Monthly Archives: October 2010

Another significant new Cardinal

Archbishop - soon to be Cardinal - Malcom Ranjith

Sandro Magister correctly predicted one of the Cardinals in the latest announcement:

ROME, October 14, 2010 – In Sri Lanka, the bishops and priests dress all in white, as can be seen in the unusual photograph above: with the entire clergy of the diocese of Colombo, the capital, diligently listening to its archbishop, Malcolm Ranjith, who is likely to be made a cardinal at the next concistory.

He was quite right. Malcolm Ranjith, one time secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, is also one of the Church’s foremost proponents of returning to ad orientam celebration of the liturgy along with kneeling to receive Communion and reception of communion on the tongue. Take the time to read Magister’s piece and you will understand where Pope Benedict is coming from.

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“Progressive, rational, independent”… and wrong

Tony Smith (who “holds a PhD in political science. He has taught at several universities including the University of Sydney”), in the October 15 edition of Eureka Street writes a piece about the religious beliefs of New South Wales Premier, Kristina Keneally. I wouldn’t know Ms Keneally from Eve, so what I say here is no reflection on her. It is a reflection, rather of Dr Smith’s praise for a kind of “Catholicism” which has one main fault: it isn’t Catholic.

Dr Smith says that “Keneally’s faith makes an interesting study”. He contrasts her “Catholicism” with Tony Abbott’s “great enthusiasm for Catholic orthodoxy” (although, it should be said, for all that “enthusiasm”, Mr Abbot is no less of a politician than Ms Keneally). He writes that “by contrast Premier Keneally represents a growingly assertive Catholicism which might be described as progressive, rational and independent”.

So, what are these “progressive, rational and independant” beliefs? Let’s look at them (please note, I am commenting on Dr Smith’s assessment of what comprises “progressive, rational and independant” beliefs – I am not judging Ms Keneally’s faith):

1) “Keneally has stated plainly her belief that Catholic women should not be excluded from ordination.” Progressive? Depends what you mean by “progress”, I guess. Rational? Depends what your premises are. Independant? Independant of the Catholic Magisterium, that’s for sure.

2) “In explaining her decision to support a bill to remove anomalies from the Adoption Act so that same sex couples would be eligible to adopt, Keneally noted the importance of allowing all MPs a ‘conscience vote’. She described how her conscience was informed by Catholic teaching about the ‘primacy’ of conscience and the importance of actively developing the conscience.” Is the example here her ideas about “same sex adoption” or her ideas about what “primacy of conscience” might mean? If in regard to “same sex-adoption”, again it depends on what you call “progress” and what your premises are. In regard to “primacy of conscience” this isn’t an accurate application of the doctrine.

Dr Smith says that “Keneally has not compromised her religious faith”. Fair enough. But if what Dr Smith says is true, her witness to her faith cannot be held up as a shining example for Catholics to follow. (Not that I am saying that Mr Abbott’s example can be). It is possible to be “progressive, rational and independant” AND wrong at the same time.


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As if we needed proof…

…that our Western society cannot handle saints.

According to this report in the Herald Sun, Zoo Magazine (called a “men’s magazine” – which is even more insulting to men than calling “New Idea” a “women’s magazine”) has dealt with the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in the only way it can: by sexualisation and ridicule.

This tacky incident speaks volumes about how uncomfortable our society is with holiness. In Australian society, a common way to handle an uncomfortable situation is to make a joke of it. And a well known tactic of the devil (both inside and outside of the Church) to undermine both the holiness of the saints and the holiness of sex within the sacrament of marriage is to pervert both together at the same time.

As I see it, Zoo Magazine has just provided Exhibit A in the case against Western society. Whatever may be said for Islamic societies, you wouldn’t find anything like this there.


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Historian Cardinal

Monsignor (soon to be Cardinal) Walter Brandmueller

Among the new cardinals announced by Pope Benedict XVI for the November 24 consistory is a priest who is over 80 (and therefore not entitled to vote in a papal election), Monsignor Walter Brandmüller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. This cannot be seen as anything other than a papal approval for Mons. Brandmuller’s historical work. I have read his book “Lights and Shadows: Church History among faith, facts and legend”, and can highly recommend it.


