned him too.  But for that very reason, to tread upon the crucifix seems base.  Why add that last small act of shaming to all the rest?  The still small voice speaks to him, saying, “This would be foul, petty, ignoble.  You must not do this.”  If he complies, as far as he knows, his career is made.  If he refuses, his career is shot.  He’s a married man, and he’s ambitious, and he needs the money.  It’s only a piece of wood.  The meaning of his life hangs in the balance.  Nor can we ever be sure that a man who betrays so clear a prohibition issued by his conscience will be given that choice again, to undo the evil.

He refuses.

These days in our political and even ecclesiastical battles we hear a great deal about the primacy of the conscience, but almost nothing about what the conscience is and why we should care, not about our own conscience, but about someone else’s.  Robert George, in his new book Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism (ISI Books), aims to supply the lack.  He reminds us that conscience is, to use Newman’s words, a “stern monitor,” not, as David Hume asserts, much to the comfort of adolescents everywhere, the ratiocinative faculty by which we construct “justifications” for what we wanted to do (or to get out of doing) in the first place.  Rather, the conscience warns us of what we must do and of what we must not do.  “The duty to follow conscience,” George writes, “is a duty to do things or refrain from doing things not because one wants to follow one’s duty but even if one strongly does not want to follow it.  The right of conscience is a right to do what one judges oneself to be under obligation to do, whether one welcomes the obligation or must overcome strong aversion to fulfill it.”

In other words, as George notes, conscience is not a “permissions department.”   It commands and proscribes; and that’s why we spend so much effort trying to circumvent it, muddle it, or stifle it altogether.  Mark Twain gives us a humorous instance of it when Huck Finn must decide whether to rat on the runaway slave Jim or to protect him.  Huck “knows,” in an exterior way, from common chatter, that the “right” thing to do would be to betray his friend and profit by it, but something deep inside him tells him no, and so he too refuses, even though he figures that he’ll probably end up in hell for it.
When someone says, “I may do this, because my conscience doesn’t forbid me,” he is treating an absence as a presence.  He feels no command or proscription, and transmutes that insensibility into a proof that what he wants is permissible.  But that doesn’t follow.  It may be morally permissible; it may be downright virtuous; but it may be wicked.  Many an SS officer’s conscience was comfortably silent on the issue of slaughtering Jews.  People steeped in evil may even hug themselves for the benefits their evil confers upon mankind.  So it is that snuffing out the lives of unborn children, in the minds of some, is more than permissible: it is a great and glorious good, to be celebrated with cake and icing.  Conscience can be unformed or deformed; conscience does not determine what is good or evil, but must hearken to the truth of the matter, even if the person cannot articulate just why he must do what he would prefer to leave undone, or why he must not do what he would dearly like to do.

We are not obliged to respect a man’s permission slips.  We are not obliged to throw the hedonist his party.  We are not obliged to buy the adolescent’s toys, or even to stock our shelves with them.  Indeed, when someone asserts that he ought to be allowed to do something because he wants to do it, and because he doesn’t hear the voice of conscience warning against it—he wants to use cocaine, he and his enemy want to engage in a duel, he likes pornography—we needn’t give much standing to his feelings.  His permission slip puts the matter on the table, that’s all.  We need to ask about the nature of what he wants, whether it is indeed morally neutral, or virtuous, or vicious, whether allowing it conduces to the common good.  But it is a different matter entirely when that man’s monitor does speak, “Thou shalt!” and “Thou shalt not!”

Why is that?  Is it because then his preferences or repugnancies are especially strong?  Your dog may have a strong desire to snitch food from a guest’s plate, but we aren’t overriding his conscience when we keep him from doing it.  He may have a strong aversion against going outside in the pouring rain to do his business, but we aren’t shackling his moral sensibility when we make him go out anyway.  That’s because the dog is not a moral agent.  He does not apprehend the good and internalize it, making it his own, allowing it to inform his choices, to build his personality.  We might say that he knows “rules” but not law.

But man is a moral agent.  That isn’t just something accidental to man, as for instance that he has five fingers on a hand and not six.  It is essential to his being.  It isn’t just Christians who believe that.  All the great pagans did also.  It’s why the poet Hesiod says that the Muses, daughters of Zeus, grant to the man they favor the wisdom to craft straight judgments—we might say beautiful judgments, right verdicts—and the eloquence to persuade others of their rightness.

To forbid someone to do what his conscience commands him to do, or, worse still, to compel him to do what his conscience instructs him he must not do, is thus to work violence upon him at the core of his being.  It is not the same as when we restrain people from the evils that their consciences, dormant, silent, do not tell them they must not do, or when, more rarely and with a heavier burden of justification upon us, we compel them to do something which their consciences do not tell them they must do.  For then we are not violating an express decree of the conscience; we are supplying the lack of one.  We may even, but most rarely and with an extraordinarily heavy burden of justification, overrule another man’s conscience, not by compelling him, but by taking the reins ourselves and doing what he will not do; that’s the case when we give blood transfusions to infants in imminent danger of death, over the wishes of parents who object.

But no man has the right to require another to be less than a man, to demote him to the status of a non-moral agent, like a beast, or a cog in a machine.  No man may steal my humanity, by demanding treason against that stern monitor, my conscience.  But this is exactly what is happening before our eyes, in what used to be a free country.  We are demanding obeisance to and participation in things that until eleven o’clock last night almost everyone (and all Christians and observant Jews) believed to be evil, and believed it with strong reasons prescinding from the nature of man and from revelation.

