« T. S. Eliot and the Gîtâ’s Spirituality of Action | Main | Journal théologique 1: Remarques introductives »

February 14, 2008

Comments

Michael J. Bayly

Excellent summary and critique of Heard's contribution to the recent debate on gay marriage in Sydney.

Thanks for posting it.

Peace,

Michael

DREADNOUGHT

In re: the alleged sophism.

The argument is not, in fact, that no one does, or ever did hold racist, etc. views.

Rather, the argument more accurately runs like this:

1. Good people, 'listen...to the inner voice of conscience and compassion'.

2. Having listened to the 'inner voice of conscience and compassion', the 'venerable Law Society of NSW' and 'a vast majority of serious and compassionate people' plus 'all the major social institutions, both major political parties and every mainstream religion' have come to a particular view.

That is, good people are agreed.

Note: The argument is neither that all people are agreed nor that all people will always be agreed. Just that, on this issue, good people are near unananimous.

If anything, you could take issue with the importation of value, that 'good' that sneaks into the major premise, but the sheer weight of opinion against 'gay marriage' is incontrovertible. It is an empirical fact.

I find it very impressive, so should you, keen as you appear to be on the so-called sensum fidei.

Your readers (especially Michael) should note that these were, in fact, prepared introductory remarks, limited to not more than five minutes in duration, delivered before a panel discussion in a public space in the middle of Sydney.

It wasn't an academic conference.

It would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

If you are genuinely interested in the authoritative teaching of the Church you vowed to serve, if Michael Bayly is willing to put aside his ambiguous witness, I invite you all to study, pray and consider with me and my readers the Church's position as articulated on DREADNOUGHT and elsewhere.

Where I fall short of orthodoxy or charity, please correct me.

Christians, after all, do not Fisk. We love. In Lent, we can all benefit from paying closer
attention to the Word.

It is some comfort to me, however, that you single out Avery Cardinal Dulles, John Paul the Great, Pope Benedict XVI, etc. to criticise, alongside me, and for very similar reasons (i.e., a committment to orthodoxy).

I do not ask to be 'corrected' if that means being inculcated in heresy, apostasy, etc.

In re: 'gay marriage' and flourishing.

It is precisely because homogenital acts are sinful, and sodomy is radically unlike procreative sex, that the Church opposes moves that would, by ignoring or denying these natural facts, block the access to flourishing, bar the way to 'constructive living'.

It has helped me, on this point, to consider what marriage means. The Church's position on marriage is very far from, and much more beautiful I'd hazard, than the dry, positivistic ideas espoused by Zapatero and the homoactivists.

[Unfortunately, I don't have the time to respond to comments here. Please engage directly via the website of the Facebook group].

- JH

Spirit  of Vatican II

Dread, "the argument is not..."

I think you do not need to clarify this. The entire argument is quoted above.

And as I said, it is false. "Good people are agreed"? It was precisely the great and the good who upheld the blindnesses to human rights in the past. Today many of the great and the good have discovered gay rights and are asking if gay marriage is a right. Asking not in the sense of doubting that right and wanting to put the clock back, but in the sense of possibly discovering a right that was not thought of up to a few years ago.

Is it Unchristian of me to fisk you? "Thou shalt not fisk"? But Christians are the inventors of fisking. We owe to Origen's fisking of Celsus the preservation of the latter's Alethes Logos in its entirety. Gregory of Nyssa fisks Eunomius. Luther fisks Erasmus. As a lawyer and controversialist you would enjoy reading them.

On querying the Vatican's view on homosexuality, I would merely point out that it is much the same as querying the Vatican's view on artificial contraception. Having effectively lost the latter battle in the court of Catholic opinion, the Vatican seem to be losing the former as well. Even elderly Catholics, especially parents of gays and lesbians, are speaking up in favour of gay marriage. The Vatican sees the ban on artificial contraception as ensuring human flourishing and constructive living out of matrimony, and the same argument is extended -- even less persuasively -- in its campaign against recognition of civil partnerships. Zapatero may have a positivistic view of marriage, but he has provided something for gay couples that is treasured by them and even felt to be sacred. If the Church were to draw on its heritage of sacramental marriage to provide something more, I think that this would be a good thing.

