Monday, March 05, 2012

The Arguement

We Saw His Glory

I was going to start a little, tongue in cheek, campaign to unite under one head the Bishops' Conferences of England and Wales with that of Scotland, with its offices in  Edinburgh, a not so subtle way of saving money and ensuring backbone was shared. I am not quite sure now, after listening to Cardinal O'Brien on the radio this morning, perhaps it was nervousness. There was nothing persuasive in what he said, others have already called it a rant. He rightly described the proposed change in the law as "madness", it would have been wise for him to have held the moral high ground and done his best to have appeared sane. At least there was no chance of it undergoing the process of some English cottage industry explaining to the ignorant uninformed what his Eminence really meant, it was characteristically in your face Glasgow Keith O'Brien.

We Christians are in the right but the rightness has to be carefully argued with those who are wrong. Haranguing people doesn't help. Remembering what we teach about marriage might be a start.
Marriage is both uniative and procreative, it is part of the Natural Law that the first: union, leads to the second: procreation. Natural Law is "natural" because it can be clearly demonstrated from empirical evidence and because it is reasonable. As Catholics we believe that human beings are rational and can for the most part be reasoned with.
Most of those who come to prepare for marriage, tend to have been living together for some time. When they decide to marry, it is that they want to provide the right environment for bringing up children. The vast majority of people want to marry and want children and want to bring them up in loving stable family. To be honest, they actually want that for other people and for society, even for those people whose same sex relationship is not intrinsically ordered to the procreation of children, they want something that comes close to this to it, because they sense it is good in itself, even those in a same sex relationship seem to recognise its goodness.

To inspire his disciples, to help them endure the Passion, the Lord allowed them see his Glory, he does not show them hell, on the contrary. Indeed the whole of the Gospels are an example of the showing forth of Glory, from the message of Angels, through healings and exorcisms and miracles, to the triumph of the Resurrection, even the Cross is given to us as Glorious Sacrifice, freely offered.
The Transfiguration is a vision of Christ's Divinity, the Resurrection, His Triumph, it is a Vision of Heaven, it is the other side of the Passion, it is the Reality of who Jesus Christ truly is.
In a world that seems to have lost hope, in which visions are drug induced nightmares we have a duty to offer a positive vision of the Divine.

It is honey versus vinegar.
In the inevitable debate about the nature of marriage we need to proclaim Glory of Christian marriage. Yes, in charity and with reason, we can point out the deficiencies of our opponents arguments but our understanding is more glorious, more rational, more of a reflection of true humanity, more liberating, more divine.
Those things done according to the Natural Law are destined by their nature to endure because they are intimately connect to life, those contrary to the Natural Law will wither and fail because they are about death.


Dylan Dog said...

Any Catholic who is literate, has a spare hour or two, and wants to be in a position to explain and defend the Church's position in a convincing manner, should read THIS.

Anonymous said...

It was a great article but not a great interview. But I don't think he did that badly. He would have been better off waiting a few days before he gave it as he was clearly feeling the emotion of it all. John Humphreys is a toadie who is quite obviously biased so he was never going to get a fair hearing. It must be very off putting sitting in front of him.

Honey or vinegar?. The days of honey have long since passed and it hasn't worked. Its been 40 years of failure and no one respects us any more. If you allow yourself to get bullied (and we have) the bully keeps on coming back. This is exactly the tone John Humphreys and others in the media have been adoptng all weekend. Being "nice" is just seen as a sign of weakness by these vultures. No, you have to stick up for yourself and stand your ground otherwise these people will walk all over you.


Fr Ray Blake said...

"The days of honey have long since passed".
I would say they haven't yet come, we haven't taught or presented reasoned arguements about much, especially not marriage and sexuality, nor have we done much to engage with non-believers, or sharing our insights with other believers, and our children leave our schools and catechetical programmes ignorant of both the logic and content of our faith nor do they have any sense that it the necessity of explaining it to others, let alone how to do so.