The “enemies of conscience,” as Professor George calls them, simultaneously and incoherently deny the existence of moral truths that bind the conscience—other people’s consciences, while they reserve for themselves a moral right to bind and loose those other people, mechanically, pragmatically, to bring about some vague ideal society.  In such a world, everyone is a god or an ant, but not a man.  More to follow.

Hotels and the Pornography Plague: An Example of Moral Responsibility from Scandinavia - by Robert P. George and Hamza Yusuf


A bit more than a year ago, we made public here on Public Discourse a letter we had sent to the chief executive officers of our nation’s largest hotel chains, respectfully asking them to stop offering pornography in their hotel rooms. We said:

We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good. As teachers and as parents, we seek a society in which young people are encouraged to respect others and themselves—treating no one as an impersonal object or thing. We hope that you share our desire to build such a society.

Pornography is degrading, dehumanizing, and corrupting. It undermines self-respect and respect for others. It reduces persons—creatures bearing profound, inherent, and equal dignity—to the status of objects. It robs a central aspect of our humanity—our sexuality—of its dignity and beauty. It ensnares some in addiction. It deprives others of their sense of self-worth. It teaches our young people to settle for the cheap satisfactions of lust, rather than to do the hard, yet ultimately liberating and fulfilling, work of love.

One hotel chain, Marriott, informed us that they were “phasing out” offerings of pornography in their hotel rooms. Another, Hilton, defended its participation in the pornography business by appealing, dubiously in our view, to libertarian principles. Others, so far as we can tell, have ignored our plea.

We wish to reiterate that plea here, however, by holding up to the American hotel executives the highly laudable actions of Petter Stordalen, owner of Nordic Hotels, one of Scandinavia’s largest chains. Mr. Stordalen, after becoming involved in international efforts to fight the horrific practice of trafficking women and girls into sexual slavery, announced that pornography would no longer be offered to his customers. In a public statement explaining his decision, he said:

The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as a natural part of having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn't support or condone this.

He’s right. The pornography industry is corrupt through and through—inherently so. It should come as no surprise that it is connected to something as exploitative, degrading, and dehumanizing as human trafficking. Bravo to Petter Stordalen for refusing to continue profiting from peddling the industry’s wares.

Of course, even if trafficking were not part of the reality of the industry, good people should be opposed to pornography and unwilling to profit from it. As we said in our letter to hotel executives:

We beg you to consider the young woman who is depicted as a sexual object in these movies, as nothing but a bundle of raw animal appetites whose sex organs are displayed to the voyeurs of the world and whose body is used in loveless and utterly depersonalized sex acts. Surely we should regard that young woman as we would regard a sister, daughter, or mother. She is a precious member of the human family. You may say that she freely chooses to compromise her dignity in this way, and in some cases that would be true, but that gives you no right to avail yourself of her self-degradation for the sake of financial gain. Would you be willing to profit from her self-degradation if she were your sister? Would you be willing to profit from her self-degradation if she were your own beloved daughter?

The reality is, however, just as Mr. Stordalen depicts it. Human trafficking is part of the reality. And it is time for his fellow hotel executives to face up to that fact.

Indeed, it is time for Mr. Stordalen’s American counterparts to follow his commendable example. If Nordic Hotels can demonstrate this kind of moral and social responsibility, then there is no reason that Hilton Hotels and the other large chains cannot. Let them stop trying to deceive the public—and perhaps even themselves—with rhetoric about respecting or even protecting their customers’ liberty. Pornography is a social plague with horrific real-life consequences for real live people—addicts, spouses, children, communities, girls and women trafficked into sexual servitude.

At this late season of our nation’s experience with the social costs of pornography there is no longer any excuse for supposing that porn is merely a form of harmless naughtiness. Even the socially very liberal nation of Iceland is moving to ban or severely restrict it by law. Whatever one thinks of legal prohibitions or restrictions, everyone should recognize that pornography is a moral and social evil that no decent person would want to profit from or have anything to do with.

Papa convence mulher a não abortar e oferece-se para ser padrinho

In RR 

Anna Romano escreveu ao Papa quando soube que estava grávida, mas nunca esperou o telefonema que a convenceu a deixar avançar a gravidez.

 Foi o desespero que levou Anna Romano a escrever ao Papa Francisco. A mulher, italiana, encontrava-se grávida do seu amante, um homem casado, e este já lhe tinha deixado claro que não iria ajudar a criar o bebé, tentando convencê-la a abortar.

Sob pressão, Anna escreveu ao Papa, mais por desabafo do que por outra razão, e foi com grande surpresa que recebeu um telefonema de Francisco.

“Fiquei estupefacta ao telefone. Ouvi-o a falar. Tinha lido a minha carta. Assegurou-me que o bebé é um dom de Deus, um sinal da providência. Disse-me que nunca estaria sozinha”, conta Romano ao jornal italiano “Il Messagero”.

Após alguns minutos de conversa, a futura mãe encontrava-se novamente cheia de esperança e decidida a levar a gravidez até ao fim. “Ele encheu-me o coração de alegria quando me disse que eu era corajosa e forte pelo meu filho”, recorda.

As palavras do Papa foram ainda tranquilizadoras noutro sentido. Anna disse a Francisco que gostaria de baptizar o filho, mas "tinha medo que não fosse possível", por ser "mãe solteira e divorciada". O Papa não só explicou que seria possível baptizá-lo, como se ofereceu para ser ele próprio o padrinho. “Estou convencido que não terá dificuldade em encontrar um pai espiritual, mas, se não conseguir, estou sempre disponível”, disse Francisco.

Compreensivelmente, Anna Romano já fez saber que, se a criança for rapaz, chamar-se-á Francisco.

