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Converts, the U.N. and the Vatican, Abp. Aguilar under attack, Hoffman's funeral, Gioia's award, Glass's empty hatred, and the Rolling Stoned article

Seven cuts for a cold and snowy Friday:

• Did you know that most, if not all, of the troubles in the Catholic Church can be traced back to one group of people? Yep. The offenders are commonly called “converts”, but they are really the pawns (and spawn?) of Satan:

The Protestant invasion (Hahn, Ray, Shea et al) has made Catholics sceptical of their own tradition. … Until the Protestant invasion, “the first seven years were the ones that count”. Every Catholic possessed the short pithy responses of the Baltimore Catechism as their lifelong possession. Newman in the Idea of a University tells the story of three Anglican ministers traveling in Ireland. They were guided by a 13 year old youth who surpassed them in his knowledge of the Catechism.

As one commenter noted, “Here's a pointer: to maintain the least modicum of internal consistency, avoid citing Newman in polemics against converts.” I suspect that St. Paul would agree.

• You've likely read about the January 31st report, “Concluding observations on the second periodic report of the Holy See” (PDF) issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Many have described as an attempt to bully the Catholic Church about her teachings on sexuality, abortion, and contraception, and, after having read the document, I think that is an accurate and fair description. Although the text is bureaucratic in tone, the hubristic condescension and arrogance is quite thick. For example:

56. The Committee is seriously concerned about the negative consequences of the Holy See’s position and practices of denying adolescents’ access to contraception, as well as to sexual and reproductive health and information.

57. With reference to its general comments No. 15 (2013) on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, No. 4 (2003) on adolescent health and No.3 (2003) on HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child, the Committee reminds the Holy See of the dangers of early and unwanted pregnancies and clandestine abortion which result notably in high maternal morbidity and mortality in adolescent girls, as well as the particular risk for adolescents girls and boys to be infected with and affected by STD s, including HIV/AIDs. The Committee recommends that the Holy See :

(a) Assess the serious implications of its position on adolescents’ enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives, the dangers of early pregnancy, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)...

And then, having issued that amoral-laden lecture, the committee has the temerity to state:

(f) Take measures to raise awareness of and foster responsible parenthood and sexual behaviour, with particular attention to boys and men

Yeah, right. The United Nations has, for quite some time, been promoting or aiding irresponsible sexual activity, contraception, and abortion throughout the world. Mary Jo Anderson, writing fifteen years ago, reported on how the United Nations Hague Forum was attacking “parental rights, national sovereignty, and religious freedom while it thrusts forward universal access to abortion under the cover of 'reproductive health and rights.'” That February 1999 meeting was hosted by the government of the Netherlands and the United Nations Population Fund (unfpa), “courtesy of the Bill Gates and Ted Turner foundations.” Anderson wrote:

 At issue are globally guaranteed "freedom of sexual expression," access to contraceptives and abortion for the world's youth (defined by the UN World Health Organization as 10-18 year olds) without parental consent, and the demand that abortion and "gender equity" be granted status as a universal human right.

And yet, for some reason, this most recent attack by the United Nations on Catholic teaching came as a surprise to some Catholic leaders, as reported by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute:

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, who represents the Vatican at the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio his first reaction to the observations was surprise.

The committee took a negative approach and was “very wrong”, he said with consternation, “the Church cannot simply give up its beliefs” because all Church teaching on human dignity is ultimately geared towards preserving the common good.

The committee’s observations “contradict the spirit and letter of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Tomasi added. The treaty preamble in fact states that children should be protected before and after birth.

He lamented that the committee failed to take note of how advanced child protection mechanisms in local churches throughout the world have become in response to child abuse scandals involving clergy. He said the Church is now a “leader” on best practices for the protection of children.

Tomasi said the observations of the committee were not up to date — a polite way of saying the committee did not do its job properly.

If any Catholic is surprised by all of this, they surely haven't been paying attention. The situation will likely not change; if it does, it might only be for the worse. For instance, consider this directive from the committee:

25. … While also noting as positive the progressive statement delivered in July 2013 by Pope Francis, the Committee is concerned about the Holy See’s past statements and declarations on homosexuality which contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.

In other words, Catholic teaching is allegedly contributing to hatred of and violence against “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.” That's a very serious allegation, but also a slithery one: How does one prove it? Or, more to the point, how does one prove it false?

• In somewhat related news:

Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, appointed by Pope Francis I to be Spain’s newest Cardinal, is under investigation for “inciting hate and discrimination” which is an offense against Spain’s constitution.

SebastiÁn, whose appointment to archbishop is not official until February 22, made the mistake of airing his homophobia in an interview with the Diario Sur newspaper immediately after news of his appointment broke.

