Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spanish Homosexuals File Criminal Charges Against Bishop for Condemning Sodomy

The Spanish State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (FELGT) has filed a criminal complaint against the Catholic bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Alvarez, for making statements against homosexual behavior and comparing it to child sexual abuse.

Since making the statements in late December, Bishop Alvarez has been widely criticized throughout the mainstream Spanish media for reiterating the Catholic Church's consistent teaching on the subject. After being asked "what is your opinion of homosexuality," by the Spanish newspaper La Opinion de Tenerife, the Bishop stated that people who had the condition for "physiological" reasons were deserving of respect, but went on to say that "it is another question if homosexuality is or isn't a virtue."

"It is necessary to be very careful these days because one can't say that someone suffers from homosexuality," Alvarez continued. "It isn't politically correct to say that it is an illness, a lack of something, a deformity of human nature itself. Something that all the dictionaries of psychiatry said ten years ago can't be said today." "It is very clear that, in this sense, my thinking is that of the Church: the greatest respect for people, but logically, I believe that the phenomenon of homosexuality is something that damages people and society. Eventually we will suffer the consequences just as other civilizations have."

The bishop went on to say that children needed to be inculcated with the virtues of masculinity and femininity, defending his position by noting that children receive guidance to avoid various pathologies, including violent behavior. He said that in most cases homosexual orientation is not biologically determined and is a search for sexual "novelty", comparing it in this sense to pederasty.

Denouncing the Bishop for "identifying homosexuality with the sexual abuse of minors" and for "promoting an attitude of violence and discrimination" against homosexuals, FELGT president Antonio Poveda responded this week by filing formal charges against the bishop with state government prosecutors. Poveda also attempted to portray the bishop as a defender of child sexual abuse, when in fact the bishop was showing the similarity between adolescent sexual abuse and homosexuality. When the La Opinion interviewer objected that homosexuality and sexual abuse were different because sexual abuse was not voluntary, the bishop pointed out that there are cases of minors who consent to it and even seek to provoke it.

"It seems that he is justifying the abuse of minors, coming from an institution that has been condemned the most times in the world for sexual abuse," said Poveda. "It is necessary for the hierarchy to be respectful and to know that as citizens they have freedom of expression, but they also have to respect the standards that are set by the laws in this country and in this case they have passed that boundary, therefore we hope that the Attorney General will intervene to prevent such lamentable declarations from being made again."

The FELGT's complaint follows another similar complaint the group made recently against a protestant minister in the province of Galicia. Marcos Zapata is accused of having given a talk on how to encourage heterosexual development in children. The organization has threatened to sue Zapata and has asked the government of Galicia to investigate him because he conducts anti-drug and anti-violence programs in government schools.


Guardians who need a good smack

Comment from Britain: The NSPCC is parodying itself by setting up a panel to looking into TV parenting shows

How could anybody criticise the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children? Well, they could point out that the NSPCC's media campaigns spread a poisonous message of mistrust by implying that all of our children are at risk from adults, most often those closest to them. I once suggested the charity be renamed the National Society for the Persecution of Child Carers, or the Promulgation of Calumnies about Childhood.

Now, however, the NSPCC appears to be parodying itself by setting up a new body of experts to protect children from abuse on television parenting shows. Not content with saving kids in the real world, they want to rescue those on reality TV. And having bullied and guilt-tripped parents to toe the line, they want to do the same to TV's own parenting experts.

The NSPCC took exception to two "irresponsible" programmes. Bringing up Baby on Channel 4, where mentors taught different systems of childcare, sparked allegations of abuse when one expert suggested that parents leave babies to cry. The Baby Borrowers, the BBC's "unique social experiment", has attracted opprobrium by leaving babies in the care of those whom the NSPCC calls "inexperienced teenagers".

Child protection crusaders have long expanded the definition of child abuse to include anything from smacking a child to shouting at it. Now it appears that even leaving a baby crying in a cot is to be redefined as child cruelty, especially on TV, as is leaving babies with non-related teens - or as we used to call them, baby-sitters. Somehow, generations of us survived such horrific experiences, even without an army of TV producers watching over us.

