Daily Archives: November 27, 2008

John 10:10 in the Magisterium?

A friend (currently working in the area of Catholic social service) just asked me about the meaning of John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The question was how this “life” refers to the quality or justice of life here and now. I won’t go into that right here, that’s for another discussion.

We explored it a bit, and then I suggested, given the centrality of this verse to the whole of Christian faith and spirituality, that we look up and see how the Catechism uses it.

Guess what. It doesn’t. No use or reference to it whatsoever. Anywhere. Not even in a footnote.

Well, we gave the Compendium on Social Doctrine a go.

Guess what. Nothing there either.

But hold on a moment, surely Papa Benny said something about this in his latest encyclical “Spe Salvi”. After all, how could you say anything about the hope that the eschatological promise gives us for life here in the present without refering to this verse?

Then we hit pay-dirt. Paragraph 27:

from faith I await “eternal life”—the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.

In fact, a google of “benedict XVI” and “john 10:10” turned up 2,270 results. Of course, the majority of these would be “repeat” hits of the same instances, but it is interesting to see how such a crucial verse – crucial also for the teaching of the present pope – is totally absent in the Catechism or the Compendium on Social Doctrine. Isn’t it?

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"Down right evil"? The New Heresy of questioning the New Orthodoxy…

This is from Crikey.com under the title “Anti-gay bigots on Roxon’s mens’ health taskforce”:

Marsh and Williams seem to have rather peculiar views on some male health issues. Worse than peculiar, actually. Downright evil is a term that springs to mind.

“Downright evil”? Who are these guys? What on earth have they written? Why should I keep them away from my children (my first thought about people who are “down right evil” is usually “How far away from my children do they have to be before they are safe” – my children that is, not the “down right evil” people – you get what I mean). The Crikey.com account continues:

Because they appear to have a problem with gay men. Marsh’s group has a website where it has brought together people “who believe in the natural biological family. The best way to protect children is for children to be brought up by a loving mother and father who are married.” On the site, you’ll find a quite loathsome document called “21 Reasons Why Gender Matters”.

We will take a look at this “loathsome” document by these people with “peculiar”, “evil” ideas about the need for a child to have a loving mother AND a loving father in a minute (one notes, for the moment, that these evil people would obviously have a problem with that other marvel of modern morality, the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008 waiting in the wings to be finally passed into law upon the Victorian people which actually legalises a situation in which children will NEVER have a legal mummy AND daddy), to give a bit of background to those beyond our borders.

The Age, that bastion of social conservatism (well, conservative in its predictable support for the New Orthodoxy of the Social Revolution anyway) has the story on the front page this morning:

NICOLA Roxon has been embarrassed by the revelation that two men she appointed as health ambassadors put their names to a publication saying homosexuality is a mental disorder and gay people are more likely to take drugs and molest children.

The Health Minister, who is under pressure to dump them, said last night she found the document “unacceptable and repugnant”.

…The appointment of six men’s health ambassadors has turned into a PR disaster for Ms Roxon, who was already under fire for appointing Tim Mathieson, partner of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, despite him having no health background. [He is, in fact, a hairdresser – DS]

Two of the ambassadors — Warwick Marsh and Barry Williams — were listed as among 34 contributors to a paper published last year by the Fatherhood Foundation entitled 21 Reasons Why Gender Matters.

Among its claims are that gay people are more likely to cheat and hit their partners than those in “normal” relationships.

Mr Marsh, from the Fatherhood Foundation, said he “absolutely” stood by the content of the paper. But he said he was not homophobic. “I hope we’re in a free society that still allows us to speak our mind. [In fact, Mr Marsh, you are about to find out that we are not -DS] I don’t wish any evil on anybody,” he said. “I’m there for men’s health and I’m there to support the wonderful policy.”

But Mr Williams, the president of Lone Fathers, said he did not write any of the paper, having merely provided advice on family law issues. He said he believed people “should be accepted the way they are born” and that he did not discriminate against anyone.

Associate Professor Anne Mitchell, from Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria at La Trobe University, said the document amounted to gay-hate literature and it was not appropriate for its authors to be associated with promotion of men’s health.