Et Expecto said...

I thought Cardinal O'Brien did very well on the radio. He remained very cool and stood his ground.

QWe could do with more like him.

georgem said...

I didn't catch the interview but Humphrys has an adversarial style and generally takes the opposing viewpoint to his interviewee to try to wrong-foot. It's a game for him, not a belief. I find his hectoring rather wearisome.

Honey or vinegar? I think we should use both. Vinegar has good antiseptic properties. The honeyed approach is often seen by bullies as weakness and I frequently find myself asking: why should the Devil have all the best rants?

The nub of it is a united hierarchy who know what they should believe/uphold. Meanwhile, the E&W Marie Celeste sails on.

I think that too many have for too long convinced themselves that wrong is a bit right.

They've ended up confusing themselves, let alone the laity. Yet on this, as on abortion, they really could take the faithful with them if they tried.

If they need courage in getting back on course on Catholic teaching they should be looking to the Pope.

Jacobi said...

I did not hear the Cardinal this morning, although I have read his article, but if he did display anger then perhaphs it is about time. After all, so did Christ!

The tactics of the Secularist lobby, and in particular the same sex lobby, has long been to let us other Christians have their say and then just ignore and press on.

This has got to stop, and if a bit of righteous anger is in order, then so be it.

If only the English bishops would show some response against the creeping flood of secularist, anti-Christian legislation! Sadly they are conspicuous only by their silence or at best by excessive pastoral apologies.

By the way Cardinal O'Brien is not of, or from, Glasgow!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree Fr. Ray but I think the 'honey approach' has been what the post VII period has been all about and the shambles we see in our catechetical programs and schools etc. that you write about are connected with it. Its led to a lack of discipline, a loss of conviction in what we believe and crucially a lack of leadership. Our Bishops look like a group of frightened men who don't know what way to turn.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying using honey isn't a good thing, what I am saying is there has to be a balance. The problem has been we haven't had any. Its just been syrup, syrup and more syrup.


nickbris said...

Humphreys really ought to get a check up,I detected the first signs of senility,silly old cantankerous twit.Cardinal O'Brien was only telling the truth and is fearless.

gemoftheocean said...

I wonder what King Edward 'I thought men like that just shot themselves' VII would make of all this. Why 'Conservatives' don't just all jump ship to UKIP I don't know. There's no point in being a Conservative with Cameron in there is there?

And bishops should man up and start acting like bishops instead of scared rabbits.

Evagrius said...

Perspicacious as ever, Fr., and a welcome change from the cheering choir to whom the Cardinal's preaching was, it seems, aimed.

Outside the small circle of Catholicism in Britain, the Cardinal's dual outburst has gone down disastrously, and I am certain has only set back the cause both in this fight and in the culture-war-at-large.

Amfortas said...

Cardinal O'Brien just sounded angry on the radio. He is right to be angry but unfortunately what he said just came across as a bit of a rant. He didn't make a clear case for marriage. He's not a great communicator even though we may cheer what he says.

Sadie Vacantist said...

The problem is that neither he nor any of the hierarchy are very good communicators. Having said that the British are a strange collection of peoples so I am not convinced that the Cardinal's outburst has gone down as badly as some might think. What was important was that his clumsy words were impossible to twist (unlike the Pope's at Regensberg) and that's all that matters in the current level of debate in the UK.

Aaron Saunderson-Cross said...

I think we seem to agree Fr.

I felt rather saddened that the most senior Catholic in the country evangelised our position on marriage by a haphazard comparison of same-sex marriage to slavery and abortion in his Radio 4 interview... I trust that he meant well but we must consider how our position is received by non-Catholic Christians; we must ensure that we approach the argument intellectually, charitably, and rationally...and sadly I don't feel the Cardinal's views highlighted these positions.

