Tuesday 9 December 2008

Rancid rant

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has made an intemperate attack on secularism and what he describes as “a liberal society, hostile to Christian morals and values”.

According to the Cardinal, Britain shows signs of degenerating into a country “free of morals” because of its rejection of traditional values and its new emphasis on the rights of the individual, stoked up by “vocal and aggressive atheists”. The “unfriendly climate for people of all faiths” has [he says] united the country’s major faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Catholicism, the Cardinal claims, has borne the brunt of this “liberal hostility” because it defends “absolute values” which it considers to be “fundamental pillars of a rightly ordered society”.

Almost needless to say, these “absolute values” include implacable Catholic opposition to liberal laws on abortion, homosexuality and divorce, and support for faith schools. He accuses critics of Catholic moral doctrine of being repressively intolerant, and asserts that the Human Rights Act denies the rights of religious groups to act according to their conscience and beliefs.

This utter codswallop really takes the biscuit. It is total "through the looking glass" thinking.

Ever since it lost its moral and temporal supremacy at the Reformation, the Catholic Church has been consistently hostile to the liberal, civilised values of the Enlightenment, to modernity, and to scientific progress.

Yet Catholics take full advantage of the social and technological benefits which this hated "liberalism" has provided.

In this day and age they are parasitic throwbacks, seeking to drag us all back to a pre-rational age.

Anyone doubting this should read Double Cross: the Code of the Catholic Church by David Ranan for a full exposure of their humbugging 'absolute values' and for the cruelty they all too often practise as opposed to the 'sweetness and light' which they preach.

True to form, the Pope’s headquarters at the Vatican would – according to the National Secular Society’s Newsline – prefer gay people to be executed rather than married. And it doesn’t want disabled people to be protected, either, in case that promotes abortion:

‘The full extent of the regressive nature of the Vatican under Ratzinger was made clear this week when it was revealed that the Vatican had opposed two United Nations resolutions aimed at protecting gay and disabled people from discrimination and death.

‘When France proposed a resolution seeking all nations to decriminalise homosexuality, the Vatican immediately said it would oppose the resolution. This is despite the fact that up to 70 nations still have legal punishments for gay people including, in some instances, the death penalty. In a number of Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, homosexual acts are still a capital offence.

‘The UN resolution is due to be proposed by France later this month on behalf of the 27-nation European Union. But Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican opposed the resolution because it would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination” and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.

‘“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations”, Migliore said. “For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as matrimony will be pilloried and made an object of pressure. ‘

A strongly worded editorial in Italy's mainstream La Stampa newspaper said the Vatican’s reasoning was “grotesque”.

‘Franco Grillini, founder and honorary president of Arcigay, Italy’s leading gay rights group, said the Vatican’s reasoning smacked of “total idiocy and madness”. Mr Grillini said the resolution had nothing to do with gay marriage, but was aimed at stopping the execution of gay people in Islamic countries.

‘An editorial in Rome’s left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper said the Vatican’s position “leaves one dumbstruck”. Margherita Boniver, a leading member of Italy’s leftist Democratic Party, called it “alarmingly anachronistic”.

‘The gay rights activist, Grillini, said he feared what he called another “Holy Alliance” between the Vatican and Islamic states at the United Nations to oppose the proposed resolution. At a major U.N. conference on the family in Cairo in 1994, the Vatican teamed up with Islamic and Latin American countries to defeat an abortion rights proposal. In October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality “a deviation, an irregularity and a wound”. ‘

The secretary of the UK’s Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, David Christmas, described the statement as “ludicrous”. He said: “The accusation that it is in some way discriminatory to attempt to counteract the prejudice and hatred which exists in over 80 countries that outlaw same sex relations would appear to be yet another example of the Vatican turning logical thinking on its head.”

‘Mr Christmas pointed out that in nine countries or regions of countries the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution. “Isn’t the Vatican supposed to believe in the right to life?”, he asked.

‘Meanwhile, The Times has revealed that the Holy See also refused to sign a UN document last May on the rights of the disabled because it did not condemn abortion or assert the rights of foetuses with birth defects. ‘

The Vatican made its position clear as it marked the United Nations International Day of Disabled People. Archbishop Migliore said the Vatican could not accept a clause in the UN declaration affirming a right to “sexual health and reproduction” because “in some countries such rights include the right to abortion”.

‘The Italian left of centre Democratic Party said that coupled with the Vatican’s stand on gays, this showed a "return to obscurantism" under Josef Ratzinger.

‘Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: “These two incidents expose the Vatican’s “morality” to be a sham. How otherwise could an organisation that purports to be a moral authority and whose current Pope’s first encyclical was laughingly entitled God is Love actually oppose measures to put pressure on states who execute citizens because of their sexuality? It seems that in some respects the Vatican has not moved on very much from some of the medieval atrocities for which it was so famous.”’



zola a social thing said...

"Drag us all back into a pre-rational age" ??? ??? ???
Father? Son? and Holy whatever?

This 20th-21st Century praises itself for its rationality yet all is see around is non-rational means and irrational ends.

anticant said...

Yes - but at least some of us do our best to think things through without kowtowing to superstitious priests, rabbis and imams. Not that fanatical evolutionists or monetarists are any better.

Reasonableness is like measles - it breaks out in patches and is quite irritating at times.

zola a social thing said...

Indeed me old grumpy aunt : But until we can begin to understand the irrationality WITHIN rationality we may fail to better appreciate the non-rational.

As for the pre-rational well as a few folk say "We have never been Modern".

anticant said...

What is modernity? What is post-modernity?

I was born into the modernity of the 1920s Bright Young Things. Glad that's gone! And in the '60s - my heyday - it was all The Beatles and Carnaby Street. So passe nowadays.