Desde a sua eleição, o Papa já pegou várias vezes no telefone para falar pessoalmente com pessoas que sabia estarem a passar dificuldades. Um caso envolveu um rapaz cujo irmão tinha sido morto e, mais recentemente, uma mulher argentina vítima de violação.

quinta-feira, 5 de setembro de 2013

There is no such thing as ‘gay marriage,’ just marriage, period - by William B. May

September 4, 2013 (MercatorNet) - We have all, or nearly all, done it -- talked about "gay marriage" or "same-sex marriage". But according to William B. May, who has been in the thick of the marriage debate in the United States, that's a mistake. MercatorNet asked him to explain.

* * * * *
MercatorNet: People trying to defend marriage know that “same-sex marriage” is a contradiction in terms, nonsense in fact, but isn’t it just shorthand for referring to an issue? What’s the harm?
William B May: The only reason there is a debate about the legal definition of marriage is because of confusion about its true meaning and purpose. Without truth about marriage, people take positions based on emotion and sentimentality. To restore the truth about marriage we must witness it in a way people can understand.

The first thing to consider is that no one is really proposing to put something called “same-sex marriage” in the law. They take “a man and a woman” and replace it with “two people.” That has consequences that people are not considering. So be careful not to oppose something that is not there.

When they eliminate “a man and a woman” from marriage laws it eliminates the only civil institution that is specifically geared to unite children with their moms and dads – the sole reason for marriage being a privileged institution in the first place. That exposes the hidden agenda and the truth about what is at stake.

Opponents argue that they don’t want to change marriage, and men and woman can still get married, so what is the big deal. The problem is that men and women are not getting married, and  this has created a crisis with increasing fatherlessness and associated consequences, and an increasing number of children living in poverty. Removing this child-centric institution from the law removes authority to actively promote the unique value of men and women marrying before having children. It makes it illegal for public institutions to do so and makes it legally discriminatory for anyone else.
What should we say instead of “same-sex marriage”?

Using the term “same-sex marriage” is one of the traps we fall into. It implies the issue is about participation in it by same-sex couples and makes us sound like our only motive is to oppose their aspirations. It is critical to educate people that the issue is redefinition, not participation and that redefining marriage has consequences. Redefining eliminates the only civil institution that is geared to uniting children with their moms and dads. The issue should be whether or not we need such an institution.
Why do the terms we use matter so much? Are there implications we are not seeing?

We live in a relativistic culture in which words mean different things to different people. For example when you talk about children needing a mother and father, or say that a married mother and father is good for children, that statement may be true, but different people have different understandings of what children need and what is good. This invariably leads to a debate about outcomes for children and competency in parenting, and who can do a better job, which escalates emotions. Ironically this has little to do with the meaning and purpose of marriage.

Being born into a family with mom and dad united in marriage is a human right, as the Catholic Church teaches, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child implies (in Articles 7 and 9 ). Our moms and dads are part of our identity and we carry their flesh for all of eternity. With every right there is a corresponding duty to promote respect for that right and in this case to promote civil marriage as the foundation of the family of common ancestry.

It is also important for people to be able to distinguish between a real human right, that can only be recognized by law and never created, and a claimed individual right or license. A human right applies to each and every person without exception. The human right of children to know and, as far as possible, to be loved and cared for their moms and dads is a right that can be known by both reason and our own desire for connection with the man and woman from whom we originated. This is also an experience of God’s plan for creation, but is not dependent in belief in God.
What definition of marriage do you recommend we should use in debating this issue?

“Marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.” That is what marriage is; that is what it does. The trouble is that children and family have been disconnected from marriage.

Factors include no fault divorce making it adult-centric, the separation of sex from procreation and marriage, having children becoming a life-style choice for personal fulfillment, and the increasingly accepted practice of intentionally depriving children of their moms or dads or both through assisted reproductive technology (sperm and egg donation, and surrogacy).

Considering these factors, it is difficult for people to understand marriage by discussing complementarity, procreation, motherhood and fatherhood, etc. It must be expressed in its totality. In reality, marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union. It is a fact, something that the law can only recognise, not change. If the word is redefined in the law, marriage will still exist, but will be no longer recognized in law as such. It becomes discriminatory to advocate that is has any unique value to society, at least under the name of marriage.
What do you think of the term “traditional marriage”? Is it useful?

I just use the word “marriage”, but I am careful to use it in a context so people know what I mean. “Traditional marriage” communicates what we mean but nothing about its true meaning and purpose in a way people can understand. Traditional has a connotation of connection with and holding onto the past. However, marriage is about the future.
How does this work out at the ballot box? How are referendums worded?

I have felt that defining marriage between a man and a woman in law does not go far enough. The law in some way needs to imply its public interest; clarifying that its purpose is more than recognizing loving, committed relationships between men and women. Perhaps it should state something like, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognize. All public institutions must promote its unique value as the only civil institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers.”
Click "like" if you support TRADITIONAL marriage.
Opponents will object because it reveals the real meaning and purpose of marriage. They argue that children raised by same-sex couples have a right to married parents, but this changes the subject because every child in this situation has lost their mom, dad or both. Arguments that this could provide stability for such children implies that marriage is merely a human creation for some sociological objective. Marriage is about the free choice of a man and woman to make themselves irreplaceable to each other in preparation to receive life as a gift. Marriage is the foundation of the communion of irreplaceability we call the family.

Opponents cause further confusion by saying marriage can’t be about procreation because not all married man and woman have children. That may be so, but every child has a mother and father and has a right, as far as possible, to be born into a family with them united in marriage. All married men and women engage in the same conjugal act, which is a commemoration and renewal of the marriage vows. Even sociologists from across the political spectrum agree that it is important to reestablish a norm for men and women to marry before having children.
How can we stay on the front foot in debates on this issue? Can we ever avoid being labeled “bigot”?