Now I am asked to join a Facebook group? Hmm, having been bruisingly "banned" from your old combox which you shut down, I can only see this invitation as a ploy to ensure that you can control the debate, so I must regretfully decline. But thanks all the same.

grega

"I would merely point out that it is much the same as querying the Vatican's view on artificial contraception. Having effectively lost the latter battle in the court of Catholic opinion, the Vatican seem to be losing the former as well."

I would very much agree with that - in my parish I witness many samesex couples - male/male and female/female with children. In my view JH should refocus his talents and energies on finding a good partner - a great partner that would let him consider commiting to a permanent relationship and perhaps even adoption of children.
In my view that is the proper Christian thing to do in 2008.
All this nonconvincing homosexual sturm und drang about resisting temptations and so on - give me a break - whom is JH fooling?

Mark Andrews

But doesn't this beg the question - "What IS marriage?" And what is a Catholic marriage?

One could argue that marriage is a mutable social and legal construct. The fact that the Catholic Church sees, in its formal definition of marriage, something immutable, pre-legal (as in temporally prior to 'government' and 'law'), and sacramental, and illustrative of the nuptial images in the Jewish & Christian Scriptures shows, if nothing else, that the Church has a formal and realizable definition of marriage.

Human persons, communities, societies and cultures have greatly benefited from a close correspondence of the social and legal definition of marriage to the Church's definition of marriage.

Does social change demand a corresponding legal change in the definition of marriage? Does a changing secular definition of marriage require a corresponding change in religious definitions of marriage? Perhaps the Church's definition of marriage should be retained as a 'control' for those who desire it, while a period of experimentation continues where dating, courtship, marriage, sex, the begetting of children, family life and the relation of all these to one's religion continue to be decoupled. Then, after a season, we can see where the Holy Spirit is really at work. Or, in a more practical sense, who is happier.

Isn't it true that, for many advocates of alternative definitions and forms of message, Church teaching is irrelevant? If so then why should the Church change its teaching to suit those who ignore it at least and excoriate it at worst?

Catherine Nolan

@grega: I thought your comment on "the proper Christian thing to do in 2008" was interesting. I don't think that morals change; what would the proper "Christian thing" have been last year?

As for the battles on the court of Catholic opinion, the tide is turning. My seminarian friends get a special look in their eyes every time someone mentions the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. And I don't think they've seen this blog.

Spirit of Vatican II

Thanks for the comment, Mark Andrews. I think Dreadnought is against pretty much any gay civil partnership legislation because he thinks it is equivalent in practice to marriage. I think such partnerships can be seen as participating analogically in the good of marriage, or as an approximation to marriage, but not equivalent to marriage.

"One could argue that marriage is a mutable social and legal construct. The fact that the Catholic Church sees, in its formal definition of marriage, something immutable, pre-legal (as in temporally prior to 'government' and 'law'), and sacramental, and illustrative of the nuptial images in the Jewish & Christian Scriptures shows, if nothing else, that the Church has a formal and realizable definition of marriage."

Fair enough. I think the Church has an idea of natural marriage as part of natural law -- polygamy is included in this as part of what Aquinas calls secondary natural law. The idea of sacramental marriage however is for baptized Christians only; natural marriages can be dissolved -- even if one of the partners is baptized -- in favor of a sacramental marriage (the Pauline and Petrine privileges).

So the claim for "gay marriage" would be twofold: recognition of gay unions as natural marriage, and sacramental celebration of such unions. The Church at the moment does not recognize either claim. But the issue that is livelier just now is the right of gays to civil marriage, which the Church resists in part because it would seem to entail that marriage is just a social arrangement without roots in natural law. Churchmen occasionally express tolerance of civil partnership legislation as long as it does not equiparate such partnership with marriage (such seems to be the attitude of Archbishop Martin, Dublin, and Archbishop Zollitsch, Freiburg).

Spirit of Vatican II

Catherine Nolan, morals do change, or at least our understanding of morals does change. Perhaps you mean that morals as defined by the Catholic Church do not change? But even this is not true; see Charles Curran, ed. Changes in Official Catholic Moral Teaching, and John Noonan's books for the irrefutable evidence of many changes in official Catholic morality over the centuries.

