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Church should prioritise wider community interests over its own

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Church and state are confronting one another right now over the federal freedom of religion bill and the Victorian anti-discrimination bill. Whenever such confrontation occurs it reveals our priorities. We define our identity by what we choose to fight for hardest.  

Education has always been one of the central elements of the Catholic Church’s interaction with the state. This time it is not about the usual school funding issues, but the right to administer internal school matters, such as choosing staff and students, in the way the church sees fit. 

The most prominent church voices include our senior leaders, Archbishops Anthony Fisher of Sydney and Peter Comensoli of Melbourne. 

These two archbishops are not only strong advocates of religious freedom but also strong opponents of same sex marriage. They ran the most vociferous aspects of the church’s recent anti-same sex marriage campaign. The origins of this freedom of religion bill were in promises made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to assuage disappointed conservative Coalition MPs after the same sex marriage plebiscite led to its legalisation.  

Four years later the two issues are inseparable in the public mind as the same sex marriage campaign of 2017 is still fresh. The church cannot escape its public record. The general community and LGBTQI+ Catholics do not trust church authorities when so-called freedom of religion and gay rights clash. Rainbow Catholics Inter/Agency for Ministry has just reiterated this point; it supports the Victorian anti-discrimination bill, while opposing the federal freedom of religion bill, which would potentially over-ride state laws. 

Anti-discrimination and freedom of religion debates reflect much broader views about faith and society. The broader conservative campaign, including some Catholic leaders, disproportionately paints modern society as anti-faith and threatening to churches. This is an inappropriate starting point for a church political intervention and puts the church in the wrong company. 

 

'Standing up energetically for freedom of religion rather than other more urgent issues perpetuates the community perception that the church is not only self-interested but unduly focused on sex and gender rather than being outward looking.' 

 

While the church interventions have been expressed in more moderate terms than those of the Prime Minister, they have still argued that the federal religious freedom legislation should ideally be even stronger. Archbishop Comensoli has expressed the seemingly benign view that all Australians should be able to participate fully in our society regardless of their religious beliefs, but he has failed to show that that is not already the case. 

The new legislation is supposedly ‘a shield not a sword’, but that still presumes a shield is necessary. When the Prime Minister asserts that ‘religious Australians should not be cancelled, persecuted or vilified’ he unduly stokes fears and paints an unreal picture of Australian society today in which religion is under attack. 

There is no united ‘faith’ position on anti-discrimination and religious freedom within which the Catholic position is embedded. The so-called faith-based coalition is not as broad as might be thought from the banner headlines about ‘faith leaders’. Terms like ‘faith community’ are as misrepresented as the term ‘Christian lobby’. There are many different faith communities and Christian lobbies, and the pro-freedom of religion faith coalition is only one part of the whole Christian church in Australia.  

The anti-discrimination bill may not be about sexuality and gender, but the Catholic campaign is certainly perceived as such, with justification, within the LGBTQI+ community. This perception is magnified because Church leaders have done such a poor job of explaining to their own community what the urgent problem is. All Catholics agree that Catholic schools should be able to hire Catholic teachers, but, given the decline of church attendance in Australia, the main problem is finding enough Catholic teachers to staff and lead our schools not being prevented from hiring them by governments. 

The church campaign also signifies church priorities. Standing up energetically for freedom of religion rather than other more urgent issues perpetuates the community perception that the church is not only self-interested but unduly focused on sex and gender rather than being outward looking. 

Priorities are a matter of choice. Experienced commentators agree that the Morrison government has now prioritised freedom of religion over integrity and anti-corruption. The former is being driven by conservative MPs and their allies in the community, including some church leaders; the advocacy for a federal anti-corruption commission comes from the centre left in parliament, Labor, Greens, Independents like Helen Haines, and many other respected community groups. 

There is far wider and more urgent concern in the general community about ethical failures and corruption in politics than about freedom of religion. Politics is seen as an ethics-free zone of pork-barrelling, political donations and disrespect for women and minorities. Trust in politics and the major political parties has fallen to extremely low levels. This presents a heaven-sent opportunity for church intervention as a guardian of ethical principles, even if after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse the community doubts its credentials. 

The Morrison government is playing to its self-interest and to its conservative base in its own choice of priorities. If the church wants to project itself explicitly or implicitly as an enthusiastic part of that base, then so be it if its principles and interests demand it and it faces a demonstrably urgent problem. But such a direction further endangers its reputation for representing altruistic values. This would be an ideal subject for wider church debate and co-responsible discernment. The church leadership could, for instance, take the lead in making a powerful pre-election statement about ethics in public life. Having admirably supported the Uluru Statement from the Heart it could now advocate a federal integrity commission. 

 

 

John WarhurstJohn Warhurst is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, chair of Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, and a Plenary Council member.

Topic tags: John Warhurst, church, freedom of religion bill, anti-discrimination bill, Education

 

 

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Well said and expressed John. As an Anglican priest and leader of a number of welfare and community agencies for many years I believe the opposition by "some churches and their leaders is misplaced. All staff were employed on their professionalism and competency not their sexuality . Staff were willing to accept the ethos of the organizations embedded in Christian faith. To love God and to love one's neighbor as God loves us is the principle doctrine or dogma. It is difficult to promote faith when some church leaders appear ignorant and bound by past dogma that has more to do with church privilege than love and service. I only wish the main media would read what you say and report accurately . From my experience the people in the pews are far more open and accepting


Ray Clear | 02 December 2021  

Just what is it about the Catholic Church and sex? Are the lawmakers and clergy so hidebound by adherence to literal interpretations of Leviticus, or so ignorant that they are not even aware of advances in science and anthropology which point to the fact that homosexuality in both sexes is primarily endogenous and that sexuality operates on a spectrum?
There was a time, not so long ago when the contraceptive pill seemed to be Catholicism's plat de jour such that at least one articulate journalist referred to the Church's obsession with gynaecology.
Perhaps I am missing the point, but there are many issues in the world that need addressing and are of far more importance than one's sexual inclinations. My view is that what adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is nobody's business except theirs.
As you point out, John, there are far wider concerns to be addressed in our society- political corruption, povery in Indigenous communities, climate change, pandemics are just some.


Henri | 02 December 2021  

‘LGBTQI+ Catholics’

There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQI+ Catholic’ any more than there is a unitarian Catholic or, given that an Anglican clergyman has contributed to this thread, unitarian Anglican. Christianity is a documented philosophy, Catholicism a specific documentation of Christian philosophy, and Unitarians and Mormons can plead their belief in Jesus Christ all they want but all Christian denominations say they are not Christians.


As well, the documentation does not support LGBTQI+ as valid Christian behaviour in part because you cannot produce a child who truly belongs to both members of an LGBTIQ+ marital-like sexual union. Classical liberalism stipulates that the freedom of two individuals to make a bargain cannot infringe upon the interests of a third party. A child remains a third party because it is extracted from nurture within one or other line of its genetic lineage. Ignoring this is playing the ‘adult privilege’ or ‘adultist’ ideology of treating the child as a chattel.


