Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The slide to dissent: Eureka Street and Kristina Keneally

Over at the Jesuit site Eureka Street, they are doing 'a best of 2011' series.

And to kick off the series they have chosen to feature ex-NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's explanation of how she came to dissent from the Church's teaching on homosexuality, together with an altogether offensive 'poem' on the subject (I was tempted to do a parody but in reality it already is one).

Personally I would have put it in the 'worst of'' category.

Deliberate defiance?

But it the choice of items is certainly an interesting gesture to start the year with. 

First because it positively begs the bishops to bring Eureka Street and other dissenting official and semi-official websites (yes that is you Cath News) under control. 

Secondly because the article itself nicely explains just how seemingly well-educated catholics can go so far astray. 

And thirdly to pose the question of why it is that in Australia a catholic politician living in Cardinal Pell's own diocese can continue to defy the Church in her public actions apparently without sanction.

Church websites must uphold Church teaching!

So let me get an early start on 2012 by pointing to the newly approved Australian Bishops Conference Social Networking Protocols which require Church websites to uphold the teaching of the Church. 

It is pretty clear that the guidelines do apply here: though Eureka Street carefully avoids using the actual term Catholic as a descriptor (presumably because that is regulated by the church in order to restrict its use to things that are actually catholic!), it describes its focus as consistent with the mission of the Australian Jesuits, and talks about writing from the catholic perspective.  More importantly, it is published by Jesuit Communications Australia.  Its employees and contractors are thus clearly 'church workers'; its writers who are religious an/or priests are explicitly covered by the guidelines.

And of course Eureka Street is an example of social networking - it is essentially a group blog.

Here is what the newly approved guidelines say:

"Those who engage in social networking as part of their Church ministry should do so in the name of evangelisation; to build appropriate relationships that can encourage and foster growth in faith. This engagement should facilitate a growing in relationship with Christ.

The sharing of information on sites should be of appropriate materials for faith formation or catechesis. Social-Networking sites can be ideal for promotion of Church events or activities and for sharing worship resources in a wide range of formats, be it video, text or sound.

The teachings of the Catholic Church should be consistently upheld in these social networking activities..."
Hard to see how an article that argues against the Church's teaching on homosexuality and same sex marriage could ever meet these criteria!
The path to dissent
The article itself is kind of illuminating, in a sorry sort of way, about just what went wrong in Ms Keneally's formation as a catholic and perhaps important as we look to the efforts over the next year or so to refocus our catechetical efforts.
It is the story firstly of a sheltered life that meant she'd never even heard of homosexuality before she got to University (!) and thus was apparently ignorant of church teaching on it.  And one gathers, utterly oblivious to the nature of the homosexual culture she then encountered, seduced by sob stories:
"The first people I knew who acknowledged their homosexuality were fellow Catholics at university, living away from home for the first time, struggling with a very real question of who they were and how they should live.[Fair enough, University does tend to be a time when some are confused].

My lack of knowledge about homosexuality meant I had very few presuppositions to confront. I came to the questions of how to respond to homosexual people armed not with Vatican teachings [Yep!  Scripture ad Tradition are reduced to 'Vatican teachings' and 'cultural assumptions'] and cultural assumptions, but simply with the Gospel message of 'love one another as I have loved you'.[Why do liberals always somehow forget the 'go and sin no more' message of the Gospel!]

What I witnessed were people who suffered greatly because of the judgement of their family and community; friends who were more acquainted with loneliness than with romantic relationships [the 'gay' scene isn't actually that big on romance in the main from what I saw of it in the shape of friends I knew at University and after - more on the mindless pleasure, which is in reality the cause of their loneliness]; devout Catholics, some with a true call to vocation, grieving because their own church had no place for them [a vocation isn't a 'true vocation' unless the Church accepts it as such]. I realised no one would choose an orientation that brought such misery [And yet humans choose misery, choose hell all the time...].

False teaching

Ms Keneally's lack of preparation and misguided instincts were compounded though by false teaching on conscience and catholicism, courtesy of the infamous Richard McBrien's tome Catholicism.  It is a book that has been heavily criticised by both the Australian and US bishops.  Here's why, in Ms Keneally's words:

"In time I came to ask what the Church taught on homosexuality, and why. Richard P. McBrien's seminal tome, Catholicism, explained the Vatican teachings acknowledging the validity of homosexual orientation while condemning homosexual activity.

McBrien also outlined other theological points of view [that are in reality condemned errors, not arguable positions for a catholic to take!], including the argument that homosexual acts are morally neutral, because the morality of a sexual act depends on the quality of the relationship of the people involved; or that homosexual acts are preferable to living a life where one can never give expression to one's sexuality."

She then goes on to articulate the incorrect view of Catholic conscience, suitably taken apart by the then Cardinal Ratzinger on a number of occasions, including this useful presentation.