Spirit of Vatican II

In the older days priests formed a vast fraternity, joined each year by an ardent new crop of young, fresh minds. Now many priests must feel they are at the end of the line, in a greying community with little in the way of youthful renewal. "My seminarian friends get a special look in their eyes every time someone mentions the spirit of the Second Vatican Council." How many seminarians are there, relatively speaking? Only a very small number in most countries, and from reports like this they seem to be hothouse products unlikely to last long. That seminarians should be hostile to the phrase "spirit of Vatican II" is peculiar and rather worrisome, since it was a phrase used again and again by Paul VI and also by John Paul II. Perhaps they imagine that the phrase has become just a cover for abuses or dilution of the faith. In my own seminarian days I was a bumptious defender of orthodoxy against heretics real or imagined -- I think most seminarians grow out of that in time.

grega

Catherine,
for me to adopt children if you are in a committed stable and loving relationship is very much the moral thing to do. And yes morals do change - I could for example imagine that at some not so distant point in time (if the current upwards trend in population grows continues) the moral thing to do will be all of a sudden quite the opposite of what we practice today.

Mark Andrews

Fr. Joe, I would like to publicly apologize to some hurtful posts I left for you on this blog and others.

I would like to affirm my respect for you, your priesthood and your exercise of your ministry.

In particular I would like to say that, if those who grant you priestly faculties are both confident in you and are content to sustain your ministry, then I am happy to defer to those who know you best, and are best able to make these kinds of decisions.

I apologize, Fr. Joe. I was out of line.

If there is a more public forum for me to speak, where I can attempt to make amends in proportion to whatever harm I have caused you, I am happy to repost my words there, too.

Wishing you a blessed Lent,

Mark Andrews

Catherine Nolan

@grega: I'm in a committed and loving relationship, so you should feel free to adopt. ;) Of course when an unchanging moral law is applied in different circumstances, it will result in different actions - I didn't know that's what you meant, and so I apologize for my criticism. [As a Canadian, though, I would dispute your claim of population increase; Europe and Canada are on our way down, and it's not looking pretty.]

@Father: "The Church grows by constantly releasing new and old heresies from herself" (Friedrich Heer, Intellectual History of Europe) - I'm sorry you tired of the game. I don't think young seminarians are hostile to the phrase "spirit of Vatican II" as much as tired of it being misused. As you point out, it can be used to rationalize abuses, as well as in the sense intended by JPII.

It's possible that they will "grow out of it," as you say; I hope that in their priesthood they reflect the maturity and idealism of JPII and Pope Benedict. I'm very happy with them so far.

Spirit  of Vatican II

Don't know why everybody feels the need to apologize. Guess I should apologize too.

Anyway, Catherine, whatever maturity and idealism one may admire in our popes, their teachings seem to be incorrect on some issues, with grave consequences. What do you think of the following? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/feb/26/health.religion

Spirit  of Vatican II

By the way, Catherine, I am still a defender of orthodoxy, believe it or not, -- but thanks to long and sustained study of the Fathers my notion of what orthodoxy means has broadened and deepened. Keep in mind the hierarchy of truths -- the central truths are profound mysteries -- for instance the doctrine of grace or the divinity of Christ -- the peripheral doctrines need to be seen from that center out.

Mark Andrews

Well, Fr. Joe, I can un-apologize if you like , Mark

Catherine Nolan

I disagree with your assessment of the pope's teachings. Actually, I come from having read Why Humanae Vitae Was Right, edited by Dr. Janet Smith (highly recommended).

The article you proposed for my perusal didn't impress me much. The Church teaches 1) not to have sex outside of marriage; 2) not to use contraceptives; 3) not to abort children. The author claims that people are ignoring the Church on 1 and 3, yet following 2 - without giving any real reasons for why he supposes this to be the case.

An interesting thought exercise would be to bring back the whole question say, a hundred years. Contraception and abortion weren't easily available - were there millions of illegal abortions (for which the Church was not yet to blame)? I don't know. Has society changed since then? Definitely. Are we no longer able to take responsibility for our sexuality (and I don't mean by contracepting; I mean by saying 'no' to things we want to do)? I don't think the human person has changed, despite changes in society.

I believe John Paul II was absolutely right in Love and Responsibility. And the theology of the body is only the tip of the iceberg - we're on the edge of a lot of new things, and things which go back to tradition; look at Thomistic Personalism and the phenomenological movement.

