Saturday, June 18, 2005

John Paul II

I'm no expert on the theology of John Paul II; I have yet to read most of his writings, though I am working on it. So this is something of a plea for help from those more knowledgeable. I'm just looking through an article on that subject by David Schindler at Crisis magazine. I'm about halfway through this thing (yes, I save my most polished thoughts for this blog . . . ) and have run into a couple of problems. First, Schindler ("dean and Gagnon professor of fundamental theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America and the editor of the Catholic review Communio") has this to say about John Paul's ecclesiology:

Recuperating a rightful understanding of Mary within the reality of the Church was crucial for John Paul II’s sense of how a one-sided notion of the Church, as a hierarchical and clerical institution (Vatican I), was to be integrated into a notion of the Church as communio, a communion of persons (Vatican II), in a way that neither weakened the importance of the Petrine institution nor reduced the “People of God” to a democratic congregation. . . . he identified a mutual priority of the Marian dimension of the Church in relation to the Petrine, and of the Petrine in relation to the Marian.

Hmm. A mutual priority? I do not understand the terminology. Nor do I see the propriety in reducing an entire Church council to a "one-sided notion" of any sort. Is this a fair description of JPII's thought? Is it sensible at all?

Then there is this more sociological question:

We should acknowledge, in light of John Paul II’s emphasis on recovering the dignity of women in the way indicated here, that he has been criticized for the lack of a corresponding treatment of the dignity of men. In response, we should say that, just as the pope thought that the Petrine dimension was conceived in a one-sided (fragmented) fashion in the modern Church (Vatican I) and needed integration with the Marian dimension for there to be an adequate ecclesial communio, so did he judge that the masculine dimension had been emphasized in one-sided fashion in modern culture, and thus needed integration with the feminine for there to be an adequate domestic communion of persons.

More accusations of one-sidedness, this time not blasphemous. BUT I find this hard to swallow. Modern society is too masculine? I suppose I can see why superficially it might appear so. Judged by every other period in history, our age would seem dead set on inducing women to act like men and forcing nature to bend or break whenever she (heh) made this inconvenient. But if everyone thinks they can get in on the man game, does this mean everyone is manly?

It would be fairer to say, I think, that everyone's buying because the currency has been debased. There is hardly even a concept of masculinity left, other than the caracatures we all know. To many, male pride seems akin to white pride, something that demonsrates complicity with past oppression.

If anything today appears 'masculine' it would be science, which powerfully placates the monsters that threaten us. But it does so in the name of comfort and pleasure, not duty and virtue. I don't believe for a second that femininity is reducible to the former pair, but this paradigm has created an environment in which the masculine virtues are less often needed and still more rarely wanted. Of course they are needed, but the modern eye does not see this clearly. I for one can think of nothing that would be more helpful to Christendom now than renewed attention to the nature and principles of Christian manhood.

Could anyone comment on the accuracy of Schindler's reading of JPII on these points?

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Collapse of Canadian Civilization

For a detailed account of how Canadian social order is falling apart, check out the David Warren link on the sidebar: his columns in the last month or so cover much of it. Here is one specific result:

No guarantee to protect religious groups under Canadian same-sex marriage bill

Ottawa, Jun. 14, 2005 (CNA) - Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said last week that he cannot guarantee full protection to religious organizations that refuse to marry homosexuals under the Liberal government’s same-sex marriage legislation, reported the Canadian Press.

Churches will not be forced to perform same-sex weddings, but it's beyond his legal reach to protect provincial marriage commissioners or religious organizations who turn away same-sex couples, Cotler said June 8.

. . .

"Faith-based groups are not all that confident if their rights are going to be left up to the courts," said Derek Rogusky, spokesman for Focus on the Family Canada, reportedly said.

Equality protections tend to trump religious freedoms in court battles over homosexual rights, he pointed out.

Seeing No Basis

New Jersey court rules against same-sex marriage

Newark, Jun. 14 ( - A New Jersey appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the state constitution does not include same-sex couples in its definition of marriage.

. . .