When we use the term “same-sex marriage,” it immediately tells people we are against someone and the so-called “rights” they are advocating. It’s an unfortunate tactic of our opponents to attribute motives to those defending marriage in an effort to seek sympathy, discredit, and intimidate. Avoiding the use of the term and instead focusing on what we are for will help greatly.

We can understand the sincere desire of some people to have same-sex relationships recognized, but marriage would have to be redefined in the law in a way that eliminates the only civil institution that unites kids with their moms and dads. How can anyone justify that? This issue is not about homosexuality at all. It is about whether marriage is a reality that not only unites a man and a woman with each other, but with any children born from their union.

What opponents are really proposing is that marriage be redefined in the law to be merely an institution for recognizing committed relationships for the benefit of the adults. What is the public interest in that? We love talking about other people’s sins, so it takes discipline to avoid getting drawn into a conversation about sexual ethics and personal behavior and stay focused on the reality of marriage.
Actually, the marriage redefiners seem to agree with you. They don’t use “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage” either, but talk about “marriage equality”. Why do you think that is?

Their research shows that 58% of people in the US already believe that the purpose of marriage is to recognize committed relationships for adults. So all they have to do is to say same-sex couples want to marry for the same reason anyone else does.

The current understanding of marriage is one of the factors contributing to the fact fewer people are marrying and more than half of children born to women under 30 are outside of marriage. This is a crisis that is touching almost every family. The focus must be on changing current ideas about what marriage is for the benefit of society and our own families instead of focusing on why same-sex couples don’t qualify.

I imagine that marriage redefiners don’t want to use the term “same-sex or gay marriage” because their current approach is more effective, and the terms conjure up “anti-gay” feelings.
William B May is president of the United States organization Catholics for the Common Good and played a prominent role in the Proposition 8 effort that successfully restored the definition of marriage between a man and a woman in California – since overturned by the courts. He is the author of Getting the Marriage Conversation Right, a Guide for Effective Dialogue .

quarta-feira, 4 de setembro de 2013

Homosexuality, Identity, and the Grace of Chastity - Courage’s Fr. Paul Check on why chastity is an essential virtue for those with same-sex attraction—and for all Christians


St. Augustine is famous for having prayed, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.” Father Paul Check, the director of Courage, suggests that chastity, like justice and mercy, is indeed part of the Good News of Christ and to ignore it is self-defeating. 

The Courage apostolate ministers to people with same-sex attraction who want to live by the Catholic Church’s sexual teachings, providing self-governed and anonymous group meetings around the country. 

Father Check, who served as an officer in the Marine Corps prior to being ordained to the priesthood in 1997, spoke recently with Catholic World Report about the Church’s wisdom in not reducing persons to an identity based solely upon their sexual appetites, and how the average Catholic can respond to the aggressive social agenda of the gay lobby.

CWR: Within Courage, you make a clear distinction between same-sex attraction and the gay lifestyle. Can you clarify the difference? 

Father Check: The most important question ever asked in human history was asked by Our Lord when he said to the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” It is the question of identity, because it is from an understanding of identity that we then know how to live in a way consistent with that identity. I won’t say that it is always easy, because we have concupiscence, but in order for us to understand the proper way of asking, we first have to clearly answer the question of being. 

With regard to the human person, the question of “Who am I?” is best answered with the understanding that we are children of God redeemed by the blood of Christ and called to be his disciples, and we are invited to grow in this life of grace and glory in the life to come. There is the foundation of the most important or essential part of our identity. 

Now there are other things that make up our identity as well. Our human family, and where we are from geographically. These things are also important but not as important as the fundamental question of our identity, our being children of God. 

We are created as sexual beings and this story is told to us in the book of Genesis, which is not a science book, of course, and does not tell us in precise terms how man came to be but rather precisely who we are and who we are intended to be and to whom we are to look for an understanding of our identity. In that Genesis story it is made plain that God in his wisdom divided the human race in such a way that human nature is expressed in the masculine and the feminine. This is a very rich theological and anthropological question. But for our purposes here, while there is such a thing as human nature, that nature is always expressed very concretely in a person—a person that is either masculine or feminine, so that sexual identity is also something that is integral to who the person is. And in order to know who we are and how that sexual identity is properly expressed we go back to the Genesis story and learn about the union of man and woman, the fruitfulness of God in his plan, and how his gifts of fertility are associated with the sexual faculty and are inherently bound up with sexual intimacy. 

With that preamble, the reason that the Church, it seems to me, avoids the labels of “gay,” “homosexual,” and “lesbian” as nouns is because in her maternal wisdom and charity, and in following the story of who man is, she does not want to collapse someone’s identity into only their sexual appetite. That seems unjust and uncharitable. It takes a bit more charity to say that a person has same-sex attraction than to use the labels that are very popular in the culture today. 

In saying this, of course, I am not in any way minimizing the strength, the intensity, the duration or the frequency of the feelings of same-sex attraction and how important these feelings are to someone’s self-understanding. We only want to give same-sex attraction its proper label. Not too much, but clearly not too little. 

CWR: As a result of that, what do you see in the gay lifestyle that then defeats the ability to have a life of authentic happiness? 

