Holocaust denier forgiven by Pope?

Just a quickie while we’re on the subject of priests!

We discussed earlier whether abortion should be legalised in Poland and there were, predictably, many and varied views on the subject. The Vatican’s view on such matters is predictable and so it comes as no surprise that they are strongly criticising one of Obama’s first acts, that of freeing up American funding to family planning clinics abroad. Apparently it is okay for the church to dictate on this matter, but not anyone else.

One Vatican official warned against the “arrogance” of those in power who think they can decide between life and death.

“If this is one of President Obama’s first acts, I have to say, in all due respect, that we’re heading quickly toward disappointment,” Mr Fisichella, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Corriere della Sera.

Obama vs the Pope – ding ding, round 1.

I can’t help commenting on the mysterious ways in which the Vatican makes its decisions by contrasting its obvious concern about human life in the abortion issue with its disregard of people’s feelings, and one might argue its devaluing of human life, by dropping the punishment for Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson and welcoming him back into the Catholic church.

“I believe there were no gas chambers… I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers,” he told SVT television in an interview that was recorded in Germany last November. “There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies!”

For a Pope born as a citizen of a country where holocaust denial is illegal, and very close to Austria where they recently jailed Irving for it, his embracing of such statements made by his employees is hard to take. Still, being Pope has always allowed one to ignore the more inconvenient realities of life on this planet so perhaps he’s just continuing a great historical tradition?

The holocaust-denial is not Williamson’s only lunacy. Apparently, he is also convinced that 9/11 was deliberately executed by the US to allow them to invade Iraq/Afghanistan.

And this is one of the men who is charged to shepherd his flock, to advise people as regards abortions, amongst other family matters? Who needs the church, if you’re looking for advice you might as well pop down the local nuthouse and chat with the inmates!

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112 thoughts on “Holocaust denier forgiven by Pope?

  1. It’s inexcusable that the Pope un-excommunicated this guy.

    And no one but the woman makes the decision to have an abortion. Nobody in government is forcing her to have the abortion. So it pains me as a Catholic when certain Church leaders talk of “he arrogance of those in power who think they can decide between life and death” especially when they have decided to increase the number of pregancies by opposing the use of contraceptive birth control.

    And it has been shown that women when not faced with dire economic circumstances will not so often opt for abortion and yet the Catholics who are most adamant about accusing politicians of being “pro-abortion” are also the most likely to support politicians who favor the rich at the expense of the poor.

  2. I would just like to say, that I am enjoying a glass of real beer now. And what’s more, I would also like to say, even though some people will be strongly offended, that not only Polish, Slovakian, Czech and German is not real beer, but also English beer is not real beer, only Belgian beer is THE Beer, Howgh. I think I will be causing some irritated comments, but I have the proof standing next to me on the desk now.

    And for the sake of the topic: I am glad to be here enjoying this glass of beer. My Dad got a girl pregnant in the Uni, and they got rid of it. He later married my Mom, and when I was growing, I used to tell him – ‘why I don’t have and elder brother?! Other kids do! I want one!’ And today I just wonder how it felt for him… So now consider his feelings, too. I think it’s better to have the unwanted kid, like my Mom’s brother did. Michał was raised in his Mom’s marriage, and I got to meet him this year. Nice chap.

    I think you might dislike me speaking of personal experience instead of general ideas, like all women should do what they want – but of course it is my case, too. I’m and 29 and have no kids. So I’m going a little unstable now.

  3. First of all, bishop Williamson was not excommunicated because of his beliefs on the Holocaust, so those beliefs have nothing to do with withdrawing of the excommunication. What is more, Pope explicitly stated that this has nothing to do with his opinion on Holocaust, which he considers regretful.

    What would you think if of all bishops excommuniated in 1988 over receiving ordination without permission from the Holy See just one would remain excommuniacted because of reasons completely unrelated to the casue of excommunication? Would that be just?

  4. Nobody said that he was excommunicated because of his denial of the Holocaust, etc.. What’s problematic is exactly that those particular contentions had nothing to do with ths Pope’s withdrawal of Williamson’s excommunication by Pope John Paul II.

    In regard to the scenario posed in the second paragraph, I would feel it just and proper if the bishop in question was provably a Holocaust denier and a believer in the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and demonstrably unstable in other ways as well.

    From what I understand, however, even though the excommunications have been withdrawn, they are still not approved to perform any kind of Church clerical ministry.

  5. If stealing is a crime why then is not killing a crime. Abortion is killing. I know that I (we) made the correct choice when we did not abort a child but had it and gave it up for adoption. He now has a lovely family and post graduate degrees in Physics. It would have be a crime to kill him in the womb because of our mistake.
    And funding organization outside the US is in direct support of those who are in fear because of their pregnancy and will make the easy choice to kill.

  6. You are not seriously suggesting that it is ever easy for a woman to decide to have an abortion, are you?

  7. On the flip side, my personal favourite Vatican decree occurred in mid-December, which came out publicly condemning and demonizing the reproductive technique IVF. Nice to know that my son’s conception is considered a gravely evil act by the Church. I guess the Church is against medical techniques that alleviate the suffering and longing of couples (people) suffering from infertility. Nice. They are against abortion, they are against birth control (hahahahah) and now they are against techniques that help to create life. Give me strength.

  8. Just a quickie whilst we’re on the subject of talking crap.

    In that last link regarding 9/11 the short article by someone called Thomistic says:

    “Here’s a quote:

    Bishop Richard Williamson, seemingly the most outspoken and controversial bishop of the Society of St. Pius X, asserted in a recent talk that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were committed “to get the American public to accept the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq,” according to a news item by Jack Kenny in the Nov. 15, 2007 issue of The Wanderer.

    Bishop Williamson, whose talk was held Nov. 4, 2007 in Bedford, Mass., is quoted as saying:

    “Without 9-11, it would have been impossible to attack in Afghanistan or Iraq. The forces inside the United States government and driving the United States government absolutely wanted to attack and destroy Iraq. The destruction wrought upon Iraq is unspeakable. And now the same forces want to do the same thing to Iran . . . They may well be plotting another 9-11.”

    The news item continues: “Heat from the burning fuel of the planes that flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center could not have melted the 47 steel columns in each tower, causing them to collapse, he claimed. And a commercial airliner could not have penetrated six of the ten walls that were breached by ‘whatever hit the Pentagon,’ he said.”

    What did hit the Pentagon, according to Bishop Williamson?

    “It was a missile that hit the Pentagon. It was a missile that could only have been fired by the American military.”

    My thoughts:

    Bishop Richard Williamson is a nutburger.

    Any thoughts?”

    Someone purporting to have an iota of intelligence would spend 5 minutes inquiring into the facts only to discover among other things
    http://hidhist.wordpress.com/terror/911/the-twin-towers/nist-admits-total-collapse-of-twin-towers-unexplainable/

    So perhaps we can take 9/11 ‘official story disbelievers’ off the looney register – unless of course there is some evidence you wish to present to the contrary.

    Next, being the Pope does not allow one to ignore the more inconvenient realities of life on this planet’ and it is extremely insulting to suggest this.

    The Bishop was excommunicated for reasons other than these specific views. Views incidentally which it is reported he has openly said in Germany knowing full well that he could be held accountable legally. He remains so, hence it is up to the law to indict him and for him to defend himself. There is no law in the Catholic faith saying he will be excommunicated if he says he doesn’t believe in the Holocaust.
    So however inconvenient it is for the flipant opiners the facts contradict any acusation of ‘ignoring realities’.

    And when you say “so perhaps he’s just continuing a great historical tradition” would you mind substantiating this claim – I’d argue or not the case but don’t know what you mean specifically?

    To suggest additionally, when the Vatican has categortically denied this, that they support or as you put it ’embrace’ such statements (holocaust denial) is a lie!! Why would you say that knowing it isn’t true? Mucho confused. Does Christianity embrace murder because it visits murderers in prison and invites them to repent? Is it insensitive to people’s feelings by preaching forgiveness and rehabilitation for those who commit sins or terrible crimes and is this contradictary with a policy to teach respect for every spark of human life?

