Comments: the washing machine and what it doesn't mean

Correction: the raped nine year-old was not excommunicated (as the RCC authorities assured us, they are "merciful", and don't excommunicate children. Sentence them to death-by-involuntary-pregnancy? Eh.)

Everything else you say stands, Tom.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 7:52pm GMT

"According to the official Vatican newspaper, the washing machine has done more to liberate women than anything else in the 20th century" -
- Tom Ambrose -

How true this statement is! Certainly, more has been done by the washing machine than by the Roman Catholic Church - for women during the past century. How brave of the Vatican newspaper to admit to this shocking statistic.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 10:27pm GMT

The washing machine probably helped lower class women in the developed world (the upper and middle class often had others to wash) but it isn't number 1. Effective contraception is possibly number 1 but the Vatican can't admit that. If they aren't restricting it to inventions, education for women would be number 1.

I gather that in Brazil the morning after pill is legal and often readily available. Contraception such as birth control pills and condoms are also readily available (and sometimes provided for free by the government). The Catholic Church openly opposes all of this and threatens excommunication for those who use morning after pills.

How is a religion that condemns a 9 year old child to a preventable death different from one that sacrifices children on an altar? Was the archbishop planning to say prayers beside her while she bled to death?

Posted by Erp at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 10:33pm GMT

I think rape is rarely a 'moment of madness' sadly it is usually an expression of a deeply held anger and hostility to women and a desire to commit violence against them.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 10:33pm GMT

Sometimes we don't appreciate how empowered and liberated we are *not* to be in the RCC. How exactly do they get the credence that excommunication is a big thing in the first place?

Posted by Tim at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 11:17pm GMT

Thank you, Rosemary Hannah. Rape isn't a "moment of madness", it isn't lust, it is a violent act, often carried out with intent. It is an act of power and control.
The child indeed wasn't excommunicated. But the doctor was. The father, who is alleged to have sexually abused the child since she was 6, wasn't excommunicated either, because abortion is worse than rape. I'm not making this up:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/03/11/brazil.rape.abortion/
This reminds me of news stories about Nigerian (is it the water?) Muslim clerics who condemn a pregnant woman to death by stoning for being raped because she has shown signs of sexual immorality, but don't attach any penalty to the man who performed the rape.

Posted by peterpi at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 11:28pm GMT

The content of this article is embarrassing. On a web site which explicitly chooses to be called "Thinking" Anglicans, the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of basic Catholic thought is not what the thinking Anglicans I know would want to be associated with. To accurately represent one's opponent is surely one of the basics of Thinking analysis. Even a rudimentary understanding of Catholic Canon Law would know that consequences of the tragedy of abortion cannot be applied to nine-year-old children (CIC 1983 1323).

In a spirited debate about truth, both Catholics and Anglicans deserve better than this muddled presentation. To paraphrase a friend of mine, "If the web site is that wrong about things we can verify, think about the articles we can't verify!"

Posted by Joseph Anderson at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 11:38pm GMT

What do you expect out of a group of power-mongering unmarried men who run around in dresses?

Meanwhile they obsess about stem cells, same-sex marriage and how to welcome back a liar of crimes against humanity. No wonder their parishes are closing in droves in my city. So sad, a once magnificent organization is now taken over by oblivious aged extremists.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 13 March 2009 at 11:39pm GMT

Joseph Anderson: Yes, the article was incorrect about the little girl being excommunicated, but other facts of the case seem to be confirmed. And the very first comment put the matter straight. In what way does the corrected article misunderstand or misrepresent RC teaching? I agree with you, the article is indeed embarrassing, but perhaps not for the same reasons you see... it does seem that child abuse counts for very little in curial eyes...

Posted by David Oxley at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 12:25am GMT

So Joseph, how do you justify misjudging the innocent and completely ignoring the crime with your canons?

Posted by Tim at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 12:30am GMT

I'll tell you what liberated women; THE RIGHT TO VOTE!

The one thing that the Princes of the Church fear most is accountability to their subjects.

Mindful of JCF's correction above -- no, she was not excommunicated, but everyone else including her mother was -- the description of this response from the church as "barbaric" remains accurate.

Posted by counterlight at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 3:25am GMT

Has this article been revised? I see nothing at this writing that states the little girl was excommunicated - only the mother and medical personnel involved. The closest it gets is the sentence stating that "punishing a nine year old child in this way when she needs all the love and support the Church can give is barbaric."

Joseph Anderson, do you think the only support the Church needs to provide to this little girl is exempting her from excommunication? I'm sure she's thinking..."Mommy and the doctors saved my life, but I didn't get excommunicated, so everything is okay." Let's see how many things she know thinks are her fault...being raped, getting pregnant, and now getting a bunch of people excommunicated (if she understands what that means).

Mr. Anderson, you and I will never agree on the abortion aspect of this, because I see that instead of three heart-breaking and preventable deaths, there are two. Why would you kill all three when one can be saved? I've read a number of posts and articles on this story, yet not a single comment from a Catholic woman has spoken in favor of letting that child be an incubator until she bleeds out and all three die. It's because they know the incubator child really would die in this scenario, because the onset of menses doesn't bring on a mature reproductive system (and twins make things more complicated).

I have yet to hear an argument that makes me believe that three deaths are better than two, or explains how the "innocents" would be spared. Want to give it a try, Mr. Anderson?


Posted by Lynn at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 5:19am GMT

Glad to hear the girl was not excommunicated.