As for the Church Fathers, as a friend of mine put it the other day, "they were free to believe what is now heresy, because it had not yet been defined." One duty of the Church is to teach the truth, and if we can't become more and more specific about what truth is by denying error, we can't become more perfect (c.f. my quote from Heer). So, I would say that orthodoxy is continually being narrowed and deepened, to use your analogy; we're eliminating more errors and understanding more truth.

Spirit of Vatican II

"An interesting thought exercise would be to bring back the whole question say, a hundred years. Contraception and abortion weren't easily available - were there millions of illegal abortions (for which the Church was not yet to blame)?"

Infanticide was widely practiced in Europe and Japan (see Lafleur, Liquid Life for the Japanese case). Moral theologians were unbelievably lax about abortion, permitting it, for example, if the scandal of a girl's pregnancy might spoil her brother's marriage prospects; with no particular objection from the Vatican. Generally the Church was quite realistic in facing up to human nature as it is, in its imperfections -- as in Augustine's remark, "Take away brothels, and what disorders will ensue in human affairs!" (a remark he did not retract in his Retractationes).

"Are we no longer able to take responsibility for our sexuality (and I don't mean by contracepting; I mean by saying 'no' to things we want to do)? I don't think the human person has changed, despite changes in society."

From my point of view, while a given sexual act may be morally problematic, to use a contraceptive is always a moral act, in that it protects oneself and one's partner from disease or unwanted pregnancy. The condom-bonfires of Philippines bishops, and the impeding of the use of condoms by bishops in AIDS-ravaged Africa, and the advice of the Vatican, pronounced by Monsignor Carlo Caffarra, that women with an AIDS-infected husband should have unprotected sex with him, trusting in Providence -- are thus not only deeply damaging on the plane of public health, but also morally incorrect. For more see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE4D81730F93AA15752C0A96E948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all.

"As for the Church Fathers, as a friend of mine put it the other day, "they were free to believe what is now heresy, because it had not yet been defined." One duty of the Church is to teach the truth, and if we can't become more and more specific about what truth is by denying error, we can't become more perfect (c.f. my quote from Heer)."

This is a very oppressive model of Development of Doctrine. Look instead to Newman on the unfolding of the Christian Idea in history.

In any case, the issue of pre-Nicene Fathers teaching what later would be branded as subordinationism is not uppermost in my mind. More something along the lines of what Sarah Coakley talks about in reference to Chalcedon, that its "horos" was not so much a "definition" as the clearing of a "horizon".

" So, I would say that orthodoxy is continually being narrowed and deepened, to use your analogy; we're eliminating more errors and understanding more truth."

Karl Rahner predicted that the heresy of the future would come from the right and be based on a narrow conception of the nature of religious truth. One of the many signs he was correct is that the right wing in the church today are very quick to brand Rahner himself a heretic!

The Irish Bishops lately deplored the decrease of the government tax on condoms (more expensive in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe). This foolish intervention met just raised eyebrows and ironic chuckles from the people.

But the sale of contraceptives was illegal in Ireland until recently and the bishops, who had much greater power and influence, fought against legalization; Paul VI scolded Garrett Fitzgerald, the Irish prime minister, for his alleged "liberal agenda" in legalizing the sale of contraceptives.

So if even in a Western European country the Church has an effective role in blocking access to contraceptives, what must be the case in Africa and the Philippines?

"The Church teaches 1) not to have sex outside of marriage; 2) not to use contraceptives; 3) not to abort children. The author claims that people are ignoring the Church on 1 and 3, yet following 2 - without giving any real reasons for why he supposes this to be the case."

An African woman, monogamously married, and faithful to church teaching, will fail to protect herself against her AIDS-infected husband because of her bishop's teaching on condoms. In fact enlightened Catholic priests and sisters distribute condoms and urge people not to have unprotected sex. But the Church may have made a huge contribution to mortality and infection in Africa by its obdurate attitude. And it is not good enough for Benedict XVI to tell the African bishops that he is helping Africans fight AIDS by teaching them continence.

As to Janet Smith, she is a right wing ideologist-philosopher in the line of Elizabeth Anscombe and Ralph McInerny. What is her pastoral or theological experience? The fact that she is published by Ignatius Press does not vouch for theological credibility.

I reviewed "Love and Responsibility", too kindly, in 1978 -- it is a narrow-minded, heavy-handed book, showing very little sense of the richness of human experience. One of its theses is that masturbation damages your physical and psychological health -- which the author had no qualifications to suggest and which no medical authority today, as far as I know, would claim. And the discussion of "modesty" in that book was wearisome -- the world of Pius XII.

