19 January 2013

The Tablet On The Priests' Letter

I was a bit taken aback - shocked, actually - by the editorial in The Tablet criticising the priests who wrote about the Government's proposals regarding same sex "marriage". If you want to read the whole article it is here, but the bit I'd like to highlight is this:

"Rights do sometimes conflict, and as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference sensibly said in a statement afterwards, “The Church would strongly encourage disputes of this kind to be settled without recourse to the courts. In many cases, applying common sense would enable a reasonable accommodation between competing rights to be found.” But an atmosphere of paranoia would make such accommodation more difficult, and that is the danger of the priests’ letter to the Telegraph. Nor is it right to regard human rights as somehow a secular challenge to religious freedoms. Their origins are the same – in respect due to everyone for their God-given personal dignity, regardless of race, creed, orientation or any other factor. The European Convention on Human Rights was largely drafted by English lawyers, and the origins of the common law are deeply embedded in Christian thinking, including medieval canon law. Over 60 years, the human-rights convention has made Europe a far better place. In 1963 John XXIII’s encyclical, Pacem in Terris, incorporated human rights fully into the teaching of the Magisterium, where they remain. Christians should fight in favour of human rights, not against them."

The Tabletfulness of this is terrific.  It starts from the reasonable point that where rights collide, common sense is preferable to litigation.  It then says that the priests' letter would make a common sense solution harder to reach (as though this by definition makes the priests' letter wrong).

It then suddenly raises Human Rights to be suprema lex: and because the European Convention was largely drafted by English lawyers (chapter? verse?) and incorporates (presumably English) Common Law and mediaeval Canon Law it is a wonderful thing and has made Europe a better place (though it doesn't explain either how that would work or how it has worked).

But then, it plays what it thinks is its ace: "(1) John XXIII's encyclical (2) Pacem in Terris (3) incorporated human rights fully into the teaching of the Magisterium, where they remain".  1-2-3: the Catholic liberals' idea of the bit of the Magisterium that matters!  So self evident is it to the Tabletista that a reference to Pacem in Terris is the end of the argument, that it is clear that the author has never read it.  If s/he had, s/he might have noticed the following:

"51. Governmental authority, therefore, is a postulate of the moral order and derives from God. Consequently, laws and decrees passed in contravention of the moral order, and hence of the divine will, can have no binding force in conscience, since "it is right to obey God rather than men "(34).

Indeed, the passing of such laws undermines the very nature of authority and results in shameful abuse. As St. Thomas teaches, "In regard to the second proposition, we maintain that human law has the rationale of law in so far as it is in accordance with right reason, and as such it obviously derives from eternal law. A law which is at variance with reason is to that extent unjust and has no longer the rationale of law. It is rather an act of violence."(35)

(34) Acts 5:29.

(35) Summa Theol. Ia-IIae, q. 93., a.3 ad 2um; cf. Pius XII's broadcast message, Christmas 1945, AAS 37 (1945) 5-23."
Who is defending The Tablet?  Why?  This example shows poor journalism and appalling theology, but, dressed as Catholic, and licensed by the Hierarchy, it is showing two fingers to the thousand priest and the Pope in particular, and to the whole Magisterium in general.  If the Faith is being reduced to what a few journalists and their pals in the Hierarchy want it to be on a weekly basis, are we not entitled to know cui bono?


umblepie said...

Thanks for this excellent post. The 'Tablet' is a public scandal for the Church, and should be banned from all our churches.

Patricius said...

Thanks for this excellent post. I particularly appreciate the quote from Pacem in Terris (51).

Dominic MacCarthy said...

Yet another example of Tablet complacency in the face of militant secularism. The liberal Tabletistas abound in this self-satisfied and supercilious "comfortable Catholicism" which actually sells the Faith down the river and refuses to stand up for anything worthwhile.

At least if the thousand plus priests get rid of the Bitter Pill from their parish newspaper tables, some good will have come from this editorial!

Deacon Augustine said...

The Tablet staff seem quite ignorant about what constitutes a right. A right is a debt or an obligation owed to a person by virtue of compliance with the Natural Law or Divine Positive Law.

Consequently nobody can ever acquire a right to do something which violates either Natural Law or Divine Positive Law. As "same sex marriage" violates just about every form of law, common sense and reason, no two people of the same sex can ever acquire the right to marry.

This is not and never will be an issue about competing rights. It is about an incompetent and illiterate government attempting to change the definition of marriage. The writers at the Tablet show themselves to be equally illiterate with respect to the meaning of rights.