Why Catholic moralism makes me sick

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I seem to be incapable of blogging at the moment – the problem with failing to do it for a couple of weeks is getting back into the habit is often really difficult when there are so many distractions out there.

This is a shame because there is plenty to blog about. The main thing that has been getting my goat over the past weekend has been the escalating row over the upcoming vote on the Embryo Bill, actively being stoked up by people such as Cardinal Keith O’Brien who has been come up with all sorts of colourful phrases to denounce it. He could at least get his literary allusions right – Frankenstein created life from dead matter; his beef here is about proposals to create animal-human hybrid embryos. That isn’t Frankensteinian – it is Moreau-esque. Is it too much to expect these turbulent priests to at least read? Clearly.

There is a big debate about whether Labour should allow a free vote on this. I am only too aware that both the Lib Dems and Tories are already allowing a free vote. It does rather bring into question what free votes are all about and why it is that religious bodies (and it is unerringly religious bodies) insist on free votes on such a narrow range of issues. As Laurence Boyce argues over on Lib Dem Voice these votes are hardly “free” in that the churches are only all too keen whip to their heart’s content. Is it not absurd that we regard scientific debates about the experimentation on small clusters of cells – or for that matter what two grown adults get up to behind closed doors – as “moral” issues while issues such as poverty, justice and military action are regarded as political?

It is in this context that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor‘s article in the Guardian yesterday must be regarded. Murphy makes the outrageous suggestion that the difference between religion and “atheistic secularism” is love. Catholics love, atheists “kills the human spirit under the pretence of liberating it” (note how he frames the debate by denying atheists their very humanity). To be sure, he accepts that on occasion Catholics forget this lesson but insists that history repeatedly “shows the church rediscovering its own secret”.

O’Connor has not condemned or even mildly rebuked O’Brien for his speech on the embryo bill, in which he uses such love-filled phrases as “hideous” and “grotesque”. This, lest us forget, is with reference to scientific research intended to save lives and improve people’s quality of life. But presumably that’s okay because their “spirits” will live on.

It all but five years to the day since the House of Commons voted for an illegal war to invade Iraq. The Catholic church, to be sure, condemned it at the time, but did not seek to influence its own congregation in the Commons and require them to choose between the Pope and Tony Blair. Paul Murphy, Ruth Kelly and Des Browne – currently under intense pressure over the embryo bill – were let off the hook. Tony Blair himself has now been welcomed into the Catholic fold with open arms. Meanwhile, people with Parkinson’s are expected to suffer while in Africa and South America people are threatened with eternal damnation for using life-empowering and potentially life-saving contraception. And what does O’Connor use to justify all this and claims we atheists can’t grasp? Love.

9 thoughts on “Why Catholic moralism makes me sick

  1. “Is it not absurd that we regard scientific debates about the experimentation on small clusters of cells – or for that matter what two grown adults get up to behind closed doors – as “moral” issues while issues such as poverty, justice and military action are regarded as political?”

    Well… not if you take it as a basic premise that the moral has no place in politics; then I think it serves rather well as a distinction. Some people might have a ‘moral objection’ to experimenting on embryos but if they do… they shouldn’t experiment on embryos. They can be free to discourage others, of course (they may rant and rave to their heart’s content) but they cannot prevent others doing it unless they can offer a political argument which (though ill defined roughly speaking) appeal to some kind of harm done to a citizen by a certain class of action. If they can do this they can justify outlawing the action. If they cannot then they cannot and ought not. That is liberalism, or a piece of it at any rate.

    So yeah: poverty, justice – these are political. What some dingbat in a hat things about stem cell research – that’s moral (or schmoral. Catholic Priests seem to thrive on the schmoral).

  2. Religion is what it does, it is about politics. Tony Blair wasn’t made a Roman because he actually believed in anything. He was moralistic about nothing. The Catholic hierarchy are a lot of things, stupid included, but they’re not that stupid. That said, I am not sure that Catholic priests have people digging through basements of children’s homes in Jersey.

    British teachers are notorious for pedophilia from Thailand to Timbuktu. For example, it is not much of a secret that CEOP are only allowed to target them if they in turn, are stupid enough to victimize somebody protected by the FBI. So, why the Brits simply don’t legalize pedophilia & whatever else, with or without a Bishop’s approval and get it over with, remains a bit of a mystery to many of us.

  3. Given the fact that the people in Jersey were a) not British and b) not teachers, I can only conclude you don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about.

  4. I knew about that place for a while, as did the NCIS, who would be only too happy to tell folks they didn’t do teachers, immigration, or front pages of the Daily Mail.

    The UK has a bit of a reputation in law enforcement circles. SOCA/CEOP for example don’t keep records of ‘their arrests’. They were born out of the NCIS/NCS.

    Ask yourself this, how many folks are in jail ( in the USA, Canada, Australia) because of CEOP or the NCIS who went before them.

    Exactly, nobody. Child pornography interventions in the UK are highly regulated, they respond to the FBI, they don’y go looking on their own account. The reason for that is the Brit teaching unions.

    So CEOP have no idea what happens to the FBI/RCMP data as soon as they pass it on. If they did collect that data, the FBI would ask them for it.

    So the FBI can’t even ban pedophiles they identified via IP addresses from entering the USA. The British play off Iraq/Afghanistan to leverage the FBI into keeping stum about things the DfES/DCSF want to keep quiet.

    Commonsense would tell you that you shoud be convicting 600 or 700 hundred teachers per annum. There is no way it can possibly be lower than 350, that is not statistically possible unless one is in the immunity business.

    British teachers are involved in more electronically detected crime and more se tourism crime than teachers in Canada and the USA combined. We thankfully don’t need to ask the Home Office for stats from outside the UK.

    CEOP don’t actually arrest people by the way. I’ve no idea why the British media report alomng those lines. CEOP simply pass on data from the FBI, Interpol, RCMP etc.

  5. Tell me Gregory Carlin: why do you post comments as “Yvette Doll”? What is the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition a coalition of? How can you be both director of an Irish group and a spokesperson for “Rights of the Scottish Child” at the same time?

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