Papolatry means farewell to critical reason and callous indifference to the sufferings of real human beings, especially women. Papolatry is also, of course, a heresy.

Catherine Nolan

Hahaha... I felt kind of bad criticizing your perspective in my earlier posts, just because it's kind of mean to point out the scoreboard to the losing team. And of course, because you are in persona Christi.

But, goodness - some of your examples... If I were arguing for abortion for women's rights, I wouldn't cite an instance where a girl has an abortion in order to facilitate her brother's marriage. If a woman has to kill her unborn child, society has failed her; merely killing the child won't help her deal with the pain, poverty, abuse, etc. that are her real problems. It's a bandaid solution, and one that is pushed on women to allow society (and men who demand sex without consequences - or, in your example, good marriage prospects) to justify themselves and convince themselves that everything is fine.

And while the Church "faces up to human nature as it is, with its imperfections," to suggest that it accepts these imperfections is going a bit far.

I could probably imitate Rahner by predicting a narrow-mindedness in the Church, and have my predictions fulfilled, too, if I tried. Interesting how you bring "right" and "left" into this discussion; I would have kept to "true" and "false."

If you agree with Newman that the Catholic Church redeems the individual thought patterns and spiritualities that make it up, why worry about Smith, McInerny and Pope John Paul II? Their thought is brought to perfection in Catholicism, isn't it? If you want to argue that we should tolerate everything except intolerance, you would strip Catholicism down very quickly to a series of platitudes. That was done, in the seventies. There are still some older folk trying to inspire the same bitter rebelliousness, but most of my generation has realized that it's easier to rebel by throwing over the Church altogether.

Those of us who still take the Church seriously do so because we love her. (We also love modesty because we have experienced the degradation of porn and masturbation. But it's new to me that JPII claimed it damages one's physical health - where is that?) And the claim that JPII's writing shows "little sense of the richness of human experience" is...odd. Have you reviewed "The Acting Person," by any chance? It's hard to believe that someone who came up with the vertical transcendence of the will doesn't understand human experience.

I am a woman, and I try not to be callous, indifferent, or to worship the pope. I am not a misologist, however - nor a misogamist.

Spirit of Vatican II

"If I were arguing for abortion for women's rights, I wouldn't cite an instance where a girl has an abortion in order to facilitate her brother's marriage."

Well, I only cited it to give a sense of the texture of history. I don't agree with it, or with Augustine's views on "brothels". I do suggest that less fanaticism and more listening would do the Church good today.

"And while the Church "faces up to human nature as it is, with its imperfections," to suggest that it accepts these imperfections is going a bit far."

I suggest that the Church should take into account the social factors you mention. Condemnation in a vacuum is not helping anyone.

"Interesting how you bring "right" and "left" into this discussion; I would have kept to "true" and "false.""

Truth and falsehood are never exclusively on one side.

"Smith, McInerny and Pope John Paul II... Their thought is brought to perfection in Catholicism, isn't it?"

No, insofar as their thought conduces to mortality due to the lack of condoms, to callousness about human life and flourishing here below, and to acute misery for many women and gays, it is a distortion of what Catholicism should be.

"If you want to argue that we should tolerate everything except intolerance,"

Perhaps we should be less tolerant of the right-wing that are imposing false ideas and practices, and preventing the Church from being a light to the nations.

"Most of my generation has realized that it's easier to rebel by throwing over the Church altogether."

Of course, but constructive movement for reform within the Church is the more Christian way.

"Have you reviewed "The Acting Person," by any chance?"

No, because I found it boring. But it was reviewed at length by its translator Ms Tymienecka, and she had nothing good to say about it!

"I am not a misologist, however - nor a misogamist."

There is logos and logos, gamos and gamos. I want to extend the blessing of marriage in an analogical participation to same-sex couples. Surely that is the opposite of misogamy? And I defend my claim by rational arguments -- which include the rational procedure of taking the phenomenology of gay couples' experience seriously (something John Paul II was incapable of). Surely that is not misology?

Catherine Nolan

Sigh... I know truth and falsehood are never entirely on one side. That's why I found it irrelevant for you to insist on using the term "right wing." It's an ad hominem attack, only relevant to someone who is already your political ally.