As for the specious argument that there are other policy matters to address, all humans can chew gum and tie their shoelaces at the same time.


roy chen yee | 02 December 2021  
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What is more specious (i.e. superficially plausible), Roy, than one who chooses to debar an Anglican, a Unitarian or a Mormon from declaring their love for and influence by the person of Jesus, despite our Catholic attachment to the Real Presence and the Trinity, whom Anglican members of the wider Christian Communion also affirm? Indeed, why shouldn't the beauty of the Tabernacle Choir debar Mormons, despite their unsubstantiated belief in Joseph Smith and former polygamy, from recognition as fellow Christians?Where do you draw a line between Gay persons choosing to adopt a child and straight persons doing the same? What evil-minded impropriety do you allege of those who administer child care services in this regard? Do they, as Francis Armstrong has alleged of the Society of Jesus and other Orders elsewhere in ES, operate a child access service for the surreptitious purposes of sexual assault? Where does reasonable accusation and a demand for accountability end and an egregiously ignorant and insulting rant take over? Tragic though it is that a man like St Isaac Jogues, who gave his life for the Inuit, should be betrayed by lesser men, what aspect of Catholic pastoral theology supports your extreme biologically essentialist view?


Michael Furtado | 09 December 2021  

So, MF, there are no essential principles that govern Catholic "pastoral theology"?


John RD | 12 December 2021  

There are indeed, JRD, and in Catholic schools' contexts they're associated with the widespread roll-out of professional values. Pastoral values, unless configured to entrap teachers by being surreptitiously employed to test for compliance with dogma, which in any case is an odd sort of thing to do when not teaching Religious Knowledge, proclaim one universal value, which is about modelling the Commandment To Love.


Michael Furtado | 14 December 2021  

‘odd sort of thing to do when not teaching Religious Knowledge, proclaim one universal value, which is about modelling the Commandment To Love.’

You’re not teaching religious knowledge but the logic of it which calls for obedience. Consequently, the school invites its students to mock themselves as stupid or hypocritical when it expects students to learn in one class that homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder and to believe in the next that there is nothing wrong with a teacher who accepts it to be licit.


The one universal value is to model obedience to the teachings. You can’t out-love God and you shouldn’t try


roy chen yee | 16 December 2021  

Well; look where your attachment to teaching 'obedience' and invitation to others to mock themselves as stupid and hypocritical has got you, Roy. Hair-shirts and self-flagellation ain't going to get your message across, either. What evidence do you have of your 'tough-love' success?


Michael Furtado | 16 December 2021  

‘look where…has got you….’ Posing questions you can only dodge, not answer.


roy chen yee | 17 December 2021  

‘look where your attachment to teaching 'obedience' and invitation to others to mock themselves as stupid and hypocritical has got you’ ‘Hair-shirts and self-flagellation ain't going to get your message across, either’


Irrelevancies. The message in a religion class, if homosexuality comes up as a topic, is the magisterium’s declaration that the inclination is disordered. The logical question in the student’s mind (or expressed) then becomes, ‘But, miss, so-and-so who teaches whatever is gay’ or ‘But the janitor is gay’ or ’So-and-so in the tuckshop is gay’ and ’Are they disordered?’ and ‘What do we do about it?’ Truth doesn’t care about whether questions, answers or circumstances resulting from answers turn awkward. The truth is as it is, which is why it’s better that Catholic schools not employ professing homosexuals in any capacity. Otherwise, those unfortunates will be embarrassed by the doctrinal honesty in a religion class.


‘What evidence do you have of your 'tough-love' success?’


Irrelevant. Has the Great Commission successfully been met?


roy chen yee | 19 December 2021  

As a gay man I am undoubtedly sexually disordered, Roy (19/12). Its not just that the church teaches that homosexuality is a disorder: it also commands that I be loved.

I cannot reproduce if I choose to express my affection for a man. should I pursue my instinct, fall in love with and marry a man. In doing so I'd be committing a sin against the virtue of purity.

I might go to Confession in that case, express a firm purpose of amendment and simply live with my same-sex companion while leading a celibate life, or separate from him.

That would entitle me to approach the Eucharistic Table. And the same rules would apply to divorced and remarried Catholics. OK, so far?

Then the Holy Father steps in and advises parish priests to mediate and apply the Church's rules within a context that accounts for the pastoral circumstances of each individual case.

This then is the complex teaching relating to a complex situation: that both the commandments of love and purity must be served. It applies as much to the gardener as the rector, the student and the priest. Both commandments must be abided by.

Who are you to judge?


Michael Furtado | 21 February 2022  

The notion that churches' stances - particularly the Catholic Church's - on the federal and Victorian bills encourage a perception that they are "unduly focused on sex and gender" is belied by the fact of their dedication to community outreach in a range of practical ways - for instance, in shelters for the homeless, victims of domestic violence and single mothers; in indigenous rights; in advocacy and accompaniment of refugees; in health care; in support for the aged and disabled; in provision for the poor. All real, daily "statements about ethics in public life." A reductive construction of churches' stances as a misguided prioritising of "sexuality and gender" suggests that those who perceive the issue of religious freedom as such might themselves look beyond "self-interest" and become more "outward looking."


John RD | 03 December 2021  
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Your's would equally be a valid point, JohnRD, were the issue under discussion the withdrawal of the Church from its charitable ministries. Thus, you void the principle upon which you base your own argument.


Michael Furtado | 09 December 2021  

‘Thus, you void the principle upon which you base your own argument.’ Hardly. The Church follows the model of Christ: preach and heal/feed (actually, preach before healing/feeding because some people are takers and nobody respects a naïve giver).


roy chen yee | 10 December 2021  

John RD that is true but the Catholic church is not the only "church" doing those things. I remember when I was driving a cab at Melbourne Uni, single mothers had their babies forcibly removed by the church and adopted out to families that paid well for the privilege.
As for health care, take the Mater hospital. They run a call centre begging for donations at night. They build prize homes at Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove. They have bulk bill medical clinics. A dozen lessees around the hospital in South Brisbane. All under the charity banner. Yes orphanages, boarding schools again businesses where child sex abuse has flourished. Child care and after hours school care, businesses we set up and taken over by Catholic Centre care. As for domestic violence and counselling, the Catholic church runs none of that in Qld worthy of the name. And same sex elitist schools like Xavier where the first male graduate has successfully transgendered? Bill McCoy and William Doherty eat your heart out. Cant wait to send my son there.
These businesses are all profit centres.


Francis Armstrong | 10 December 2021  

JohnRD, you post well (3/XII). However, there's fault on both sides. Before WWII, human rights had always been identified with the French Revolution and its promise of secular emancipation. In the face of a Soviet enemy, a Cold War liberalism arose that featured a fateful new opening to Christian values, shattered by prior internecine sectarian difference. The deepest aspirations of democracy changed, prizing moderation over liberation of human capacity, briefly restoring Christianity as the centerpiece of justice.

