Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Send In the Jesuits


Joseph M. Palacios has a discussion of the Vatican's opposition to the United Nation Human Rights Council's “Joint Statement on Ending Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” I won't try to summarize the ... um ... "logic" used by Vatican representative Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. I think you need to read Palacios' piece to get the entire odor of it (term used advisedly!).

But this interested me:

Tomasi unequivocally stated that the Council, the UN, and other state bodies cannot base law on sexual orientation since “the ordinary meaning of ‘sexual orientation’ refers to feeling and thoughts, not to behavior.”
He then goes on to say:

But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.
Setting aside the wisdom of a Catholic prelate bringing up the need for society to punish pedophilia (and those who aid and abet it), what's the reason for forbidding homosexuality? I know why laws ban pedophilia -- because it is physical and mental abuse of children -- and incest -- because of likely genetic damage to offspring of such unions -- but why homosexuality?

The real issue here is the need to ban the behavior of people who commit acts, including violence, against the rights of other people based, rightly or wrongly, on how they perceive the feelings and thoughts of others.

Now let's see ... the ordinary meaning of ‘religious faith’ refers to feeling and thoughts, not to behavior. So states couldn't prevent violence against a person because someone perceives they are thinking and feeling like a Catholic? And Muslim states could punish people for behaving like a Catholic -- by, say, going to Mass -- as long as there is consensus between two or more societies that certain types of non-Muslim religious behavior can be forbidden by law?

Now, maybe it is just the long time since my college days (or the effect of a fair amount of pot smoking back then) but I'm pretty sure the Jesuits who taught me would have flunked me badly if I floated such a lame argument.

but I'm pretty sure the Jesuits who taught me would have flunked me badly if I floated such a lame argument.
well you should hope they don't read your arguments about the gnu's then :).
It's not my fault if sometimes Gnus resemble archbishops all too closely. ;-)

How dare you try to bring nuance into this.

All aboard the religion hate train!!
Ha!. I have to admit that was a good retort.
Incidently, I think Coyne's recent series of posts commenting on the Catholic Catechism is (despite some quibbles) very clever.
well I dont think any reasonable accomodationist agrees with vatican policy. The disagreement has always been around what a moderate should do about it (assuming he/she disagrees with the teachings).
I think you misunderstand. The cleverness is not in what what his posts say to "accommodationists" but what they say to moderate Catholics who support science.

The simple fact, that I know from personal experience, is that many moderate Catholics disagree with and/or disregard these positions. But, by addressing them using official church dogma, he cannot be so easily dismissed as a "New Atheist" ideologue.
he cannot be so easily dismissed as a "New Atheist" ideologue.
Want to bet?

But It's like you said - Most moderate Catholics disagree with official Church policy on every point that Coyne has posted on. And yet there is no mass movement to change Vatican policy - they (in my experience) simply shrug that it's not their fault and they can't change Church policy.
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