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Monday, March 25, 2013

A few thoughts for the Supreme Court on same-sex "marriage"

More a bunch of questions really...

Are couples the subjects of rights? Do "couples" per se have rights, or do rights really belong to individuals? If a couple is not yet married, what is the bond that constitutes it legally speaking as having rights? Do all friendships have rights?

If same-sex marriage is allowed, would a straight man be able to marry another straight man, if they so chose, for the legal status involved? (say, for health benefits or tax breaks or citizenship or to unite their families' fortunes.) If so, do marriage laws at present prevent a homosexual man from marrying a woman also for the legal status they would share?

In other words, at present the law prohibits two people of the same sex from "marrying" each other whether or not they want to, regardless of their sexual orientation, and it permits two people of the opposite sex to marry, again regardless of their sexual orientation, and whether or not they want to. This is a noncontroversial fact. So, in what way is the law discriminating against homosexuals as homosexuals?

Here's what I mean: Theodore Olson said in arguments, "the California Supreme Court decided that individuals had a right to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation in California." Is that what the California Supreme Court decided? Or did it decide that a person has a right to marry someone of the same sex? There's a big difference, and it seems lost even on Justice Scalia.

Is what an opposite-sex couple does really just the same as what a same-sex couple does? Is it a mere legal difference or an ontological one about the relationships themselves? Can a same sex couple actually "do" what marriage is?

Has the debate focused so much on the similarities that the differences have been neglected and inadequately appreciated? Doesn't every friendship, indeed every bond or ever commitment between people from contracts to BFFs, bear some resemblance to marriage without actually being marriage? Why is what a same-sex couple does the same thing as marriage?

Would two brothers be able to marry each other? If not, why not? The laws against incest pertain mostly to prevent inbreeding and birth defects, but these are not an issue for homosexual couples. If same-sex family members can marry, then does that not discriminate against opposite-sex family members who choose to use effective contraception? And does not that also discriminate against opposite sex relatives who want to have children together?

If the state changes the definition of marriage, by what principle do they restrict marriage by consanguinity or species or age or even require licensing or a civil authority to do it? Surely there will not be marital chaos immediately, it may take decades, but is there any reason not to assume that the state will simply get out of the marriage business altogether eventually?

Ever since the state has usurped the authority of religion over marriage so as to liberalize divorce laws, permit contraception, permit abortion, and the like, the result has been a progressive increase in unstable marriages, single motherhood, cohabitation, absentee fatherhood, abuse of women by men, abuse of children by parents, the number and rate of sexually transmitted diseases, and the growing acceptance of pornography, prostitution, and promiscuity by increasingly younger people. And very little of what the government has done to address these issues has had any real effect.

So if the Supreme Court decides in favor of same-sex marriage, what will be the effect on society?

I'm just asking questions here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bioethical Preview of Pope Francis

BioEdge has a profile of some of Pope Francis' bioethical positions, which they translated from a book in Spanish from when the Pope was archbishop in Argentina.

I think it's safe to say that we should not expect the Catholic Church to be modifying its long-held positions any time soon. Sorry to disappoint the progressives out there, who were hoping for a liberalization of teaching regarding things like contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and all that. Yes, the Pope IS Catholic.

Personally, I can't wait to see if the Pope eventually says anything as Pope about these topics.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Woo-hoo! A pope without photographic baggage!

I am still looking into Pope Francis, but so far he seems like a true Roman Catholic Jesuit, a term which I know can be an oxymoron.

So far so good.

And you can ignore my previous post!

And honestly, this tongue-in-cheek kind of post kind of masks my joy. I am very happy that we have a pope and I have the utmost respect for Pope Francis.

What will become the most popular picture on the internet, if Cardinal Dolan becomes Pope

Here it is:

Back in his Wisconsin days. I wonder if the conclave has this picture in mind? Now, I'm all for bishops and cardinals being human, and relating to their people, and all that. Some traditionally minded Catholics look at this picture and wonder about the man. I look at it and say, "Uh, well, I would have advised against it, but it doesn't really bother me much. As long as he didn't keep in on throughout the Mass instead of his miter."

I actually like the good cardinal and wish him well in the conclave. I am somewhat surprised that he is actually seriously considered papabile, but there are way worse choices. I really do admire the way he has stood up to the NY Times and the other NY and national media. He has proven that doing so doesn't result in sudden death, and that other bishops have nothing to fear from their own local media either. And by the way, if it did result in sudden death, I think that would count as martyrdom.