For anyone who wants to revive rather than criticize the promise of secular emancipation (for all its faults), the invention of Christian human rights provides an opportunity to promote a guarded centrism uniting liberals and conservatives as well as core Christian values by which to inform and support a pluriform, culturally-diverse democracy.

Till the 1940s, Christian human rights have been not so much about the inclusion of the other as about policing the borders and boundaries on which threatening enemies loom. Thus the story of Christian human rights shows how our premier principles have a complex history, with concessions often being wrung from us rather than 'collaboratively-negotiated'. Like all inheritances, it is worth tough criticism, rather than unreflective admiration or blanket anti-secularist rejection!


Michael Furtado | 27 December 2021  

I literally laughed out loud with relief while reading this article. Thank you John, it was just so comforting to see someone else articulate - far better than I could have - the very thoughts I have had over recent years. At the Justice and Peace Office in Sydney we struggle with this reality weekly as we try to find ways to advocate for those who truly are extremely vulnerable and unrepresented by the the powerful institutions; refugees, asylum seekers, folks who are hurt and mentally suffering, the homeless and women who have such powerful forces arrayed against them/us. Show me where you spend your time, money and political capital and I will tell you what you love!


Julie Macken | 03 December 2021  

I taught in government schools only. We wrote our own job descriptions and determined our own key selection criteria. The idea that we could be forbidden by law to include something relevant to the purpose of our school was never contemplated. Just as Labor can rightly choose Labor supporters as employees instead of Greens and the Greens can choose Green supporters instead of Liberals, a school has the right to choose teachers and other staff members who will uphold the mission of the school. It is up to each school, religious or not, to decide its own job criteria and the breadth of any role in the school. It is certainly not up to the government to deny any organisation the right to determine its own job criteria. However, there is no justification for inherent personal characteristics, such as sexuality, to be among those criteria, whether directly or indirectly


Chris Curtis | 03 December 2021  

Chris Curtis. I was thinking that at last someone has shown a bit of common sense amidst the hysteria surrounding the rights or otherwise of an employer to choose the employees who serve the purpose of a particular enterprise. Then came the non-sequitur of the last sentence in your post which seems to support the removal of that right from an employer if the applicant happens to have a philosophy which conflicts with what the employer has an obligation to provide. Would it be equally as unjust to exclude a person with no knowledge of mathematics who applies for employment as a maths teacher in a school where parents are paying for what the school offers in its education program? Time is long past for the LGBTIQ+ community to join the real world and abandon the obsession with sexuality which should be a private matter for any self respecting individual.


john frawley | 03 December 2021  
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John Frawley,

If sexuality is a private matter, then it does not belong in a list of key selection criteria for a job. We would not say that an employer has the right to exclude from employment women or Aborigines or persons with a disability that does not prevent the performance of the role. The same applies to sexuality. A religious school is entitled to expect its employees to support that school’s religious philosophy, just as a secular school is entitled to expect its employees to support that school’s secular philosophy, but a person’s individual characteristics are not the issue here. It’s the ability to do the job as defined by the school, and the school has the right to define the job, in particular to define how much religious adherence is required by the maths teacher on top of the ability to teach maths. This seems to be the stance the proposed federal religious discrimination bill is taking, but I cannot help but be suspicious about its timing: it’s in time to be an election issue but not necessarily in time to get enacted.


Chris Curtis | 04 December 2021  

Chris Curtis, does that mean the Vatican could hypothetically appoint a gay Aboriginal female Cardinal? The Australian version of Vigano? You might consider the notion absurd! However given the Vatican's articulated belief in Article 2 of the UDHR in theory all things are possible. Of course the plank or beam in the eye of the Bishops is the foundation upon which their scrupulous adherence to tradition, entitlement, rank, privilege and dare I add the word, clericalism is based.


Francis Armstrong | 06 December 2021  

Francis Armstrong,

The Vatican is a sovereign country and is not bound by Australian or Victorian law, so it can appoint whomever it likes.


Chris Curtis | 07 December 2021  

Yes Chris Curtis there's a bunch of arrogant pretenders lurking within those hallowed walls. But as for us continuing to accept their tainted edicts and decrees, that's a different story.


Francis Armstrong | 16 December 2021  

Prof Warhurst, You really need to define what the word 'Church' means if you are going to seemingly ascribe two meanings to it in the title to this article.


john frawley | 03 December 2021  
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Those meanings/intentions, John, are as clear as crystal. In a society, the degree of political separation between the church and the civil state is determined by the legal structures and prevalent legal views that define the proper relationship between organized religion and the state.

The arm's length principle proposes a relationship wherein the two political entities interact as organizations each independent of the authority of the other.

The strict application of the secular principle of laïcité is used in France, while secular societies such as Norway, Denmark, and England maintain a form of constitutional recognition of an official state religion.

The philosophy of the separation of the church from the civil state parallels the philosophies of secularism, disestablishmentarianism, religious liberty, and religious pluralism.

By way of these philosophies, the European states assumed some of the social roles of the church and the welfare state, a social shift that produced a culturally secular population and public sphere.

In practice, church–state separation varies from total separation, mandated by the country's political constitution, as in India, to a state religion, as in the Islamic sphere.

John Warhurst's advice is that the Church apply its social teachings to the World to its own modus-operandi.


Michael Furtado | 27 December 2021  

"Terms like ‘faith community’ are as misrepresented as the term ‘Christian lobby’. There are many different faith communities and Christian lobbies, and the pro-freedom of religion faith coalition is only one part of the whole Christian church in Australia." So where do we go from there? In my local church congregants line up and progress down the aisle for communion, and then return to the pews. Faith community? Who knows how it all comes together? - if it does! I don't think it does in the present 'religious faith' tensions. So we need to get back to an anthropological level and realise that society has fragmented more and more in recent times. There are many groups who do worthwhile, humanising things, for example, in the spirit of Jesus of N, in line with his kingdom praxis; to me they are acting out a faith, a wager that what they do is worthwhile and contributing to meaning that will be saved "in the end". If they can find more kindred spirits, well and good, but within the limits of knowing what the other thinks is of value and why. And in due course, to the ballot box to support suitable candidates.


Noel McMaster | 03 December 2021  

John W, you are an acknowledged expert in your field, who also needs to deal with a huge academic bureaucracy. Having worked for a huge bureaucracy, I know how hard it is to deliver at the coalface. The Catholic Church's 'delivery arm' is the clergy and the 'customers' are the laity. The hierarchy, particularly in the huge archdioces, such as Melbourne and Sydney, are in a no-win 'Yes Minister' sort of situation. This needs to be changed. Bishops are supposed to be 'fathers in Christ': the accent on fatherly love rather than authoritarianism. Sadly, discrimination against Catholics in the early days reinforced the laager mentality inherited from Ireland under the Ascendancy. Those days are over. There are some dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Cairns, where Archbishop Foley, Louvain-educated and an experienced pastor, both here and abroad, seems to have the 'people touch' of his predecessor, the excellent late John Bathersby. We need more like him and the excellent current Bishop of Parramatta. They are the future, as are good priests and the laity who thirst for change.