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I was a stranger and you welcomed me

I have been a little dismayed in the last 24 hours listening to the angry words of Woodside residents in South Australia reacting to the Federal Government’s announcement that disused military accomodation in the Adelaide Hills will be used as an on-shore assylum seeker detention and processing centre. I have been listening to the radio news, and haven’t found a lot of it in the print media, but you could see here, here and here for more information.

I can understand the Woodsiders’ frustration at lack of consultation. Apparently Julia Gillard was in Woodside recently, and entirely failed to mention any plans for the establishment of the centre. I can understand parents concerns that the children of the assylum seekers will be sent to the local schools. This isn’t an issue of racism, but an issue about a school system already overstretched. The local community is entitled to ask about extra funding and expansion of the schools to take an additional 200 students with very special needs. And I can also understand members of the community being angry about the fact that 10 million dollars will be spent on the centre, including 24/7 medical and dental services – when similar services for the locals exist only in their dreams.

All this I can understand, and all this reflects badly on the Federal government. But I have been deeply saddened to hear, in much of the rhetoric eminating from the public meeting at Woodside, such ugly words directed against the assylum seekers themselves. I had not thought that the “stop the boats” slogans had been quite so effective. I hope that the Christian community of Woodside and their pastors will be able to lead the community in general into a more welcoming embrace of the stranger.


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Listen to the Chants of the New Missal!

My friend Paul Taylor drew my attention to this page from the US National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Here you can listen to the singing of the chants for the new English missal (unfortunately, no Credo). A great learning resource!


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Truth is dispensible if it makes you feel guilty

There is a breathtaking article in the Herald Sun today. Here it is with [my comments]:

No shame in aborting unborn life
Susie O’Brien
From: Herald Sun October 19, 2010

CHOOSING to terminate a pregnancy is better than ending up as a bad mother who hurts or neglects her kids. It’s time we realise that having an abortion doesn’t mean you don’t care about the unborn life you are carrying. [That’s the thesis. Now for the rationale, such as it is.]

Women abort potential babies because they would prefer not to be a mother at all, rather than be an inadequate parent. It’s not that they don’t care about the unborn child, it’s because they care so much. That is the startling finding that emerges from groundbreaking new Victorian research. [They learnt this from “research”?]

In the aftermath of the Queensland case that saw two young people put on trial for taking legally available medication to terminate a pregnancy, it’s time to reassert the rights of women who choose to have an abortion. [Is it? Remember the thing about rights: if someone has an authentic right, we have an absolute duty to provide it.]

Although Tegan Leach, 21, and her boyfriend, Sergie Brennan, 22, were acquitted, thousands of women are still made to feel like criminals because they choose to terminate a pregnancy. [Note the importance of feelings, note too the equation in this article between legal and moral/ethical.]

However, a startling new Melbourne study lifts the veil of secrecy on this issue, uncovering both the complex decision-making women go through, and the guilt and judgments they have to endure from doctors and others. [“guilt and judgements” – the true crime]

There is still a feeling in society that a woman who has an abortion is blithely ending the life of another potential human being. [Again, “there is a FEELING”. I don’t know whether the person who performs an abortion is doing it “blithely” or not, but the reality that a real (not only “potential”) human life is being ended has nothing to do with “feelings”.]

It’s said she’s selfishly putting herself before the needs of her unborn baby, or just using abortion as a form of contraception. [That may or may not be the case. The motives may be many.]

Let’s face it, lots of people have had abortions, but would never talk about it, and can find it hard even using the A word. Some hide their experience as a shameful secret from their loved ones for years. [Let’s face it, lot’s of people do it, so it must be okay, yeah?]

There are even still lines of people placarding abortion clinics, willing to call her a baby killer to her face. [“Even still”? In this day and age…]

And let’s not forget that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in the past has condemned the abortion rate, saying that he was concerned about an “abortion epidemic” and doesn’t “much like abortion, full stop”. [No, don’t forget him. How dare he!]

Now I don’t think anyone should be celebrating their abortion, or shouting it from the rooftops, but women shouldn’t feel bad about pursuing a courageous, legal course of action. [If it is “courageous”, it should be “celebrated”, no? But just because it is “legal” doesn’t make it moral.]