Your comment about "callousness about human life" is pure irony, coming from someone advocating abortion.

Funny that Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka would dislike "The Acting Person," since by many reports she engaged in interpretive reading when translating - even to the point of co-authorship. On the other hand, that might explain why...

To tell you the truth, I'm interested in a phenomenological exploration of the gay experience, too. I hope JH gets started.

Catherine Nolan

By the way, I didn't mean to attack you with the labels 'misogamist' and 'misologist' - I was just defending myself against what you associated with 'papolatry' and JH, and by extension, myself.

Spirit of Vatican II

How dare you call me "someone advocating abortion". I am advocating that the Church learn from the experience of the country in Europe which has the lowest abortion rate (see the Guardian piece), and thus halp reduce the incidence of abortion (which is highest in Catholic countries).

Mark Andrews

Hmmm...looking back at the posts, what does the "phenomenology of gay couple's experience," or more generally a "phenomenology of experience" - any person's experience - have to do with, say, a single deposit of Faith embodied in a 3-way dialogue between Scripture, Tradition and the authoritative teaching of the Church's pastors?

Fr. Joe, are you proposing that the phenomenology of experience is a kind of internal forum in moral decision making?

Catherine Nolan

Hi Mark,

Sorry - I know you weren't addressing me, but I don't want you to leave thinking that phenomenology is a way to avoid the truth. It's more a way to examine natural law (which includes moral law) from one's own experiences. Because what the Church teaches is not only morally binding but true, we can see this truth from different angles, including the angle of experience.

An example that comes to mind is NFP - not only do we follow the Church's teaching on contraception, we can see how this obedience affects the experiences of married people, or as you say, "who is happier." By the way, I like your idea of keeping the Church as a 'control' group - nice thought.

Spirit of Vatican II

Phenomenology, experience, can hardly be left out of account in the development of moral teaching. Every such development has been prompted by the weight of empirical testimony.

Dreadnought used to offer a more interesting phenomenology of gay experience, though inconsistent and conflicted. I pointed out the inconsistency between his puritanism and the louche pics that lavishly decorated his site. He has now withdrawn these, and his site now looks drab and bare. His phenomenology of the sexual and even of the affective aspect of gay experience seems to me reductive and denigratory. His admirer Courage Man has a blog that is truly oppressive -- a dark hole of wrestling with demons. http://courageman.blogspot.com

All of his needs to be counter-balanced by the testimony of happily coupled gays, whose relationship is accepted by their families and churches.

Archbishop Zollitsch has taken an unambiguous position on civil unions: "As a Catholic my ideal is obviously marriage and the famiily", but "if there are persons with this predisposition, the State can adopt the opportune regulations, even if I think the concept of homosexual marriage is mistaken, since it puts it on the same plane as marriage between man and woman". Could the revolution within Catholicism be taking root in Ratzinger's Germany?

Does phenomenology support NFP? The negative experience of many couples, who claim that NFP is more "unnatural" than the pill, should be taken into account, even if one then wants to argue that it is not conclusive.

For the record, I am unhappy with Mr Obama's blithe attitude to abortion. In whisking away the moral objections he is also coming across as a divider rather than the uniter he claims to be. I'm afraid that Mrs Clinton has more presidential substance; maybe he could make her his running-mate.

Mark Andrews

I'm afraid Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama are both too attached to the presidency itself to accept a lesser role. To be vice president is to be obscured, unless the incumbent is quite devious (examples include Agnew and Chaney).

Back to experience...isn't there an epistemic problem with an over-dependence on experience?

Spirit of Vatican II

Here is an interesting letter of Obama:

I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding
promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers
and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class
citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that
together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans.

Equality is a moral imperative. That’s why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate
discrimination against LGBT Americans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that
prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending
protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation. In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full
equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and
lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.
Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal
only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I
have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting
American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as
married couples in our immigration system.

The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense. We should have age-appropriate sex
education that includes information about contraception. We should pass the JUSTICE Act to
combat infection within our prison population. And we should lift the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. In addition, local governments can protect public health by distributing contraceptives.