Beautiful sentiment in this article.

The single best thing that could be done to liberate women is to be part of the inititiatives to stop violence against women (and men, GLBTs, and children for that matter too).

It is one of the great tragedies that Jesus asked the Daughter of Zion not be be afraid because he was going to be the gentle messiah of scriptures, yet nearly every covenant and promises to women and other vulnerables has been ignored or violated by Christians, often with the specific intent of "protecting" or "growing" Christianity. Rape on a planetary scale...

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 5:34am GMT

Tim wrote: "Sometimes we don't appreciate how empowered and liberated we are *not* to be in the RCC. How exactly do they get the credence that excommunication is a big thing in the first place?"

Because we don't do such any longer?

In the 1st Millennium Excommunication and Penance by stages (outside the church door, inside it, and so on until the Altar) had regained Fellowship and Communion as it's Goal...

in the 2nd Millennium the Roman church transmogrified this into a Social/Ecclesiastic Punishmemt/Instrument of Power!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 5:42am GMT

Good for Joseph Anderson..balance at last..against this worse than Paisleyite bile.

Contraception actually enslaves women, and is leading to the collapse of all major western nations. Only immigration is sustaining the west and in Holland that is mainly from Muslim countries. Hence the Liberal crisis...where liberals like Gert Wilders have become out and out "racists".

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 7:09am GMT

"Even a rudimentary understanding of Catholic Canon Law would know that consequences of the tragedy of abortion cannot be applied to nine-year-old children (CIC 1983 1323)." J. Anderson -

Nor, apparently, can it be applied to the man who impregnated the young girl either. I don't see how any thinking person - of whatever religious views - could ever penalise those who sought to free this young girl from the after-effects of rape - and let the oppressor carry on as usual, with no sanctions from the Church they all belonged to. I would think those who 'suffered' the sanctions might be better off in their newly-'deprived' state.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 9:20am GMT

R I Williams' comment about contraception enslaving women seems out of place at the very least coming from a celibate man. I have certainly never heard a woman say any such thing and even those RC women I know who do not use contraception (not many to tell the truth)try hard to figure out their days of fertility and not.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 11:37am GMT

Who cares where the population is produced: there is still too much of it. The greater the level of education, the greater the level of education, the greater the level of contraception is all to the good, and if the West needs more population then let it import - and let the development of the world be such that it can reduce population growth elsewhere. The stress ought to be on becoming more economically and ecologically efficient, not spreading the place with babies.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 11:40am GMT

Hence the Liberal crisis...where liberals like Gert Wilders have become out and out "racists".

Could you unpack this for me RIW? Along with your suggestion that contraception enslaves women?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 1:43pm GMT

Actually, we should be honoured to have "RIW" among us. Not many sites can boast such a sock puppet. How IS the view over St Peter's Square this afternoon, Mr Ratzinger??;-)

(Apologies are offered - but it is a bit tedious getting the Official Vatican Line on everything!)

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 2:04pm GMT

"Contraception actually enslaves women, and is leading to the collapse of all major western nations."

If men could become pregnant, we would not read tripe like this.

One of the MDGs is improving women's health and reducing infant mortality [I think i've got that right - if not, someone quote that part for me] and one way to do that through improving diet and sensible family planning.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 2:32pm GMT

The responses to my comment have confirmed my original impression, that the title of the web site is simply misleading. There is nothing Thinking about the content that is being provided. Rather, there are ad hominum arguments and on-going, sloppy statements like the one above: “So Joseph, how do you justify misjudging the innocent and completely ignoring the crime with your canons?” This comment shows a most basic misunderstanding of Canon Law in the life of the Church, the protections it offers to those within the Church and the way its disciplines are enacted to aid us as individuals in our spiritual growth. I can myself imagine ways that Thinking Anglicans would object to the Canons and to their application in this tragic situation (based on our differing understandings of Ecclesiology and Anthropology), but, of course, I came to the web site hoping to learn your good, Thinking arguments, not to suggest that I could provide them to you!

I will try and look for this somewhere else. If anyone knows of an Anglican web site that is more scholarly, intellectually adept and careful in its arguments, I would appreciate a reference to it. As for this one, getting folks together to vent to each other is a certainly something a web site can do, but I think the moderators would want to change the name.

Posted by Joseph Anderson at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 2:47pm GMT

Robert Ian Williams - I have to repeat, Joseph Anderson misread this article; the excommunicated parties were clearly named, and the 9-year old child was not included on that list. His reference to [CIC 1323, 1983] tells us why the child was spared excommunication, but is irrelevant information because no one called that question.

Kindly tell us how contraception enslaves women, and as a "Thinking" Anglican, citing documents such as Pope Paul VI's opinion in [Humanae Vitae 17, 1968]I would find insufficient substantiation of your claim.

For now,I think I'll avoid your economic theory about the collapse of Western civilization, but it would be interesting to read any references from respected economists. But I would be interested in when you think the effects of this great fall were noticeable, and how other social factors were excluded from any analysis.

Posted by Lynn at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 4:48pm GMT

All Chtistians until 1930 taught that the prime purpose of sex was procreation, and that sexual pleasure.. (like taste to eating ) was a secondary bonus.

1930 Lambeth reversed that, and all Christians outside the barque of Peter eventually followed suit.

What do we see the sexual revolution.. women reduced to the playthings of men and a cancerous anti-life agenda. The door for the gay agenda was also opened...for if sex can be rendered sterile, what is wrong with gay sex?