In news just coming in this morning, the Minister has since sacked Warwick Marsh (who refused to recant) but has allowed Barry Williams (who recanted under the threat of dismissal from his new position) to retain his position.

Well, by this stage, I guess you are all just itching to see this “loathsome” “gay-hate literature” which is “down right evil” for yourselves. Here are the links: to the Website “Gender Matters” and to the document “21 Reasons why Gender Matters”.

As soon as you open the document, you realise what this is about. There is a picture of a baby staring right at you. Yes, it is about procreation. About parenthood. And it is no suprise that a bloke who represents an organisation supportive of fathers and fatherhood would support such views. What, after all, has the gay lobby ever done for fatherhood?

The document lists “four foundational principles” before giving the “21 reasons” of the title:

Four Foundational Principles

There is an enormous and growing body of research, encompassing the fields of biochemistry, neurobiology, physiology and psychology, which all point to a clear conclusion: that there are profound differences between men and women. These go well beyond the obvious physical appearances and reproductive differences; men and women differ at many levels, and also approach relationships differently. As such, this document rests upon, and makes the case for, these four foundational principles:

1. Gender differences exist; they are a fundamental reality of our biology and impact our psychology. Our maleness and femaleness is a key aspect to our personhood.

2. Acknowledging, rather than ignoring (or worse denying), gender differences is the only intellectually honest response to this reality.

3. Gender differences are complementary; individuals, our collective humanity, and society as a whole, all benefit from masculine and feminine characteristics. We are better for having men with a clear understanding of their masculinity and women with a clear understanding of their femininity.

4. Gender identity confusion does exist in a small minority of individuals. It is a painful pathology and warrants a compassionate response. However it is not the ‘normative’ experience and is not therefore a paradigm upon which to drive social policy and institutions.

Now all that, without going into detail on what the 21 reasons actually are (and they are all explained in detail – far more detail than the reports are allowing with their “sound bite” quotations – with footnotes and references) is simply to say that the authors of this document do not accept the “New Orthodoxy”. They do not hate homosexuals. They believe that homosexuality is not normal and that social policy should be based upon what is normal. However, the New Orthodoxy is that homosexuality IS normal. Anyone denying this is a heretic. And the heretics must burn.

Thank God they didn’t appoint a Catholic priest to this group of Men’s Health Ambassadors. Because the guts of this “loathsome”, “down right evil”, “gay-hate literature” is exactly what the Catholic Church has been saying on gender issues for some time. John Paul II (in his Theology of the Body) was way ahead of these “Gender Matters” guys, but they’re singing from exactly the same hymn sheet.

But it is a hymn sheet that the New Orthodoxy has declared unacceptable (too “ancient” for the “moderns”, perhaps?). Remember Juliette Hughes on the subject back during WYD? (“John Paul II’s Theology of the Body…is a load of windy tosh about “telling the truth with your body”, which in the end boils down to (surprise, surprise) how sex is only for people who are married, straight and willing to risk pregnancy.”)

But then we live in a time when men (and women) call good evil and evil good. Repeat after me: “21 reasons why Gender matters” is “evil”. The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill is “good”.

But there is an antidote to the New Orthodoxy. I recommend a quick immersion into First Things to read this article “Natural Law Revealed” by J. Budziszewski. Here’s a small teaspoonful of what he has to say:

As I say, all this follows if the intellect concedes that sexual powers have a procreative purpose. But should reason concede this? In modern times, we tend to object that the purposes of things aren’t natural, that they are merely human constructs. The notion that nature is purposeful is derided as “metaphysical biology.”

Of course, we typically say this only about sex. The purpose of respiration is to oxygenate the blood; apart from it there would be no reason to have lungs. The purpose of circulation is to deliver nutrients and other substances to the places where they are needed; apart from it there would be no reason to have a heart and vascular system. If we are consistent, we should reason this way about sex, too. We should say that its purpose is to generate posterity; apart from this purpose there would be no purpose for the sexual organs.

What wisdom. But simple wisdom. Foolishness, even perhaps. But the kind of foolishness which, in St Paul’s words, destroys the “wisdom” of the “wise”.

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