Three babies

17 10 2011

Bit more than that, actually, and stolen, I mean.

What had initially been reported as almost 300 is now a hundred thousand times larger than that:

300,000 babies stolen from their parents – and sold for adoption: Haunting BBC documentary exposes 50-year scandal of baby trafficking by the Catholic church in Spain

By Polly Dunbar

Last updated at 11:55 AM on 16th October 2011

Up to 300,000 Spanish babies were stolen from their parents and sold for adoption over a period of five decades, a new investigation reveals.

The children were trafficked by a secret network of doctors, nurses, priests and nuns in a widespread practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early Nineties.

Hundreds of families who had babies taken from Spanish hospitals are now battling for an official government investigation into the scandal.
Several mothers say they were told their first-born children had died during or soon after they gave birth.

But the women, often young and unmarried, were told they could not see the body of the infant or attend their burial.

In reality, the babies were sold to childless couples whose devout beliefs and financial security meant that they were seen as more appropriate parents. (more)

Oh, the good old days, when authority was never checked or questioned.




Comment on a ‘no comment’

22 12 2010

Remember that nun in Arizona who was excommunicated for sanctioning life-saving surgery for a pregnant woman, surgery which resulted in the termination of her 11-week pregnancy?

Well, now the entire hospital has been disciplined, losing its official Catholic affiliation.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center – recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices – violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.”

St. Joseph’s president Linda Hunt took the outrageous position that

“If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” Hunt said. “Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

It was precisely this attitude, as well as the unwillingness of administrators and doctors to promise never ever ever again attempt to save a pregnant woman’s life when that procedure might end the life of the fetus that led the diocese to strip its affiliation from St. Joseph’s.

Now that’s life.

h/t: Huffington Post





Whisper words of wisdom

24 11 2010

Allow a moment of sympathy for the Roman Catholic Church.

No, really.

The old girl is over 1500* years old, and the world now is not the world of its founding or expansion—a tough spot for an institution based on both spreading the Word and upholding eternal truths.  Yes, the One True Church has had to deal with interlopers and usurpers—in particular that centuries-long unpleasantness sparked by a disgruntled monk—but always, always, she has held true.

(*Given the un- and dis-organization of early Christian communities, a conservative estimate seems best. Oh, and for the purposes of this post, ‘the Church’ is defined narrowly as the institution, not the laypeople.)

Truth—ay, there’s the rub. Or, perhaps, insert the requisite LOLcats image here: ‘The Truth: I haz it.’

Consider the view of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, newly elected preside of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“You get the impression that the Holy See or the pope is like Congress and every once in a while says, ‘Oh, let’s change this law,’ ” he said. “We can’t.”

The key is to convince [would-be] parishioners of the Church’s position:

He said he was chagrined when he saw a long line of people last Sunday on Fifth Avenue. “I’m talking two blocks, a line of people waiting to get into …” he said, pausing for suspense. “Abercrombie and Fitch. And I thought, wow, there’s no line of people waiting to get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the treasure in there is of eternal value. What can I do to help our great people appreciate that tradition?”

Hence the dilemma: We have this great tradition. . . that many reject.

The whys of the rejection are likely numerous—people don’t think the traditions are great, don’t think they’re immutable, don’t believe the Church is the best or only repository of those traditions, etc.—but that people are able to reject them means that those trying to sell the eternal value of those traditions have to figure out how to persuade the rejectionists to change their minds.

A number of commenters on the Dolan piece note that this amounts to a view of ‘Change your mind so we don’t have to’—a reasonable take on the Church’s position.

But those same commenters are also missing the point: the Church does in fact hold the position that there are eternal truths, that it is the guardian of those truths, and that to compromise on those truths is to call into question the point of the Church itself. Granted, some of those commenters are doing just that, but others seem to think that the Church simply needs to ‘get with the times’ when in fact the Church thinks it’s the times which need to get with the Church.

This is Ross Douthat’s view, expressed in his usual fuzzy, befuddled, obedient manner:

Here the Church struggles and struggles, in ways that it doesn’t on other controversial issues, to make its teaching understood and its moral reasoning transparent. . . . Orthodox Catholics sometimes argue that the problem is simply that the teaching hasn’t been adequately explicated and defended, whether by bishops or priests or laypeople — and there’s truth to this. But the problem probably runs deeper than that: It isn’t just that the arguments for the teaching aren’t advanced vigorously and eloquently enough; it’s that the distinctions that the Church makes bump up against people’s moral intuitions more than they do on other fronts, and the Church’s arguments often take on a kind of hair-splitting quality that’s absent on other hot-button questions. (As in: The natural law permits me to rigorously chart my temperature and/or measure my cervical mucus every day in an effort to avoid conception, but it doesn’t permit me to use a condom? Really?)