Children are not an economic liablity , but true wealth, and the gift of the Lord. The true strength of the poor, not their weakness.

Women who stay at home are de-valued.. whereas true Motherhood is in fact a superb vocation. It is so sad to meet career women who bitterly miss out on having families.

The Church of course allows the spacing of children, but natural family planning can also be a sin, if followed with a contraceptive spirit and agenda.

By the way excommunication is really an act of love...its warning the subject that they stand in peril of their souls. the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. the Church actually cares. God's plan is so perfect.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 6:41pm GMT

Joseph Anderson

Well, this is an Anglican website, so of course we're not all fluent in Roman Canon law.
Maybe instead of slinking off in a sulk and not answering any of the questions people asked, you could tell us where and how the Roman Catholic church has followed its Canons, and where, in addition to that, it has shown the compassion and mercy one would expect from it.

I'd like to learn.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 7:08pm GMT

So, RIW
Where do I fit in?
I'm not reduced to a men's plaything, I chose my husband very carefully.

I'm now living with a woman - you're right, there's nothing wrong with it. We're bringing up my children, so although "sterile", we have between us 4 children and 2 grandchildren.
Some of us adopt the kids no straight couple wants. "Sterility" can be useful.

"Children are not an economic liablity , but true wealth, and the gift of the Lord. The true strength of the poor, not their weakness."
That's dogma, not what you observe in real life.
Make it credible?

"Women who stay at home are de-valued.. whereas true Motherhood is in fact a superb vocation. It is so sad to meet career women who bitterly miss out on having families."

I work from home, I have children. How have I missed out?

"By the way excommunication is really an act of love...its warning the subject that they stand in peril of their souls."

Thanks for the giggle.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 7:32pm GMT

They say the old ones are the best.. and there goes the parade of cliches, sentiment and apple pie...

"Motherhood" with a capital M - check.
"Career women are bitter" - check. (Readers with external plumbing - any of you been described as "career men" lately? Thought not.)
Women reduced to playthings of men by the sexual revolution - check.

Sure, motherhood is a great vocation IF it happens to be your calling, whether by itself or in combination with other things - personally I am Larkin-compliant (as in "get out as early as you can and don't have any kids yourself") and happy that way. I know, deep down like I am sure of God, or gravity, or that cheap chocolate is the work of the red horned one, that I am not called to reproduce.

Contraception doesn't free OR enslave women. It merely changes the choices.

Directly on the subject of the raped and pregnant child - I did find the article vague if not misleading when alluding to "the story" that she was excommunicated. I already knew she had not been, but think it could have done with tighter editing.

As for the stepfather, I can see a certain logic that rape is not killing, therefore he is not excommunicated. However, if you impregnate someone too young to bear a child in this way, are you guilty of manslaughter by negligence or attempted murder of her and/or the twins conceived? Paradoxically, the girl is more likely to die if she refuses an abortion, making the rapist "more" guilty. Does the RCC excommunicate all convicted murderers of adults?

Posted by Joan_of_Quark at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 7:58pm GMT

RIW's take on sex seems to owe more to Theodore of Tarsus than Gregory the Great (he said gnomically).

(I think he may be technically incorrect about his 'barque of Peter' comment, too, insofar as I believe the Orthodox often are dubious about contraception.)

But, dear Joey, you have only asserted, have you not, rather than explained? Why was the use of contraception (common among Christian marrieds since the 1930s' say) so slow to cause the catastrophic breakdown of society? My Significant Other managed to stay at home with our three into the 1990's - surely it is more to do with economics than rudies that families must now have two jobs to afford a house? Did it really take sixty years for people to say, "Ooo, I'm wearing a rubber thingy on my wotsit, I can now get the missus to destroy Western civilisation"?

I hesitate to remind you of the repeated anti-contraception scare stories which have been issued - like leaky AIDS-spreading condoms and the latest one about the pill which the researcher himself repudiated.

Why not just admit that the Vatican can't be doing with rudies and be HONEST about it? Screwtape observed that the best thing which could be done with sin was to eliminate all the pleasure.........

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 8:18pm GMT

Erika,

Thank you for your response. I think the place to start would be the contrast between mercy/compassion and canons found in so many of the comments. The actions of the canons, the limits placed on what those actions can be, the spiritual goals of those actions, and the “rights and privileges” of individual believers enumerated so often in the canons show that such a supposed contrast is fatally flawed.

There are a number of good web resources available by Catholic canon lawyers, but I think I would ask you to search for them, rather than mention them here, so that some of our angry co-commenters don’t immediately jump over to them and unleash another ‘Thinking’ volley about “power-mongering unmarried men who run around in dresses.”

In addition, it was not my intent, as you seem to want, to come to your web site to “answer your questions.” A site called Thinking Anglicans chose to articulate a position on Catholic matters and I came to find out about it. What I found was an embarrassingly naïve, amateurish and bewildering combination of thoughts on washing machines, abortion, excommunication and a holocaust-denying SSPX bishop. Since I presume no one forced you to take a Thinking Anglican position on Catholic matters, I would assume you would want a much better and more worthy representation of what Anglicans are capable of, including much more homework about the ideas you find objectionable.

All the best to you,

Posted by Joseph Anderson at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 8:51pm GMT

'The Church allows ..?" = certain ministers alone.

We are all the Church - not fodder to be condescended to.