Edward Fido | 04 December 2021  
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Edward is kind to elevate Cairns and +Foley to the archiepiscopate. +Foley's great achievement was to review 'The Last Temptation of Christ' as a 'masterpiece'. A bishop's worth is measured by his prophecy. Queensland and its bishops, for those who seek evidence for Edward's assertions, enjoy a reputation for pastoral care but not outstanding leadership. Moreover, generous though he is, Edward needs to define his terms if this discussion is not to descend into the mire of a personality contest. Edward does this well in identifying Parramatta's +Long, though his reputation, far from being earned in combating bureaucracy, is for outspokenness and prophecy on social justice questions. My estimation too is that John Warhurst does not trade on his reputation for being an anti-bureaucrat but instead graces these columns in his capacity as a bright, articulate and courageous proponent of change in the Australian Catholic Church. Bureaucracy, which is a particular field that Warhurst knows a great deal about (in consequence of his work as a political scientist) simply has nothing to do with it. I value the personalism that Edward contributes but contest his repeatedly pejorative references to the Irish and citation of the laity as the Church's 'customers'.


Michael Furtado | 09 December 2021  

I doubt the increasing social fragmentation lamented by Noel McMaster will be remedied by the incessant application of a deconstructionist methodology that, emphasizing difference, weakens the ecclesiological relevance and coherence of the term "faith community." Nor do I see this social fragmentation being resolved by the pursuit of some de-theologized "anthropological level", as Christ's "kingdom" - by his own claim - resists reduction to an immanentist dimension only, and its "praxis" has eternal ramifications.


John RD | 05 December 2021  
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Noel, if JohnRD's theol quals, or rhetoric for that matter, showed evidence of extending beyond Trent I'd esteem his words. However, in a month of Sundays he has never demonstrated any appreciation of the vast contribution, expressed not merely in terms of resistance to all subsequent developments since (including the Enlightenment and, of course, Vatican II) and not just in terms of rejecting but also engaging with them. According to Dickens in 'A Christmas Carol', the Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Ebenezer Scrooge as a white-robed, androgynous figure of indeterminate age. He had on his head a blazing light, reminiscent of a candle flame. He carried with him a metal cap, made in the shape of a candle extinguisher. The role that John perennially plays in these columns, a superb Dickensianism crafted to celebrate the significance of Chritmas, is to extinguish any hope that Scrooge may have of seeing a glimpse of light amidst the encircling doom that Newman detected. In his deconstruction of Newman, now elaborated elsewhere in these columns, John has himself attempted a deconstruction of Newman, evidently without realising it, as a version of Scrooge railing against the world and the beauty and joy within it.


Michael Furtado | 09 December 2021  

Now, Michael, your display of caricature here is more than usually melodramatic. My postings have frequently made reference to contemporary theologians, and not always disapprovingly; and I have often explicitly referred to the actual teachings of Vatican II, as distinct from vague invocations of their 'spirit'.


John RD | 12 December 2021  

John RD, MF's repeated scourging of your "theological discourse" and likening you to Ebenezer Scrooge is of course designed to demonstrate and justify his superior lofty knowledge of all matters religious.
His perennial whingeing about abuse (claiming it has stopped when it hasn't. vigilantism), gives rise to a question. If 4400 abusers were reported and only 120 0r so have been charged and convicted, then are the massive balance still in the church going about their business? We never hear about the church even tackling the issue. It's all about forgiveness of the offenders (tut tut!), rather than tossing them overboard weighted with millstones which, (as Christ stated), was all that they were good for!


Francis Armstrong | 13 December 2021  

Francis, on first reading Michael Furtado's post (9/12), I too thought he was type casting me and responded in character with: "Bah, humbug!" On closer reading, though, I recognised that MF was criticising what he conceived as my "deconstruction" of Newman, viz., my rendering of him as a spoiler and a killjoy "railing against the world and the beauty and joy within it." With you, Francis, I believe that most Catholics are outraged and dismayed at clerical abuse: the appalling victimising it perpetrates; the scandal, division and and shame to the Church it brings; and the grievous breach of trust it represents. However, I am also concerned that even justifiable anger and a sense of betrayal, along with concerns about a perceived lack of practical reform procedures and initiatives for justice, must be tempered with mercy and forgiveness if healing and freedom as manifest in the victimhood of Christ himself are to eventuate. I'd also say this doesn't come naturally!


John RD | 18 December 2021  

I'd have thought an appropriately disinterested reading of my postings in "Eureka Street" over some time would demonstrate reference to a range of pre and post Council of Trent theologians and philosophers, including Vatican II periti and recent popes. Regarding my alleged "deconstruction" of Newman, I've usually included direct quotations from his writings; and, in earlier citations, deferred to authorities on him such as Fr Ian Ker. And, much as I enjoy Dickens, I readily acknowledge some difficulty in recognising caricatured deconstructions as a constructive method of theological discourse.


John RD | 13 December 2021  

JohnRD, might a possibility of agreement arise between us at this contentious juncture (ref. your post, 18/XII)? While conservative Christians insist he is the Messiah and the Jews regard him/her as the Jews, modern scholars identify the Suffering Servant as the prophet class as a whole. This is disputed by others who assert that prophets are neither weak nor silent! The Servant is then the common person, whose life is without significance but whose suffering is/was believed to be profoundly meaningful for the People of God. The royal ideology of Judaism included a period of ritual humiliation, emphasizing the King's absolute dependence on God. In Babylonian times this ritual occurred during Spring. The king was divested of all his earthly goods, had his ears boxed and pulled by a priest after which he would kneel and offer a penitential prayer (a precursor, no doubt, to confession). The priest would then announce that the king's prayer had been heard. I think, in anthropological terms, that explains a great deal about the Church we belong to and our call to be suffering servants. This accounts for the scapegoating that many of us have experienced. We share our suffering servanthood with Jesus; no?


Michael Furtado | 27 December 2021  

John thank you for yet another thoughtful article that appeals to the basic humanity of all people of goodwill.

I think that it is important to also say that our PM who subscribes to a very conservative and fundamentalist Christian outlook on life cannot be credible when he pushes the freedom of religion issue at this time.

If one truly supports freedom for people who are religious why would they not want to support all who might face discrimination and unfair treatment? This
would include LGBTQ as John has said , Aboriginal Australians and other minorities and might I suggest also people who are not religious at all?

I find it amazing that the LNP wants freedom for religion legislation but spurns the incredibly important plea of our indigenous people the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Australians who genuinely believe in human rights and freedom for all believe that Australia should have a Bill of Rights that covers the rights of all whether they be religious or not.

The fact is that conservative political leaders along with those in many community organisations are totally opposed to having such a national code.

