Monday, 29 June 2015

The Experiment Grows Up

From a very interesting article on Daily Life today about the adults who were donor-conceived (DC) and are now asking questions about their genetic origins:
At my clinic alone, codes were deliberately destroyed for 88 pregnancies. Why those 88? Was it all the same donor? Are we all related? What on earth was going on? The RNSH also claimed that this was not "malicious management of records". I was gobsmacked. Not a single RNSH staff member from the time has been held responsible. This is the low regard that society has for donor conceived people. We are treated like unregulated products. Money, and careers, have been made out of our existence. Against that, our humanity doesn't count.
Oh yes indeed. Read the full article.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Draining the Wound

I have had some conversations recently with disaffected Catholics who feel that the Church is not doing enough to speak out against gay marriage. What they seem to want is a new crusade; a jeremiad preached in unflinching language about homosexual sexual practices that will set the record straight about the difference between this and marriage. 

Hopefully, the exact opposite is true. Hopefully there will be no jeremiad condeming same-sex sexual practices from anyone in any country which is facing the prospect of gay marriage legislation. That is NOT the point of this debate. 

The point of the debate is to stop secular governments redefining marriage away from the contractual obligation to some kind of permanence, and raising of biological children, into something transient and unstable based on a very recent idea of 'love'. 

Catholics need to draw on our 2000 years of Christian legal and social teaching and practice to show these pagan governments that we know a thing or two about stability, permanence, and the best way to raise children. 

We have gone way, WAY beyond the sexual issue now. It's about 50 years too late to start talking about 'depraved actions' or 'perverse sexual practices'. This is because the Catholic Church effectively dropped the ball 50 years ago on this issue with the widespread failure to support the implementation of the encyclical HumanaeVitae. The bishops and priests way back then in 1968 effectively cut our legs out from under us in this debate, because they created the world of sexual doublethink among Catholics. If leeway could be granted for birth control, although expressly condemned, then leeway could be granted for just about anything. 

It's like the old joke about the man who offers a woman $1 million to sleep with him. She accepts. Then he offers her a dollar to sleep with him. She indignantly refuses, and asks, 'Do you think I'm a prostitute?' He replies, 'Madam, we have already established that. Now, we're just haggling over price.' That's exactly where people who compromised on Humanae Vitae have found themselves - they have named their price, but now we're just haggling it down even further. 

And here's the thing: those priests and bishops who let us down were all formed and ordained in the wonderful 1950s when everything in the Catholic Church was marvellous, and everyone went to Mass, and was far holier than we are now. This is why I get so stroppy about people who have a fantasy about the 'good old days': all those priests and bishops who let us down in 1968 were products of the 'good old days'.

I don't deny that at the parish level, a person might have thought that things were 'good' in the 'good old days', but the awful explosion after Vatican II tells me very clearly that things were not OK at all.  We needed that explosion - it was like lancing a boil. And it will take decades to clean up the mess, not because it was a revolution, but because we are draining the poison out of a wound that goes back to the late 19th century with the development of Modernism. (OK, so it actually goes back to Judas, but I'm thinking recent history ...)

There is almost a century of evil that has accumulated inside the Church, due to this set of beliefs, that needs draining out, and it's being drained as we speak, but it will take time. We can't just pump antibiotics in at one end and expect it to clean up the infection; the wound must also be drained at the other end. 

It's painful, but who said we were going to be let off easily? We let this happen in the first place. Here is a saying from those celebrated good old days: Offer it up.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Colin Barnett MLA (Lib) on Gay Marriage

Extract from interview with PerthNow:

PN: We’ll move on to an entirely different topic altogether. Where do you stand on same-sex marriage?
CB: First can I say that’s a very personal issue to people. It’s not something I think should be dominated by party politics. With respect to my own views, I think the issue is complicated. I have always taken the view that marriage is a very unique institution, a special institution within our community and I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I know many people will have a disagreement with that. I don’t see it as an equality argument. With respect to gay and lesbian couples I’ve always supported civil unions. I have always supported removing any form of discrimination that may take place and my view is people are free to live their life as they wish. But I don’t believe in changing the nature of marriage itself.
PN: But it’s fair to say you think it (should be) a conscience vote?
CB: Yes, it should be an individual free or conscience vote. And I certainly recognise that more people in the community are probably coming down in support of gay marriage. I just have an attitude that marriage is a unique institution. It’s one of the foundations of our society, and in saying that I don’t believe that is discriminatory at all against gay or lesbian couples. I think it is just a difference.
PN: We’ll agree to disagree on that one I guess, like a lot of people.
CB: Well I think there would be wide implications if change is made.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Melissa Parke MHR (ALP) on Gay Marriage and Small Businesses

Me to Her (1) - via her website:

 I live in your electorate. I hope you will vote against the proposed Bill to change marriage law in Australia.

