Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Those bishops just love to meddle


The Vatican is not content to guide the actions of adherents. Somewhere along the line the Catholic Church decided that it should impose its teachings on everyone. Indeed, the bishops want laws and rules conformed to the Catechism.

The government of the Canadian province of Alberta has issued guidelines addressing the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. These reasonably represent the consensus of health and social science professionals. They were not pulled out of the nether regions of someone's anatomy.

This does not sit well with Canada's Catholic bishops, none of whom are likely to be medical or social scientists. No, there erudition comes from elsewhere. According to the conservative National Catholic Register:
“Many of us are trying to say that the underlying philosophy of this is wrong,” said Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, who wrote a letter, titled “Totalitarianism in Alberta,” arguing that the guidelines “breathe pure secularism” and embody the “madness of relativism.”
What he says in his missive is:

Two forms of deception impede the realization of any plan as a nation, i.e., the madness of relativism and the madness of power as a monolithic ideology.

"Relativism, under the guise of respect for differences, is homogenized into transgression and demagoguery; it allows anything, because it wishes to avoid being burdened by all the inconveniences required of a mature courage to uphold values and principles. Relativism, is curiously, absolutist and totalitarian. Relativism does not allow for any differing opinion. In no way does it differ from an attitude of "shut up" or "don't get involved."'

Power as a monolithic ideology is another lie which accentuates narrow-mindedness and seeks dominance over others. Consequently, social trust, the root and fruit of love is eroded.
Is this some kind of riddle? Where is Yoda? Making accusations and then passing them off as truth is more representative of relativism than anything the school board (is it a school board in Canada?) has done. Treating LGBT kids humanely and “the root and fruit of love is eroded?” Are you fucking kidding me?

I am guessing that he means moral relativism. Accusing their opponents of moral relativism is often the refuge of those who cannot offer a secular argument in response to one that is posed. Henry calls it a form of deception. That seems like paranoia. Deception is trying to turn this into something that it is not. The guidelines (and remember, that's what is at issue) seem pretty forthright and unambiguous. The bishop just happens not to like them. The bottom line is that this guy disapproves of LGBT people and is therefore obligated to rebuke any effort that doesn't start from the premise of sin when it comes to queers. Thomistic reasoning (if that is what this is) doesn't make the dogma any more convincing. Later on he repeats himself:
This approach and directive smack of the madness of relativism and the forceful imposition of a particular narrow-minded anti-Catholic ideology. Such a totalitarian approach is not in accordance with the Supreme Court of Canada opinion (Loyola) delivered on March19, 2015 and must be rejected.
This wasn't terribly eloquent or convincing the first time around.

To be fair, the bishop is concerned about the implications for Catholic schools which, if I understand correctly, are mostly public schools in Canada. The basic principles of the guidelines are:
  • The rights and needs of students with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are respected and inform decision - making .
  • Self - identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  • All students and staff with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions:
    • are treated with dignity and respect
    • have the right to be open about who they are, including expressing their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression without fear of unwanted consequences
    • have the right to privacy and confidentiality ; and
    • are actively included in the collaborative decision - making process that supports the implementation o f these best practice guidelines.
Perhaps these Catholic schools need to do some serious thinking about how they treat others, including vulnerable children.

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