So Douthat sees that even those who generally follow the Church’s teachings nonetheless squint at the reasoning behind the pronouncements on Truth—in this case, the anti-contraception Truth. Thus, should these same laypeople follow their own reason to the Truth?

Not exactly:

Now for a serious Catholic, the argument from tradition and authority is a real argument, not just the dodge that many people assume it to be. And the fact that the Church’s moral reasoning seems unpersuasive may just reflect the distorting impact of a contraceptive culture on the individual conscience.

Again: the problem, dear (un)believer is with you.

But what if the Church does try, however fitfully, to make practical sense of its moral stance in an im- or a-moral world, as with condom use in paid-for sex? You get it from all sides, from those of us skeptical of the morality of its stance to those who consider it an impermissible detour from the straight and narrow.

John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a moral theologian, urged the publisher not to publish the Pope’s book, Light of the World, arguing it would only create a ‘mess’. That a Vatican spokesman later clarified that the Pope’s comment related not just to male but also to female prostitutes, was almost unbelievable, given the implications regarding contraception:

Indeed, Dr. Haas, of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, could barely countenance Father Lombardi’s comments that broadened the debate to include women. “I don’t think it’s a clarification; it’s a muddying of the waters,” he said. “My opinion is that the pope purposely chose a male prostitute to avoid that particular debate.”

And if Benedict was in fact opening that debate? “I think the pope’s wrong,” Dr. Haas added.

Well.

The Church has to hold the line because, were any slack allowed, the meaning of the line would cease, as would that of the Church itself. Yet not to loosen the line means that people will flee, if only to save themselves from suffocation—and in so doing, to call into question the meaning of the line and that of the Church itself.

It is a true dilemma, and for that reason, I am sympathetic.

But—you knew I’d throw a ‘but’ in—the Church itself is the author of this dilemma. It set itself up as the One True Church, the path to salvation, the authority on all matters God, so much so that authority itself was reified. The point of the Church became the Church.

This is, of course, an ancient dilemma, one which runs through the history of not just Church but Christianity itself. Early dissenters (including Pelagians and some gnostics, among others) argued that God was carried within and thus no formal structure was necessary; a thousand or so years later protesters lay the Bible before the people and told them that was all they needed. (That those Protestants set up their own structures is another issue.) Sola fidelis, sola scriptura.

But the Church, the Church said No. The Church said We are the One True Faith. The Church said, in effect (if anachronistically): Who you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?

The Church, in other words, rested the faith on its authority, rather than its authority on faith. In doing so, the truth of the authority calcified into the Church’s Truth and, as such, could be neither compromised or countermanded. The Church is the repository of God’s Word, its guardian and keeper; to doubt this authority is to risk losing the keys to the Kingdom itself.

This risk has kept many inside, as, I hasten to add, have faith and love for the Church itself. But those on the outside, especially those faith-seekers on the outside, see the lines and the walls of the Church and wonder Where is God in all this?





Wrap it up

21 11 2010

Pope Says Condoms to Stop AIDS May Be Acceptable

-headline in New York Times story on the pope recognizing that people are. . . people.

Well, some of us, perhaps:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants,” the pope said.

That’s nice.

It’s a fine thing to recognize that the lives of gay men are worth saving. And Sullivan points out that by so recognizing the worth of said lives, the Pope introduces the possibility that gay men who have sex may act in a manner not completely outside of the moral sphere:

[O]nce you introduce a spectrum of moral choices for the homosexual, you have to discuss a morality for homosexuals. Previously, it was simply: whatever you do is so vile none of can be moral. Now, it appears to be: even in a sexual encounter between a prostitute and his john there is a spectrum of moral conduct.

Again, most excellent, not least because it allows for the possibility, however slim, that long-term gay male relationships may someday be recognized as morally licit.

Sullivan then goes on to note that this stance actually favors gay male relationships:

It’s okay for a gay prostitute to wear a condom because he was never going to procreate anyway. But for a poor straight couple in Africa, where the husband is HIV-positive and the wife HIV-negative, nothing must come in the way of being open to procreation … even if that means the infection of someone you love with a terminal disease.

It’s then you realize that the Vatican’s problem is not just homophobia. It’s heterophobia as well.

Dan Savage pushes the point a bit further:

So… condoms are okay when they’re being used to protect men who see male prostitutes. They’re not okay when they’re being used to protect a woman—a woman who might already have more kids than she can possibly feed—from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Allow me to push this all the way over the edge: Is there any recognition of women, any sense that we might have any say at all in our own sexual or moral lives?