Father Check: Any action that is contrary to the design or the gift of our humanity is going to put us at cross-purposes with ourselves. Some things are easy to see and they are not at all controversial…for instance, if someone consistently tells lies. Not only are they doing an injustice to the person to whom they are lying, but they are also at cross-purposes with their own humanity, in the sense that the power of communication and speech has been given to us to establish trust, and to form relationships—relationships of friendship and relationships of love. So, if I am consistently lying, then I am at cross-purposes with myself and I will frustrate the very desires that I have for human intimacy and for human affection and to know and be known in a personal way. It is easy to see this with regard to speech. It is also easy to see it with regard to eating. If I’m hungry and I eat an entire chocolate cake and wash it down with a bottle of red wine, it is going to put me at cross-purposes with myself. There is something self-defeating about my own actions. 

By analogy, I want to suggest the same thing about the sexual realm. It is very easy for our sexual desires to become misdirected because the fundamental desire of the human heart is for affection, to love and be loved in a personal way, to be known in a personal way. Because that drive is so strong, as it should be, according to the wisdom of God, then we also have to give our own actions and feelings a proper reflection to make sure that we are not engaged in a self-defeating search for happiness in this way. And what makes that difficult, of course, is that the drive for intimacy is strong within us and it is also, like all of the other human faculties, touched by concupiscence, that weakness in the will that can lead us to attempt to fulfill our desires in the wrong way. 

When I speak about this, of course—and most of my work is to present to priests and seminarians on the topic of homosexuality—I try to situate it fully in the context of the virtue of chastity. I think that we have to ask the question: do we believe that chastity is part of the Good News? I know we have it magisterially, but do we have that conviction personally and institutionally, or ecclesiastically? 

Now, I think that people believe that justice is part of the Good News, and mercy is part of the Good News, and salvation and eternal life are part of the Good News, but what about chastity? Do we see and understand that as a virtue chastity is essential, not only for our salvation, of course, but for our human fulfillment consistent with the Genesis story? The way that we have been told we have been made? So that opens up the question widely—and we can then speak about contraception and cohabitation and many other things related to the virtue of chastity, and indeed we must, in order to situate the topic of homosexuality in its proper context. 

CWR: From your research, what is the link between same-sex attraction and parenting, particularly the father’s role especially in men? 

Father Check: Here I very much want to speak as a layman. We are entering the realm of the natural and social sciences and I’m happy to try give some perspective based on my experience but it is not in a strict sense my competence. I’m guided by that by the Church’s own reflection. 

In the three paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, the Catechism speaks of the psychological genesis of homosexuality, thereby locating the question within nature, as some disturbance in nature. Therefore, in God’s providence, the reflection on this question properly belongs to the human sciences, in particular the psychological sciences. And we have to think a bit carefully about that word today, because up until very recently in history if we used the word “psychology,” people didn’t immediately think of those suffering with some sort of malady that needed to be cured. If you said that to St. Thomas Aquinas, that wouldn’t come to his mind. Classically, when we think about psychology we think about the powers of the human soul and what is the nature of man, so we are not immediately speaking about therapy or people needing counseling, but about human nature. We are thinking about what is the gift or the design of the person or the human soul in such a way that he or she can realize those deep desires for goodness, truth, and beauty that are imbued. 

So the psychological genesis suggests there is something in the human order that has not yet reached its proper fulfillment. I think we can discern from the context that whatever it is that has not reached proper fulfillment is something not good. Here is what I mean by that. We live in a world that is governed by cause and effect, so things don’t come out of nowhere—they have something that precedes them logically and temporally to bring them about. The Catechism describes the same-sex inclination as objectively disordered. Now, we need to be plain, those words fall very hard on some ears because when they are heard it immediately sounds as if, or can sound as if, we are talking about a person—that a person is somehow disordered, not whole, not complete. But from the context of the Catechism, we can see that is not what is being said at all. What is being said is that the appetite, the erotic attraction to a member of the same sex, is out of harmony with human nature, it is misdirected. And because it is misdirected, and because we live in a world governed by cause and effect, then perhaps with some careful reflection we might be able to ascertain what it is that has caused that disordered attraction. 

But the complexity and very personal nature of this make it difficult to draw straight lines and say what the reason is someone has the homosexual inclination or desire. There are patterns that tend to repeat themselves, but I think what we can say is the tree is known by its fruit, and as Our Lord tells us, bad fruit is going to come from a bad tree. So the objective disorder has a provenance in something that has not been in harmony with the proper development of the person in the affective sense. It doesn’t mean that the person has less value. 

Now it is true that when it comes to the development of the masculine character the role that example plays in a boy’s life, i.e., the role of adult men in his life is something that is very, very important. I love St. Paul’s words to Timothy about fatherhood. He says it is strong, loving, and wise (2 Tim 1:7). And that is exactly right. It is all those things. Strong is protection, discipline, sacrifice, leadership, holding to standards. Loving is benevolence, warmth, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, the proper kind of male sensitivity. And wise—wisdom—is really the virtue of prudence, how to live well. All of us want that from our fathers and we do also from our mothers, but in a different way. 

We are born male and female, but we grow into a masculine or feminine character based on a number of different things. I think, in some ways, the most important and really the first one is the way our fathers love our mothers and our mothers love our fathers. Many priests will come to me and ask during a clergy conference, “What can we do about this situation?”  Well, we have to do more and better pre-Cana. If we help couples understand more about the sacrament into which they are about to enter, then not only do we perhaps forestall a number of problems we can see from sociological data and the rest, but we enrich the lives of the couple, and therefore of their families. And I think that will also help forestall some of the difficulties we are seeing. 

A boy very naturally wants the joy of his father and to be able to see in his father’s eyes that his existence, the son’s existence, is able to produce that joy. I would say one of the common themes among our Courage members—and I’m being very careful not to paint with too broad a brush, but I’m just suggesting a pattern that tends to repeat itself and is therefore of interest—is that a lot of our men didn’t have that sense. And I’m not trying to demonize their fathers. I am not trying to say that they were bad fathers or didn’t love their sons. A lot of the work that I do and that Courage does addresses the issue of perception and how a relationship is perceived. And perhaps someone with a certain type of temperament could perceive something that was not entirely consistent with the reality of the situation, but nevertheless, that perception could have left an acute wound. 