    Finally re Obama, unless you haven’t noticed the Catholic church believes that over the many centuries of it’s existence, of religious, philosophical and scientific enquiry and debate, the bible in part still represents the Word that is God and it is God who proclaims the immorality of the intentional destruction of life. So, yes, it is ‘wrong’ from the Catholic view to go against the will of God and proclaim yourself and others above it. It is not them dictating but God. And He is not dictating by stopping people doing wrong but by spreading the message that it is harmful and people can chose for themselves (and obviously legislate accordingly themselves as well).

    Duh!

  9. Basia – thay are conservative and against meddling in natural reproduction and against the commodification of human life. What is it about this that you don’t understand?
    And how do they go from being against invitro to being totally against childless couples being helped to have children or be parents full stop? Surely some brain error there – i.e no critical thought process or am I reading too much into what you said?

  10. Personally, I’m more saddened by people’s reaction to Church “decrees” than by the Church itself. For the record, I’m agnostic and a centrist. I voted for LiD in the last poll. I see a priest only when I attend someone else’s wedding or funeral.

    I disagree with a lot of what the Church says, but they are at least very consistent about what they are saying. They use the definition of life as a process that starts at conception. It’s as good a definition as any other, because it’s not the case of the Earth’s shape, where you can go into orbit and see for yourself. So, naturally, they are against abortion, because it causes a tiny human to die as far as they’re concerned. And they are against some forms of bith support, because while there is nothing wrong about a child being born, they think there is something wrong about a lot of other children dying in the process. And they are against condoms and pills, because condoms and pills mean sex without consequences, and that, in their opinion, leads to sex replacing love. I disagree, but I can clearly see where they’re coming from; it’s not a prejudice on their part. What Church says is, of course, highly impractical, but that’s actually the point. They are a church. They seek a virtous way of life, not a convenient one. And they keep saying things they know even many of their felllow Catholics won’t like, so you can’t even say they’re being a populist.

    I’ve never seen this kind of consistence on the part of critics of Church. In fact, most critics are just as rabid as Radio Maryja and mohair babcias. They behave as if the Second Vatican Council never happened (some priests do that, too, but that’s a disobedience on their part).

    The most ridiculous part is when someone like a pope says something like “oh, we don’t like that this country allows abortion, it’s bad and you’ll go to hell”, and everybody starts going like “OMG WTF LOL pope wants to enforce no abortion”. Pope has no power to do that. The only power the Church wields is that of an authority – some people respect them and follow their opinions. That authority used to translate into “real” power, because a priest could say “Kowalska is a witch”, and an angry mob would go to Kowalska’s house and burn her. But that’s no longer the case, mostly because the Curch abused that power too much and people turned away from them. As a result, we live in secular countries now, and all the Church can do is issue opinions. Expecting them to give up even that is just unfair.

  11. @Phlojd:
    > Nobody said that he was excommunicated because of his denial of the
    > Holocaust, etc.. What’s problematic is exactly that those particular
    > contentions had nothing to do with ths Pope’s withdrawal of Williamson’s
    > excommunication by Pope John Paul II.

    Why? Excommunication is a punishment for a specific crime. His opinion on Holocaust etc. might be a reason to punish him again. But specifically for that.
    The excommunication in question was related to a specific past “crime”, and it was lifted, just like for other three FSSPX bishops.

    What would you say if a prominent politician of some country, with strongly antisemitic views was imprisoned for murder. Next year it is found he is not guilty of that crime. Would you hold his antisemitism as a reason not to set him free?
    The case is similar here (though we do not speak of murder, of course).
    What you suggest is judging Williamson based on his opinions, not on real facts.

  12. adthelad: I don’t lack “understanding” and the grey matter works just fine last time I checked. Why are you intent on antagonizing and insulting others?

    As a (nominally) celibate androcracy the Catholic church has frowned on unconventional reproduction. Strange, given that Christianity is founded on the principle of donor insemination! (Sometimes a little humour is helpful).

    In 1986 Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote that IVF “…entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person”.

    My biggest problem with the above, is that it implies that I, as a Catholic should accept “God’s will” that I am infertile and should not seek all medical treatment available to have children. Don’t think so. Infertility can be treated; it is a medical condition. Disease and death are also “natural” does that mean I shouldn’t seek medical treatment?. Of course not. Science cures, science prolongs life, science also helps in the creation of life.

    Should doctors play “God”? If I have appendicits, need a heart bypass, have a tumour, or need antibiotics, I expect my doctor to ‘play god’. Objecting to IVF on the grounds that it means doctors are ‘playing god’ is risible, and shows a total lack of understanding of patients’ expectations of modern medicine. We want our doctors to ‘play god’ and save our lives, otherwise what use are they? If we don’t want our doctors to ‘play god’ we may as well go back to the days before antibiotics, germ theory, etc.

    As a practical matter, I don’t care what the Pope thinks (and the Vatican decrees) about these highly personal matters. Many practicing Catholics hold similar “progressive” views, but this means they have to flout the dictates of their Church. I guess that fits into the definition of a “cafeteria Catholic”. Oh well, take out that branding iron.

  13. While “there is no law in the Catholic faith saying he will be excommunicated if he says he doesn’t believe in the Holocaust,” neither is there a law suggesting that his excommunication should be withdrawn if he is a Holocaust denier. And while there is no indication that his clerical duties will be allowed to resume in any case, it would have been better to let him stay excommunicated. Who would have complained other than the nutters who follow or support his warped beliefs?

    I’m not at all clear at what you are getting at re. 9/11. You’re not seriously suggesting that the collapse of the WTT was inexplicable as that silly website suggests are you? You don’t think the authors of the article there completely and wildly distorted the findings of the report they cite?

    There remain a lot of questions among many thinking Catholics about when life actually begins. And not all Catholics believe in a literalist interpretation of the Bible. Even then, where does it definitively say in the Bible that life begins at conception? Are you suggesting that St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t read or get the Bible? And there seems to be more than a few provisos about killing that contradict themselves all over the place in the Bible. And it sure doesn’t seem from the Bible that God is personally opposed to the intentional destruction of life. Setting a bad example on more than one occasion, heh? And having humans doing His bidding along those lines, too. The vast majority of Catholics think the Vatican is completely whacked about contraception and my guess is that most don’t think invitro fertilization is a matter of the commodification of life. If you are suggesting that in vitro fertilization indeed commodifies life, just come out and say so.

    And finally, Church leaders do not allow women to choose for themselves insofar as they are pushing for laws to delegalize and even criminalize abortion.

    Blah!

  14. Your analogy equates an act of murder with an act that was not murderous, pstradomski. So you pose a false analogy.

  15. Also I don’t think that Holocaust denial can be considered merely an opinion when it has been proven objectively false.

  16. You are so cold minded, Jacek, and then you spread rumours like:

    ‘a priest could say “Kowalska is a witch”, and an angry mob would go to Kowalska’s house and burn her’

    I suggest Rene Girard on the topic – an academic publication instead of clichés.

    What you wrote is a fine example of how fast you have to run before the pack, not to get eaten. I have not been practising since my first Communion – and I miss it. I bet I’m now getting points for saying that… But can I only be defined by how lapsed am I? Those who stay at the door too shy to enter may be admitted, perhaps.

    Whatever is wrong with respecting a life???

    Tell me, why is a blog about knowing Poland, really a blog about abortion and gay people? Oh, and about women’s rights. Like men didn’t have any. And straight people didn’t have any. And couple’s with children. (that last one is from Norway where I went for two weeks)

    Poland will finally be admitted among the civilised if every couple is a gay couple who aborted two pregnancies, indulges in emotionally unsupported sex, (and possibly thought not mentioned, have sent Granny away for the shot), as far as this blog is concerned. I prefer to believe that Poland have always been part of Europe. If you don’t believe me, take a map. We are not, however, Romanic or Germanic.

    Tell people something about restaurants in Krakow for a change. Better yet about how employees behave differently here than you would expected.

    But I have to thank you for something – I thought that I believed in the centre, and there was room for everyone in the whole wide world. After reading and commenting this blog, I am pleased to report that there is nothing attractive about the opinions spread here for me. It’s all dead – metaphorically. I’m lucky to have defined my views in the discussion here. Now I see that all this fashionable new freshness is precisely the same as the Schweitzer (?) Gurken, instead of Spreewald Gurken, in ‘Goodbye Lenin’. Something like the red plastic chairs in every garden, to signify the modern world, along with potato crisps and sodas. As I’m sure you have noticed, there has been a major turn back to schabowy z kapustą and kompot.