I know you're not married yourself, and you support gay rights and equality, but I hope you will be able to see beyond this to the wider community, and understand just how disastrous this could be for small businesses. It will almost certainly lead to prosecutions in Australia of manufacturers and small businesses who don't agree with the idea of gay marriage.

These people have rights, too. They should be allowed to exercise their freedom of conscience, and also their freedom to withdraw goods and services from sale at their own discretion, without needing to give a reason. Churches and religious groups of all kinds should also be free to marry couples who follow their beliefs, and to restrict the offering of these marriage services to male-female couples, if they wish.

In many Western countries that have introduced gay marriage legislation, lawsuits are beginning to proliferate against business owners who won't provide services for gay marriages, eg bakeries, florists, wedding planners. I would be horrified to see this happening in Australia as well. No one should be prosecuted for following their conscience in this area.

There is already sufficient legislation in Australia to protect the legal and financial rights of gay couples. This is an ideological move, and it's based on very flawed premises, and will almost certainly lead to the prosecution of people who simply don't agree with it, and won't participate in it.

Her to Me (1) - via email:

Dear Phillippa

I hear your view and of course respect your right to oppose any change to the Marriage Act.  While I am inclined to take a different view about the scope of marriage, and while I believe it shouldn't be a category of relationship that excludes same-sex couples, I appreciate the reasonable manner in which you have put your view.  I know this is an issue on which there are strongly held views on both sides, and as a parliamentary representative I have given it a great deal of time and thought.

I would point out that we have seen change to aspects of discrimination in a number of areas in the course of Australian history, including changes to laws that had prevented women and indigenous Australians from voting.  People opposed those changes at the time too.  Now we look back and see that of course it was right to end the discrimination against women and indigenous Australians.  In time to come I think we will look back and say it was right to end marriage discrimination.

Allowing same-sex couples the dignity, stability and happiness of marriage will not change our society, except to make it fairer and more tolerant.  Happiness shared is not happiness diluted, and the clear majority of responses from people in the Fremantle electorate is in favour of an end to marriage discrimination.  I have been contacted by a large number of Fremantle people who support an end to discrimination when it comes to marriage, including a number of Christians, and also by a few people like yourself who would prefer no change.

All these contributions will be part of my consideration if a change to the Marriage Act comes before the parliament.

Kind regards,

Hon. Melissa Parke MP
Federal Labor Member for Fremantle

Me to Her (2) - via email:

Good morning Melissa -

Your first paragraph was great! It gave the impression you'd actually read my submission and heard my voice. However, the remaining two paragraphs are pre-composed and I've read them before in other correspondence. They also don't even come close to addressing the issue I raised.
The issue I raised is not about racial discrimination or votes for women or anything of the sort. It's about the very real risk that businesses will be prosecuted if they choose not to provide goods and services for a gay marriage ceremony. There is also the very real risk of prosecution of organised religions that can't marry same-sex couples.
Can you give me a guarantee that there will be clauses in the ALP's proposed Bill that will protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, churches and businesses to withhold goods and services if they in conscience cannot provide them for a gay marriage ceremony? And that you would support these clauses, because you believe in individual freedom and conscience as much as you believe in fighting unjust discrimination?
Many thanks

Her to Me (2) - via email:

Dear Philippa,
If legislation is passed to introduce marriage equality – as I hope it will – there will be provisions that allow churches to continue to administer marriage in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Australia already has anti-discrimination laws which mean one cannot unreasonably discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race/ethnicity/nationality, or sexual identity.  A business today could not legally withhold goods or services from a same-sex person by reason of their sexual orientation; that will still be the case whether the marriage equality Bill is passed or not.
Kind regards,
Hon Melissa Parke MP
Federal Labor Member for Fremantle

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Seal of the Confessional - Part 3

In this morning's Australian:
"It's not yet public, but we have heard from at least one priest who confessed to his confessor, and in that way reconciled his offending behaviour, which continued with his belief in God," Justice McClellan said.

Confession is not a rubber-stamp exercise. For absolution to be effective, the penitent has to have a firm purpose of amendment.