CWR: There is general discussion of a “Peter Pan syndrome” in our culture among both homosexual and straight men, of not wanting to grow up. Do you see a relationship between these two groups of men? 

Father Check: This addresses the issue of manhood in general. There are a number of things that would bear on this impeded development of the human person such that adolescence is prolonged. As an aside, it is an interesting statistic that the average age of a video-gamer in the United States is a 33-year-old-man. I’m not on a campaign against video games, although I have a lot of reservations about them, but a 33-year-old-man, it would seem, according to nature, would have others things engaging him at that point in his life.

The ready availability of pornography which is accessible, anonymous, affordable, and addictive—the four A’s—retards the emotional and moral development of the character and, like video games, turns the person in on himself, where he becomes the center of attention and of action. You can see we are at cross-purposes with ourselves again. I love the phrase from J. Budziszewski, a splendid natural law philosopher who was our keynote speaker at the Courage conference this year, who describes the human person as being “blessedly incomplete.” I like that very much and think it’s right. What it means is that in order to find fulfillment we have to possess ourselves, forget ourselves, and give ourselves in a way that is the exact opposite of the tendency to selfishness and self-preoccupation. 

CWR: What are your thoughts on the recent decision by the Boy Scouts to allow openly homosexual scouts, but not leaders? How will this affect them and how should parents respond? 

Father Check: My first concern is the boys who self-identify as “gay” or “homosexual.” And the question is: why are they doing that? If we go back to our prior discussion about identity, the Church is reluctant to label people in this way, and I think we want to do anything we can to avoid encouragement of that label, particularly for adolescents. The teenage years are a period of discovery and adventure in a certain sense and a time of coming to know oneself. And that has to be guided properly so that self-entanglement doesn’t take place. Many different things are happening at this age and it seems, at best, premature in that stage of development for someone to take a label for himself that is not reflective of his entire being. 

There are a couple of Church documents—one is from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the other is from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—that address the question of identity. With regard to young people, those documents state that they should avoid the label and that they could receive the proper spiritual counseling as well as the help of a mental health professional who has a sound Christian anthropology in order to investigate why these feelings have arisen. Again, I think the reliable research indicates that same-sex attraction is a symptom of, or a response to, a kind of emotional wound or deficit. This wound could also be sexual abuse. There is very good data indicating that those with same-sex attraction are seven times more likely to have been the victims of sexual abuse than the population at large. Now, I must quickly say that not everybody who is a victim of sexual abuse winds up having a homosexual inclination—clearly that is not the case.  However, that should be of interest to us because if a young person is self-identifying as having same-sex attraction, that may be, may be, an indication that there was an introduction into the very special and unique realm of sexual intimacy that was either forced or was entered into, clearly, unknowingly and unwillingly, because the emotional development of the person was not ready for such intimacy at that a delicate age. A lot of that does happen, unfortunately, and can misshape someone’s understanding of who he is. 

CWR: Is seems from what you have just said that same-sex attraction is not a fixed reality, but it is more fluid than it is made out to be by the gay lobby. 

Father Check: Another reason that I think the Church has been very prudent in the way she avoids using the words “gay,” “homosexual,” or “lesbian” as nouns is that there is not one profile. 

One Church document, the 2005 text from the Congregation for Catholic Education in Seminaries, addresses this distinction between deep-seated and transitory homosexual feelings. This suggests that the Church recognizes there are those for whom the question is a bit more settled, or is not fluid, but clearly that is not true for everyone. There is the question of fluidity and particularly with regard to adolescence. In Veritatis Splendor, Blessed Pope John Paul II says that we are in some degree changed by our actions, although we have a fixed human nature. The more a young person self-identifies, the more he is already making a choice in order to firm up that identity in his mind. The better hope is to caution a great reserve in this and to charitably and prudently establish trust with the young person and see what may lie behind the same-sex attraction, so that very real help can be given. But encouragement to act out, even if it is just self-identification—certainly encouragement to act out sexually—is not going to be good, but is going to reinforce what is in fact a false identity which can only lead them to unhappiness. The point is that the same-sex attraction or desire can never be acted upon consistent with our human nature and therefore it will always put the person at cross-purposes with himself or herself. 

CWR: One can conclude that your thoughts on gay marriage and the recent DOMA ruling of Windsor v. United States follow along these lines. 

Father Check: Yes, law has a pedagogical purpose to it. And one of the things the law does is to instruct us about natural relationships in the community. So if a law adopts a position that is contrary to human nature, contrary to the law and gift of our nature (to what the philosophers call the natural law), because of human weakness and concupiscence it is likely to have a very bad effect because it will encourage some to make choices that are contrary to their own good. This has proven to be true with regard to contraception, it is true with regard to abortion, it is true with regard to divorce, and it is true with regard to homosexual unions. 

CWR: As the gay culture continues to make headway in our society, particularly through judicial over-reach, what can Catholics do to stem the tide? 

Father Check: The first thing is to find great strength, consolation, and hope in the words of St. Paul: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Rom 5:20). And secondly, “God works good in all things for those who love him” (Rom 8:28). 

Our first response must be a response of faith. Nothing is outside of God’s providence. That is not the same thing as saying that God directly wills certain things, because clearly he does not. But for reasons we may not always be able to see or understand right away, mysteriously God permits certain things to happen, but even those things are not outside the reach of grace. So we need a response of faith in order to trust in the presence of the Lord. 

