Daily Archives: July 2, 2010

The difference between Moral and Judicial Crimes

Just doing a bit of research on Cardinal Ouellet (can a reader help with how to pronounce his name?), I came across this article concerning something the French cardinal said about abortion:

Ouellet…called abortion a “moral crime” as serious as murder and said it is never justified — even in cases of rape.

“There is a spin, saying the cardinal would like to re-criminalize [abortion], and this is not what he said,” said Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre [a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Quebec City]. “He’s not calling for re-criminalization. He was talking [about] a moral thing. This is a moral issue. He was not bringing this to the judicial level.”

He said Ouellet wasn’t condemning women and believes they need better care before and after abortions. He also said that when Ouellet discusses abortion as a political issue, he is merely urging Canada to offer some form of protection for the unborn.

The distinction that interests me is between “moral” crimes and “judicial” crimes, and the appropriate and just way of resonding to each. Discuss.


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Another post confirmed today

And here is another new face in the Curia:

Pope names new head of ecumenical relations office
(AP) – 12 hours ago

VATICAN CITY — The pope has named a Swiss bishop with experience dealing with Orthodox and Lutheran churches to head the Vatican office responsible for relations with other Christians and Jews.

Archbishop Kurt Koch replaces Cardinal Walter Kasper as head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. Kasper, 77, is retiring.

Koch, 60, has been Basel’s bishop for nearly 15 years, and has served as a member of the pontifical council since 2002. In a statement Thursday, he said a “credible and sincere” ecumenical dialogue had long been close to his heart.

Kasper had headed the office since 2001, and was often put in the position of defusing Vatican standoffs with Jews such as when the pope lifted the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

The Anglo-Catholic has some more (promising) information.

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Scribbling on a Sacred Text

I am at an interfaith conference at the moment on the theme of the environment. We just had a speaker who expounded a Sufi Muslim idea of creation as the “writing of God”. There seems to be some parallel here with our Christian idea of the “two books” of revelation, the “book of Nature” and (of course) the “book of Scripture”, and with the Jewish idea of the integral place of the Hebrew language and script in God’s creating work.

But it brought to mind an image for me. I was once a professional librarian. Librarians love books. They buy them new and pristine and put them on the shelves where they look all nice and pretty. AND THEN: people come to use them. They open them, break their spines, write in them, spill coffee on them – all in the process of READING them. Some librarians never come to terms with this reality.

Of course, on the other hand there are some VANDALS (who deserve to be hung by their thumbs from the highest bookshelf) who tear out pages, rip off covers, deface the book etc. etc. The most extreme form of this crime is book burning. We will say no more about these base individuals.

But as an image for the “writing of God”, ie. the Created World, it is not a bad one. There must be a balance between the extreme fastidiousness of those (rare and few) librarians who have a phobia of people actually using their nice new books, and those vandals who actually destroy the books. The Book of Nature is there to be read. In the process of reading a book, the book begins to look different. Handling a book modifies it. Sometimes it doesn’t look so pretty. But it has a purpose. That purpose cannot be served if the book is left on the shelf untouched – neither can it be served if the book is destroyed or made illegible.

There is a balance here. It is focused on the purpose of the book. The book is to be read. The “writing of Creation” exists for human beings to read it. But woe to him who defaces it, and obscures the “writing” and its Author.


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Well, that’s the end of THAT rumour…

Pope Benedict has announced the following appointments

Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops: Archbishop of Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation: Archbishop Rino Fisichella (previously president of the Pontifical Academy for Life)
President of the Pontifical Academy for Life: Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula (a Spaniard of the Opus Dei movement)

There is no reason to be disappointed with this. We retain +George here in Australia, where his work in Sydney is far from “done”; and the job of Prefect goes to a non-Italian, English-speaking, non-USA Cardinal with a very good (and, importantly, unblemished) record and reputation. Wise choice, Holy Father.


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