Maybe this patronizing attitude of RC ministers is what leads to so many RCs turning to me for ministry of one kind or another.But I am well prepeared with an extensive collection of prayer books and prayers ! I imagine many other ministers and others, find themselves being asked to fill the void left by the 'offical church'.

I meet a lot of faithful people this way, and am honoured.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 9:07pm GMT

I know it seems tough and its radical, but the Catholic teaching, may be hard (and I may be a poor advocate of it ).. remember the words in Scripture.. "this is a hard saying"...but the Catholic Church is only faithfully witnessing to the truth that was once delivered to the Saints.

The Eastern Orthodox churches sadly have also caved in on contraception. Many catholics are in a state of rebellion..look at Spain, next to the lowest birth rate in Europe. However the abuse by individual Catholics does not disprove the doctrine.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 10:15pm GMT

"Does the RCC excommunicate all convicted murderers of adults?"

I don't think so. But please understand, excommunication isn't some sort of ultimate punishment, the big "church death penalty." Regardless of what you read in the papers and see in movies, that's not what it's for. It's supposed to be medicinal. I think the case of abortion gets special treatment because, increasingly, despite the Council's characterization of it as an "abominable crime," more and more people seem to accept it as of no moral consequence whatsoever.

As to murder and rape, there is this from the Catechism:

"Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back."

Is that serious enough for you?

Posted by rick allen at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 10:22pm GMT

By the way excommunication is really an act of love...its warning the subject that they stand in peril of their souls."

Where do I apply ? !

'Such condescension !" as Mr Collins might have ventured to remark.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 10:45pm GMT

Robert Anderson, you can cite any number of Roman Catholic canons.
But, to excommunicate the pregnant girl's mother and the doctors because of blind adherence to rules, without regard to notions of mercy or compassion, is appalling.
To not excommunicate the man who caused this pregnancy, is appalling.
To not excommunicate the girl herself “solely” because she’s too young by canonical standards, is appalling.
The girl is 9 years old! To disregard the consequences of carrying the twin fetuses to full-term pregnancy on a 9 year old who does not have a fully-developed reproductive system, a full-sized uterus, a full-sized skeletal structure including full-sized pelvic girdle, a fully-developed endocrine system, a fully-developed digestive system capable of eating, processing, and metabolizing enough calories and nutrients to provide for the girl herself and the two rapidly-growing fetuses, and who does not have a mature emotional, psychological, and intellectual mind, is appalling.
Blind adherence to rules, without mercy, is tyranny.
Call me a liberal if you must. I’ll wear the label proudly.

Posted by peterpi at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 4:45am GMT

Joseph Anderson wrote: "Since I presume no one forced you to take a Thinking Anglican position on Catholic matters, I would assume you would want a much better and more worthy representation of what Anglicans are capable of, including much more homework about the ideas you find objectionable."

We are wrong, we didn't do our homework, and somehow we're disqualified anyway ;=)

Mr Anderson, I don't thank you for your answer to Erika.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 6:06am GMT

"1930 Lambeth reversed that, and all Christians outside the barque of Peter eventually followed suit." - Robert I Williams - (re sex & Vatican)

Robert's reference to the 'barque of Peter' is quite apposite in this instance, seeing that the barque has sprung a leak that may well lead to its foundering. The number of 'practising' Roman Catholics who also practise contraception must, by now, outstrip the number of married adults who do not.

How does this help in the difficult area of Papal Edicts which are so difficult to live up to that the majority of those to whom they are directed take not a blind bit of notice - deeming this bit of advice to be beyond the realms of human endurance and therefore unable to be complied with? I guess the policy of 'Don't ask; don't tell' might best cover the sitation for most RC's

The damage done by teachings which are virtually unenforcible and incompatible with real human needs, and totally lacking in charity and mercy, must surely beg the question of the veracity of a particular papal injunction. If this is so in just one area of human activity, how many more problems are being generated by the pronouncement against divorce, while allowing the questionable practice of expensive suits for annulment?

Ropbert, your ground of protestation is getting more and more shaky, as you pursue this campaign of attrition against Anglicanism on this site. Perhaps you and Joseph might be able to find another (R.C.) site which meets your real needs.
After all, this one is meant to cater to Thinking Anglicans and not Roman Catholic Apologists.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 10:29am GMT

The idea that excommunication is really an act of love reminds me of the justification offered for burning at the stake as a punishment for heresy.

Posted by Lister Tonge at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 3:32pm GMT

Ron , there have been a lot of persons in history predicting the swift demise of the Catholic Church.

Our Lord does make tough demands , but he also provides his grace to help us through.

Thinking Anglicans is under excellent moderation, and it will in no way become a web site for bipgoted liberals like Stand Firm and Virtue online have become sites for bigoted retrogrades.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 5:54pm GMT

"The number of 'practising' Roman Catholics who also practise contraception must, by now, outstrip the number of married adults who do not."

It was reliably reported when the previous Pope visited Baltimore, that the local RC church had to really serach for a 'representative' large RC family to present to the Pope. Most RC families I know have roughly the same # of children as non-RCs.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 6:18pm GMT

"I know it seems tough and its radical, but the Catholic teaching, may be hard (and I may be a poor advocate of it ).. remember the words in Scripture.. "this is a hard saying"...but the Catholic Church is only faithfully witnessing to the truth that was once delivered to the Saints."

Behold the Popoid tendency to misquote Scripture: that "hard saying" from the Gospel of John was about the Real Presence of Christ in the eucharist, NOT all the toxic (and ahistoric) Kool-Aid in the Popoid li(n)e re sex!