Of course, those reality shows and their multiple experts are also symptoms of our society's harmful obsession with parenting and child protection. They only add to the inflated debate about the "right" way to raise children, and risk leaving parents with a growing sense of confusion and insecurity. Time to grow up. There is no right way to bring up baby. And whatever hotch-potch method you use will have no long-term effect on your child. As one wise man said, if you can avoid locking them in a wardrobe or beating them over the head with a frying pan, they should be fine.

Old cynics like me might think the NSPCC's new focus rather appropriate, since the charity is something of a reality TV show itself. A huge slice of its 150 million pounds income goes on PR and self-publicity, to raise the cash to put out more propaganda so that it can raise more money to put out more propaganda. Perhaps its new body of experts could start by looking into exploitative broadcasts where child actors pretend to be victims of abuse to guilt-trip innocent people into giving money. Now that's what I call irresponsible TV.


The Gipper lives

BARACK Obama, who is level-pegging with Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, committed what looked like a serious gaffe last week. According to the classic definition, coined by liberal columnist Michael Kinsley, a political gaffe consists of a politician telling the truth inadvertently. And in an interview with a US newspaper, Obama praised Ronald Reagan. In the eyes of left-wing activists, that was rather like a candidate for the papacy putting in a good word for Beelzebub. Worse, Obama praised Reagan not in saccharine generalities that might have been forgiven ("a great American", "he expressed America's can-do spirit", and so on) but more pointedly and heretically as an agent of political change.

Here are his words: "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 1960s and '70s and, you know, government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think ... he tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

Obama might have cited different Reaganite achievements that seem more important historically: for instance, his masterly waging of strategic competition against the Soviets that, in Margaret Thatcher's words, "won the Cold War without firing a shot". But such an argument would not have made all the useful political points implicit in his quote, notably that (a) Reagan changed America for the better; (b) his changes limited government and liberated private entrepreneurship; (c) these changes were necessary and reflected what Americans wanted; and, above all, (d) president Clinton really hadn't altered the trajectory that Reagan launched any more than Nixon had altered the liberal trajectory of FDR and LBJ. This list amounts to a comprehensive dissing of Democratic pieties and recent Democratic history. Obama's rivals were virtually compelled to attack it.

After a day or two it began to look as if Obama's praise for Reagan was not a gaffe at all. After all, Obama had felt no need to withdraw or even amend that praise, usually the final stage of the gaffe trajectory. On the contrary, it had wrong-footed his opponents, strengthened his appeal to Republicans and independents for November, widened his ideological options and confirmed his public image of cool graciousness. Not a bad return on saying what almost everyone, including his rivals John Edwards and Hillary (and Bill) Clinton, knows to be a fact.

That fact, however, reflects a dramatic turnaround in Reagan's fortunes. According to Gallup, Reagan's average approval rating during his time in office was a distinctly average 53 per cent. Since 1989, however, it has gradually risen to 73 per cent (a rating exceeded only by the glamorous but mediocre John F. Kennedy). Asked to rate presidents in terms of greatness, Americans in recent years have put him just under (and sometimes above) Abraham Lincoln.

Such a sharp change reflects several different factors. Retirement and death usually improve a politician's reputation. Old opponents overcome the bitterness of past conflicts; newcomers hardly remember what they were about. Anyone who today cites the striking air controllers almost certainly does so to praise Reagan's firmness. Subsequent events in the world can show someone's real mettle. Dunkirk destroyed the reputation of Chamberlain and Baldwin. The collapse of Soviet communism underlined Reagan's shrewdness and strength, and the worth of his principled anti-communism.

Reagan's domestic legacy has been equally impressive: a political structure constraining government in which his Democrat opponents have been more or less compelled to follow his trajectory. The most favourable interpretation of Bill Clinton's record, for instance, is that he implemented the more progressive parts of the Republican agenda such as welfare reform and the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both Clintons have thus had to adopt a nervously favourable attitude to the Gipper. Anything less would be ingratitude.

