Thursday, January 22, 2004

Items of Interest

Courtesy of Domenico Bettinelli's Bettnet Blog we learn that Peggy Noonan has revisited the controversy over the Pope's reaction to Mel Gibson's The Passion: The Pope's reaction to the film "really is as it was," and all stories to the contrary are apparently generated by bureaucratic spin-control.

We also learn that Gustaaf Cardinal Joos of Belgium estimates that the number of authentically homosexual persons (i.e., persons with deeply-rooted same-sex attractions) is very low as opposed to the number of people who may choose the manner in which they will sexually express themselves. From the story:
"I am willing to write in my own blood that of all those who call themselves lesbian or gay, a maximum of five to 10 percent are effectively lesbian or gay," Cardinal Gustaaf Joos, 80, told the Belgian weekly P-Magazine.

"All the rest are just sexual perverts," Joos added.

"I demand you write that down," said Joos, who was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul late last year. "I don't care if they all come protesting at my door. I won't open the door."


"Real homosexuals don't wander in the streets in colourful suits. Those are people who have a serious problem and have to live with that. And if they make a mistake they will be forgiven. We have to help these people and not judge them," Joos added.

"The Church...rejects homosexuality, not the homosexual," Joos said.
The Cardinal was, in much more pithy and direct language, stating something very similar to the points made in the Dossier's recent essay on the letter by some Chicago priests protesting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's recent statement in opposition to gay marriages:
[The Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith says]:
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts "as a serious depravity["] . . . This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." . . . Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided". They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.
Why should anyone, let alone a priest, be offended by this language? It's what the Church says about everyone: "[H]uman nature . . . is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called 'concupiscence'." Are we supposed to be "offended" by the notion that we have disordered inclinations? If so, it's small wonder that people almost killed Jesus a number of times before Calvary; his "invitational" message of a disordered humanity which must repent of its depravity and follow Him must have seemed unutterably "vile and toxic."

The fact is that God calls everyone -- God invites everyone -- to abandon our particular brands of disorder, shamefulness, perversity, and unholy lust so that we can receive life in the Kingdom. Only a frightened and arrogant glutton would insist that he can accept God's invitation without changing anything besides the teaching that says his fondest affections are actually disordered vices. But critics of Church teaching on homosexuality do precisely that whenever they insist, as the fathers have done, on ignoring Catholicism's distinction between a homosexual person, a homosexual attraction, and a decision to engage in homosexuality. The only reason anyone would want to ignore that merciful and wonderful distinction is if he believes that the celebration and fulfillment of a person's homosexual inclinations is such a divine and vital part of human life that the teaching of God's Church must be judged against it rather than the other way around. [footnotes omitted]
According to the Cardinal, most people who say they are gay or lesbian are really saying that they've chosen sexual concupiscence in a gay or lesbian manner, and their greater degree of freedom makes them more culpable than men and women who can have no licit outlet for desire. One can disagree with Cardinal Joos' estimate of the number of such persons, but the phenomenon of bisexuality justifies his essential premise: Not all homosexual acts are unavoidably compelled by a unidimensional sexual orientation, nor do all persons who might describe themsveles as gay or lesbian in response to variously-worded questions have such deeply-rooted same-sex attractions as to prohibit them from living normal sex lives.

In addition to the Cardinal's stress on Church teaching, that a same-sex attration is not per se sinful and that only choices to pursue those attractions are sinful, it's interesting to see him apply a similar distinction to the word "pervert." The Cardinal talks about people with deeply-ingrained same-sex attractions, but he confines the word "pervert" to those who can choose the gender of their sexual partners and choose the same gender. Now lest the Cardinal's words expose him to unfounded suspicions of his orthodoxy, it should be pointed out that he makes no statement whatsoever that can be construed as approving of homosexual acts by men and women whose personalities do not allow them to sexually respond to members of the opposite gender and who are, therefore, not -- by the undeniable implication of the Cardinal's words -- "perverts." The Cardinal only refuses to intrude categorical pronouncements about the moral dimension of homosexual acts by such persons from the (temporary) frame of his interview, and wisely so; as to gays and lesbians whose orienations are not variable, the principles of moral theology can be properly applied only during confession or spiritual direction, not during interviews with the mass media.

Reuters, however, follows the fashion we have come to expect of the mass media in these matters. Its headline reads: "Most gays are perverts," Belgian cardinal says."

But that is not what the Cardinal says. That is not even close to what the Cardinal has said. Why should Reuters want to claim that is what he said? There are many reasons, but mostly they boil down to a single principle.

People, broadly speaking, are simply not interested in listening to what the Cardinal -- or the Catholic Church -- have to say about human sexuality. They are not interested in the Church's thoughts about artificial contraception. They have no time for the Pope's wise counsel against the practice of lust within marital relationships. They could care less about the grounds for the Church's opposition to serial polygamy a/k/a "divorce." They do not want to pay attention to what the the Church says about the evils of abortion, and they have long been yawning about the Church's opposition to fornication. Recent developments by which gays and lesbians are obtaining full, open participation in society's sexual turbulence are not new, or even groundbreaking. They are just a continuation of the slothful inertia that has settled into a society which simultaneously believes that the decadence of our sexual behavior is so important that no one may dare rebuke it and so trivial that only a compulsive moron would spend any time thinking about it.

The people, broadly speaking, are interested in knowing only one "fact," and that "fact" is what Reuters put into its headline: The Catholic Church has declared war on human happiness for reasons which no sane man would bother finding out. People who are being murdered and robbed are not interested in the detailed psychological operations of the criminal mind. People fighting a war against a depraved and inhuman foe have no time for empathetic examinations of his motives. So Western people give Catholicism's sexual morality the same degree and type of interest that they gave to exploring the details of Leninism. So Reuters can only hear the Cardinal say "most gays are perverts!"

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