However, RIW, I don't doubt that, as the full depths of Popoid sex dogma is delineated (as you did so well), it will continue to prove an effective tool of (True) evangelization to Gospel-illuminated *churches* like TEC. For your (however unwitting) contribution to this blessed effort, I thank you.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 8:41pm GMT

RIW: "natural family planning can also be a sin, if followed with a contraceptive spirit and agenda."

AT my advanced age, I can imagine myself doing a theological reflection on whether I'm about to do beastly things 'with a contraceptive spirit' and having reached a conclusion, being unable to remember what it was I was thinking of doing in the first place!

Given that the notice sheet for our local RC church today carried advice about natural family planning, I have this image in my mind of a member of the faithful carefully making a tally of days and then trying to come up with a reason why this isn't a contraceptive spirit. Sounds like a last ditch attempt to hold on to a hard-to-justify moral stance.... But I'm an ignorant Protestant, so what would I know of moral theology?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 10:06pm GMT

how many more problems are being generated by the pronouncement against divorce,

Fr Holything up the road took great delight this morning in telling us (yes, I defected for the day, but it's OK RIW, I respected the prohibition on receiving the sacrament) how he'd overturned the conscience-made decision of a couple in his congregation, divorcees who married one another 20 years ago, and excommunicated them, telling them that it was not the business of the people of God to try and interpret God's law as taught by the Church.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Vatican 2 anyone?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 10:10pm GMT

RIW: the need for sustainability will mean that population control will become an absolute must in future years. I would certainly think one child policies will be imposed within my lifetime. If countries fail to do this, they will suffer the consequences.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 10:14pm GMT

Joseph Anderson wrote: on-going, sloppy statements like the one above: “So Joseph, how do you justify misjudging the innocent and completely ignoring the crime with your canons?” This comment shows a most basic misunderstanding of Canon Law in the life of the Church, ...

Really? That was not a comment, it was a valid question that you should answer instead of sidling around with an unwillingness so much as to link at a canon on a website.

Joseph also writes: What I found was an embarrassingly naïve, amateurish and bewildering combination of thoughts on washing machines, abortion, excommunication and a holocaust-denying SSPX bishop.

Perhaps you should look at which organization is responsible for the drivel about washing-machines, the inhumane behaviour concerning abortion, the illogical and unjust application of "excommunication" and the reinstatement of the holocaust-denying bishop first, before you criticize Thinking Anglicans.

My question stands.

Posted by Tim at Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 10:59pm GMT

"Vatican 2 anyone?"

Vatican 2:

"Since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God."

Posted by rick allen at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 12:26am GMT

"Thinking Anglicans is under excellent moderation, and it will in no way become a web site for bipgoted (sic) liberals like Stand Firm and Virtue online" - Robert I Williams -

Nice try, Robert, but I don't think the moderators on 'Thinking Anglicans' are going to be taken in by your intended flattery here.

Several of us on this site have challenged your propensity to advocate the 'truly Catholic' as in the R.C. response to human problems, and have seen very little honest response to our enquiry about: divorce, versus annulment; contraception, versus the recognition of a need for population control; the ordination of women, versus the male-only paradigm; and many other inconsistencies with the liberating power of the Gospel which you seem unable to address honestly. When are you going to realise that your attmpt at proslytisation for the R.C. Church has very little hope of bearing fruit on this particular web-site.

I just wonder when you are going to start up your own web-site - dedicated, more honestly, to dealing with problems wihtin your own Church. (But maybe that wouldn't be allowed, and might be subject to the possibility of excommunication for its advocates). Then perhaps we could take the odd look at what you and others liek you are doing to encourage 'Thinking Roman Catholics'

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 2:11am GMT

Rick Allen wrote: "As to murder and rape, there is this from the Catechism:

"Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back."

Is that serious enough for you?""

Not the same, not comparable at all. We are discussing the failed church discipline meeted out in the Diocese of Recife.

To suddenly sound like a Calvo telling us that he is saved because better than us ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 5:39am GMT

NfP is a sin when it is used for non serious issues..like trying to get into a smaller dress size for a wedding or putting luxury first. It is obly to be used for serious reasons, generally related to health.

Merseymike ..in fact the population crisis of the future is the opposite of what you claim. For instance in China there ar now 40 million more men than women.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 6:21am GMT

Hm..., so if natural family planning (aka 'contraception' if one is to parse the Latin) is permissible on 'serious health grounds', wherein lies the problem with rubber thingies and HIV? Or isn't HIV a serious health issue?

Hasn't the Vatican heard of 'double effect'?

Genuinely baffled of Barton

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 11:57am GMT

So what, RIW? World population needs to be reduced and this will cause difficulties with regard to people's learned expectations. But it still has to be done, and it will happen.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 12:23pm GMT

If I do a Google search, I'm seeing stories that indicate that the Vatican and the National Council of Bishops in Brazil are back-tracking on the excommunications. One department of the Vatican seems to be saying that the excommunications were performed hastily, without regard to mercy or compassion for the girl's condition (Let us all say "Amen!"). The Brazilian conference of bishops appears to be saying that the excommunication is nor valid (and therefore null? I'm no expert on Roman Catholic theology).
Is there light dawning in the Roman Catholic Church on its handling of this?

Posted by peterpi at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 5:41pm GMT

You are so out of touch Merseymike..population implosion is occuring...not explosion...so succesful has been the contraceptive lie.