    Oh, and before Pinolona gets me, I apologize to Spreewalders and the Swiss. And everybody else as well. What the heck. Now you go on apologize to Mothers.

    Bye and thanks.

  17. And God’s will may well be working through scientific advances. It need not be a matter of doctors playing God. I think and believe that some lines need to be drawn in terms of cloning and the like but I have no problem with invitro fertilization. Last I looked, nobody has tried to excommunicate me. Indeed, the Pope doesn’t even excommunicate members of Catholics for Choice who openly support abortion rights.

  18. Well, I guess Ania told us what Poland is all about:

    “Tell me, why is a blog about knowing Poland, really a blog about abortion and gay people? Oh, and about women’s rights… Tell people something about restaurants in Krakow for a change.”

    Poland is about restaurants in Krakow!

    Even if not all Poles can afford to eat in many of those restaurants.

  19. I never read any comments being made here like: “Poland will finally be admitted among the civilised if every couple is a gay couple who aborted two pregnancies.”

    Such hyperbole!

  20. I see Ad’s been at the pill box again! ;)

    Ania – I’ve already written about employees behaviour but it might not have been here. Good idea, I’ll go check. Mind you, it does tend to upset some people! As for restaurants in Krakow, I blame Island.

  21. Ania, FYI: I’m gay. Gay themes WILL be present here. Why don’t you write a guest-post about the Polish landscapes or whatever floats your boat.

  22. Pawel, did you also abort two pregancies? Just checking to see if you are really doing everything you can to get Poland admitted among the civilised or if you’re just another slacker.

  23. Ian – ha, ha, ha :)
    Which pills did you take to be able to claim the church embraces the idea of holocaust denial when a link in your own piece catogorically states the opposite? Like I said ‘Mucho confused’!

    Phlojd and Ian – http://www.ae911truth.org/ – look at the three videos links – pan down and on the left – re: Nist admitting freefall – then let’s discuss. I’m not open to predjudice, I’m open to evidence and analytical appraisal.

    Basia – quizzing an apparent lack of critical thinking but admitting a possibility of misunderstanding isn’t antagonistic where I come from.

    You do however confirm my suspiscions by freely admitting to having a problem. That means you’re at least half way to solving it :)

    Interpreting the church’s anti invitro stance as being anti pregnancy for all women who have problems becoming pregnant is a falsehood. It is true they do not approve that particular method.
    Of course infertility has many causes, many of which can be treated by conventional medical and surgical means (which funnily enough do not involve manipulation or destruction of embryos) . Those that cannot might be treated through invitro, but the church sees this as the thin end of the wedge which says it’s alright to create a life by negating another life.

    So while all cogniscent individuals have the God given right to chose to have abortions, either to prevent or begin a pregnancy, it is the church’s stance that abortion is wrong, experimentation on human embryos is wrong, and creating human embryos to be eventually discarded is wrong (why it is wrong is another discussion).

    You state : Objecting to IVF on the grounds that it means doctors are ‘playing god’ is risible, and shows a total lack of understanding of patients’ expectations of modern medicine.

    Are you saying that it is ‘the patient’s expectations from modern medicine’ which define whether something is a moral and material good? Are you equating a doctor trying to heal a patient’s arm with a doctor creating 6 embryos, three of which might be implanted, and three of which may not?

    People can refuse treatment or can ask for help and doctors, and you and me, are obliged to save someones life or health if we can do so, with no harm to ourselves or by not being negligent. Indeed laws exist which punish for deliberate or involuntary manslaughter. The embryo we create is a potential life. Denying it is what the church is refering to when it talks about ‘playing God’.

    True, many catholics as well as many non catholics succumb to their desires. They commit adultery, they murder, they steal, they bomb, they abuse, and then they love, give to charity or pray for forgiveness or do their faith justice in other ways. I’m as guilty as anyone. But I do try to be objective.

    Of course atheists have the advantage with regard to guilt since they have no conscience with regard to such matters as they have no ultimate right or wrong.

    As for ‘cafeteria catholicism’, I’m happy to meet up one day for a coffee to discuss :)

  24. “Of course infertility has many causes, many of which can be treated by conventional medical and surgical means”

    I did hear that a few times, but the funny thing is, that I never got to know what exactly those “other conventional medical and surgical means” are….

    “Those that cannot might be treated through invitro, but the church sees this as the thin end of the wedge which says it’s alright to create a life by negating another life.”

    What do you mean by ‘negating another life”? A healthy woman ‘negates another life’ every month, when her body disposes an unused, but not so rarely fertilized, ovum. Seems that we are ‘natural murderers’, eh?

    “Of course atheists have the advantage with regard to guilt since they have no conscience with regard to such matters as they have no ultimate right or wrong.”

    I think that single sentence sentence sums up your entire comment – you’ve shown just how far from objectivity you are, sir.

  25. wu wrote: “A healthy woman ‘negates another life’ every month, when her body disposes an unused, but not so rarely fertilized, ovum. Seems that we are ‘natural murderers’, eh?”

    And how often does a fertilized egg not successfully implant? Could it then in these cases be argued that these natural abortions are the will of God. Does this make God a “pro-abort”?

    Where’s Father Rydzik? He could answer these questions to everybody’s satisfaction, no?

  26. Phlojd, your first post is so spot on! (and all the other ones too btw)
    > “Nobody in government is forcing her to have the abortion.”

    Exactly, it’s adding a CHOICE, it’s increasing personal freedom, just like same sex marriage, nobody’s forcing people to become gay.
    It’s so frustrating that the majority of people do not get this!

  27. Ad,

    1/ You are barking!

    2/ You have too much time on your hands

    I understand that the church would like to completely separate the excommunication and subsequent recommunication (??) from the things this moron has said in public more than once but in the real world, as everyone can clearly see, this is not possible. Recommunicate him so he can collect his pension (or whatever) , fine with me, but with that, and I mean alongside that in the same press release, needs to come a statement that the RC church does not support holocaust-denial or other wild conspiracy theories plus an apology (as a minimum) from the moron himself. To recommunicate him and ignore the other stuff is insulting.

    How can you possibly separate what a priest says from his job as a priest? If priests were supposed to just sit in the corner, say nothing and knit sweaters all day long then I could perhaps understand how one might ignore what he said on the basis that he’s a good knitter and shouldn’t have been talking at all anyway. But that’s not the case is it.

    9/11 – we all know there are 20 million conspiracy theories out there so which one is your particular favourite? If you don’t think the mainstream media is true, then what is, in your opinion? Personally, I’m struggling to get past the thought that these buildings were probably NOT designed to withstand the impact of a couple of commercial airliners.

    As you seem to know so much about this. Where in the bible does it define “life” in so far as at what stage does an egg/embryo become defined as a “life” and therefore something we should not mess with for fear of “playing God”. Is this clearly written in the bible or is this one of those RC appendices?

  28. Scatts, they actually had to discuss the issue for about a thousand years before they finally decided to stick with the conception option. Opinions used to vary a lot before that.

    As for the towers, I read a treatise which said they were strong enough to sustain this kind of impact, but only if you don’t take other factors into account. If I rememeber correctly, another major factor was the burning fuel, which caused some structural elements to melt and become weaker.

    As for the Holocaust denial guy, the Church generally punishes their people for disobedience, and not for being an idiot. It’s sad that someone like that could become a bishop, but then again some other, similar idiots become professors or elected officials.

  29. Jacek,

    Indeed. According to this text – http://www.ffrf.org/nontracts/abortion.php the bible defines life as

    According to the bible, life begins at birth–when a baby draws its first breath. The bible defines life as “breath” in several significant passages, including the story of Adam’s creation in Genesis 2:7, when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Jewish law traditionally considers that personhood begins at birth.

    One might assume from that that the idea of life beginning earlier than first breath has nothing to do with the bible and a lot to do with the RC church’s own preferences.

    However, I’m sure Ad will be able to find numerous web pages that support his opinion too.

    Re: professors and elected officials. I agree that other stupid appointments are made in the world but not many of them are made by an organisation that wishes to influence the thinking of 1.115 billion people!

  30. The problem with Bible is that it says many different things in many different places, and it uses metaphors, and it was written thousands of years ago, and most people read a translation of a translation, rather than the real thing.

    In my personal opinion, this only shows that we don’t really know how and when a life begins. All we know is that it probably doesn’t start at any particular moment, it’s a gradual transition. Which is why I respect the Church stance. Radical as they may seem, they are cautious. Their approach is the only one that gives you an absolute certainty that you’ll never actually kill a human.