In the dissenting opinion, Judge Donald Collester wrote that the right to marry is "effectively meaningless unless it includes the freedom to marry a person of one's choice." He added, "I see no basis in the history of marriage to justify a definition which denies plaintiffs the right to enter into lawful marriage in this state with the person of their choice."

Then again, hard to see anything with your eyes closed . . .

Federal study confirms abstinence education effective

Washington, DC, Jun. 15 ( - A new study released on Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services reveals that abstinence education works. According to the interim report, teens who participated in abstinence programs had an increased awareness of the potential consequences of sexual activity before marriage, thought more highly of abstinent behaviors, and had less favorable opinions about sexual activity before marriage than did students who were not in abstinence programs.

Always nice to see the obvious proved through social studies . . . .

More Attentive than Realized . . .

Italian referendum raises question about legal abortion

Rome, Jun. 16 ( - An Italian government minister has observed that the June 12-13 referendum vote upholding restrictions on artificial reproduction could pave the way for a reconsideration of legal abortion in the country.

Regional-affairs minister Enrico La Loggia told the daily newspaper La Stampa that the results of the referendum-- in which nearly 75 percent of the eligible voters followed the Italian bishops' recommendation and did not cast a ballot-- demonstrated that the Italian people are "more attentive to the principles of the Catholic tradition" than political leaders had realized.

The failure of the referendum left in place a new national law restricting in vitro fertilization. One provision of that law, which was challenged by the referendum, affirmed the rights of the human embryo. That passage of the law appears to clash directly with the law allowing legal abortion. "The principles that are being affirmed today, regarding the protection of life, must be taken into account," La Loggia said.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


They've had a lot of good articles on the liturgy over at Ignatius Insight, most recently this one by James Schall. They are the Holy Father's official publisher statesside. . .

Friday, June 10, 2005

Verbal Precision

Court upholds ruling on partial-birth abortion ban

Richmond, Jun. 07 ( - The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, by a vote of 2-1, has upheld a ruling by US District Judge Richard L. Williams of Richmond that declares a Virginia law banning a type of late-term abortion as unconstitutional due to its lack of an exception to protect a woman's health.

The law, passed by the 2003 Virginia General Assembly, was challenged by the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights. It called for a ban on partial birth abortion, in which the child is partially delivered before being killed. The Virginia statute called it "partial-birth infanticide."

Judge Williams immediately blocked enforcement of the Virginia law on July 1, 2003, the day it went into effect, calling it a "no-brain case."

That's exactly right: the baby's brain is sucked out by the 'doctor' in this particular ritual.

Pravda (For Real)!

Russian health officials debunk “safe-sex” myth and promote abstinence in Moscow

Rome, Jun. 09, 2005 (CNA) - In an about-face, health officials in Moscow have acknowledged that “safe-sex does not exist” and are opting for abstinence-based education for young people.

“One should propagandize total abstinence before marriage,” Ludmila Stebenkova of Moscow's parliamentary committee for health care told the Pravda news service.

Stebenkova, who is in charge of health care for the 12 million inhabitants of Moscow, believes that “the safe sex propaganda in the USA, for example, has resulted in the dissolution of morals. Sexually transmitted diseases started progressing there. That is why the US government assigns huge money to promote the value of innocence and virginity. It is coming into fashion.”

. . .

Stebenkova criticized government funded “safe-sex programs” as nothing more than opportunities for certain agencies to steal money from the state coffers. She pointed to the recent case of the Ukraine, where $2.6 million was set aside for the purchasing of condoms and $300,000 for training in how to use them. “Could someone tell me what kind of class on how to put on condoms could cost $300,000?” she wondered. Ukraine officials eventually canceled the program.

Stebenkova said her committee intends to spend $900,000 on educational programs, television ads and billboards with the slogans, “Healthy Family, Defense against AIDS” and “Safe-sex does not exist.”

. . .

Stebenvoka said she will not be deterred by organizations “that represent an ideology in decline. They simply have to spend the money donated by (George) Soros and his other patrons,” she said, in a reference to international funds that are sent to Russia for promoting the use of condoms.

Russia seems to have pulled well ahead of Montana of late . . .
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