We also need a president who’s willing to confront the stigma – too often tied to homophobia
– that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. I confronted this stigma directly in a speech to
evangelicals at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and will continue to speak out as president.
That is where I stand on the major issues of the day. But having the right positions on the issues
is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning
broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well
as friendly ones – and that’s what I’ve done throughout my career. I brought this message of
inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. I talked about the need to fight homophobia when I announced my candidacy for President, and I have
been talking about LGBT equality to a number of groups during this campaign – from local LGBT
activists to rural farmers to parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin
Luther King once preached.

Just as important, I have been listening to what all Americans have to say. I will never compromise
on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to
the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary.

Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible.
I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this
country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit.
Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all
Americans, gay and straight alike.

Spirit of Vatican II

A nasty suspicion: Obama tells his audiences what they like to hear, just like a... politician.

"epistemic problem with an over-dependence on experience"?

Yes, of course there are other sources of knowledge, notably logical reason and authoritative revelation. But the latter sources hang in the air unless there is a firm empirical basis (a possible exception is some pure forms of logic and math). Moreover, if the deliveries of experience contradict the findings of reason or the claims of authority, or make them increasingly implausible, then we've got a Naturally both scientists and religious teachers will expect the contradictions to be solved and the implausibilities to diminish -- but if they do not, if they persist painfully, then a paradigm shift may be in the process of gestation.

I looked up Dreadnought's site just now and discovered that there is a piquant remnant of the photographic phenomenology that struck me as "louche": http://johnheard.blogspot.com/2004/06/dreadgallery-2-rooftop-shoot.html

Courage Man seems to have cheered up since he became more of a political crusader.

grega

Seems that one can allways find folks that claim they see much sense in controversial official catholic teachings just to discover that the actual christenheit thinks otherwise.
Actual catholic parents in overwhelming numbers do not practice pure NFP.
Acutal catholics would have no problem seeing female priests. Actual catholics would prefer a healthy mix between married and non married hetero and homosexual clergy. A mix that perhaps actually resembled real percentages of such folks in the populace.
We should have about a 50 50 split between women and men - we should have about 5% -10 % homosexuals.
Seems to me right now we would need 50% more Priests and we would do well if we could afford to be a bit more selective.
Frankly I would like to see a bit more emphasis on true leadership qualities.
It seems to me that we have perhaps well-meaning pious folks - folks however who have no business heading a parish.
The disasters will keep coming here in the West.
We set ourself up for trouble. The bulk of the great male and female catholic natural leaders will not enter the Priesthood.
No organization can deal with such system immanent fundamental shortcomings in the long run.

Spirit of Vatican II

Grega, I agree. There has been an increase in the number of priests under John Paul II, but in third world countries where the priesthood is a passport to success, indeed to survival -- not in the West. Again, I am not sure if this increase in clergy has kept pace with the general increase in Catholic population, or if the latter has kept pace with the increase in world population. The Papal Primacy as currently understood is a holdover from the Middle Ages (see G. Lafont, "Imaginer l'Eglise catholique", Paris, 1995 -- who quotes early essays of Ratzinger in proof of this point!), and Catholics are clinging to it desperately as the fetish of their threatened identity. This is not the way forward, and is proving itself not to be so in a catalogue of daily disasters.

The Anglican Church in Ireland now boasts higher numbers than at any time since 1930 (when it was being decimated by a subtle form of ethnic cleansing). The new members come from the disillusioned ranks of Roman Catholic laity and clergy. Rome's errors are replenishing our sister churches!

Catherine Nolan

Oh, and Mark; I don't think I was really clear... Phenomenology is a method of philosophy, not a social science. It deals with universal undeniable experiences, not statistics.

Catherine Nolan

"No organization can deal with such system immanent fundamental shortcomings in the long run."

Hahahaha.... this said of perhaps the longest-running institution we have.

And I happen to be an actual Catholic, with actual Catholic friends and family. (It seems as though there are always people willing to change Church teachings to pander to the desires of the majority... What happened to the spirit of the saints, or, for that matter, of Socrates?)

Spirit of Vatican II

Dreadnought has defended justice Scalia against the critique of Louis Seidman in the following terms: "The idea that sodomy or other forms of non-procreative sex acts (insertion of one's genitals or digits into the digestive tract or elsewhere) might be, on some shoddy moral, pseudo-scientific, etc. grounds somehow as impressive (morally, biologically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.) as marital / conjugal sex is certainly a going political claim, but it has little or no moral, religious or epistemological / logical weight."