Even developing nations are going the way of the West..as for the east..Russia is in negative free fall.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 6:53pm GMT

RIW
How, biologically speaking, can population implosion occur because of economic development and not the use of contraception?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 9:20pm GMT

First of all NFP is not contraception. However it can be used in a contraceptive spirit.

The birthrate has crashed in the west, and the nearly developed world like Brazil are following.

We are heading for an implosion.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 9:49pm GMT

I am quite distressed to see that the primary RC apologists and defenders, Messrs. Anderson and Williams, seem to be focusing on side issues (misstatements of fact or of Roman doctrine, etc.) and not addressing the central point of the article. And most of the other commentators seem to be buying into it, and in so doing, letting them get away with it.

I would like it very much if they were to address the central point: the moral outrage engendered by slavish, unthinking adherence to regulations, at the expense of the mental and spiritual health of a severely traumatized little girl, and many others.

Would other commentators please help hold their feet to the fire on this?

Posted by DeaconScott at Monday, 16 March 2009 at 10:12pm GMT

"First of all NFP is not contraception. However it can be used in a contraceptive spirit." R.I.W.

Robert, here you go again - another ASSERTION without thinking things through. How on earth can the concept of 'Family Planning' (in what it primarily suggests: i.e. avoidance of production of children) not be 'contraceptive' - at least in essence? The semantics of your suggestion that there is an end-product (non-baby-making) difference beween 'contraception' and 'use in a contraceptive spirit' begs the question of what happens as a result.

This world of casuistry is not totally unknown in other branches of the Church, but in this instance - as in the matter of difference between divorce and annulment - I think the Roman Church must claim the prize for obfuscation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 2:09am GMT

Contraception involves the direct frustration of the sex act. NFP involves no frustration as there is no sex. This is based on the passage in Holy scripture where couples are told they may avoid intercourse by agreement for a season.

Howeve if a couple use this method for selfish reasons they sin seriously.

However we should be open to life, and it is wonderful to see Catholic families on the rise again...with 6 and 8 and more children.

Yes there are Catholics who value their faith and follow what the Church teaches.

Furthermore this attitude is consistent...Evangelicals who condemn gays have never thought through that their use of contraception is as sinful as homosexual practice...according to the principles of natural law, Scripture and tradition.

Blessed is the man who has his quiverful of arrows.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 5:13pm GMT

"NFP involves no frustration as there is no sex."

Pretty much defining frustration, ISTM! Unless you have been blessed with the charism of celebacy.

"Contraception involves the direct frustration of the sex act."

And 'withdrawal' doesn't? Oh, I know, without contraception, like sexual activity after menopause, there is still the chance for contraception, look at Sarah. But this then presupposes that a God who is powerful enough to allow a woman to get pregnant despite being post menopausal would be frustrated by hormonal manipulation or a thin bit of latex. I think if it is God's will that someone get pregnant, no amount of latex is gonna stop it. God ain't that weak!

"it is wonderful to see Catholic families on the rise again...with 6 and 8 and more children."

And the fact that in most of the world, this "wonderful" family size increases poverty and hardship? Try telling a woman in, say, a favela in Rio that her recently conceived 8th child is a blessing when she can't feed the other seven. Do you not understand the societal problems this leads to? Ah, but Rome lays out the Law clearly, doesn't she? No need for moral quandries there, you're told exactly what's right and what's wrong, so you know you're sure of your wings, since you obey. Must be nice! Not unlike conservative Evangelicalism.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 6:20pm GMT

Yes there are Catholics who value their faith and follow what the Church teaches.RIW

Ian is right here at least ! The latest figures show that 25% of the country's RCs do follow the teaching of their denomination.

So that's alright then.

Am I dreaming or have you recently removed your gloves to become more outspoken here ?

I must say now that I'm adjusting I quite like knowing hwere IO am with you. (You seemed so 'sweet reasonable' before).

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 6:24pm GMT

RIW
you really should do stand up comedy!

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 6:36pm GMT

DeaconScott - Our ultramontanes HAVE answered the charge. Excommunication is a kind and friendly thing to do, a means justified by the end. All we can do is disagree....

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 7:53pm GMT

"NFP involves no frustration as there is no sex."

It's VERY hard to avoid making a very obvious comment here;-)! It seems to demonstrate a severe case of taking oneself so seriously that one fails to note the unintentional hilarity of one's writing.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 7:55pm GMT

We're supporting the 'keeping mum' campaign at Barton this weekend. Looking at the appalling gynaecological/emotional/mental health damage which repeated childbirth brings in less-than-ideal conditions, I think RIW is bringing his church into more disrepute the more he spouts.

The irony is, of course, that it's only in the secularised faithless West where medical services can deal with this sort of birth-damage.

There is an answer within Vatican terms - men should love their wives enough to 'restrain themselves'. But it ain't happening, and the upshot of Vatican teaching - when observed - is to connive in male offending against women. I would have thought that the moral concept of 'double effect' gave more than enough room for Il Papa to set aside a fair bit of Humanae Vitae, but RIW clearly disagrees.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 9:33pm GMT

“Excommunication is a kind and friendly thing to do.”

No, I don’t think that’s exactly what anyone has said.

I claim no competence in canon law, and pass on what I think any amateur could glean from the publicly available sources.

Excommunication is characterized as a “medicinal sanction.” It is a severe sanction meant to emphasize the gravity of an offence, but imposed with an intent to ultimately reconcile.