    I just wish we could have a civilized discussion about this. Instead, people just keep insulting each other.

  31. Sorry, I missed the part about officials. You need to rememeber that size works both ways. Church is not some kind of overmind, but a body of over a billion people. Those people influence the Church as much as the Church influences them. No single person, including a pope, can make sure it always works according to a single doctrine. Mistakes are made, and differences emerge, which is actually a good thing, because we wouldn’t like the Church to be some kind of a totalitarian organization of mindless followers.

  32. Seems like some clarification is in order here:

    Williamson became a Bishop when Lefebrve made him one and that got him excommunicated. The Pope never made the guy a bishop. It’s a schismatic thing revolving about Vatican II’s changes regarding the Ordinary Mass and the traditional Latin Mass and the like.

    As for when life begins, I think the Church’s position is indeed the safest since we really don’t know.

    Hugo, I think we also have to consider the matter that there needs to be limits on freedom as well. I think the poor, the weak, and the innocent (and the E Street Shuffle) should be protected from others impinging upon their right to choose, and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to coin a phrase.

    The big question remains is when does an individual life begin?

    I don’t feel comfortable with the argument that claims it begins when the baby can survive outside his/her mother’s womb.

    Advances in medical care make this earlier and earlier.

    There is the matter of twinning which comes well after conception.

    Not all fertilized eggs get implanted to allow for a pregnancy.

    And there’s a lot more to consider as well.

  33. Well. where to start?

    wu – http://www.centerforhumanreprod.com/infertility_treatment.html?gclid=COf0isfyq5gCFQpTtAodeWQHnA

    have a read. Of course we can discus the specific meaning of ‘infertility’ but I think it was self expalanatory from my oroiginal comment what I meant by it. However the gammut of people seeking IVF includes stretches from woman who are producing eggs (hence fertile) but due to plumbing problems the sperm cannot make contact with an egg to those women who are sigle and wish to have a child before menapause and seek tratment rather than sleeping with any tom dick or harry. Anyway the information is out there – why not familiarise yourself with it.

    Regarding the second point I don’t mean anything I’m only passing on information as to the Catholic church’s standpoint which you can also find on the web – but here is a link which more or less sums it up. http://www.catholicinsight.com/online/church/vatican/article_475.shtml
    whether one agrees is another matter entirely. Your rhetorical ‘Seems that we are ‘natural murderers’, eh?’ is just that.
    After all it is a circular argument which will inevitably lead to the conclusion that God is a killer for creating the universe which basically gets you nowhere. The state of life and death is as it is and millenia of debate discussion and arguement have still not come up with a diffinitive reason for ‘God’s purpose’. It’s unknowable. So setting aside the rhetoric it’s best to examine the facts and how they are percieved – again, see link above – remembering that one process of embryo/ egg loss is a physical process whilst the other is a man made process.

    Finally, with regard to your last comment, I would be most grateful if you were less shy in explaining yourself than you are of accusing me of a lack of objectivity. I’m not saying your wrong just that you haven’t bothered to explain. Flinging an accusation doesn’t help so please enlighten me.

    Hugo – it’s not adding a choice really it’s just making that choice legal and thereby declaring it acceptable and on par with the choice not to abort from a legal and moral standpoint. This is the message all secular men and women receive. ‘If you want to chose to risk becoming pregnant that’s all right with us and if you abort it’s OK with us also. We consider tabacco use on your own body or lack of seat belt use as much more reprehensible and restrictable by law than a flipant attitude to procreation and the subsequent life you create.’

    Phlegm – you’re mistaken when you declare the church as deciding ‘to increase the number of pregancies by opposing the use of contraceptive birth control.’ It’s that old ‘I think I know how to think’ problem. The same ‘psuedo logic’ is used to accuse the Catholic church of being responsible for the death of millions from Aids because they preach against extramarital sex and for abstinance and do not encourage condom use. By the same logic doctors are guilty of the death of millions from lung cancer because they encourage people not to smoke. The b*****ds!!
    Now follows opinion – that sort of thinking is somewhere near the definition of being braindead although we all have such close calls from time to time, me included :). Luckily there are individuals who have experience of such situations and (I often set off my wife’s ‘dickheadcommentometer’) who know the right resuscitation technique so that the injured party no longer inflicts injury on themselves (and others) by continuing to insult their own intelligence.

    Ian – Still ‘mucho no comprende’. From the independent link you provided :

    ‘The head of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, said that there was no connection between Mr Williamson’s views and the decision to lift his excommunication. “The Vatican has acted in relation to the excommunication and its removal for the four bishops, an action that has nothing to do with the highly criticisable statements of an individual,” Fr Lombardi told reporters.’
    As for why the church should go around forcing people to apologise for every stupid thing thay say only you can know. They can ask people to repent, to substantiate their claims etc but even the sin of murder does not constitute a reason for dismissal from the faith or an urgent press release. Read pstradomski’s and Phlegm comments – it’s all in there. And as for insulting people – well if you’re the Catholic church your an insult to Jews and many others from the word go so apologising for oneself or for others is not the usual modus operandi.

    9/11 – well whilst your still trying to get your head round what you ‘assume’ let me do you a favour. Look at what the project manager had to say regarding airplane impact in Jan 2001 http://www.metacafe.com/watch/338148/wtc_designer_speaks/

    However the link I provided you with earlier which, as someone involved thoughout your life in construction, you will have considered carefully does not relate to the twin towers but to the adjacent WTC7 building – which NIST has admitted went into freefall. I await your observations regarding that material – feel free to find the video of the collapse on Youtube and time it yourself to appraise the facts.
    On the matter of what the Bible says, I’m not an expert. The link I posted for wu should go some way in clarifying your query.

    Finally, you certainly confused me with your ‘I’m sure Ad will be able to find numerous web pages that support his opinion’ – I haven’t been expressing any opinions up till now as far as I can see, only communicating information in my own inimitable way :)

    Jacek W – like it.

    Material Girl – very astute :)

    Phlegm – your later comments are very well put indeed. My opinion, yes here’s another opinion, as to when life begins is informed, as with many other quandries, by looking at them backwards. Would the person and life I am today be around if someone deliberatley removed my embryo when it was in my mummy?
    That sort of approach of course then leads to the thought ‘well what if someone stopped the sperm from reaching the egg in the first place’, then this individual would also not have the natural chance to exist. Thankfully for me my Mum and Dad didn’t have that approach and so I perceive myself as being an entity given the extraordinary privilege of life. And it’s a privilege I perceive as not entitling me to take that same privilege away from others whatever their stage of development. I’m ‘free range’ so to speak but personally find it difficult to object to ‘battery farmed’ if all embryos are given a chance by the donors. This leads to a whole new bag of worms i.e. genetic screening and here I think, since we’re already playing God, chosing a healthy embryo as opposed to a sick one is the least one can do.

    Hope I covered most points without being completely obnoxious :)

  34. “women who are sigle and wish to have a child before menapause and seek tratment rather than sleeping with any tom dick or harry”

    Oh yes, and perhaps getting HIV, AIDS, HPV, genital herpes or else.
    Thank you very much.

    And I haven’t mentioned God once in my comment, so what’s with all this “God-murderer” thing???

    “I would be most grateful if you were less shy in explaining yourself than you are of accusing me of a lack of objectivity”

    Because neither believing in God or believing that God doesn’t exist means that our moral codes or recognition of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ differs. Such statement negates the existence or importance of secular ethics.
    I though it’s so simple that I don’t have to unfold it further.

  35. Oh, by the way – isn’t ‘sleeping with any tom dick or harry’ considered immoral by the Catholic church? One sin better than the other?

  36. atl: No, the arguments are not similar that you pose in conjuction with my contention that the Church increases the number of pregancies by opposing the use of contraceptive birth control. In opposing the distribution of contraceptive birth control, the Church is often successful in limiting their availablity and distribution and thus the number of pregnancies is increased. Just because the Church leaders say don’t phuck doesn’t make them less culpable when people do phuck and can’t easily get contraceptives. And please try to make your arguments without resorting to arrogance and insults!