Historical scholarship has limped along behind these developments. But recent studies of the Reagan presidency, including some by political liberals such as Richard Reeves, have conceded that Reagan was a successful and historically important president. As Reeves argued, it is simply implausible to imagine that the "amiable dunce" of earlier liberal imaginings could have racked up such impressive achievements.

More important, however, has been one trend utterly impossible to predict. Reagan refurbished his own reputation while suffering from, first, Alzheimer's and, second, death. Books based on his radio scripts, newspaper columns, letters and diaries - all published just before or after his death - have shown him to be a much more diligent, thoughtful, well-informed and able man than his earlier reputation suggested. We now have a clear impression of an inner man who matches the external achievements. His public image has risen accordingly.

Obama is the first politician in this campaign, and perhaps the first Democrat ever, to exploit Reagan's new standing effectively. Hillary Clinton, Edwards and even the adept Bill Clinton are still flummoxed over how to get around the obstacle of Reagan in their path to power. But the Republican candidates are hardly less flummoxed by a GOP primary process that is now in effect a contest to find another Reagan.

Their first problem with Reagan is that he is the great man beside whom they are all bound to look like pygmies until they gain power and, thus, the chance to match his achievements (and doubtful even then). Their attempt to resemble Reagan inevitably diminishes them. Their other problem is they cannot sensibly answer the question: what would Reagan do? They tend to fall back on the reply: what he did last time. But as various conservative intellectuals - David Frum in the new book Comeback, Victor Hanson Davis on National Review Online - have pointed out, that answer is misleading because Reagan was dealing with very different problems from those of 2008. We have to ask instead: what made him a different kind of political leader? William Kristol in The Weekly Standard argues rightly that Reagan differed from most leaders and all the present candidates in being the leader of both a political party and an ideological conservative movement.

The same is true, incidentally, of Thatcher and John Howard. It explains why they could act more boldly than most (directionless) leaders but also why their supporters trusted them when they compromised. None of the three, however, was an original political thinker or a rigid ideologist imposing a prefabricated project on their nations: that is a typical left-wing misinterpretation of Thatcherism in particular. They were courageous and principled leaders applying practical conservative solutions to the problems of hyper-inflation, economic over-regulation and the Soviet advance that had been thrown at them by history. As it happened, their solutions turned out to be the right ones. But they were elicited by the problems as much as springing from conservatism.

History is throwing different problems at America today: the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Iran and Afghanistan among them. Republicans should examine these problems rather than Reagan's record. If they are both practical and conservative, they will tend to come up with reasonable conservative solutions. Obama has already figured this out. He merely thinks the best solutions to these new problems are likely to be liberal ones, and so the next agent of change a liberal version of Reagan.


The Homily that Caused an Outcry and the Priest to be Dismissed

This past December 9, at St. James' parish in Rockford Illinois, a very normal Mass suddenly became a very unusual Mass when a parishioner stood up in the middle of the homily, interrupted the priest, shouting at him "When are you going to stop?", and then left, with her homosexual partner in tow. A few other parishioners also stood up and left the church. A few days later, the priest was dismissed from his duties at the parish by his bishop.

Catholics know that there are some things that you just don't hear preached from the pulpit any more. The most conspicuous of these unpreachables is sexual ethics, especially the idea that using contraception might be immoral, and contrary to a Culture of Life. Most priests know that these are unpopular subjects, and emphatically avoid them. But Fr. Tom Bartolomeo, who until several weeks ago was the associate pastor at St. James parish, is not your typical priest. To begin with, Fr. Bartolomeo was ordained only just over a year ago. This, of course, is not exactly extraordinary in itself, except for the fact that he is now seventy years old. At an age when many other priests are retiring, therefore, he is only getting his feet wet.

Perhaps, says the elderly priest in an interview with, his newness to the ministry and late vocation explains his almost youth-like zeal for his priestly duties. "I'm going to die with my boots on," he says. "Who knows how many years I have left? That kind of puts pressure on me to preach the Gospel message. My days are numbered."