At the final Mass of the Courage conference this year, the sermon I gave was about the Lord being asleep in the boat. Our Lord slept three times: he slept in the crib, he slept in the boat, and he slept on the cross, but on all three occasions he was with us and knew well the circumstances by which we are influenced for good or ill. So a response in faith is very important. 

We have to want to live chastely, cheerfully, and joyfully. The problem of pornography and the problem of contraception are things that are wide-spread within the Catholic community, including Mass-going Catholics. We have to examine our own conviction that chastity is essential for the joy of human relationships. We cannot expect that other people are only going to do what we say they should do, such as, “Don’t marry someone of the same sex.” We can hardly expect to be a compelling voice if we are not already convinced of the veracity of all that the Church teaches us, so we have to live that virtue cheerfully and joyfully. And if we do, other people will see it and be attracted to it. 

We have to return to that kind of thinking of the early Christians, knowing full well that the current culture will be hostile. It gives us a spirit of purpose. We know it will be hard. Chesterton said, “Christians go gaily into the dark.” Now maybe we have to change that to “Christians go cheerfully into the dark” because of the way that word has been distorted, but Chesterton was right. A down-faced, angry Christian fulminating at the world is not going to be a good instrument of evangelization. We need that trust and confidence in God that St. Thérèse had and showed us so magnificently. We need that now and to try to live it, and we can! God’s grace will make it possible.

Born to be alive. Or maybe not A new ruling could pave the way to a European right to assisted suicide for all - by José Ramos-Ascensão

In europeinfos 

Should the State assist someone willing to commit suicide because he is getting older? Does such a wish to commit suicide generate a positive obligation for the State to facilitate it or to provide the means of suicide of one’s choice?

However odd that it may sound, these were the questions underlying a recent case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which monitors respect for
human rights in the 47 Council of Europe member States – including all members of the European Union – that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights

A life that has just become “monotonous” and a too dangerous jurisprudence

In Gross v. Switzerland, an elderly woman, uncomfortable with her diminishing physical and mental faculties owing to her ageing, wanted to put an end to her life by means of taking a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital; the only way, in her opinion, to attain a dignified suicide, reaching effectively and painlessly the desired death. However, four medical doctors one after another had refused to issue the necessary prescription for such a drug; the alleged reasons for that refusal included the fact that the Code of Conduct of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences –  despite the fact of considering that “the task of the doctor is to alleviate symptoms and to support the patient” and that “assisted suicide is not part of a doctor’s task, because this contradicts the aims of medicine” – recognizes a dilemma for the doctor, requiring a personal decision of conscience which may be to assist the suicide, provided, among other conditions, that the patient is terminally ill.

It is not the first time the ECHR has tackled such end-of-life issues: in previous judgments – Pretty v. United Kingdom (29th April 2002), Haas v. Switzerland (20th January 2011) and Koch v. Germany (19th July 2012) – the Court has gradually built up, from the right to privacy enshrined in Article 8 of the Convention, an individual’s “right to decide by what means and at what point his or her life should end” and “a positive obligation on the State to take the necessary measures to permit a dignified suicide. A key condition of the aforementioned right is the capacity “of freely reaching a decision on this question and acting in consequence”.

This time, however, there is a key distinction: Ms. Gross was not even ill, let alone seriously or terminally ill.

Legal uncertainty or a Court simply too sympathetic to the wish to commit suicide?

The Swiss law lays down that doctors can prescribe drugs “within the limits justified by their practice”, “in conformity with the requirements of their profession” and while respecting  “the recognized rules of  (…) medical sciences” The requirement of medical prescription in the case under consideration served interests such as the prevention of crime and the risk of abuse, ensuring that one “lacking discernment does not obtain a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital”, discernment which is indispensible for the fulfillment of the condition which the ECHR itself attaches to the right it derives from Article 8.

Notwithstanding, the Court considered the Swiss law insufficient, and required the Swiss authorities to “issue comprehensive and clear guidelines on whether and under which circumstances an individual in the applicant’s situation – that is, someone not suffering from a terminal illness – should be granted the ability to acquire a lethal dose of medication allowing them to end their life”. Such guidelines, according to the Court, should not be issued by a non-governmental organization; instead, they should have the formal quality of law, as the Court departed from its previous understanding that the wish to die or to an assisted suicide falls within the scope of Article 8 and, therefore, the regime applicable to any interference to a fundamental right must prevail.

The Court even pointed out the way ahead referring to the need for State-approved guidelines defining the circumstances under which medical practitioners are authorised to issue the requested prescription in cases where an individual has come to a serious decision, in the exercise of his or her free will, to end his or her life”.
Therefore, the ECHR is clearly paving the way to a right to assisted suicide for all which will impact on the legislation of all member States of the Council of Europe. If the case is referred to the Grand Chamber, however, there is still a hope that this path might still be halted, as the present decision was taken by a minimum margin (4 votes for, 3 against) and as only four members States of the Council of Europe allow medical doctors to prescribe drugs which enable their patients to end their own lives.

So, coming back to the question at the outset, the answer is no, not entirely. For now, Gross v. Switzerland has ruled that the State is bound at least by the obligation to provide a clear, legal framework. However, a right to assisted suicide for all, regardless of their health situation, may well be on its way to becoming a new standard in European human rights law a little sooner than you might have foreseen.

segunda-feira, 2 de setembro de 2013

How to lose the fight over gay ‘marriage’ in one easy step - by Hilary White

ROME, August 27, 2013 ( – Since the push for "gay marriage" started, people who opposed it have absolutely refused to engage in discussions about the moral liceity, or even the physical and psychological consequences of homosexual behaviour. Have you noticed? The one thing no one in the argument seems to want to do is really to talk about what we’re talking about. 