    And it isn’t just Williamson. Look at these articles from the official SSPX website and decide for yourself it the group is anti-Semitic:

    http://www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/what_really_is_anti_semitism.htm

    http://www.sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/jews_guilty_of_deicide.htm

    http://www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/mystery_of_the_jews.htm

    As for the 9/11 conspiracy stuff…. it’s total crap and I won’t waste my time commenting on it beyond that.

    And finally, would you be around today if the sperm that penetrated your momma’s egg had instead found it’s way rolling down your daddy’s leg or somewhere else? Save the sperm and baby seals!

  37. OK, as the only one among you to have participated in a “gravely evil” act i.e. IVF (sorry, should I take a poll? Any others out there guilty of gravely evil acts?). Where was I? Oh yeah, “gravely evil”, gosh just writing that down gives me tingles.
    Many people fail to realize that couples/people participating in IVF actually do deliberate over moral/ethical issues. Non-Catholics as well (that must shock some of you). I’m happy to report that none of my embryos were frozen or discarded. No small woodland creatures were harmed either. Perhaps I qualify for the lesser sobriquet of just plain “evil”.

    Anyway, I just want to share one of my favourite IVF rants by a true Catholic believer. It was addressed to the parents of Madeleine McCann (the 4 year old abducted in Portugal a while ago):
    “If as a “Catholic” you are ready to have IVF in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching which describes it as “gravely evil”, in order to conceive 3 children, which necessarily involves conceiving multiple additional embryos that you then throw in the trash as surplus to requirements, then you are hardly in a position to demand much sympathy when the children you decided not to throw in the trash, are abducted from you.
    “Maddie” could have been disposed of shortly after conception without so much as a tear from her mother or father who as doctors would know what IVF involves. She just happened to be the embryo that got picked out of the petri dish, while her brothers and sisters were incinerated.
    No fault of hers, of course but her parents seem to have a twisted sort of morality.
    http://www.anorak.co.uk/news/tabloids/173697.html

  38. @Phlegm Kildildehopher
    “The big question remains is when does an individual life begin?

    I don’t feel comfortable with the argument that claims it begins when the baby can survive outside his/her mother’s womb.”

    Off course not, it begins at conception, any conception, that is undeniable however that does not mean it has all human rights from that point on. Asside from the practical implications, a potential murder investigation for every miscariage, jailtime/fines for women who perform an abortion (if it becomes illegal and abortion is defined as murder then those women are criminals and would have to to be prosecuted) etc.
    Asside from those inconveniences remains the fact that upto a certain point that life is not as viable as a born baby (and percieved as substantially different by any sane person even if outside of the womb, see eggs in a container argument), the law has to draw a line that is absolutly arbitrary and will never be right but it needs to exist and it needs to be flexible for different situations (in some cases can even be drawn after birth). The parents while having responsibility must also have decision rights about the very life of what they created (just as they get to decide education, clothing, culture, housing…).

    Just in case anyone is wondering I’ve never had to deal with an actual abortion and have the most wonderful daughter and another child is “en route” that at this point I could not even think about aborting but I feel strong that there should not be a law to tell us that we (or anybody) cannot I can understand and imagine situtations where I would and where it is the only moral choice.
    Which is also why I support http://www.womenonwaves.org/

  39. Aside from the matter of individual rights, why is it undeniable that human life begins at conception?

    Fertilized eggs that never make it to the uterine wall are live humans?

    Does the Church have funerals for these fertilized eggs and miscarriages that occur later on?

    Should we go even further and have funerals for the sperm that don’t make it upstream?

  40. You ask, adthelad:”Would the person and life I am today be around if someone deliberatley removed my embryo when it was in my mummy?”

    One might also consider that you would not be able to ask if you would be the person you are today if God willed a miscarriage. And if so, would He be responsible for murder?

  41. Also Ad, just because the Church preaches against phucking around, that doesn’t absolve it from denying people who so choose to have ready access to prophylactics, etc. If the Church limited itself to preaching to it’s flock, then fine. But it wants to and does impact government policy and practice. It spends money making such an effort. Tax the Church.

  42. @Phlegm
    Yes any living cell of your human body is a living human cell, it is alive and it is human (has human DNA, and with current experimental techniques could even become a fully grown human), each cell is an individual life, a sperm cell is a little less but yes it too is human and alive, an egg, yes.
    A fertilized egg is indeed individual and alive plus in the right circumstances it can grow into an embryo, foetus, baby, infant, teenager, adult …

    The truth should not be hidden, but like I said all that does not mean that those cells have to get the same protection as a teenager (even if those cells are less troublesome than the average teenager)

    And it is exactly my point, the church does not have any rituals for those cells (the bible even has passages where it specifies monetary fines for causing abortions which shows that even their “special” book does not equate abortion with murder)
    Still some people do personally value their unborn (as I do) and if something goes wrong it is almost perceived as a human loss, that should not be hidden but it should also not be mandatory and other people should have the freedom to choose not to create such cells or if they didn’t use contraception or if it failed to terminate those cells before their development reaches a certain stage (dependent on medical/societal discussions) and they should be able to do that safely and legally.

  43. Oh Mr Wu, what can I do, I’ve got the “I can’t understand what you’re going on about’ blues.

    1. I wasn’t suggesting that ‘sleeping with any tom, dick,or harry’ was right or wrong just an option most fertile women seeking to become pregnant (via IVF or not) avoid. Where you get the idea I encourage sleeping around I do not know or am saying one sin is better than another I haven’t the fogiest.

    2. No, you didn’t mention God, but your original rhetorical comment refered to what I had said regarding the Catholic church’s standpoint on discarding embryos – a point I further clarified in the same reply. Unless you haven’t spotted it, the Church believes it’s standpoint is directly informed by the Word of God. Hence the link to God.

    3. Maybe it’s a matter of language, or perhaps I was a bit unclear but I did not say that atheists have no morals. Simply that their guilt reflex is not informed by their belief in a higher power. Hence, any atheist can always change his mind and chose a different hierachy of rights and wrongs. A Catholic can also do the same but will always have his faith as a reference (whether he abides by it or not).
    Also just as anyone can feel guilty (religious or not) the atheist does not go through life thinking he may answer for his wrongs once he’s dead whereas a Catholic does. Is that any clearer?

    Basia – I know that there are people on this blog other than you who have resorted to IVF. You are not alone.

    Your post highlights the moral dilema as demonstrated by the rather judgmental reply to the link you provided. Although the reponder is totally wrong to assume that the McCann’s IVF treatment required the destruction of embryos the remaining logic is impeccable. What is the difference in deliberatley destroying an embryo and destroying the same human at any other time in their development? That is the crux of the Catholic church’s approach.

    My personal feeling is that if I deliberatley destroyed a viable embryo it would be the same as if I terminated that same life post pregnancy.

  44. Hugo – Very interesting dillema.

    Tell me would I (assuming I know that some or all the embryos would be brought to fruition) save more lives by saving the embryos than I would saving the single child? If I went to a fertility clinic, broke in and destroyed all the embryos, do you suppose the parents awaiting implantation would think I hadn’t killed anyone, especially if the female parent of some of those embryos could not produce any more eggs?

    Tricky, I don’t deny it. I cannot answer a hypothetical – what happens in the heat of a moment is unknowable.

    http://www.blurtit.com/forandagainst/It_Is_Morally_Permissible_To_Kill_One_Innocent_Person_To_Save_The_Lives_Of_More_Innocent_People

  45. Nice try but you don’t get to turn it around, you consider embryo termination = baby killing so would you let 100 embryo’s die or would you let 1 baby die?

    Can you honestly not tell if you would save the container or the baby? Is your moral compass so damaged?

    I was asking you, it should not matter what the parents think, some parents think their dog has more value than their kids would it change your opinion of kids?
    But lets say they are your embryo’s and your baby (lets even make it more interesting, your embryo’s and the mentally disabled baby of a known murderer)?
    What does it really matter? It is like the story of Abraham, he should not have agreed to the deal period, it does not matter that his god pulled an oupsy at the right moment, a sane person should have said: no way!
    In this it is the same, a sane human saves the baby (no matter if the baby is disable nor whoever’s baby it is)!