She also makes the extraordinary claim "that the Church has never explicitly claimed infallibility on a moral teaching". 

Really?  Is she truly suggesting that none of the Church's moral teachings are 'de fide', and can readily be changed?!  I'd suggest a through read of the Catechism, Ms Keneally.

Ongoing scandal...

I won't go through the rest, the arguments are so specious as to laughable.

But the republication of this nonsense does raise the question once again of why it is that politicians who vote in parliament in ways contrary to the teachings of the faith remain uncensored and able to receive communion.  Indeed, Xt3 highlighted a link to an 'ask a priest' question on this very topic today...

Cardinal Pell has given repeated public warnings on the subject, covered world-wide.  But are warnings enough when the scandal continues?


Dr Guinness said...

Is she serious?! I don't understand how anyone can be so mis-informed, so mis-guided that they come out with rubbish like this... Ah well - trust the Jesuits!

A Canberra Observer said...

that woman. that publication/website. those Jesuits.

And she has the gall to parade herself as a practising Catholic.

R J said...

Actually, whatever rubbish ex-Premier Keneally has said elsewhere in this matter, it doesn't altogether surprise me that she admits to not having encountered homosexuality before becoming an undergraduate. Her upbringing, in Ohio, seems to have been fairly conservative. Even I, who am seven years older than she is - she was born in 1968 - had rarely heard of homosexual activities until I was in my late teens.

These activities would have been more conspicuous in a "gay capital" like Sydney than they would've been in the American Midwest. Yet even in Sydney they just weren't discussed by the mass media during the 1970s - or even in the early 1980s - with anything like the obsessiveness which prevails today. Apart from anything else, homosexuals could still get arrested (and those prepared to order their arrests included that patron saint of progressive politicking, Neville Wran).

What little I knew, when a lad, of the homosexual "lifestyle" - i.e. death-style - I loathed. In all honesty, though, I never thought about it much. Any more than I thought about nudists, flat-earthers, deniers of the Nazi Holocaust, fake-moon-landing conspiracy theorists, or suchlike creepy eccentrics. When TV news bulletins showed San Francisco's homosexuals going berserk in 1978 to protest against the shooting of Harvey Milk, most Australians who heard of the event at all merely thought (as I thought): "Only in America ...".

The real change in this nation came, as I well remember, during the mid-1980s. That was when Australia's homosexual lobbies battened onto AIDS as a crucial part of their entitlement culture. It was also when - as the New York philosopher Michael Levin observed in a 1986 Quadrant article - the "love that dared not speak its name" started screaming its name from the housetops.

Kate said...

Hmm, perhaps I was a bit precocious (I was pretty politically aware very young!) but my first real (entirely bemusing) awareness of the issue that I can (vividly) recall was at a family picnic in Launceston late 1972/early 1973 (I was 12) - when my father and one of his friends from school days spent a slightly sloshed afternoon doing Bazza Mackenzie impressions (including the 'no pooftahs' scene - its on youtube go look!) after seeing the Barry Humphries film...

It was of course not long after the murder of Adelaide law lecturer George Duncan, and Dunstan's consenting adults in private legislation in South Australia (where we had lived).

I have to say I think that is the real start up of the gay rights movmenent in Australia, able to build on a rejection of vigilanteism combined with the sense that perhaps our rejection of homosexuality as acceptable was just another form of oafish ockerism.

The push after AIDS became evident was similarly able to built on a sense of guilty and pity.

Playing on our emotions seems to work, so no surprise that the current round is similarly trying to tug on the heartstrings...

A Canberra Observer said...

HIV should be a notifiable disease.

The blackmail of the homosexual mafia is part of what kept it not so.

R J said...

Maybe Don Dunstan's Adelaide was indeed different from contemporaneous Sydney in this respect. And it could be argued that I had a more insulated upbringing than numerous other New South Welshmen my age. It's certainly the case that as a youngster I was (excepting a vague admiration for Gough Whitlam's oratory) predominantly uninterested in party politics, as well as totally uninterested in those identity politics with which the Mauve Mafia afterwards made us all too familiar.

Nevertheless I still believe that there were big generational differences at work, so that even the most sophisticated 1970s-1980s adolescent was less often exposed to homosexual agitprop - save perhaps in Adelaide - than even the most hermetic adolescent is now. (Oddly enough, the first homosexual I had ever heard of was Tchaikovsky, and I needed to have painstakingly explained to me - by my mother - something of what homosexual doings actually involved. Even her much-bowdlerised explanation left me with a bad case of bewildered nausea. I think I was already in high school at the time!)

From Wikipedia I learn that Kristina Keneally possesses some sort of master's degree in religious studies (University of Dayton, Ohio). I have no idea what the requirements for this degree were, other than, presumably, having a pulse. (As my late father would solemnly say about his dopier undergraduate charges: "The challenge is to fail.")