As many have already said, human beings currently face far larger issues than this one. They include effectively dealing with pollution, stopping large corporations from exploiting people and the environment at home and abroad, discrimination against minority groups, government corruption and repression etc. These issues should be higher on the national agenda and our leaders seem very resistant to actually dealing with them.


Andrew(Andy) Alcock | 06 December 2021  
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‘Bill of Rights’ If humans can’t interpret properly the scriptures God wrote, they’re unlikely to be able to interpret the scriptures they write any better. The US wears the Second Amendment like an albatross and, if the Greens have their way, Australia will wear something like a Roe v Wade ‘right’ as its dead bird.


roy chen yee | 08 December 2021  

Andy, when I interviewed Br Patrick Lynch, then Head of Catholic Education NZ in the company of Fr Hughes, his predecessor, for my PhD in Australian Catholic School Funding I investigated why Australia's Catholic bishops were and still are committed to a Catholic school model that charges fees when Senator Susan Ryan had offered the 'Full Monty' and Catholic education is freely available in all other parts of the developed world except the US, where it is in decline. Br Lynch stated that he'd be a rich man if he' d been paid for the answer he had consistently given during his many years of holding Office. In particular he cited the persistent question he got from Australian interviewers asking him about how NZ Catholic schools safeguraded themselves from the 'nefarious influences of gay teachers'. In the signed statement that Br Lynch gavc me and which is published in my dissertation (The University of Queensland, 2001) Br Lynch stated that neither he nor Fr Hughes had ever encountered an incident in their combined several years of Catholic school administration in which gay teachers had been an issue. It was, in his view, an 'absurd sacrifice' to make for denying access!


Michael Furtado | 11 December 2021  

''my dissertation...2001...had ever encountered an incident...had been an issue.' The past does not necessarily predict the future.


roy chen yee | 14 December 2021  

Picture this, Roy! For you its not just a case of Reds under the Bed, but Gays creeping out of the Woodwork, like Wormwood & Screwtape, and what would be the worst thing that could happen in trying to seduce a self-avowedly straight man like you? While I'd hope and pray that you'd show them love, even at some cost to yourself, as is Christ's injunction, my fear is that you'd bore them to death with your grand vision of Eternal Damnation: a perfect platform for a soap-box orator like you. Who wouldn't want to escape 'Down Under' once they realised that, far from offering them an amorous denouement - after all, what's wrong with a bit of love grabbed from the wrong side of a pyjama fly? - your frothy-mouthed invcctive had led them instead to suicide. Which indeed, from your keen Thomist calculus, would be the worse sin? I end with a timely account. In 1980, Isobel Baroness Barnett, a right-wing 'bash-em-and=hang-em' UK Tory who happened to be a magistrate, was on every conceivable radio and television program in the UK. One day she was caught shop-lifting and within a week the poor darling took her own life.


Michael Furtado | 16 December 2021  

‘what's wrong with a bit of love grabbed from the wrong side of a pyjama fly?’

The dishonest expression of this type of sex is no different from dishonest heterosexual sex. The honest expression of it results in the anomaly of a trophy child, a child who is severed from being nurtured in one of its two lines of genetic provenance. Religion aside, this offends against the classic idea of freedom that if your liberty impinges upon the rights of a third party, it’s not liberty but licence.

Liberty is using your freedom to do what you want. Licence is extorting somebody else’s freedom to do what you want. If an expression of love cannot be done honestly, then it’s a logical impossibility to consider it as licit. At the end of the day, the dignity of homo sapiens comes from living with (or in) a mind which does not contain the fractures of contradiction as an image of God who is Mind that is pure because it is whole.

Love is an expression of rationality, not emotion. The founding element of rationality, because much of life is a mystery, is to do what God ascertainably tells you.


roy chen yee | 18 December 2021  

Agreed, Roy (18/XI)!

However we also know that your ultimate position on Love as rationally-based (and neither libertarian nor emotional) depends on the sperm-count you'd insist on taking and notch up in St Thomas Aquinas' defunct ledger as a means of computing a result that determines entry to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory.

This is where your logic jumps off its obsolete railway lines and derails your steam-engine. Cast iron logic but subject, I'm afraid, to overheating and cracking!

Time for a transport update to eradicate this logical fallacy! With the internal combustion engine now obsolete, you need a moral theology update with room, dare I suggest, for context.

I would then join you in upholding the unpopular but, in principle, unassailable general position that you hold! After all, a promise IS a promise IS a promise: with that I cannot disagree!


Michael Furtado | 02 January 2022  

Roy raises valuable questions about the links between the atmosphere of the Catholic school and the formal teaching of Church doctrine in RE (19/XII). Learners are entitled - indeed expected - to address the gap between precept and example. Kierkegaard himself pointed to coherence as a better teacher of virtue than obfuscation or enforcement. That said, the Church has a doctrinal and a pastoral view of everything, not unlike the several perspectives expected of Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, but without enforcing the parody that Roy's logic demands. In this sense, my position coheres with the overall stance taken by most school leaders that I know, and which is: teach what the Church in its wisdom commands but in matters of application always temper the schools position through reference to personal situation and cultural context. The former requires charity, mercy and compassion to be exercised in regard to the offending teacher or gardener, e.g. by requiring them to be discreet about themselves. That locates the matter of their personal behaviour within the area of conscience. On contextual issues, the school may be powerless to oppose the secular order and therefore is forced to comply. Thus students are taught honesty and complexity!


Michael Furtado | 02 January 2022  

‘The former requires charity, mercy and compassion to be exercised in regard to the offending teacher or gardener, e.g. by requiring them to be discreet about themselves.’

The difference between wrong and incoherent can be seen between the reasoning in this post which can be contested and the hallucinatory ramble in your other post of 2 Jan.

In the context of a Catholic school, to be discreet about an affirmation which is intrinsically opposed to the magisterium’s position on faith and morals is to be dishonest. To be open about it is to be a fly in the ointment, or a serpent in the garden, to the impressionability of the young.

‘Thus students are taught honesty and complexity’

You sound like someone who believes sex education is a responsibility of schools, not parents. There’s honesty and complexity in moral matters of an intrinsic nature which should be taught at home because they are supported by values which cannot be quantifiably assessed, and honesty and complexity in the physical and social sciences which are prudential matters because outcomes can be quantifiably compared.

‘within the area of conscience’

As usual, you persist in conflating conscience with opinion.


roy chen yee | 10 January 2022  

Andy Alcock, you are a real radical in the true meaning of the word: you want to get back to the essential core of Christianity. The LNP contains at least one parliamentarian whose family were documented taking part in violent action against Aboriginal people in colonial times. There are people like him in it. It is more an (extremely) Conservative party. A classic small 'l' Liberal would not get a guernsey for that team. No way.