But Cliff Richard keeps on and on and on, unlike Maggie Thatcher who said she was going to but found she couldn't.

Bodwyn Wook said...

When I look at the steam trains...


and ten-engined (!) bombing planes of my childhood...


I reckon that THAT all was "modern," and certainly it was all of a piece with /this/ street-scene from 1909 or so:


The people sauntering there in the misty Spring light in 1909 was the same ones who either themselves would design and build these other things I have shown you, or at least their children would do.

So, whatever /we/ are mired in now is definitely "postmodern," if only just because THIS sure as Hell ain't no "stainless steel age!"


anticant said...

If we are not careful the religious fanatics of all stripes will rapidly take us back to the stone age.

anticant said...

It would be nice if comments on my blog were focussed more on the contents of what I post.

I do find it disappointing that my posts here are so rarely followed by a discussion of the issues I write about.

Not for the first time, I have raised here concerns which I think are important, and deserving of serious debate - namely the Catholic Church's attitude towards the human rights of gays and disabled people - but none of the comments have addressed this.

While the nature of modernism and postmodernism, and the state of our culture generally, is an interesting topic in its own right, it doesn't really belong on this thread.

zola a social thing said...

It was you, Antiscamp, that raised the issue of pre-rationality and you did it through your own words.

Before and beyond issues of Human Rights and gays and disabled and ... we tend to find, when we dig a little too deep, a rationality that ends up irrational.

Give a disabled person a computer because he or she cannot get out and about without help. Hell they can get a university degree from home now.
Trouble is they lose all human contact with the real world and they miss a caring person to help them find geographical mobility.

No wonder that rationality itself is critiqued.
The Jews were gassed quite well rationally were they not ?

anticant said...

Isn’t that rather a pot-and-kettle response, Zola? I don’t think you, as a caring educator, would be happy if your students strayed off in all directions from your lesson theme [“flying off at tangents” my headmaster used to call it].

I’ve never succeeded in mastering the indexing mysteries of Blogger, but if you trawl back through my archive you will come upon a post “Does Reason Matter?” which deals with this issue. Of course I don’t think reason – flawed and limited as it is – is the only component of creative thinking; emotion and instinct play a large part as well. No-one is a “desiccated calculating machine” in Nye Bevan’s words – an unkind crack, as Gaitskell [who’s widow I knew] was a temperamentally warm and emotional person.

Obviously there are limits to reason – but if we don’t use it to the best of our capabilities what is the alternative? All discussion becomes futile and a waste of time. The Catholic Church speciously claims that its doctrines, and its faith in God, are based upon reason, Aquinas-style. I am not a Kantian, any more than you are a Nietzschean: we both use reason to the best of our ability.

I frequently visit Stephen Law’s Philosophy blog, and am amazed at the irrationality displayed there by atheists as well as by theists. Some of them don’t have the first clue about logic. The other day I posed this comment:

“The end of theistic belief would eliminate a gigantic red herring from moral discourse. Much ethical discussion would still be illogical, irrational and irrelevant but the elimination of belief in a Celestial Umpire whose inscrutable pronouncements can be prayed in aid by theists to settle matters in their favour would make the world a marginally saner place.” Do you agree?

None of this has much bearing on the Catholic Church’s practical cruelty in the matter of human rights…..

Bodwyn Wook said...

Sorry, 'twas I who jumped the rails, I think. My own experiences as a small Catholic was atypical I suppose, so I'd ought not to barge in with so much outre thrust. The universal sexualization of things (a phenomenon itself reactionary) is perhaps also a kind of distortion in the cultural pressure cooker, in turn it raises the temperature of the sexual sacrifice by a celibate clergy to an impossible degree and, hence, ought to be perhaps experimentally modified:

I for example will come sixty in the New Year, perhaps the Catholic Church had ought to resort to "geezer celibacy," it would be anyway a more dignified alternative to the Viagra-driven and illegitimate, porcine, overstaying of middleage by these loathsome hyenas on my hands around here! /Dignity/, the loss of dignity as a felt urgent personal concern in public, this may well be /the/ big change of the past century, in the West at least. Thus, the church could perhaps provide an alternative system of "time out" vows, when people take a sacerdotal break from wenching, debauching the au pair with cocaine, shopping, gasoline and all the cabin boys. At twenty-eight and/or forty, say, for two-three years. And, at sixty, maybe more permenantishly, as in the case of a rogue like this Cheney waxworks, or even Gordo Brun...?

Bodwyn Wook said...

'permanentishly' I think I meant, like a hair job...gadzooks!

Jose said...

What the Catholic Church seeks amounts, no more no less, to Saint Inquisition, although passively applied.

They haven't abandoned the old ideas and their pace does not go along with the times and, more precisely, with the reality of the decreasing numbers among their faithful.

There will always be fanatics of any sign, but the people that really matter will never tolerate that their minds be toyed with.

zola a social thing said...

Indeed Jose : We might recall many catholic CRITICAL educators. Paulo Freire is just one good example. We mght even recall the Catholic "left" in the 1960s as they refused the so called main line of a Vatican City. Eggleton springs to mind.

Jose said...

Yes, Zola. Freire brings to my mind the Liberation Theology, that movement started by Brazilian priests which was so openly contested by the Vatican, even using excommunication.

I take it you refer to Bob Eggleton, his science-fiction and his love for Dinosaurs, which topic could be likened to the Sci-fi and dinosaur-like Catholicity. LOL

Your posts make me learn, really.

Anonymous said...

Well, we agree with you viz the article, so we fly off to give a point of discussion.

Anonymous said...

No points of pubic discussion in the Vatican City.
By Bull