Yes, it is a big, important, life-changing event that should be taken seriously – but let’s get off the guilt-trip. [Because after all, guilt is the real bad here, not the killing of an unborn human being.]

In the only study of its kind in recent years, researchers spoke to a group of 60 Victorian women aged 16 to 38 who rang a Royal Women’s Hospital pregnancy advice service for help about their reasons for considering an abortion. The research team was led by Dr Maggie Kirkman from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Women’s Health and Society.

The group was hand-picked [so not random, huh?]to include women who were 16-18 years old, rural wome, and women who had rung the advice service in their second trimester (12 to 18 weeks). All but five went on to have an abortion.

Women in this position – and, yes, this includes me ( I have written previously about the fact that I had an abortion 20 years ago) [Right. So may we be excused for thinking that this article is some attempt to come off your own guilt-trip? A sort of “Oprah” confession? You want we should cheer you?]– were thoughtful and painstaking in their deliberations.

In making their decision, they assessed their capacity to be a good mother and provide for their child. They also took into account their relationships and the role of the father and the impact on other children. Many of the women had multiple reasons, and went through a complex process of making a decision, and weighing up the options. As one teen, Prue, said, she thought it was better to have an abortion than be a bad mother. [Because, like, you know, its better to just put an end to thier lives here and now, rather than have us all suffer later, you know?]

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it actually makes perfect sense. [???!!!!????]

We also shouldn’t harshly judge those seeking abortions in their second trimester. [No, you are right, we shouldn’t judge anyone (not the least because that might make the guilty actually FEEL guilty). Judge not and you will not be judged and all that. But we can point out faulty thinking and bad rationalisations and wrong reasons and evil actions. Love the sinner, hate the sin.]

One woman interviewed, Abigail, didn’t realise she was pregnant until this time, and decided to have an abortion because she had been drinking heavily and feared for the foetus’s health. [How curious. A kind of prenatal euthanasia…]

“You know, you don’t just have a child because you can,” she told researchers. [Um…?]

But it’s still not easy, and I think it’s important to acknowledge this. Out of the 60 women, only three made the decision quickly or with any ease. [You’re right. You actually have to work very, very hard to convince yourself that a really, really bad idea is a good one. And you won’t feel good about it, because you like me and everyone else actually have a conscience which tells you not to do what is wrong, but to do what is right. And you are trying to make these young girls feel better by simply telling them “It’s not wrong” in the first place.]

In her paper, published in the November edition of the international Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Journal, Dr Kirkman reports that women still feel stigmatised by doctors and others “both for being inappropriately pregnant and for terminating the pregnancy”. [So, how can we help people to be “appropriately” pregnant and KEEP the child?]

Now, around 80,000 women claim Medicare rebates for abortions in Australia each year, with about one in five women terminating a pregnancy at some point in their lives.

As I say, it’s not really a cause for celebration, but neither is it a cause for great shame or sadness. [You are right, it isn’t a case for celebration, because it is a tragedy. But unless you acknoweldge what a tragedy it is, if you want to cover it up and call it “courageous” and “smart”, then why not celebrate it? I will tell you why. Because you have a conscience which can’t quite get over the fact that there is indeed something wrong with abortion.]

There are so many parents out there making bad decisions or hurting their kids – ranging from the woman who drove kids home in the boot, to Robert Farquarson, to the South Australian parents who starved their kids then made them beg for dog food. [All of these are horrific, but than God, rare occurences. The occurence of child abuse in the community is high, but no where near as high as the abortion rate. The parenting instinct kicks in for most parents. In the mean time, this argument amounts to “We’ll hurt them now so we don’t hurt them later”.]

So it doesn’t make sense to harshly judge those who make a positive decision that they are not ready to be parents. [They should have thought about this before they had the sexual intercourse that resulted in them being parents. Once the conception takes place, bingo: you’re parent. If you fail to care for the child in the womb, you are no morally better than one who doesn’t care for the child after birth.]

Isn’t it better to end the pregnancy than be a parent when you know you are not ready for it? [You want it short and sweet sister? The answer is NO.]


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