Edward Fido | 09 December 2021  

John Warhurst's theme lends itself to a perfect analysis of the tussle between JohnRD and myself. JohnRD's exclusive and pointed intention in posting is to remind that the Church has the only and most absolute and enduring solution to humanity's problems. John Warhurst's response, like mine, would be: 'Yes; but what happens when the Church IS THE PROBLEM?' To illustrate: JohnRD's mode of argument is theological. Lucid he is indeed to the point of attacking 'deconstruction' at every available opportunity. But what if the bishops have never heard of this term or regard it as outside their strict sphere of influence. In this 'render unto Caesar' approach there are, tragically, no prisoners taken but only corpses, strewn across across a bizarre and blood-soaked battlefield. One, who shows how, is Gayetri Spivak. India-born, Columbia-educated and feminist scholar, Spivak is regarded as the foremost postcolonial scholar, whose main contribution to the global analytical vocabulary is the word 'subaltern'. Subalterns are enforced 'subjects' of their 'colonial' masters, which constitutes my own background.In time she discarded this out-of-date 'deconstruction' for introducing the terminology 'the silencing of women', which is manifestly what the Church does, to our vocabulary and consciousness. One doesn't need to be a scholar to appreciate that, but simply to have read critically and widely, e.g. Iris Murdoch, Margaret Drabble, etc. Today another great woman writer, bel hooks, died. Let us begin a new conversation at ES, which will at least acknowledge, if not honour her and Spivak. And then, perchance, intelligent women will flock back to ES, the Synod retreat towards the inward-looking irrelevance it currently is, and JohnRD and I replaced by less compliant and more contemporary Catholic discussants.


Michael Furtado | 16 December 2021  
Show Responses

MF surely you mean catholic dissidents! If so, I can assure you John RD is not one of them.


Francis Armstrong | 16 December 2021  

I can see where you're coming from, Francis.

However JohnRD's contributions give no indication that he is just a dissident, but instead that he plays a powerful role in influencing others on these pages.

Indeed he's very 'well-read' (or 'read-well' ;) but in the wrong places: nothing that Drabble or Murdoch couldn't cure! Who knows? If there's a Mrs JRD, she might even agree.

Unlike, say, Roy, who is impervious to that! Roy reads everything so literally and therefore cannot comprehend how postcolonialism has application to everything, especially in the static world that he inhabits.

His reminds me of a 'Jesuit-world' that used to be, in which obedience mattered more than an attention to truth: a perky disobedience, appropriate to which I admire in you; yet take issue with sometimes, as postcolonialism is a travelling discourse and mainly applies to the continued silencing of women and others, especially the gay priests I known who have been episcopally set-up.

BTW, which 'St Mary's' do you allude to in your latest liturgical fervorino? South Brisbane (or SMX)? It used to have a lovely exhilarating liturgy until the ex got me banned from attending.

Ach! 'God's ragtag and bobtail' that we beautifully are!


Michael Furtado | 18 December 2021  

‘obedience mattered more than an attention to truth’ Obedience is simply attention to detail, three examples of which are the three questions on this page that you have yet to answer, because ‘truth’ to you is either ignoring questions you can’t answer or responding by producing a souffle of irrelevancies.


roy chen yee | 20 December 2021  

' . . . he plays a powerful part in influencing others on these pages.'
Another of your signature exaggerations, MF?
While there are others with whom I obviously share some understandings of Catholic Church structure, moral teaching and the role of the Apostolic tradition and its magisterium in the life of the Church, Marxism, the Frankfurt School, Critical Theory, radical feminism and 'woke', it seems to me we're relatively few among current ES posters; and that those I have in mind are all demonstrably independent thinkers who at times have questioned one another's views. However, for whatever reason, your postings display an unwarranted concern at my imagined influence, evident in the feverish intensity with which you often produce mordantly personal and fanciful railings - particularly on understandings and opinions in common between Roy, Edward, HH, Ross Howard, Marty, John F and me; then, your persistent attempts to have proscribed by editorial hectoring my "Eureka Street" contributions because they do not conform to your reductive views of Catholic social teaching and eschatology; not to mention your increasing support and assumed advocacy and encouragement of those who show any disagreement with my views - many of which would not need to be articulated were greater familiarity and openness expressed towards towards Catholic teaching in the life and mission of the community of faith called into being by Christ and united with him, his Father and the Holy Spirit in baptism. (BTW, I have taught novels of Iris Murdoch's and Margaret Drabble, at times pairing them at times with Jane Austen, Penelope Lively and Flannery O'Connor -valuing them as I do for their contemporary relevance, moral seriousness, limpid style and developed sense of irony).


John RD | 21 December 2021  

‘Subalterns are enforced 'subjects' of their 'colonial' masters, which constitutes my own background.’


India has been independent since 1947, not that you’re living there (and the Spivak subaltern theory applies to male dominance over females in Indian culture, taking the suttee as an example, so no relevance to you there again).


As for Australia, supporters of the republic seem to think they are subalterns of the UK although the place has been self-governing since Scullin insisted on Isaac Isaacs as governor-general. Meanwhile, nobody in Canada, a bigger realm than Australia, has this cringe (probably because they want to look different from the US and having a monarch is handy for maintaining the different look) while, for some reason, we want to appear autonomous like … Fiji. But, the point is, you can’t be a subaltern of the UK because a few hundred thousand, perhaps a few million, lefty white aussies have grabbed that spot so, if anything, you’re a subaltern of subalterns. Which means you’re no longer a subaltern, two negatives multiplying to make a positive. Welcome to the club of coloured Australians whose heads are free of this colonialist bullocky.


roy chen yee | 16 December 2021  

Overcomplication is obfuscation. The only ‘deconstruction’ is to check whether you can answer some specific questions:


Why should homosexuality be normalised when a ‘marital’ outcome will set up trophy children, ie., children separated from one line of their genetic provenance?


Why should transgenderism be enabled when a ‘marital’ outcome will set up trophy children?


If you don’t know why Jesus is a man, how do you know the faculty to consecrate and forgive potentially exists inside a woman?


roy chen yee | 16 December 2021  

Roy characteristically misses that the term 'subaltern' defines someone with a low ranking in a social, political, or other hierarchy. It can also mean someone who has been marginalized or oppressed.

Thus, it has a literal meaning of the kind that sucks Roy in all too readily because of his taste for fundamentalism, and also a postcolonial meaning which both Derrida and Spivak employ in their impressive cultural analysis.

To Roy's other questions in the order that he asks them:

I'm not a supporter of interfering with the biological order that determines women and men as joint co=creators, with God, of children.

The children who would pass my ethical standards for placement in the care of GLBTIQ adults would be other persons', denied that right through neglect or accident. Such parents are very carefully vetted and known to be exemplary. The same principles and obligations apply in my mind to the adoption of children by transgendered parents. Roy's third question makes no sense to me.

Roy's obsession with biological determinism would insist that a child remain with abusive natural parents.

Roy has challenged not only the validity of annulment but also Catholics who marry another straight partner AFTER an annulment!


Michael Furtado | 02 January 2022  

‘To Roy’s other questions in the order that he asks them:’

So they can be evaded.

Evasion 1: ‘I'm not a supporter of interfering with the biological order that determines women and men as joint co=creators, with God, of children.’