In the case of the Catholic Church, this has become a nearly universal policy, from the CDF on down. We have been informed that it was official. When the issue started gaining speed, bishops and national conferences told priests they were to talk exclusively about the glories and wonders of marriage, and never, ever breathe the slightest hint about all that other icky stuff.

Indeed, so appealing was the Catholic Church’s line to UK Prime Minister David Cameron – note: Conservative Party leader – that he actually used it to bring "gay marriage" into Britain, the little gift that he now wants to keep giving to the whole world. So, good work there, guys, thanks. 

A very, very small number of people, including LifeSite, a couple of pro-family groups and maybe a handful of bloggers have been willing to say out loud that this policy is going to backfire. We’ve been the only ones to reject the disclaimers, evasions and excuses that nearly all the “conservative” world has embraced in order to sell the message. And for our troubles, we’ve had people, mainly these same “conservatives,” screeching at us like Pod People ever since. 

We said that the arguments against "gay marriage" that start with the nice warm-cuddlies and go pretty much no further, are going to be ultimately incoherent. They won't move out any further than the borders of the conservative discussion bubble. Certainly, the average TV watching Regular Person, we said, is going to hear that line, shrug and say, "Well, OK, if marriage is so great, we should let everyone do it." Then he's going to flip over to the next episode of Glee. 

Ultimately, we predicted, these “conservative” politically correct arguments are going to be so weak, that even the people holding and using them will eventually be forced to abandon them and join the throng themselves. Aaaaand guess what? This week, the US “conservative” political world is all in a tizzy over the column by Joseph Bottum, former editor of the kind-of Catholic magazine First Things, who said he’s not got any arguments to make against the change. (Yes, I’m going to keep using the scare quotes; deal.) 

Lately we are increasingly being told, by everyone, that universal “gay marriage” is “inevitable”. To this, we at LSN and other assorted wacky hold-outs-to-reality, can really only say, “Yes, we told you that”. 

We have been saying for some time that the Sexual Revolution isn’t over, that it’s an ongoing process that has as its aim the total abolition of any recognisable social structure based on objective biological realities, starting in the 70s with no-fault divorce, artificial contraception and abortion and moving on to the outer stratosphere of the weird. 

We have also said that the language and processes of political conservatism, especially when they are applied to religious institutions, are inadequate to our immediate or long-term needs. That the political model, once summed up for me by a Canadian bishop as “the art of the possible,” isn’t going to be enough to provide the solutions to these big questions that people are looking for. 

This political approach is the one that has bishops, and their “conservative” followers, around the world promoting the compromise of homosexual civil unions, a phenomenon that I think psychologists have called Stockholm syndrome. But I have bad news for these churchmen: that crocodile isn’t going to eat you last. 

We have said that you can’t separate the moral law from politics. That the creation of a divide between “social conservative” and “fiscal conservative” is fatuous and a grave error that will result in the total elimination of any opposition whatever to the global socialist culture-wrecking agenda. 

Click "like" if you support TRADITIONAL marriage.
But we were nuts, weren’t we? And we were “nuts” again when we followed the logic one or two steps further and said that once you’ve separated – in the words of a noted Italian pundit – the procreative ends of marriage from the unitive, you’ve pretty much opened the field up to anything at all. Meaning that the logic will take you very rapidly indeed from “gay marriage” to polygamy, paedophilia, incest and whatever else human concupiscence can come up with. 

Logic is like math, people. Don’t shoot the messenger who insists, against all political fashion, that two and two still equal four. 
Well, I've got to say that the least fun part about Cassandra Syndrome is saying "I told you so." 

So, I’m going to change it to “Soooo, you don’t want to talk about the nasty, politically incorrect, squelchy stuff? You want to keep the discourse ‘civil’ and polite and friendly? 
“How’s that workin’ out for y’all?”
Legal recognition of same-sex relationships around the world *:
Andorra – civil unions
Argentina – same-sex “marriage”
Australia: – civil unions
Austria – civil unions
Belgium  – same-sex “marriage”
Brazil  – same-sex “marriage”
Canada  – same-sex “marriage”
Colombia – civil unions
Czech Republic – civil unions
Denmark – same-sex “marriage”
Finland – civil unions
France – same-sex “marriage”
Germany – civil unions
Greenland – civil unions
Hungary – civil unions
Iceland – same-sex “marriage”
Ireland – civil unions
Isle of Man – civil unions
Israel – same-sex “marriage”
Jersey – civil unions
Liechtenstein – civil unions
Luxembourg – civil unions
Mexico – same-sex “marriage” and civil unions
Netherlands – same-sex “marriage”
New Zealand – same-sex “marriage”
Norway – same-sex “marriage”
Portugal – same-sex “marriage”
Scotland – civil unions
Slovenia – civil unions
South Africa – same-sex “marriage”
Spain – same-sex “marriage”
Sweden – same-sex “marriage”
Switzerland – civil unions
England & Wales – same-sex “marriage”
United States – same-sex “marriage”
· CA, CT, DC, DE,
· IA, MA, MD, ME,
· MN, NH, NY, RI,
· VT, WA, and 5 tribes
United States: – civil unions
· CO, HI, IL, NJ,
· NV, OR, WI
Uruguay – same-sex “marriage”
Venezuela – civil unions 

* I won’t list the countries – Italy for one – currently thinking about legislation and I won’t take the trouble to look up those jurisdictions that, when putting the new sexual paradigm into law also made it illegal to dissent – though the Republic of Ireland springs to mind as an especially ironic exemplar.