Okay, so this is just an excerpt from Il Papa’s forthcoming book—maybe he’s got a whole chapter about the intellect and worth of those of us who wear our generative bits (most decidedly not ‘junk’) on the inside—but I gotta be honest with you, I’m thinking: no.

‘Heterophobia’ might work for Sullivan, but I’m old school: I think I’ll stick with the more traditional ‘misogyny’.





No comment

27 05 2010

A woman’s life is threatened by her pregnancy. An ethics committee at a Catholic hospital, as part of consultative group including the woman, her family, and her doctors, approves a therapeutic abortion.

The result?  Sister Margaret McBride, who sat on the Ethics Committee, is excommunicated.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix initially stated

“We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life, and neither life can be preferred over the other. A woman is rightly called ‘mother’ upon the moment of conception and throughout her entire pregnancy is considered to be ‘with child.’

“The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic. . . .” [emphasis added]

The diocese then chose to follow up that statement with this press release, in which they elaborated:

First, a physician cannot be 100% certain that a mother would die if she continued the pregnancy.

Second, the mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child. Both lives are equal, both have an eternal soul and both are created by God. No one has the right to directly kill an innocent life, no matter what stage of their existence.

It is not better to save one life while murdering another. It is not better for the mother to live the rest of her existence having had her child killed. [emphasis added]

The Bishop is apparently considering also excommunicating St Joseph’s for its participation in this ‘evil action.’

(H/t Nicholas Kristof; azcentral.com; and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix)





Nothing comes from nothing

6 12 2009

‘No! You cannot argue with me! The problem is entirely theological.’

‘Well, philosophical, at least. Existential in any case.’

‘Theological. The deepest question of human beings! We are at the point of crisis. We are!’

‘It’s always there. Always. What’s new?’

‘We cannot continue to live like this. No! We cannot!’

Jtte, my orthodox-Marxist-and-orthodox-Catholic colleague, and friend, is at the frayed ends of her orthodoxy.

She is, in other words, less orthodox than she insists.

I don’t know what prompted this crisis, for her, or, to put it less personally, what prompted this recognition of crisis in the world. We keep trying to make lunch or dinner dates, but our schedules block us from anything more than a quick argument between classes.

And it would help to know, because I don’t know what to make of what appears—appears—to be a profound alienation and an acute need to clamber beneath that alienation, to something real.

I don’t want to push this interpretation too hard, not least because I really don’t know what the hell is going on with her. (And, as a conversation with another friend last week reminded me, ’tis best not to insert meaning into the unsaid.)

I am also admittedly puzzled by her insistence upon crisis. What, now, is different? There is nothing new in capitalism, nothing new in technology, no paradigm-shifting breakthroughs in science, no visitations from outer space nor even, to follow up a recent discussion, the barest hint of asteroids or global nuclear exchange or some new pandemic.

Yeah, things are falling apart, but things are always falling apart.

And yes, we are in the midst of an anthropic fucking-over of our climate, but one to which our scavenger species will adapt. Life may be worse in a hundred years, but it will continue.

So why the crisis?

Jtte, at least, is optimistic: She thinks we will become more human, more of whom we’re supposed to be, that life will get better (whatever that means).

Do we need a crisis for that? ‘Existential crisis’ is one of those tropes around which to build a novel or film or some form of art. It’s what happens when we get everything we want or nothing we want or everything we thought we wanted, or when we lose everything, or when what matters becomes jumbled with what does not—it’s what happens when we live, and think or feel our lives.

Crap. None of this is what I wanted to say. It’s not right, it doesn’t fit. None of these words. . . huh. Nothing.

My friend Jtte is sounding an alarm and I don’t know why.





No comment, no. 2

11 11 2009

Quote of the day: bishop says no to homo tourism at Vatican

ETN asked the Bishop [Janusz Kaleta of Holy See, the Apostolic Administrator of Atyrau] if the Vatican’s stand was clearly against [gay] tourism, and the Bishop answered: “The church teachings are from the Bible. If we change this teaching, we will not be the Catholic Church. Don’t expect the Catholic church to change these issues, because it is our identity.” When asked if the Vatican is open to dialogue about welcoming such homosexual groups of tourists in the future, Bishop Kaleta responded that “such demonstrations are just not ethical.”

Publisher Steinmetz clarified that what was meant by gay travel was traveling for the purpose of a visit, not as a demonstration. To this the Bishop replied, ”I consider if someone is homosexual, it is a provocation and an abuse of this place. Try to go to a mosque if you are not Muslim. It is abuse of our buildings and our religion because the church interprets our religion that it is not ethical. We expect respect of our church as we expect to respect that a person does not have to belong to the Catholic Church. If you have different ideas, go to a different location.”

(h/t Pandagon [w/its emphases], cribbing from eTurboNews)