I guess you’re also not a supporter of interfering with the astronomical order that determines that to someone on Earth, the Sun rises in the east. There’s nothing you can do to make the Sun rise anywhere else or for men and women not to be co-creators with God of children.

Evasion 2.: ‘The children who would pass my ethical standards for placement in the care of GLBTIQ adults would be other persons', denied that right through neglect or accident.’

The issue is whether GLBTIQ* (and don’t forget the asterisk because the train is still capable of attaching new carriages) parents (ie., parents who affirm a GLBTIQ* orientation) should be co-creating children with God. Adopting isn’t co-creating.

Evasion 2.5: ‘The same principles and obligations apply in my mind to the adoption of children by transgendered parents.’

See above.

Evasion 2.75: ‘Roy's third question makes no sense to me.’

You mean transgenders can’t breed? Anyway, eggs and sperm can be stored.


roy chen yee | 09 January 2022  

In case, you’re wondering, there is an Evasion 3 and 4.


roy chen yee | 09 January 2022  

MF: Gayatri Spivak may well qualify under "Eureka Street's" "complexity" criterion as identified by Morag Fraser, (see ES' "Media" section, 16/12/2021), but I think it unlikely that highly specialised post-doctoral contributions will attract a broader readership. One of Spivak's clearer ideas - that of ethics as "a call to relationship" - while it is consonant with the social aspect of ethical pursuit upheld in the Church's moral theology and Catholic social teaching (and also resonates with the 'I - Thou' thinking of Martin Buber that occupies a considerable place in the thinking of John Paul II), needs equally to emphasise the ontological and objective dimensions of ethical capability. Spivak's evident influence on your own deconstructive and hermeneutically suspicious method of discourse (especially in your antipathy towards 'essentialism') reflects a Kantian and Derridan agnosticism about the ability of language to express universal truth - a self-contradictory and untenable ground for justification of shared concepts and principles in ethics: indeed, a didactictism unsupported by affirmation-enabling epistemological foundations.


John RD | 18 December 2021  

JRD, I admire the modesty with which you downplay the influence you exercise over those whose jaundiced repertoire extends to retired hospital administration or reading and citing Dickens, Waugh (whose snootiness and antisemitism marred his eloquence) and Chesterton (who comes from an era when apologetics hallmarked the life-blood of a thankfully moribund fortress Catholicism). Gobsmacking too that you've taught Drabble & Murdoch, because their irony seems to have passed you by, especially in terms of the ways in which you bask in light of the flamboyant compliments paid to you by Edward. (Pray tell: how much do you tip him to commandeer your claque overhere? ;) And for one who teaches irony, it amazes that you confuse it so readily with criticism. One reason for being Catholic these days would be to share in the hollow laughter that Jesus must have given vent to when looking around, not at those who rejected Him, but at the others who claimed to be His followers! Nice that you have encountered Derrida, but without him there'd be no Spivak. One has to wonder about the context that you taught them. ACU!*@=#%? Great too that Roy plays the Widow Twankey in your Christmas pantomime!


Michael Furtado | 21 December 2021  

No surprise about "the context in which I've taught them," MF: the pursuit of what is real, all true manifestations of which are reflections of Him "in whom we live and move and have our being", whom Rahner recognizes as the ultimate "ground" and "transcendental horizon" of all our questions.


John RD | 23 December 2021  

Please explain, John RD (23/XII), how the problem of evil and its existence in the world is, for many people, the real affront to belief in God, and which Kung, rather than Rahner, and some of the postmoderns, like Raimond Gaita, have tried to more plausibly address than you do through your appeal to transcendentalism and ontology.

It seems to me that, paramount in all your many objections to John Warhurst's plea for a more open as opposed to inward-looking synodality, lies the unaddressed question of free will (which Roy too easily classifies as the problem of defiance and disobedience).

The most critical question, then, that Warhurst raises is what we are to do with an Australia and a world that has exceeded the narrow constraints of a position which insists that 'we are the truth', 'we already have revealed to us all that needs to be or has ever needed to be revealed' and that 'there is no more to reveal in the story'.

Such a position advances theodicy over theology which, perforce, must always submit to a mindset that shuts down conversation, limits dialogue, rejects culture, excludes contemporaneity and holds our Catholicism as a hostage to the future.


Michael Furtado | 12 January 2022  

‘….the unaddressed question of free will (which Roy too easily classifies as the problem of defiance and disobedience).’

There are four sin-sectors traditionally described as calling out to Heaven for vengeance for two of which, murder and sexual immorality, the evils are defined as intrinsic and to which free will is as inapplicable as your theoretical freedom to swim in a creek inhabited by a crocodile because free will is always constrained by what is actual and real.

Modes of church governance not being an element in these sectors, competitive prudential reasoning is the mode for reaching an answer as to how the Church should be governed. There is no unaddressed question of free will here. Feel free to make your points and don’t mind them being tested by others.


Anyway, the main argument for the bishops being the primary guarantors of Catholic Truth is that the laity as a body cannot be relied upon to know what Catholic Truth is. Faith comes from hearing and when do we see a layperson preaching from the pulpit?



roy chen yee | 15 January 2022  

MF (12/1/2022): The Church proclaims Christ as the truth. As St John instructs us, if we claim to be without sin, we are liars. So the position you portray as "we are the truth" is not one that any Christian may legitimately claim, as none of us in this earthly pilgrimage is perfectly conformed to Christ.
Insofar as Christians are faithful to their baptism, they grow in the spirit of Christ and appreciation of his self-revelation in his Incarnation and the eschatological community of faith - the Church - he continues to call into being: a process which involves ongoing existential appropriation, personal and communal, of God's historical self-manifestation and self-donation in Christ.
The truth and its effects offered by Christ to the world respects human freedom. What contemporary Australia and the world make of God's self-offering in Christ is up to them, though I suggest chances of progress, to say the least, are severely impeded when a fashionable scepticism about truth and its knowability prevails, and God's self-revelation in Christ is reduced to static caricature.


John RD | 24 January 2022  

Regarding my alleged substitution of "theodicy" for theology, MF's recent assertion, coming from one supposedly conversant in Catholic theology who has complained in ES of my "habitual recourse to exegesis" (posting, "Seats at the Table", ES 19/11), based on Scripture and tradition - standard informative sources of the Catholic Church's teaching - is especially bizarre. The test for the "New Knowledge" (a conveniently general category that as advocated by MF appears to cover both contemporary secular and theological research) is its compatibility with official Church teaching and its serviceability in giving an account of the Christian faith based on divine revelation, not its novelty or palatability to self-styled savants assured of how history will judge Christ's Church.


John RD | 24 January 2022  

I thank John RD for his double-barrel of January 24 in which he addresses my prior concerns. John is right in his attributions to me except that, in his keenness to point to disparities and contradictions in my text, he misses an emphasis that I have also made on several prior occasions.