I have played out these same discussions about marriage on Facebook countless times and I can say that the Catholic position (on marriage) is immediately held with a certain degree of distrust. We are 'expected' to be homophobic and this is all the more reason to confidently, and lovingly, articulate our position (any mention of slavery and the like will be immediately rejected). In-fact Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith's piece in the Catholic Herald (Who cares about the consequences of gay marriage?) highlights in the responses by other readers the sheer confusion, disagreement, and contempt in places for the Catholic Church's own teachings.

I think we must be assured that ahistorical assertions that marriage has 'always' referred to the union between one man and one woman won't wash: we need to highlight the uniqueness, the distinctiveness and dignity of that union between a man and a woman that - call it what ever we want - is of a fundamentally different order and kind to the unions between same-sexes. It's not just about procreation (we know that Josephite Marriages have existed) it's surely also about 'genuine sexual complementarity' as the Catechism states, it's about this sense that in marriage we see almost an icon of the fecundity of the Holy Trinity, a 'generative union' where life is made possible.

I think we need to make clear that we're not arguing over semantics (we're not interested in copyrighting the mere word 'marriage') we are defending the very distinct union which 'marriage' refers to, and which to revise this word 'marriage' would only obscure a basic and genuine moral reality. We could call this union by any other name but history has called it marriage and therefore to confer 'marriage' upon same-sex couples would only confuse what is a sort of 'social contract' which is about love? commitment? sex? with a real moral reality - the fundamental cell of human society.

God bless you Fr as always and the kindness and charity with which you articulate your points. Off to 9.15am Mass for me...!


Physiocrat said...

A few weeks ago you posted a video of a Catholic family living in modest comfort in a huge old house, where the household income was supplemented by produce from the smallholding that was attached to the property. This was perhaps the ideal of the Catholic family, as Chesterton and his ilk portrayed it.

I made a comment to the effect that one would have to be a millionaire to live like that today - who could afford it?

It is about economics - in the true sense of the word, which is formed from the Greek words for household and measurement. Government is not about providing the conditions in which households can flourish. It is about firms that deign to provide people with "jobs", and banks to lend them the money to pay for what they produce, since they do not pay enough to enable them to purchase the fruits of their own labour.

And on top of that, to make up for the deficiencies of this system, governments have to engage in a systematic robbery to provide their populations, at vast expense, with the welfare that would be largely unnecessary if the system was just in the first place.

This appears to be the position set out in Caritas in Veritate. I would suggest that if the hierarchy were to take this as their starting point they would earn respect instead of the ridicule they are drawing on themselves.

Sussex Catholic said...

The only relevant question in this debate is whether the Bishops of England and Wales and Scotland possess a "red button" that they could push if the government chooses to ignore them and press ahead. In the case of the "faith schools" controversy when Alan Johnson wanted to introduce quotas, the answer was clearly yes-the Church pulling out of its schools with the consequent and overnight collapse of the most successful portion of the state education sector. Hence hovering an index finger over that particular "red button" was enough to force a climbdown. But this time? No I can't see anything. The letter to be read out at the weekend in parishes is not going to bring millions or even thousands onto the streets in protest. The religious exemption clause is going to trump anything that the Church has to say to the public at large, mainly because the MSM has succeeded in thoroughly discrediting the Catholic Church as a result of the self-inflicted wounds of child abuse and associated cover up. There is little or nothing to be gained by debate for the simple reason that the proponents of this are not interested in debate because they are not interested in a search for objective truth. They are concerned only with their cause for their own ends. They realise, as the left in the USA has for many years, that they will never win a popular mandate for their views, so they use lobbying, victim status and the courts to achieve their objectives. This "consultation" is no such thing, the Minister concerned has already admitted as much when she said the government had already made their minds up. Fr.Ray is correct when he says something truly Orwellian has happened when someone like Harriet Harman says that Cardinal O'Brien's views simply should not be allowed to be expressed because they might incite hatred. If she is correct then there can be no consultation on whether the law should be changed because the only acceptable opinion which does not foment hatred is that the law must be changed and that consequently the law as it stands is wrong. In other words we have a former Minister and potential Deputy Prime Minister saying that the only acceptable position for anyone to take in this regard is to oppose the law of the land. True Marxist social engineering in action and I am afraid to say this issue is already lost. The Church in this country needs to stop thinking about how it can win arguments like this (because it can't, the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against it). Instead it needs to concentrate on "prophetic witness" and stand fast to its teachings and merely proclaim them in the public square without rancour but with love. Like St.Thomas More it can and should use all of its wits to find space to continue to hold to its position and still maintain its legal freedoms. Ultimately as St.Thomas More's life proved, you are fighting a losing battle and must ultimately stand your ground and be crushed. In this the Church is likely to be required to face persecution, not execution or even imprisonment, but ridicule, loss of privileges, lawsuits and marginalisation. Ultimately the Church may just have to accept that it is God's will for the Church to go through a period of persecution for the sake of souls and for the purification of the Church Herself. It is what the Church in Eastern Europe was called to do from 1945-1990, its only fair that we take our turn.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I have now listened to the interview and I feel that the Cardinal came out well. Whether it was wise to submit to an interview with Humphreys is a different question. Humphreys just picked on the use of strong language like "grotesque" and there was no chance to present a rational argument. But I think the article and the interview will get people talking. Many may object to it violently but it may start them thinking and discussing it. I am afraid our Bishops' forthcoming letter will just be met with a yawn however rational it may be.