The confessor (the one who hears the confession) can urge counselling, police involvement, and other interventions for the person who has offended. The confessor can also withhold absolution from the person if he thinks there is no firm purpose of amendment, or until they have handed themselves over to the police or relevant authority.

It's THIS end of things that needs closer examination - not breaking the seal under force of law, but making sure that all confessors (those who hear confession) know what to do, in the event that someone confesses paedophiliac acts or any other crimes that can be dealt with by police. 

On a more serious note: You can't reconcile ongoing offending with belief in God. Eventually one of the two wins, in every human heart. It may be a long, slow process, but each day you are either moving closer to God, or further away from Him. It has nothing to do with how you feel, or what you think, or where you think you are. It's an objective spiritual reality.

So when the offending becomes more important and more real to you than your relationship with God, the prayers ease off, and the Mass-going eases off, and eventually both stop. You may be going through the motions - going to Mass, going to Confession, saying Mass if you're a priest - but your actual relationship with God has ended long before.

This is when you become shy around God, or embarrassed by things of religion, or you find yourself trying to convince others that you're still serious about the whole thing, even though you're not. You are in the situation described by C S Lewis as the man in financial difficulty who hates the very sight of a passbook.

People have spent their entire lives trying to reconcile their offending with belief in God. This is why there is such a vocal and enthusiastic group of nominal Catholics in Western countries who want every single element of Catholic teaching changed to suit their particular brand of offending.

Sin is sin. People sin. The difference is that a sinner realises it, goes to Confession, and takes steps in his or her life to change the things that are leading them to sin all the time. It's hit and miss, and it may not always work, and it may take a long time, but they are dedicated to the pursuit of holiness. They will keep trying, no matter what. They will try different strategies.

But someone who has decided that God is the problem - that 'the Church' is the problem - will try to change the Church to suit themselves. They solve the problem of their own offending by simply editing and editing until their offending is no longer wrong, but inevitable. It's just part of who they are. From there it turns into a human right, about which they can become very angry and demand justice.

This is why St John Paul II was so right to hit the 'fundamental option' on the head in Veritatis Splendor (section III). There isn't some 'good person' hiding inside everyone, who just occasionally makes bad choices. Instead, we are the consequence of our actions. The older I get, the more I realise the truth of the following:

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words; Be careful of your words for your words become your deeds; Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits; Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character;Be careful of your character for your character becomes your destiny.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Seal of the Confessional - AGAIN

Convicted paedophile priest Fr Gerald Ridsdale has told the current Royal Commission that he believes that 'a priest should go against the teachings of the church and tell police if someone confesses to a crime during confession.'

This is the same Fr Gerald Ridsdale who also said that:
  • He did not confess all his sins during confession once he left the seminary.
  • He told no one he was abusing children when he was ordained in 1961.
  • "I didn't confess the sexual offending against children".
  • He did not tell the Ballarat bishop who ordained him that he had offended while in the seminary studying to be a priest and while overseas.
  • "I don't think I told, would have told anyone at all".
  • "I never told anyone. It's the sort of thing I wouldn't tell anyone.
  • "Looking back on it, I think that the overriding fear would have been losing priesthood."
  • "I would have lost faith in myself because I was a very proud person. It just would have been devastating."

Gerald Ridsdale would not confess his sins to a priest, under the seal of the confessional, in absolute confidence, back in the day when there was also a protective culture of secrecy that shielded him from the consequences of his actions.

And yet he now thinks that the seal of the confessional should be abolished because ... because ... Why, exactly? Does he really think that this would make it easier for paedophiles to confess to people who were going to shop them immediately?

Paedophiles don’t confess, not even to police, and not even when they are practically caught red-handed. This is why it’s almost impossible to rehabilitate them. They do not want to get caught, and they do not want to admit that what they are doing is wrong. In some cases, they are unable to admit that what they are doing is wrong, because they have convinced themselves that it is normal, and it is their right to act in this way.

Abolishing the seal of the confessional will achieve nothing, except that it will stop people who are genuinely seeking spiritual help from doing so. Fr Gerald Ridsdale has also done enough damage to the Catholic Church already without his views on the seal of the confessional being taken seriously.

Ridsdale also apparently told a Catholic Church Insurances investigator in 1994 that Bishop O'Collins told him "if this thing happens again then you're off to the missions". If anyone ever gets smug with me again about the failures of celibacy among African priests, I am going to point out to them that Africa was used as a dumping ground for decades for Western priests who couldn't be celibate. One day we will have to pay for what we did to the Catholic Church in those developing countries.