November 30, 2005

Human dignity in one form or another

While the subject matter among them differs a great deal, all three of these news stories have to do with human dignity in one way or another.

First, the recent release of the much-expected Vatican document banning gays from seminaries. Though, I suppose it depends on how you look at it. If you read the Times (London), it's only those gays with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" as opposed to those with "transitory" homosexuality and therefore the Vatican's current position is, "an intelligent compromise" in the words of Damian Thompson. According to Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor:

“The instruction is not saying that men of homosexual orientation are not welcome in the priesthood. But it is making clear that they must be capable of affective maturity, have a capacity for celibacy and not share the values of the eroticised gay culture. This is especially important because seminaries are all-male environments.”

But, I'm a bit confused here. How can you have a homosexual orientation and not have "deep-seated homosexual tendencies?" How is an orientation "transitory?" Are they trying to say that tendencies means those who actually have sex? Why don't they just say that then? And while the Times tries to make this out (incredibly!) to be a softening of the Church's position on homosexuality, the Independent was a bit more accurate in its lead paragraph:

The Catholic Church has forcefully restated its hostility to homosexuals, banning them from studying to become priests even if they declare they do not intend to become sexually active.

As my fellow editor at Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Nathan Nelson, pointed out out on his personal blog, this is rather a step backwards for the Church and goes against the teachings of the Catechism. After quoting the paragraphs from the Catechism that expound on homosexuality, Nathan states:

Believe it or not, the Church's teaching does go beyond #2357, although it would seem that most Catholics -- including the very authors of the Catechism -- have forgotten #2358-2359. But then again, can you say that these have been forgotten when they were never received in the first place? But I think it's even more clear that the Church has paid no attention to the latter part of its teaching on homosexuality now that the Church is even spitting in the faces of homosexual persons who have followed the Church's teaching on chastity.

Indeed. The Church has told homosexuals, well, okay, you can't get married. You cannot enjoy the intimacy with another human being that heterosexuals do. You must remain celibate and bear your special cross like a good little Christian. Oh, and by the way, now we've decided that even if you're celibate, you can't be a priest. You're just plain out of luck if you want to participate in any vocation within in the Church.

(Be on the look out for a possible blog day on this topic at SRS)

The second story is from the Indy and focuses on the criticism of former aide to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, in which he believes that Dick Cheney "created a climate for US war crimes." He talks about how George Bush tried to steer a "middle ground" between Cheney, Rumsfield, and Gonzales on the one hand and Colin Powell, who insisted that we (what could he be thinking?) follow the Geneva Conventions. And apparently this middle ground consisted of applying the Geneva Conventions to everybody but "al-Qa'ida and al-Qa'ida look-alikes."

Because, you know, as a supposedly "Christian" nation headed by a "Christian" president, the "Christian" thing to do is override God and decide that some people shouldn't be given human dignity, right?

Interestingly, Col. Wilkerson suggests that indeed the actions of Cheney et. al. may be international war crimes. Remember the International Court of Justice that a few years back Bush refused to allow the United States to join? At the time the only conclusion I could think of to explain why was that we were preparing to commit international war crimes and did not want to be held accountable in such a court. I still believe that.

Lastly, again from the Indy (yeah, I tend to read the British press more than the US), is a story in which Europe is chastized for it's poor environmental record. The level of global warming is such that by 2050 seventy-five percent of the Swiss Alps glaciers will be melted. I mean, that's potentially within my lifetime. Scary stuff indeed. But even scarier is that all 25 countries of the EU still only use half the resources that the United States does. Says Tony Long of World Wildlife Fund (I think -- my biggest complaint about the Indy is they are short staffed and badly edited at times):

"Perpetuating the inequality of living at the expense of some of the poorest countries in the world makes European environmental standards nothing to be proud about."

Not to mention American environmental standards, which are apparently on the minds of most delegates at the UN Climate Control Conference in Montreal according to Bill Hare of Greenpeace.

"When you walk around the conference hall here, delegates are saying there are lots of issues on the agenda, but there's only one real problem, and that's the United States."

Mea culpa. Lord have mercy.