Just because it isn’t a crime, doesn’t mean it is a right…

That’s the basic argument put forward by Vatican Spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi yesterday in reference to Archbishop Celestino Migliore’s opposition to a proposed UN declaration to “endorse the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality”.

According to Fr Lombardi:

Archbishop Migliore’s point was that it’s one thing to argue against discrimination and criminalization regarding homosexuality, but another to contend that anyone who makes a distinction based on sexual orientation is considered an adversary of human rights.

It is an interesting proposition. What other acts (and we keep in mind, mind you, the distinction that the good Cardinal Pole pointed out in a combox to a blog below, that it is not “homosexuality” that is the usual object of criminalisation in law, but the act of “sodomy”) are not crimes, and yet are not “rights” also? The act of gluttony? The act of adultery? The act of sending your help-desk enquiry line off shore to the Philippines (viz. Telstra Bigpond internet service…)?

How does this help our discussion of religious liberty? In the proposed “Catholic Confessional State” would worshipping contrary to the Catholic faith be “legal”, but not a “right”? – Just a long shot to clarify the thinking of the defenders of the idea of a “Catholic Confessional State”.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Just because it isn’t a crime, doesn’t mean it is a right…

  1. Past Elder

    One time I went to spaghetti dinner at St Frances Cabrini. The sign said “Spaghetti Feed, All You Can Eat For $4”. I had a plate, and went back for seconds, and they said no. I said hey, the sign said all you can eat for $4. They said, right, that’s all you can eat for $4.

    Point being either controversy ends up being like the order anything on the menu but there’s only one thing on the menu. Makes sense to the restauranteur, and his clientele, but sounds like self-serving word-play to someone who wants from that anything something else.

    The church has always said it does not condemn homosexuality, but homosexual acts. Which a homosexual friend once summarised as (he being a boofed Carmelite, I think it was, who flunked the bean party — Reg can supply what that means if you don’t know) you can be a homosexual, just don’t do anything about it, great.

    About the same as you can worship any way you want as long as its ours.

    No matter how you slice it, one way can be lived, no others can. Which is OK if that one way is right, or it’s your way and you think it’s right, but it will impress no-one from any other way as different at all except to allow you to think you so.

  2. Welsh

    It may be helpful to realise that both legally and morally there are at least four categories of act, not just two (rights and crimes):

    Rights – which the law defends, coming to your aid if someone attempts to deny them to you.

    Crimes – which the law forbids, punishing you if you commit them.

    Duties – which the law demands, punishing you if you fail to carry them out.

    Licence – which the law cares nothing about, neither protecting, forbidding nor punishing.

    Much confusion results from overlooking the fourth category, which is where most acts fall (at least legally – morally is another matter) and assuming that anything not forbidden must be a right. You have licence to commit adultery (in many states) or to wear red socks, but no right – the law is utterly indifferent.

  3. Jackie Parkes

    Can u add my blog to your links? Will add yours..

  4. Schütz

    Sorry Jackie, your blog looks very nice (I love all the Newman stuff), but I only link to the blogs that I read regularly. Become a regular commentator on SCE and I might change my mind!

  5. Schütz

    Thanks for those distinctions, Welsh. In other words, there are things that we are not allowed to do, things that we are allowed to do, things that we have a right to do, and things that we must do.

    The question – in so far as it concerns our discussion of Religion and the State – is: which category does religious observance fall into?

    We know of States where religion (either a specific religion or religion as a whole) has been forbidden as a crime. We know of States where religion (again either a specific religion or religion as a whole) is treated as something that its citizens have licence to choose to engage in, but the State refuses to protect such choices. Then we have States, such as our own, which upholds the practice of religion as a right, and thus protects it, but does not legislate any duties in regards to it – this is what we usually mean when we speak of a state which recognises the right to freedom of religion. Finally there are those states which actually legislate duties in regard to religion for their populace. Mainly today this is represented by Islamic regimes. Such states are usually seen as being as much in violation of the right to freedom of religion as those which criminalise or fail to protect religious practice.

    In fact, the State may very well have a “duty” towards religion. That is the duty to recognise the “right” that all its citizens have to practice religion freely, and the duty to protect this freedom.

  6. Lucian

    Is that pipe in Your hand supposed to be a peace-pipe, and thus ultimately an extension of Your ecumenist self? 🙂

  7. Schütz

    Lucian! Long time no hear from! Glad you are still tuning in!

    [Reader: Enough with the exclamation marks already.]

    Yes, always ready to smoke the pipe of peace with anyone who will share an ounce of the pipe-weed with me!

  8. Louise

    The church has always said it does not condemn homosexuality, but homosexual acts. Which a homosexual friend once summarised as (he being a boofed Carmelite, I think it was, who flunked the bean party — Reg can supply what that means if you don’t know) you can be a homosexual, just don’t do anything about it, great.

    Well, “being” homosexual cannot be a sin, given that it is not chosen (or not usually) and sin is something which is chosen. Sodomy is someething a person *does* and it is a sin, a la the Bible. What’s the prob?

    How can anyone say it’s okay to persecute homosexuals, merely for being homosexual (a la the “God hates fags” signs) when it’s not something they choose? This is the kind of thing the Church would like to protect homosexuals from and I agree. If homosexuals *do* things which are wrong, eg try to change society via “gay marriage” then they ought to be taken to task over it.

    Your friend is obviously incapable of making distinctions, PE.

    Shorter Church teaching: treat homosexuals like the human beings they are, but do not condone sodomy.

  9. Past Elder

    Distinctions? His — his, not my — point was, a distinction that says homosexuality is OK but homosexual activity is not is no distinction at all, since it also makes celibacy a non-optional matter for homosexuals unlike heterosexuals.

  10. Louise

    a distinction that says homosexuality is OK but homosexual activity is not is no distinction at all

    Rubbish! For one thing, the Church says that homosexuality is gravely disordered, so there is no sense of its being “okay”. The Church makes the distinction that this disordered nature is not of a person’s choosing – he or she is not culpable.

    The problem with not making the distinction is that we end up with froot-loop Christians running around with “God hates Fags” signs. Obviously.