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Today's Washington Post editorial on the ascension of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI contains an embarassing and intellectually dishonest streak that feigns at respect for the Catholic Church while treating us like idiots. I had actually expected this from the New York Times, but on this rare occasion, they wrote a far more artful missive than the Post, finding specifics outside of Catholic doctrine for criticism.
The Post starts out by noting the final homily given by Benedict before his pontificate where he objected to moral relativism, but leaves out the exact phrase and leaves the point about an "adult faith" somewhat ambiguous. It then makes this statement.
It is not for us to comment upon matters of Catholic doctrine, or indeed upon the internal deliberations of any religious institution.
How long do you suppose it takes for them to disprove that statment? One imagines that the cursor barely had time to pause until, two paragraphs later, this appeared:
Certainly we hope that the pope's admirable profession of "adult faith" does not mean that the church must continue to impede the distribution of condoms in Africa and in other developing countries, where greater use could inhibit the spread of AIDS and prevent thousands of premature deaths.
So the Post's position on non-criticism of Catholic doctrine doesn't extend to its position on contraception and pre-marital sex. It also doesn't extend to killing embryos to harvest tissue for medical experiments, although the Post doesn't have the guts to even admit that's what they mean:
And we hope he'll weigh the possible benefits of new medical technologies, and not dismiss them out of hand.
It's a good thing that the Post claims it shouldn't criticize Catholic beliefs. Lord knows what they would have written if they didn't believe that.
Reading this dishonest and somewhat cowardly editorial, it becomes obvious that the editors did not read or did not comprehend what Benedict meant by "adult faith". Benedict aimed that speech as an attack at the very moral relativism that the Post espouses here. The Catholic Church considers premarital sex a sin, as well as contraception, for religious reasons that we acknowledge not everyone shares. However, it should be rather obvious that had people behaved in accordance with that tenet all along, AIDS would have never been the epidemic it is now. That's not to claim it as a punishment from God, which is a ludicrous notion, but simply to point out the fact that communicable diseases don't spread when you eliminate the transfer contact between afflicted and healthy people. In other words, abstinence would have severely limited its spread. Condoms might too -- but they are not 100% effective, and never have been, not even for contraception.
The "new medical technologies" that promise miracle cures but have yet to deliver even one are based on unstable embryonic stem cells, relying on the destruction of human embryos for harvesting. Since Catholic belief has taught against abortion for the entirety of its existence and that life begins at conception -- a view supported by science as well -- we find grinding up our children for questionable medical experiments highly objectionable.
Those are the beliefs of the Catholic Church, and had the Post understood what Benedict meant earlier this month, they would not have expressed hope that his homily indicated an openness to abandoning truth for the fads of the day. In fact, he argued against this exact line of thinking, arguing decisively that the Church stands for universal and eternal truths, and must continue to do so, even during the times that we as an organization suffer from our fallibility. The Post makes clear that it only stands for popularity, the truth of the moment. With their contradictory and dishonest approach even within two paragraphs of the same editorial, they make clear that these moments of relativistic truth are extremely short indeed.Sphere It View blog reactions
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