  46. Your link has nothing to do with this but just to humor you I consider it permissible to kill one to save many, society would accept or even demand that.
    Society would not accept a dead baby over saving a container with embryo’s (like psychopaths there is always a percentage of sicko’s who just have no human morality)

  47. But that’s the point – we can all say what we would like to do or what we would imagine we would do, or what we believe is right. But actually doing it is another matter. One’s moral compass doesn’t have to be damaged for one to resort to one choice or another. One may say one is a believer in a faith, go to church, synagogue etc but when it comes to the crunch one behaves not always as one’s conscience requires. That’s human nature and human fallibility. It doesn’t mean damaged compass. It can mean lack of courage at a given moment, or any number of scenarios.

    Sorry, you lost me with the Abraham bit. So there is Abraham, believing/ knowing himself to be talking to God and he knows this – so he has no doubts. He has seen death and believes it is not the final end of eveything, so sacrficing his own child simply denies himself and his offspring of the here and now and not the ever, ever, after. How would you behave in full knowledge of God and heaven? So that example is a waste of time.

    After your fquery I ran the ’embryos contra my son’ arguement in my head, and I don’t know if I would be selfish and save my son or other embryos. Or if the embryo’s were my partners and mine and I knew for certain many more would be born why shouldn’t I save them? Wouldn’t more children live as a result?

    Finally in the example you give, is the container frozen, will it defrost if I save it thereby destroying any chance of life. Why I can’t I try to save both?
    This is always the dillema believers face, selfishness or the teachings of their faith. You won’t be surprised to discover many chose selfishness even though their consciences would hold them to account and to ask forgiveness after. If your wife saved the embryos instead of your child would you forgive her, would she forgive herself etc, etc.

    No easy answers.

  48. “Yes any living cell of your human body is a living human cell, it is alive and it is human (has human DNA, and with current experimental techniques could even become a fully grown human), each cell is an individual life, a sperm cell is a little less but yes it too is human and alive, an egg, yes.”

    But…. my hair, epidermis, saliva or nails are also made of living cells with my DNA in it, and advanced science of the future may create humans from it too one day…

    “Oh Mr Wu,”

    Ms. Wu :P

    “Where you get the idea I encourage sleeping around I do not know or am saying one sin is better than another I haven’t the fogiest”

    You encourage it over IVF, clearly…

    “No, you didn’t mention God, but your original rhetorical comment refered to what I had said regarding the Catholic church’s standpoint on discarding embryos”

    And I was referring to simple human regard on the matter.

    “Maybe it’s a matter of language, or perhaps I was a bit unclear but I did not say that atheists have no morals. Simply that their guilt reflex is not informed by their belief in a higher power. Hence, any atheist can always change his mind and chose a different hierachy of rights and wrongs.

    Well, excuse me, but hasn’t church many times ‘changed its mind” over some matters?

    “Also just as anyone can feel guilty (religious or not) the atheist does not go through life thinking he may answer for his wrongs once he’s dead whereas a Catholic does”

    You’re obiously biased by Catholic stereotypes. “Atheist” literally mean someone ‘not believing in god/gods’, but not neccesarily that there’s no afterlife.
    Take buddhism for example – it’s actually an atheistic religion (as much of a paradox it is), yet they believe in the transmigration of souls…

    Of course, there are those who refuse to believe in any sort of supernatural powers, but they can always believe in the power of human memory. In other words they take under their concern of how they will be remembered after their death.

    “Non omnis moriar” as Horace said.

  49. Ms Wu,

    I say : However the gammut of people seeking IVF includes stretches from woman who are producing eggs (hence fertile) but due to plumbing problems the sperm cannot make contact with an egg to those women who are sigle and wish to have a child before menapause and seek tratment rather than sleeping with any tom dick or harry.

    and :Where you get the idea I encourage sleeping around I do not know or am saying one sin is better than another I haven’t the fogiest”

    You say : You encourage it over IVF, clearly…

    I: refer to the subject of the blog item – i.e. Catholic faith/ Vatican

    You: refer to human regard.

    I say: Hence, any atheist can always change his mind and chose a different hierachy of rights and wrongs. – still my discussion is on the blog subject matter.

    You say: Well, excuse me, but hasn’t church many times ‘changed its mind” over some matters?

    I say: Yes, correct but in reference to God and in keeping with His word. Who higher plane of moral judgemnet do atheists refer to?

    You say : You’re obiously biased by Catholic stereotypes. …..Take buddhism for example – it’s actually an atheistic religion (as much of a paradox it is), yet they believe in the transmigration of souls…

    Again I’m contrasting atheism with Vatican teaching – (see blog subject again)

    On the matter of Buddhism, are you saying that in Buddhism there are no rules which despite the ‘atheistic’ nature you ascribe should be followed? Do Buddhists proscribe to a supernatural nature beyond the natural we perceive? Do Buddhists strive to follow the teachings of Buddha? Buddhism is considered by many to be a religion. Would Richard Dawkins ascribe to your description of Buddhism as atheism and would he consider their approach to IVF as ‘religious’?

    http://www.beliefnet.com/News/Science-Religion/2004/04/No-Harm-Applies-To-Stem-Cell-Embryos-One-Buddhists-View.aspx

  50. Aha – found the answer to my own question as to Dawkins’ approach to Buddhism – extract from his book ‘The God Delusion’ – “And I shall not be concerned at all with other religions such as Buddhism or Confucianism. Indeed, there is something to be said for treating these not as religions but as ethical systems or philosophies of life.”

    Interesting.

  51. @adthelad, there is no need to evade the question, it all does not matter if the embryos will survive defrosting etc. that is all evasion on your part, the conundrum is simple you get to save 1 thing, 1 baby or X embryos (the embryos can be any number you imagine) doesn’t matter if the baby or embryos live or die, if you honestly cannot make a decision then in my view you are potentially a dangerous person and there is something wrong with your view on humanity possibly caused by the indoctrination that you suffered, I hope I am mistaken.
    – The Abraham/sacrifice example is valid, I know it is fantasy but as a story it shows the disregard of humanity by that “special” book and the fact such a book, and even that story specifically is heralded as moral shows the level of indoctrination that is possible for believers thereof.
    How would I behave? First there is no god/heaven/hell… so if I were to get visions and thoughts about a deity telling me to kill my child I would seek medical help if I still could and I hope society would lock me up before I attempt to act on such delusions.
    – If my wife made such a decision it would end our relationship, I can say that because she would not make the wrong decision.

    The example should have a very easy answer.

    @wu, like I said, any cell, hair, saliva, even with current technology can become a small you, what does it matter?

  52. Hugo, there’s no need to evade the question. If you believed in God you would not be saying you didn’t believe in Him. If you’re allowed hypotheticals so am I.

    Ok, let’s say for arguemnts sake I left my son to die in a fire whilst saving 100 embryos. For arguements sake 30 percent of those embryos come to gestation and 30 children are born. Did I save their lives?

  53. “like I said, any cell, hair, saliva, even with current technology can become a small you, what does it matter?”

    Such reasoning makes more or less conscious disposal of them an act of murder. If every cell has a potential to make a new life, even to the one of ovum or spermatozoon, then I shouldn’t even cut my hair or nails, not to mention undergoing many medical procedures.
    And even if we focus on the potential of ovum only it is still troublesome, because, as I’ve earlier mentioned, a healthy woman disposes at least one of such cell every month, whether she likes it or not. And a disposal of fertilized egg or forming or fully formed fetus (miscarriage… also called a spontaneous abortion) isn’t a rare occurence.

    “refer to the subject of the blog item – i.e. Catholic faith/ Vatican ”

    So Vatican encourages it ;)

    “Hence, any atheist can always change his mind and chose a different hierachy of rights and wrongs. – still my discussion is on the blog subject matter.”

    We’ve already established that Church changes his mind on quite a bit of things. And it isn’t just ion reference to God, but many times to science or cultural changes.
    The moments in history when the stance of the Church “in reference to God and His word” was in blatant opposition to either earlier or later statements aren’t rare and show quite well that God’s words can be interpreted in a variety of ways. That doesn’t help a today’s stance of the Church, because… well… maybe they are badly interpreting them again?

    “contrasting atheism with Vatican teaching”

    You seem to miss my sentence when I say that your view on atheism is stereotypical.

    “On the matter of Buddhism, are you saying that in Buddhism there are no rules which despite the ‘atheistic’ nature you ascribe should be followed?”

    Where have I suggested that?

    And the article you linked shows that in religion where “god” or “gods” play a minor to no role, their thorugh belief that no life should be harmed makes their stance simmilar the one of a very different religion.