John's challenge then arises out of both his gun-barrels, the first of which accuses me of 'a fashionable scepticism about truth and its knowability ... and God's self-revelation in Christ is reduced to static caricature.' The second barrel alleges that I support 'self-styled savants assured of how history will judge Christ's Church.'

John is undoubtedly right in suggesting that we should exercise every divine power available to us to critically discern the truth and wisdom of others as well as reject the lies of false prophets.

However, John's carefully-worded posts appear to proclaim a static view of revelation over another that intertwines it with history. In doing this, he has again missed the opening lines of 'Gaudium et Spes' :

'The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish OF THE PEOPLE OF OUR TIME... are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ'


Michael Furtado | 12 February 2022  

Michael, I suggest the sentence you produce (12/2/2022) from "Gaudium et Spes" can be beneficially read in conjunction with the same Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: "Dei Verbum".


John RD | 16 February 2022  

But, Roy (9/I), I am NOT a supporter of artificial means of creating life, through the test-tube or otherwise, except as a means of preserving life existent, which entails a discussion of proportionality.

Beyond that I try and adhere to the injunction, advised by the Church entrusted by Jesus to serve the World, that all life is sacred and that Her commandment to observe chastity applies to all human persons whether straight or gay, until and not before that same commandment and its concommitant commitment and conditions, drawn from the exercise of free will on both sides to marry, are met.

You surely aren't adding to this set of important conditions, intended to augment the happiness of two persons to the point that they are freely available to contribute to the creation of New Life, yet another commandment, unknown to those who follow Christ, and unsourced in either Scripture or the Magisterium, that regards all first marriages contracted by those who do not know Christ, as evil or unchaste, or somehow engaged in acts contrary to the commandment to love, both chastely as well as in their holistic entirety, are you?

Where, precisely, are all these 'evasions' that you allege?


Michael Furtado | 16 January 2022  
Show Responses

'Where, precisely, are all these 'evasions' that you allege?'

Among other places, the three paragraphs above?


roy chen yee | 18 January 2022  

Please identify what's evasive about them, Roy; otherwise your most recent post constitutes nothing short of an empty and farcical allegation.

1. Are you alleging that I support artificial insemination to create human life? If so, I don't.

2. Are you alleging that I am unchaste? If so, how do you know? And what public assurance do you demand in this regard that not even the Church requires? Assuming then, that you are wrong, are you prepared to apologise?

3. Are you saying that two non-Catholic married persons who love each other in good faith are living in a state of sin? If so, please explain the basis of your view.

4. Are you further saying that two divorced Catholic persons, whose invalid previous marriages have been annulled prior to contracting a sacramental marriage within the Catholic Church are guilty of sin? If so, what's your justification for this?

I await your honest answers to the above four questions..


Michael Furtado | 26 January 2022  

Responding to Question 1, I don’t know how a two-dad or a two-mum couple would produce a child genetically related to one of the dads or mums without artificial insemination of a woman. I presume that person-to-person sex would be unwelcome to the woman. However, whether that is so or not, thank you in advance for registering your opposition to that mode of reproduction, the outcome of which is that, to your way of thinking, a homosexual couple should only foster or adopt.

I wish you strength in the flak you will attract from the LGBTIQ* lobby.

The substance of your other questions have never been relevant to, and have never needed to be addressed in, discussions about the issue of the trophy child, so why you think they are pertinent is a mystery.


As to whether a homosexual couple should be allowed to foster or adopt, unless the orphan belonged to now deceased siblings of one of the couple and there is no other family available, the answer is ‘no’ because a child should not be normalised to a homosexual home environment.


roy chen yee | 27 January 2022  

Roy, while I am a gay man I don't speak for the LGBTIQ lobby. I have said this before. Meantime, you haven't responded to any of my four questions.

Your persistence in regarding same-sex couples who rear other people's children as a gender-influencing risk that will somehow normalise the God-ordained sexual appetites and practices in the children they care for still requires the production of evidence to support it.

In the absence of such provision or availability, you are plainly wrong in asserting this pernicious and absurd nonsense.


Michael Furtado | 04 February 2022  

‘I don't speak for the LGBTIQ lobby’


Now, you’ve spoken against them, at least on one point. It’s a good start.


‘Meantime, you haven't responded to any of my four questions.’


See previous for Q 1. The others are made-up stuff irrelevant to anything we’ve discussed.


‘somehow normalise the God-ordained sexual appetites and practices in the children they care for still requires the production of evidence to support it.’


If they’re not gay, they might not become gay (but who knows?) but they’ll be so used to seeing ‘gay’ around them that that will be an obstacle to their accepting scriptural truth that the predilection is a cross to be endured and, hopefully, removed, and not celebrated. There’s a good reason the Church doesn’t encouraged mixed-religion marriages. This is the same sort of thing. It’s not so much that you’ll gravitate to the other faith as you might lose the measure of your own.


roy chen yee | 05 February 2022  

It takes a more than a vivid imagination, Roy (5/2) to cover all the conditions, predilections and contingencies that you mention, chief among which is that 'the kids may grow up gay'.

Thus your question is: 'Do I have the courage (and love?) to stand up to those of my LGBTIQ friends who decide to avail of artificial means of having children', as well as 'What if those same people happen to have children who turn out to be gay'?

In his paranoic state the only sense of the prudential that Thomas Hobbes made was that the Spanish were imprudent to pit their clumsy galleons against the much more agile English fleet and, in the absence of a weather forecast about Channel conditions, made a hash of their attempt to invade England.

Beyond that, nothing commends Hobbesian pusillanimity more than perhaps that, if we had no enemies, this week's Gospel tells us we wouldn't pass the test of love.

So the answer, now that epigeneticists agree that homosexuality is 'natural', addresses not your prudence but your pusillanimity or smallness of soul that shrinks from noble or arduous tasks (Colossians 3:21; Summa Theologica 22).

Ain't the Armada's gift the Black Irish?


Michael Furtado | 21 February 2022  

'The Church doesn’t encouraged mixed-religion marriages' (Roy, 5/2). Your difficulty with acknowledging free-will's centrality makes your position of 'discouragement' a pusillanimous vice (Ref. my other post today).

The Church, primarily, encourages and endorses Love and, in those cultures in which Catholics are a minority, a major conduit for evangelisation is through the high probability of marriage to a non-Catholic partner.

My own sister-in-law, Janet, converted from a pre-marital attachment to Methodism to becoming an engaged and active participant in my brother's Catholic life. Indeed, it could be said that she brought a keener understanding, commitment to and application of Welsh Methodism's immense Scriptural familiarity to enrich their partnership, especially in the Christian social action that Jeremy did not originally have. They also enjoy the blessing of three children and several grandchildren.

Within my wider family/friendship circle there are a few 'cradle Catholics' married to Hindus, a Muslim and a Sikh, all of whom have raised Catholic children, even after such marital 'promises' were dropped as a condition of what used to be called a 'mixed marriage'.

I currently sponsor a friend on the threshold of joining a Right of Christian Initiation of Adults program en route to marrying a Catholic.


Michael Furtado | 21 February 2022