Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rape, Sex, and a Canadian Cardinal

"Rape" is an emotionally-charged word. American conservatives and liberals agree that "rape" is wrong - although at times they disagree on what the term means. (May 8, 2010)

"Sex" is an emotion-filled word, too. People - if they're anywhere near healthy - have strong feelings about sex after they hit puberty. Considering how important sex is, and how deeply woven into the human experience it is, it might be a surprise that the Catholic Church's recognition of the importance of sex is criticized.

After all, since somewhere in the sixties here in America, talking about sex was, like, you know: groovy.

Sex and the Catholic Church

First, why is the Catholic Church so interested in sex?
"Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2332)
So far, so good: Sex is important, and it's part of the human experience. Here's where the Catholic Church starts moving away from the latest now-and-wow intellectual fashions. Or, as I see it, remaining true to what's real - no matter what the local culture's leaders preferences are.
"Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: 'Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.'121 All human generations proceed from this union.122"
(2335)
I think at least part of what's 'wrong' with Catholic teaching about sex is our insistence that sex isn't just some sort of biological play-toy for us. (2360 and following)

Rape and Catholic Teaching

As usual, the Catechism doesn't just say that we shouldn't rape other people: it explains why it's a bad idea
"Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them."
(2356)

Oh, the Conservative Horror of It All!

Okay: Catholic teaching claims that rape is bad, but that marriage is good: and so is sex, provided it is part of a marriage between a man and a woman. 'Obviously' the Catholic Church is a hide-bound conservative outfit run by a lot of authoritarian men. I've written about this before. (November 3, 2008, or May 12, 2010, for starters)

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet: 'Heartless,' or Something

There was a time when one of the first items of business for a warlord who had killed another warlord and taken over his territory was to hunt down and kill all known relatives of the previous administration. It made sense: A living relative of the old ruler could either organize a revolt, or be the figurehead for a revolt. Eliminate the old ruler's family, and the new ruler would have one less concern on his mind.

It wasn't limited to the ruling class: folks in my ancestors' end of society would, in some circumstances, have settled scores by going after relatives of an offending party. Yours, too, in all probability. That practice is remembered in words like feud and vendetta.

We don't do that sort of thing, all that much, these days. But when I was growing up, I'd still hear phrases like 'there's bad blood there.' There's a very real tendency to feel like going after everyone related to a person who has committed an offense.
'Whaddaya Mean, We Can't Kill that Bastard's Kid?
A Canadian Cardinal is in hot water, because he says that a child shouldn't be killed for a crime that the child's father committed. He's right by the way:
"Cardinal Marc Ouellet is facing heated criticism in Canada for reiterating Catholic teaching that abortion is wrong even in cases where the mother was raped. In response to the scathing remarks from critics, a Church spokesman pointed out that those conceived in rape are also fully human.

"Over the weekend Cardinal Ouellet addressed an audience of about 200 people, applauding the Harper government for its decision not to fund abortions in the developing world, the Canadian Press reports.

"He mentioned abortion in the case where the baby was conceived in rape, asking 'Why should we push a woman who has been the victim of a crime to commit one of her own?'..."
(EWTN News)
An answer, of course, is that a woman may legally kill her children, provided that the has the job done before they reach a particular age, in Canada: and quite a few other 'advanced' countries.

Attitudes toward this legal killing are changing. Particularly, I think, as more young adults are realizing what Mom did to their brothers and sisters. I'm sympathetic with 'Mom,' by the way: particularly when she had her kids offed to please her husband/boyfriend/significant other - or maybe it was some other man who didn't want an inconvenient baby around.

Unless things have changed a great deal, the best and brightest will point out how heartless and cruel the Cardinal is: forcing a woman to not kill her baby. That's not the way the idea will be expressed, of course. It'll be more about her the psychological repercussions of traumatizing events.

The Cardinal, Defying the Rulers of This World, and 'I Hope You Die'

There's already been a response from Canada's more 'intelligent' quarter:
"...In response to the cardinal's comments, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Josée Verner said the Canadian government's decision was not made 'to go get congratulations from the cardinal.'

'I don't want to be disrespectful towards him, but this wasn't our objective,' she continued, describing herself as pro-choice.

According to the Canadian Press, she said Cardinal Ouellet's remarks were 'unacceptable.'

In what was described as a 'particularly strident reaction,' Montreal La Presse columnist Patrick Lagace compared the Catholic prelate to an Iranian imam who reportedly said scantily clad women were to blame for natural disasters.

'Cardinal Ouellet will die someday. I hope he dies from a long and painful illness. . . Yes, the paragraph I've just written is vicious. But Marc Ouellet is an extremist. And in the debate against religious extremists, every shot is fair game.'...
"
(EWTN News)
I'm not at all surprised: "I hope you die" is a fairly common response, when those whose beliefs are shaped by today's Western culture learn that someone doesn't think they're correct. (See excerpt from " 'Cafeteria Catholics' and a Diverse Church" (June 8, 2009).)

I'm glad to read that Cardinal Ouellet prefers allegiance to Jesus of Nazareth, over the immediate rewards of 'going with the flow' of Western culture. I tend to hear, in statements like "I hope he dies from a long and painful illness," the frustration of people who realize that they're no longer in control - and that it's only a matter of time before their regime falls.

I'm not talking about someone overthrowing the Canadian government. In strictly secular terms, I've seen this sort of thing before:
  • Wacky anti-communists ranting about 'facts' that only they could see
  • Dedicated traditionalists insisting that Moses wanted everybody to dress the way they did in America, around 1910
  • Music-lovers(?) who insisted that the Bible says rock 'n roll is evil
Today, the details are different: but I see the same emotion-charged threats and claims that 'I'm right and everyone who doesn't agree should die!'

Last time I saw this, we got 'the sixties.' I don't know what folks will call the next period, but there is change. Not coming. Change is here.

Who would I rather side with? The Cardinal, or the 'I hope you die' crowd? Neither, actually. But I have decided that, all things considered, I'd rather be on the side that the Cardinal is supporting. Carrying the 'mark of this world' has some huge short-term payoffs: but the long-term outlook is not good. (671)

Finally I pray that folks who are convinced that Catholic teaching is icky, and who 'really believe' that the culture of death is right, will learn what's really going on, and change their minds.

Related posts:In the news:Related post, in another blog:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Got some format problems with your 'In the news' section.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Oh, yeah: Found it, fixed it. Thanks!

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.