Obviously it only has force with those who value the communion of the Church in the first place. Excommunication means nothing to those outside of the Church, or to lapsed Catholics, or to those who have excluded themselves from communion by unconfessed mortal sin. They have, in a manner of speaking, already excommunicated themselves, and, presumably, are happy to have done so.

One of the great confusions in the reporting of these kinds of incidents is the failure to distinguish “automatic excommunication” from “imposed excommunication.” As I understand canon law, the first arises from the commission of the prohibited act alone, the second is imposed only as the result of a judicial procedure.

So when the newspaper reports, “Archbishop X has excommunicated Y,” the implication is that some sort of formal sentence has been passed, or the cleric has done something to bring an excommunication about, when oftentimes what appears to have happened is simply a recognition that an act occurred which normally would imply automatic excommunication.

I say “normally” because canon law itself provides certain exceptions to the application of automatic excommunication for an act otherwise prohibited, such as when an act is done out of fear or self-defense.

Now if the newspaper reports are accurate, the Brazilian archbishop in question was terribly insensitive to the plight of the child in talking exclusively in terms of the excommunication of those who procured the abortions. If he did speak only in those terms, he certainly should have considered the extent to which their distress countered the automatic imposition of the penalty. And I would like to think that he said and did more than was reported. But I don’t know.

What I do know is that, after enduring a month or so of press reports and internet chattering about how the pope pals around with holocaust-deniers, I am slightly more inclined to question whether we are getting the full story of these kinds of incidents, or whether those who report or repeat them have any substantial knowledge of what they are talking about.

Posted by rick allen at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 11:00pm GMT

RIW: "You are so out of touch Merseymike..population implosion is occuring...not explosion...so succesful has been the contraceptive lie"

Tell that to citizens of India, Mexico, Haiti and inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro. Oh, and what is the predominate religion of three out of four?

Lord, you are not worthy to receive but speak the word(s) only and you shall be healed.... Planned parenthood.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 11:23pm GMT

Rick Allen,

Surely, excommunication as done, is a kind of penal substitution substituting social and medical punishments for Love, Charity and Pastoral, to make the vaunted PSA of Evangelicals look somewhat amateurish?

In this case, the poor abused girl would probably have died at childbirth and her children to be, too...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 5:22am GMT

I just can't believe how intelligent and talented folk like yourselves are unaware of the population implosion time bomb. In China planned parenthood has given a forty million surplus of men...now that is frustration!

A multitude of children is the real wealth of the poor.

You see that is how radical the true Gospel is.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 7:32am GMT

"A multitude of children is the real wealth of the poor."

At one time yes, when it required many to labor on family owned farms. But not today, when sustainability of the earth's resources are overtaxed. China you say has an inbalance of sexes, could it be that girls are aborted much more frequently than males? But then again, we are not talking about abortion (you may be, but the rest of us are not), we are talking BIRTH CONTROL, even the outdated and flawed "rhythm method".

RIW, how can you expect any of us to take ANYTHING the Roman church says seriously when the morning blather on my radio was about the Pope calling condoms the root of all problems in parts of Africa? Good grief, what a bunch of nonsense.

Being mindful of the past doesn't mean living in it for the present. And some of us aren't afraid to use that thing between our ears, and not just that thing between our legs.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 1:49pm GMT

"Blessed is the man who has his quiverful of arrows." - Robert I. Williams -

Robert. One question: Have you ever been a Daddy?

It would seem that the latest news of Benedict's proclamation in Africa has met with disbelief - not least from many of the Roman Catholics in the area. How can he still carry on with this death-dealing refusal to look reality in the eye, and accept that human sexual activity in God's gift, and not God's curse? - And not just a means of increasing the world's population - otherwise every sexual act between male and female humans would produce a baby - which obvioucly is not the case. God preserve us from celibate denial of sexual activity - except to fill the world more fully with human beings without hope of survival.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 11:05pm GMT

Ron
That question to RIW is out of order. Please avoid personal attacks on other commenters.

I notice that attempts are now being made to alter what the Pope actually said on the airplane, see
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5934912.ece

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 11:04am GMT

Simon
Maybe the Ron should not have phrased this as a personal question. But I do think that it is legitimate to point out that most Roman Catholics who wax lyrically about the blessings of children do not have to live with the physical, emotional and financial reality of having a large family, and that one may question whether they truly understand what they are talking about.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 12:00pm GMT

Re: the population problem in China
I've never been there but friends have described to me the tumbleweed drifting down the empty boulevards of Beijing, the rusty iron signs clanking fitfully in the wind...

Personally, I blame the pandas.

Posted by Joan of Quark at Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 1:28pm GMT

Just imagine a Welsh version of the Von Trapps...Erika.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 3:54pm GMT

RIW
that sounds nice!
Quite different from the family in a small house next door to me, with 5 children, 2 of them 6 months old babies (1 often ill and awake and crying all night), a toddler, a primary school child, a permanently exhausted mother, not enough money for a car big enough to transport the whole family, no public transport to speak of where we live, and anyway, with a double buggy and all those children, shopping by bus isn't an option - ah, the joys of this all singing all dancing family are truly something to behold.

Maybe I ought to take the worn out Dad out for a drink and tell him what a wonderful life he has with his quiver full of arrows. Not that I’d be brave enough….

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 4:49pm GMT

Interesting, though, is the fact that Italy has one of the lowest birthrate statistics in the world - and this a 'Catholic' country. What does this say about the Italian Catholic laity's attitidue towards the 'quiver-full' mentality?