Apart from the question of where this leaves kissing, and other forms of foreplay common to both gay and straight, one must deplore the tone of Dreadnought's writing, so unfitting in a legal paper and so different from the calm and measured reasoning of Seidman.

Louis Michael Seidman, "Gay Sex and Marriage, the Reciprocal Disadvantage Problem, and the Crisis in Liberal Constitutional Theory" (July 10, 2007). Georgetown Law. Georgetown Law Faculty Working Papers. Paper 33.

Summary: http://lsr.nellco.org/georgetown/fwps/papers/33

PDF file: http://lsr.nellco.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=georgetown/fwps

Spirit of Vatican II

"No organization can deal with such system immanent fundamental shortcomings in the long run."

Surely you mean, no organization can afford not to deal with them. The Church, upheld by the Holy Spirit, is perfectly capable of dealing with them, notably through the instrument of an Ecumenical Council.

Spirit of Vatican II

Dreadnought claims to represent a young generation who have outgrown the naive liberalism of their elders. Yet, as Seidman recounds, "in a Gallup poll conducted in May 2007, eighteen to thirty four year olds indicated that they thought homosexuality was an acceptable alternative life-style by a margin of 75% to 25%. Respondents over the age of fifty five disagreed with the same proposition by a margin of 51% to 45%."

Spirit of Vatican II

Seidman argues that a moral case can be made on both sides of the constitional debate about protecting gay rights and that the law cannot pretend to be a neutral observer. Dreadnought dismisses the moral case for gay rights as follows: "It is an outgrowth of anti-human ideologies current during the middle years of the last century (c.f. the 'Quiet Revolution' in Quebec). These have - thank G-d - little or no grip on my generation... and their influence on lawyers and politicians is quickly eroding, ceding ground to more humane ideas."

It would be interesting to know how many Canadians of Dreadnought's "generation" (by which he really means the conservative minority of his generation, see above), would wish to undo the "Quiet Revolution", described in Wikipedia as follows: "The provincial government took over the fields of health care and education, which were in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. It created ministries of Education and Health, expanded the public service, and made massive investments in the public education system and provincial infrastructure. The government allowed unionization of the civil service. It took measures to increase Québécois control over the province's economy and nationalized electricity production and distribution."


The young fogey

There are things I like about both your and Heard's/Pope John Paul II's arguments.

With you I'm with civil libertarianism only as a libertarian I agree with Alan Dershowitz that the solution is to get the state out of the marriage business.

You used a common liberal device of equating homosexuality with ethnicity (being black for example), which seems to slide from civil law to trying to argue that a same-sex Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is possible. That breaks down of course because being of a race is not a temptation to sin, which Catholics and conservative Protestants believe homosexuality is.

But the state ought not to be in the business of trying to extirpate vice. There is no such thing as consensual crime. If it doesn't harm others it's none of the state's or my business.

Clayton

It is singularly unscholarly to stoop to presumption and imputing motives of those with whom you disagree. I refer to your 3/30/08 comment in which you place Courage Man and Dreadnought on your psychological couch and attempt an assassination of character. Very unworthy behavior for a Christian.

Spirit  of Vatican II

The fantastical descriptions of Dreadnought's sexual life refers simply to my query about the louche pictures on his site; I have never referred to Dreadnought's personal life.

Spirit of Vatican II

Dreadnought has now published a murky apologia-cum-apology for his youthful ravings, which he vows to keep perpetually archived rather than delete them as indiscretions. http://johnheard.blogspot.com/2010/07/statement-from-john-heard.html

He makes the odd claim that Catholic liberals of "the time" (only a few years ago) had no model of gay life to offer except clandestinity or promiscuity. In fact he devoted all his efforts to attacking the model of loving companionship and the push for legal recognition of same-sex unions. Perhaps he now realizes that he was spitting in the wind of history.

Victoria Amateur

A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make the speech for conservation.

Spirit of Vatican II

"being of a race is not a temptation to sin, which Catholics and conservative Protestants believe homosexuality is."

Actually, the documents Persona Humana and Homosexualitatis Problema accept that the homosexual orientation is an inborn disposition; indeed the second document refers to "homosexual persons" and not just to persons bothered by a temptation to sin. The Catholic Church is not entirely stupid.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Pages

Blog powered by Typepad