But a picture means a lot. Ever wonder why Dolan got the NY archdiocese and the red hat, when say Archbishop Myers of Newark NJ didn't? I don't know, maybe it has something to do with this picture - I'm not gonna actually post it because I think he's trying to live it down, and I don't want to get a reputation for disparaging bishops or reopen old wounds or anything like that.

In Archbishop Myers' defense, he co-wrote a sci-fi book, and that photo was from an interview he did with the NJ media when it was published. I think that the media in question really exploited the archbishop's good nature to get him to wear that get-up. But with a photo like that out there, it just makes things difficult to get a red-hat diocese or a curial appointment.

The point of this post, though, is that you can bet your white smoke that if Dolan gets the white hat, you will see that yellow hat all over the place. Because if the media can make the new conservative American pope look silly, they will. 

But then again, he can stand up to them.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gendercide and the Pro-Life Movement

The Atlantic has an interesting article on gendercide - the selective abortion usually of female fetuses because they're female - in some cultures. Balanced and fair, for the most part, the article is not absolutely perfect. I reproduce in the following paragraphs a comment I posted there.

The article raises the notion that the pro-life side should be uncomfortable somehow with this documentary [which the article profiles about the practice of gendercide]. However, the articles does not do a good job as to articulating why. Infanticide IS a significant pro-life issue, although in the US it is not a very common problem because all the states have laws against it. [The article mentions infanticide as an alternative to abortion for gendercide among women who can't get an abortion, and then implies the pro-life movement isn't very active against it.] After all the pro-life side is very active in advocacy against late term abortions where the baby is basically delivered, and in opposing "bioethicists" who are floating the idea of "post-birth abortions."

The comments here [in the article's combox], however, show that the author is right about one thing. The notion of gendercide tends to get sucked into the debate about abortion generally. Both sides would do well to avoid polemics. I personally hold that human beings begin at conception and that is when an individual becomes a subject of natural rights, such as the right to continue living, but I also believe in being civilized in the debate.

Yet, the gendercide and abortion are closely related. Look -- and I encourage pro-choicers to remain calm and think clearly, because I'm not trying to get you mad -- if abortion is ethical and permissible, then a woman doesn't even NEED a reason to get one other than because she wants to. But if she has a reason, that's her personal decision, and SHE can consider sex can as just another genetic trait she doesn't want in her child. Gendercide should therefore be acceptable as well, because after all, it's the woman's choice. Further, it is impossible to know a woman's interior choice - if she wants a boy but has a girl, she can say she doesn't want to be pregnant right now, which is true, and get an abortion for that reason alone. Finally, if a fetus is not a person, then it cannot be a "girl" because a "girl" is a young female person. Therefore, gendercide through abortion is a big non-issue if abortion itself is ok.

Now, if a fetus is not a person, and yet it is nonetheless wrong to abort a fetus because of its FUTURE status as a human girl, then abortion generally should also be wrong because of the fetus' FUTURE status as a human being. And that is the real reason abortion exists - because a human person will be born without an abortion.

Finally, if the notion of coercion to get an abortion does not appeal to the pro-abortion side, and it shouldn't, they really need to do a better job of advocating a woman's choice to keep her baby when she wants to in a more general way.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Prayer for the Conclave

Now that we're all sede vacantists, there's really no point in debating the wisdom of Pope Benedict's decision any further. It's a done deal, it will bear the fruits it will bear. But now, it's time to prepare for the pontificate of the next man.

It is fitting that we should pray regarding the outcome. Today at Mass, our parish distributed this prayer, which I heartily recommend that you also pray each day at least until the new pope has been chosen:

V. I will raise Me up a faithful priest, who shall do according to My Heart and My Soul.
R. And I will build him a faithful house: And he shall walk all day before My Annointed.

Let us pray.
We must humbly entreat Thee, O Lord, that Thy boundless goodness may grant as pontiff to the most holy Roman Church one who shall ever be both pleasing to Thee, by his loving zeal in our regard, and, by his beneficent rule, deeply revered by Thy people to the glory of Thy name. Through Christ our Lord.

I hope your parish also recommended a particular prayer for this purpose.