Sorry, Robert, for my ascent into the personal - in your case. Mea Culpa!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 9:47pm GMT

Father Ron, you know the party line in Europe: it is a secular society that needs to be re-evangelized. Hence, even Italy needs a dose of good old fashioned Catholic values.

Now what you posted, Simon, is unsurprising. Clearly the Vatican must have reeled from the fact that, for the first time in recent history, several governments have reacted with dismay at the "condom comments."

Posted by Ren Aguila at Friday, 20 March 2009 at 1:52am GMT

Ron...it says that that the Church in Italy is in a very bad way, and that eternal consequences are not being preached. the Magisteruium will not fail, bit there are no guarantees for localities.

What about the 40 million surplus men in China..this could have been averted if the New Zealand and Australian Governmmnets had abandonmed their racist immigration laws earlier?

God has provided a world with abindant resources...sad that the white race has taken more than its fair share.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 20 March 2009 at 7:28am GMT

"God has provided a world with abindant (sic)resources...sad that the white race has taken more than its fair share." - Robert I. Williams -

But then, Robert, there are others - like Robert Mugabe - who not only take the food out of the mouths of white farmers in Zimbabwe, he also takes it out of the mouths of millions of women, men and children of his own native people.

I'm not sure quite what you are talking about in your referencec to the proliferation of Chinese men and their relationship to New Zealand, but no doubt there is sonme cunning connection I have not yet discovered.

You have said that 'the Magisterium will not fail' whereas perhaps, in Italy, it already has.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 10:16am GMT

RIW,

How would displacing 40 million be a solution to anything!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 2:24pm GMT

If it were not for sin..the resources and land of this planet would have been distributed with plenty for all.

There are only a million people living in the South island of New Zealand ( where Ron lives)....the doors should have been opened long ago to mass immigration. Chinese families should be allowed to settle there, where they can have as many children as they think fit...and not the disgraceful one child family policy of the Chinese regime.

I once lived in the beautiful Nelson region of New Zealand..which barely has 70,000 people ( 96 per cent Anglo-Saxon ) in an area that could easily support twenty million.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 5:47pm GMT

"Chinese families should be allowed to settle there, where they can have as many children as they think fit..." Robert I. Williams -

Robert, would you like Wales to become the new HongKong - a former British Colony which is now run by the chinese Government. New Zealand was also a British Colony, but its citizens - among them early Chinese settlers - have decided that they want to ensure a reasonable way of life for their own people first - before opening up to thousands of worthy people from all over the world. Also, we wish our citizens to have a certain sustainable quality of life - which is not a bad aim - rather than seek to populate to further the cause of one particcular religious faith system. We are egalitarian in N.Z.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 22 March 2009 at 9:35am GMT

You can travel through the South island of new Zealand and come across so many hick towns with half a dozen houses etc. You need more immigration, and share your beautiful adopted homeland.

We will actually be begging people to settle in Wales soon.. deaths exceed births..thanks to contraception.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 22 March 2009 at 9:15pm GMT

"I've never been there but friends have described to me the tumbleweed drifting down the empty boulevards of Beijing, the rusty iron signs clanking fitfully in the wind...

Personally, I blame the pandas."

LOL

"There are only a million people living in the South island of New Zealand ( where Ron lives)....the doors should have been opened long ago to mass immigration."

I rather suspect there are a few Maori who have had quite enough of Pakeha taking their land, RIW. This is a really funny conversation. World population is growing at an ever increasing rate and you are talking about a population 'implosion'. There's that wonky logic again.


Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 March 2009 at 1:32pm GMT

Ford....the population time bomb will be under population in the West. So we should make space for the millions of Chinese , who are restricted in their rights to have children.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 23 March 2009 at 7:22pm GMT

Don't forget the south side of the moon and mars folks !

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Monday, 23 March 2009 at 8:24pm GMT

"Unfortunately in the Roman Catholic Church the fact that the rules are made only by unmarried men means that issues are never examined from a woman’s point of view" - Tom Ambrose -

To get back to Tom Ambrose's original article:
One does wonder why the phalanx of unmarried and celibate men who manage the polity of the Roman Catholic Church (whose ideal, palpably, is chastity and non-productivity as far as they, themselves, are concerned), should dictate the policy of baby-making by other people. Surely, God's injunction in the O.T.: "Go forth and multiply" might apply to them, just as much as others? Was Saint Peter married? - Yes! Did he have children? We don't know, we certainly didn't hear about them.

One could understand the Hebrew need to propagate the Hebrew race - against the tide of surrounding enemies. One can only suppose that the progeny of R.C.s is encouraged on the same grounds. However, there is the sustainability of the earth's environment to be considered, also. How many more people can be sustained at the present rate of population growth? This may be all very well for Western countries, like Wales, but what about the Those of African countries, recently visited by the Pope, and other Third World countries, whioch have little hope of feeding the people they already have, let alone a population explosion?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 3:19am GMT

"One does wonder why the phalanx of unmarried and celibate men ...should dictate the policy of baby-making by other people."

The Pope is giving a sermon from the balcony in St. Peter's Square. He's preaching firmly against birth control. There's a disturbance in the crowd coming from far back near the gates. It slowly moves forward, and is so noticable even his Holiness stops to see what's going on. Eventually a rather stocky Italian woman steps from the front of the crowd, looks up at the balcony, left hand on hip, right hand gesturing:

"Eh, Pope, you no playa da game, you no makea da rules!"

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 2:46pm GMT
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