    And it’s Dalai Lama who said about secular ethics “We need these human values. I call these secular ethics, secular beliefs. There’s no relationship with any particular religion. Even without religion, even as nonbelievers, we have the capacity to promote these things.”

  54. Just one thing struck me on the issue of “life” is coming at it from the other side via a definition of death. “Brain death” is seen by many as being the time to switch off the life support. I’m not sure what the RC church thinks about this? Using the same logic in reverse order, life would begin when the brain is working (and able to control the body beyond simple basic tasks). When would that be in the whole sperm, embryo, foetus, kid cycle?

  55. Well, depends on what you mean by “working”. Brain stops working when a sufficient number of cells die. Cells in an embryo are all alive, of course, however organs don’t start to form until 5th-6th week, if I remember correctly. Foetus becomes distinctively human in 8th week.

    Trying to define life as a process that involves “thinking” on the part of brain may prove risky. Depending on your specific approach, you may end up excluding the unconscious, the paralyzed, people in coma etc.

    On the other hand, any attempt to define life based on biological characteristics thereof is futile in the context of Catholic doctrine, because according to Catholic doctrine what makes human a human is soul. It’s a matter of faith.

  56. Yes, as Sam and Dave both recognized (and the Blues Brothers Amened), “I’m a soul man!”

    A person, even at an early stage of embryonic development, is more than DNA and a bunch of cells clumped together.

    Ensoulment according to St. Thomas Aquinas happened after conception. Now the Church teaches he had the idea right but not the science which now undisputably (?) establishes the beginning of personhood at conception. Personhood has to be understood as a process not a state to be attained, etc.

    One problem is that this person at conception can split into two persons if twinning is involved.

    And there’s the dilemma of God as abortionist when there’s a natural miscarriage.

  57. Mind bending stuff this God business. Some believe, some don’t. It’s a bit like ‘Time’. How many people believe “Time’ exists when the only evidence we have is that ‘Now’ exisits? Funny, eh?

  58. “Ensoulment according to St. Thomas Aquinas happened after conception.”

    Not true.
    Check this out, for example -> http://bremlar.blogspot.com/2008/12/on-st-thomas-aquinas-soul-and.html

    And this -> http://www2.franciscan.edu/plee/aquinas_on_human_ensoulment.htm

    The section titled as the article – “Aquinas on Human Ensoulment” – in the second article is interesting. Predictably enough, it is quite sexist sometimes.

    Oh, and this is interesting – “He also held that, unlike the souls of brute animals, the human soul is directly created by God.”

    So animals have a soul too.

  59. Well there isn’t any physical evidence. Time has no physical presence. Even Einstein’s theory of relativelty underlines that time is a relative perception when in fact only matter behaves differently at different speeds (yes I’m aware speed involves our concept of time), but whether your travelling at the speed of light or standing still, even though your perception of time changes and physical clocks behave differently now still links both in the present.

    Just as through history most people grew up in cultures that believed some God or other exists, similarly many people continue to live in cultures that imagine time exists.

  60. Wu, the fact remains that Aquinas thought ensoulment happened after conception which the article concedes. They are just saying that when it was “proven” that life begins at conception (not “proven” during his day), his logic being what it was would (in the future) have led him to the correct conclusion. A bit circular, no?

    BTW, how many angels can dance on a pinhead? That depends on the size of the pinhead’s head, I guess. And if the pinhead will allow the angels to dance on his head.

    And they’d have nuns whack you with a ruler for suggesting that an animal has a soul and then prove that’s not Aquinas really meant even though he said it.

    Interesting articles, though. Thanks.

  61. Phlegm – absolutely right. Now the aspect of causing suffering to others in the name of your belief or what you think is good for others is something that is not exclusive to religion but faith and vehemence regarding any code of conduct.

    The answer as to why this happens (the roots of violence) is in Alice Miller’s books – the Drama of the Gifted Child, For Your Own Good or Thou shalt not be aware just to name three. If you ever wondered why Hitler and millions of Germans behaved the way they did (or why extremists do what they do) read that second book (pretty please).

    Poisonous pedagogy is practiced by those who had violence done to them in childhood, be if physical or psychological. They in turn have to quell the pain within themselves in order to justify what was done to them in childhood by people they loved (in the name good and in the name of love). ‘Whatever you do unto one of the least, you do unto me’ seems to have been ignored by the advocates of ‘Jesus’s love’ for that very reason. Viscious circle unless the abused has a witness to their suffering or an insight from others as to alternate behaviour.

  62. “Just as through history most people grew up in cultures that believed some God or other exists, similarly many people continue to live in cultures that imagine time exists.”

    Most of them believed in supernatural beings, because they didn’t have tools and knowledge to explain how the world around them worked.
    God or gods have also been used to organize people or to validate their rule over others.

    “Wu, the fact remains that Aquinas thought ensoulment happened after conception which the article concedes.”

    Aquinas thinks that the human soul that God has created enters the body that is *formed* enough for it and it is emphasised in the article, that he’d think the same even if he knew the latest scientific discoveries. So – before the human soul, the fetus – for a time being – has an animal soul and before that – vegetative.

    If we follow Aquinas philosophy (and Thomism AFAIK is still an official philisophy of the Church) that would mean that if we CAN’T – by any means – hurt animals and plants too, as they posess – lesser, but still – souls we want to protect in the in the embryo!

    Isn’t it a hypocrisy?

  63. But istm, regardless of what those articles confusedly claim, that Aquinas argued the human soul is incorporated after the vegetative and the animal souls kick in. The human soul is something at a higher level. He had no problem with eating vegetables and animals. Moreover, vegetables can’t sing “I’m a Soul Carrot” any sooner than animals can croon “I’m a Soul Aardvark.”

  64. Either you do not read my comments or articles well or you just don’t get it.

    Auquinas had no problem eating vegetables and animals, as he had no problem distinguishung when fetus actually becomes human.

    So – if we want to follow the Aquinas logic and extend the protection of life whether it only has a vegetative or animal soul it MEANS that we also have to reconsider not harming plants and animals too.
    Yet, we tend to be selective.
    Simple.

    And vegetables can’t sing “I’m a Soul Carrot”, but so do embryos. And argumenting that ebryos do have a potential to sing it in the future, because perhaps if we stopped eating veggies, maybe they would evolve into something that sings? :)
    Only God knows.
    I do know about certain sientific researches that prove that plants can grow prettier around people they like (not just because they are tended), but I’m not sure where I’ve read this.

    Anyway – it would be very funny if God showed His sense of humor and stopped looking after humans, instead inserting rational souls into carrots or prunes. Who knows, maybe something like this will happen one day or happens now :)

  65. One of the articles is written by a dickwad from a piece of turd right- wing Catholic college attended and run and taught at by ridiculously marginal fanatical loonies. The other, who cares?

    Please stop being an arrogant twit. If you want to argue, argue but don’t call my intelligence or capability into question from the get-go.

  66. Who is an arrogant twit here? I haven’t called anyone names or used such harsh words, nor I haven’t dwelved into reasons why you are mixing up my words. So please stop being so pricky.

    The thing is, that I have philosophy as one of my subjects and since Thomas Aquinas is one of the most influential thinkers in Europe (even though his philosphy is based on that of Aristotle’s), so we had quite a bit of his philosophy studied. SO it’s not that I based my arguments on these articles only.

  67. Example of schoolgirl arrogant twittiness:

    “Either you do not read my comments or articles well or you just don’t get it.”

  68. Well, don’t you? You responded to my comment in a rather fuzzy way and seem not to care responding to my arguments further, as you would rather focus on pointing out my schoolgirl arrogance.

    I’m sorry if you felt offended. But there is a huge difference between my irritation that someone seems to mix up what I’ve written than your explosion of rabidity towards me. That certainly shows that you’re not a partner for a discussion as you react awkwardly to barely a hint of criticism – and a civilized one, compared to what you wrote after that.

    Since I’ve already voiced my opinion well I don’t think there’s no need for me to participate in the discussion further. Thank you.

  69. I was willing to be a partner in conversation before your arrogant degrading statement. If you dish out shit, expect the plate’s contents to be thrown back into your face.