And what, exactly, constitutes homophobia in this instance? What horrific, nasty things did Abp. Aguilar say? Here you go:

“A lot of people complain and don’t tolerate it but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.”

“We have a lot of defects in our bodies. I have high blood pressure. Am I going to get angry because they tell me that? It is a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can,” said Sebastian, who is archbishop emeritus of the northern city of Pamplona.

The report says that when the archbishop was “reminded” of Pope Francis' recent statement, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”, he replied:

“It is one thing to show welcome and affection to a homosexual person and another to morally justify the exercise of homosexuality.”

None of this, of course, is contrary to what the Catechism (pars 2357-59) says about homosexual acts, homosexual tendencies, and the avoidance of unjust discrimination.

• The private funeral of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died earlier this week of a suspected heroin overdose, “will be held on Friday for 400 people at the Church of St Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan,” reports The Guardian. The Huff-and-Puff Post reports:

Hoffman, who died at age 46, was baptized and raised in the Catholic church but did not regularly go to church as an adult. Recalling his upbringing to the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who worked with Hoffman when he directed “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" at the Public Theater in New York, Hoffman said that Masses "really turned me off" and were repetitive, "boring and sometimes really brutal."

May God have mercy on his soul and grant him eternal rest.

• Congratulations to the brilliant and gracious poet and critic Dana Gioia:

Dana Gioia, the USC Judge Widney Professor Of Poetry And Public Culture, has been named the recipient of Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry.

Gioia, celebrated for his poetry, criticism and arts advocacy, joins a who’s who list of the greatest contemporary American poets who have already been bestowed this national prize honoring lifetime achievement.

“I wanted to combine the past and the present—to take the richness of literature and combine it with the energy of movies and popular song to create a new sort of poetry,” Gioia said. “I was not interested in writing just for academics or intellectuals.”

If you've never read any of Gioia's poetry, please do so. I recommend beginning with his most recent collection, Pity the Beautiful (Graywolf Press, 2012), reviewed by Ann Applegarth for CWR in June 2012. Also visit his website and, if you've not seen it, read my October 2013 interview with Dana and his brother, Ted, a brilliant writer, historian, and critic.

• Amy Glass's post, “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry” (Jan. 15, 2014), has already gotten too much attention, so I apologize for adding anything at all to her dubious fame. My three immediate thoughts, upon reading it, were: “She's a very poor writer”, “She's a lousy thinker”, and “She's a coward.” Here is evidence for the both judgments:

Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same. … Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back.

Jonah Goldberg nails it:

Talk about word play! You see the sleight of hand, right? “Doing laundry” is a single, discrete task, a subset of a vast realm of responsibilities that often come with running a household and being a mother. Being a doctor, engineer, or business-builder are total careers or vocations. In other words, it’s a false analogy. Like saying being a chef isn’t as worthwhile as being a truck driver because chefs “cut vegetables.” Every career or calling involves unpleasant or tedious tasks (“Tell me about it” -- The Couch).

My wife, who has a college degree and has worked for both a major department store chain and a state university, is a “stay at home mom” who not only does laundry, but is:

• a teacher (of our three children)
• an engineer (she fixed the washer last week and saved us $200)”
• a doctor (she handles a constant flood of cuts, scrapes, flus, colds, and other ailments)

• a chef (we both cook, but she handles the majority of kitchen duties)

• a business consultant (for me and for others, always informally but always helpfully)

• a farmer and rancher (six chickens on site and one horse off site)

• a management guru (three kids, animals, house, and a work-at-home, often-clueless husband)

I could go on. But, see, Glass is a coward. She thinks that doing one thing well is a sign of greatness, when my wife does many things well—and does so with love and a spirit of sacrifice, qualities I cannot see in Glass's screed. Oh, and “Amy Glass” turns out to be a pen name. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Still, if she is going to throw rocks at glass houses, I wish she'd start with her own Glass house.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point you toward G.K. Chesterton's essay, “The Emancipation of Domesticity”, which contains the following:

Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker, but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests. This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs. It was only by partly limiting and protecting the woman that she was enabled to play at five or six professions and so come almost as near to God as the child when he plays at a hundred trades. But the woman's professions, unlike the child's, were all truly and almost terribly fruitful; so tragically real that nothing but her universality and balance prevented them being merely morbid.

All that said, I am not at all against women working outside the home. What I am against is a narrow-minded blogger demanding that others be exactly like her without even fairly or accurately assessing what she is ignorantly mocking and condemning.

Rolling Stone magazine put the Pope on the cover!!!!! So what. Who cares. Blah. Wake me up when said magazine writes an intelligent article about music. God knows it cannot produce or publish an intelligent article about the papacy. 

 
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Carl E. Olson editor@catholicworldreport.com

Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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