umblepie said...

Cardinal O'Brien was right to attack same sex 'marriage' in the way he did. He spoke the truth from his heart and his soul, and to me this is what counts, and I think this what counts with millions of ordinary, normal married couples everywhere. Why should traditional 'marriage' with all that it denotes, be sullied with the image that is proposed by our Godless same-sex marriage legislators?

umblepie said...

In my book, full marks to Cardinal O'Brien for speaking out loud and clear on the evil of same-sex marriage. He spoke the truth from his heart and soul. Of course he is criticised, but what is certain is that he is speaking for millions of ordinary married couples, of his own faith and none, who are sickened at the insult to their own status by so-called same-sex 'marriage'. Our Godless legislators are cynically manipulating traditional Christian beliefs and teaching, in line with the vociferous and politically powerful homosexual lobby,and in line with their own atheistic political agenda. Oh that we had more outspoken prelates with the courage of Cardinal O'Brien.

umblepie said...

Cardinal O'Brien was right to attack same sex 'marriage' in the way he did. He spoke the truth from his heart and his soul, and to me this is what counts, and I think this what counts with millions of ordinary, normal married couples everywhere. Why should traditional 'marriage' with all that it denotes, be sullied with the image that is proposed by our Godless same-sex marriage legislators? (Sorry if this comment duplicates one already sent, problems with the 'post comment' mechanism - please feel free to delete if necessary)

Sadie Vacantist said...

I agree with Nicholas Bellord who is saying what I wanted to say but only better. A maverick and anti-Catholic Euro MP has already left the Tories and joined UKIP. An unlikely vote of confidence if ever there was one but thanks Mr Hamer as every bit helps! Let me repeat that the British ARE a strange people as you simply don’t know how they will respond on any given issue. Some of the secular blogs I read contained views which were already expressing similar views to Hamer and often begin with, “I am not a Catholic but …”. This was encouraging although quite why UKIP has become a party synonymous with religious freedom (to borrow an Americanism) is beyond me but at least they provide some sort of alternative to the status quo especially if they evolve into some sort of libertarian party. Libertarianism may be the only option in the short term and Cardinal Dolan in New York is playing that card even if ultimately libertarianism is inimical to the Catholic tradition. I am surprised more American Catholics are not exploring the Ron Paul option as religious conservatism is clearly failing in the USA in the same way that the C of E has failed over here. The Catholic Church has simply become part of this overall failure. Most Catholic priests remian in denial of the crisis if the ridiculous performance by the staff and students in that recent documentary on Allen Hall is anything to go by.