  70. Another example of madness?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4409168/Nurse-suspended-for-offering-to-pray-for-patients-recovery.html

    Oh and wu, you drove me mad by seemingly taking what I said and then being selective but I found no malice in it, just a lack of understanding. As to Aquinas he clearly dilineates between what he considers to be the different stages of development of the Human and the arrival of the human soul. It would appear by Aquinas’s logic that the human soul does not come into being until ‘intellect’ or ‘human cogniscence’ is acquired. Whether the church considers this to be still true I do not know. But it is one hell of a leap to imagine hypocrisy since the animal and vegetable soul is not the same. Is it hypocritical of man to consume the ‘fruits of the earth’ to feed his animal body in order to stay alive as is clearly required by the nature of the (god made?) existance we see all around us?

  71. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name,
    Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,
    Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
    As we forgive those who trespass against us,

    Except of course those who think there was no Holocaust,

    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
    Amen.

  72. I sincerely hope no one who reads my last entry thinks it was a real prayer by me. It may seem silly but I thought I’d better underline that it was NOT as many things I have said on this blog seem somehow to have been misunderstood.

  73. So there WAS a “holocaust”? It seems strange to me that there are so many “survivors”…
    Did anyone actually die?
    How many more books and movies are there going to be??
    Seems there are as many books and movies as there are casualties…how is that possible?

  74. Nobody is going to come and arrest you. But expect most people of any intelligence to consider you an utter nitwit at best.

  75. Adam,

    I get the impression that you don’t take holocaust denial seriously. Can that be true?

    89 comments – come on guys we can make 100 with just one more controversial quip!

  76. AND FINALLY – the Pope agrees with me too!

    The Vatican has ordered an ultra-traditionalist bishop to publicly recant his views denying the Holocaust.

    A statement said Bishop Richard Williamson must “unequivocally” distance himself from his statements to serve in the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Vatican also said that the Pope had not been aware of the bishop’s views when he lifted excommunications on him and three other bishops last month.

    Time for Benedict to get some new staff by the looks of it. Wasn’t aware of the bishop’s views, my arse! I was looking for the part that said “It is believed that pressure from the bloggers at Polandian are what finally brought the Pope to his senses.”, but I couldn’t find it. ;)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7869995.stm

  77. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
    Voltaire

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
    George Washington

    Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
    John Milton

    Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.
    Samual Johnson

    I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.
    Woodrow T. Wilson

    If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.
    Noam Chomsky

    The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
    Hubert H. Humphrey

    You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
    John Morley

    Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.
    Salman Rushdie

    If the fires of freedom and civil liberties burn low in other lands, they must be made brighter in our own. If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    Free speech, exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where people are themselves free.
    Theodore Roosevelt

    There is no more fundamental axiom of American freedom than the familiar statement: In a free country we punish men for crimes they commit but never for the opinions they have.
    Harry S. Truman

    We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is afraid of its people.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen. Tommy Smothers

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. Voltaire

    Without Freedom of thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of speech.
    Benjamin Franklin

    and finally for those who disagree with the above sentiments, which I hold as dear as any, i leave the following sentiment which is most apt in this situation (and which many of you may equally wish to apply to me:))

    Never argue with an idiot. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.
    Mark Twain.

  78. I’m sure it does but I couldn’t count on it answering your question with the right quotes could I? :) And how do you mean ‘initiative’? It’s almost as if you’re implying I’m arguing for arguments sake rather than from conviction or that the sentiments voiced have no value other than to be part of a Wikiquote collection.

    Nah, I must be imagining it!

  79. Wiil this suffice his lordship, Sir Scatts?

    BBC: The Vatican has ordered an ultra-traditionalist bishop to publicly recant his views denying the Holocaust.

    A statement said Bishop Richard Williamson must “unequivocally” distance himself from his statements to serve in the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Vatican also said that the Pope had not been aware of the bishop’s views when he lifted excommunications on him and three other bishops last month.

    Earlier, a senior cardinal acknowledged the Vatican had mishandled the issue.

  80. Someone called eve_ntual92 wrote to the independent : However misplaced and incorrect this man’s historical views are, is it for the Church to do with him as they did with Galileo and instruct him to recant? Surely they should confine themselves to spiritual dogma and let the laws that govern holocaust denial come into play here?

    Seems I’m not the only one who sees the light.

    The Bishop by all reports has thanked the Pope for lifting the excommunication and has already apologised for his remarks (and for all we know is now saying the appropriate ammount of Hail Marys etc). The Pope’s public declaration I take as a damage limitation excercise and nothing else for as we all know ‘You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.’ as the press has already pointed out.

    So a bit of a wasted excercise so far other than pandering to the baying crowd. The only way we will know if the Bishop does recant his comments is if he does so willingly and of his own choice. That opportunity has been taken away. What a shame. If he does so, however, I would find it difficult to not to believe him, for as a principled man, however misguided, I’d not imagine he’d lie in such a situation.

    We shall see.

  81. phloyd, you serfs are getting slower every year!

    Ad, you are just being deliberately mischievous. Either that or you need electrodes attaching to your front temporal lobes. Your most recent gist appears to be that this bishop should be allowed to publicly deny the holocaust in the name of “free speech”. Something I disagree with and it seems so does the German chancellor, the Pope, the law in a million countries and no doubt many other sane citizens of planet earth.

    To my mind, the idea of “free speech” is one of you being able to bang on here defending this bish in whatever way you wish to without sanction. That’s fair enough and I’d defend your right to do exactly that. There are however many differences between you saying stuff in here and the bish saying what he did in the way he did.

    For him to do what he did means he either;

    1/ Is seriously mentally ill – in that he truly believes there was no holocaust.
    2/ Has some kind of twisted anti-Jew (anti everyone who suffered at that time in fact, including many thousands of Poles) agenda.

    I’m struggling to come up with any more possibilities. This has nothing to do with free speech, the guy should either be put in hospital or jailed, not encouraged and certainly not given a platform and a megaphone by the Pope.

    Perhaps he just thinks it’s funny, like a big joke or something?

    Or is all this another one of your collection of conspiracy theories like 9/11 dynamite? You actually have evidence to suggest that there wasn’t in fact a holocaust and perhaps we should investigate further?

  82. Williamson has apologized to Bennie but it unclear for what . Not only he but the other anti-Semites at the SSPX online journal need to clear the air and admit that they talked shit if they care about the Church..

  83. There’s no difference in either of us saying what we want in terms of allowing free speech. The difference is in the substance which we are all free to judge on its merits. Everyone should be given enough rope to ‘hang themselves’ if need be.

    That’s the whole bloody point of the wisdom all those quotes I posted. It’s whole bloody point of the Danish cartoon debacle. I want people to be free to offend me. I want people to say what they want to say so they can be challenged! Duh, duh and double duh!!

    What next, book burning?

  84. or should that be treble duh LOL!

    Incidentally, please point me to my collection of conspiracy theories as I was not aware that I had one :)

  85. Not book burning, adthelad, not restricting your free speech.

    At least not unless you are a priest.

    You’re not one of those guys who think the Church is a democracy, d’you?

    And Williamson can just say no, and insist on sticking by his statements.

    But what seemed to me to be an altogether fake and consciously limited apology made me want to puke.

    If he is reinstated as a bishop, I will puke.

  86. So far I have questioned tarring the vatican for something they are presumed to have done, with no evidence whatsoever, and been put down for it. I have defended the right to free speech and been put down for it. I have defended the right of people who query the WT7 explanation with facts and ben put down for it and finally I have been queried in an insinuating manner i.e : ‘You actually have evidence to suggest that there wasn’t in fact a holocaust and perhaps we should investigate further?’, when I have said nothing of the sort or even intimated anything of the sort.

    Funny that, eh?

    My standpoint re free speech has been made very clear. I await the Bishop’s explanation for his actions.

  87. Wow, isn’t it amazing! I suppose the next logical step will be to follow the French example to ban all forms of religious dress.

    I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr would have said on the matter?

  88. No, the baby still won’t let us sleep. So what better than to go looking for that quote myself:

    * One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

    * How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.

    * An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

    But my favourite, and funnily enough surprisingly apt is:

    When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank the NHS Almighty, we are free at last!”

    :)

  89. On a less amusing note, if anyone even bothers to read this far, the Bishop Williamson (remember him?) has said he will recant his holocaust denial if convinced through further investigation which ‘will take some time’.

    The polish daily Rzeczpospolita reports today he has been dismissed from his post as rector of the lefebrist seminarium in La Reja, Argentina.

    So his stance seems to be that he will not to be browbeaten or be ‘told’ but he’s received a good slap anyway.

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