About a month ago, however, Fr. Bartolomeo's enthusiasm for the Gospel message brought an unexpected turn into his life, when he gave what he thought was a normal Advent homily. The homily was the second of a projected series of four homilies dealing with life and family issues, designed to coincide with the four Sundays of Advent - the season leading up to the birth of Jesus. This particular homily had to do with contraception and natural family planning.

The Catholic Church teaches that the use of contraception is intrinsically and gravely immoral. Church teaching does, however, allow married couples to use the natural rhythms of the female body to knowingly space children, if there is a sufficiently grave reason to do so. These fundamental moral teachings formed the basis of Fr. Bartolomeo's homily.

"New births, anniversaries and funerals, separations of any kind, a photograph from the past - give us pause and remind us whom we are bound to," he said in his homily, a copy of which he provided for LifeSiteNews. "Our human sexuality - father, mother, brother, sister - reveals our deepest relationships. We call God our father, and his Son our brother." "Contraception, contra-conception, trivializes the sacred value of human sexuality - a danger humanity did not have to face a century ago before the advent of modern chemistry and technology, the pill (before or after) and a host of plastic devices."

"Contracept, take God's plan off the table, and you have mayhem," he said. "The most important thing in your lives, bearing children, is no longer discussed. It has been permanently removed from the conversation. Done deal. The pill, the IUD, the diaphragm, the sponge, the condom - who is making money here? - have shut down not only the body but the brain. And wives and husbands wonder why they grow apart? When a man and woman, a husband and wife, share daily this most wonderful mystery of their human sexuality they are bonding as nature and God intended."

In the middle of this homily however, say witnesses, one congregation member stood up and began to argue with the priest, yelling "When are you going to stop?" Gerald Weber, who has been a parishioner at St. James for 47 years, was at that Mass. "It was embarrassing, the noticeable argumentative tone with which she stopped him in his homily," he told LifeSiteNews. "Father treated her nicely for the way she was acting, but she continued yelling. She finally sat down, but then stood up again, and took her friend with her and made a show of leaving the church. With that there were some other people who objected to the subject matter."

While Weber suggests that the homily may have been somewhat "graphic" for a Sunday Mass, insofar as it touched on some of the science of NFP, he points out that nothing in the homily was contrary to Catholic teaching. The fact that Fr. Bartolomeo was dismissed from the parish Weber calls "drastic." "I think it's rather drastic, without knowing all the facts, to come down on a man in this way."

Another parishioner, Heidi Martinez, who was also at the Mass in question, disagrees that the homily was graphic, saying that she can't even recall what might have been considered objectionable in that way. Martinez says she distinctly remembers the date and time of the homily, because she gave birth to her first-born child that same day, shortly after she left the church; she calls her new-born child her "miracle baby," since she had previously gone through three miscarriages. She also says that she has something of a different perspective on the homily, being as she is recently married. The message that Fr. Bartolomeo preached was extremely pertinent and necessary, she says. "The Catholic Church pushes all the time--don't use contraceptives, use NFP, and all that, but a lot of people don't know why. And if you don't hear it from the Church that pushes it, where are you going to get it from?" "You're certainly not going to get it in the Catholic schools."

Weber also revealed to Fr. Bartolomeo, and LifeSiteNews, that the parishioner who had created the scene was a publicly practicing lesbian. She and her partner had recently been told that they could no longer lector or distribute Communion at the parish. "They [the lesbian couple] may have had an edge," says Weber, "because they have recently been kind of, not reprimanded, but not allowed to participate like they had been participating."

The priest, however, is quick to defend his bishop. "Bishop Doran's orthodox Catholic reputation is well established," he points out. "Our diocesan Respect Life Office under the leadership of Bishop Doran is continuously advancing the pro-life cause." "I'm not being punished," Fr. Bartolomeo clarifies, pointing out that Bishop Doran agreed that his homily was perfectly in keeping with Catholic teaching. "I wasn't accused of doing anything wrong. I think the implication was that I was imprudent." [Imprudent for a Catholic priest to preach Catholic doctrine in a Catholic church????]

The Rockford Diocese's media relations official, Penny Wiegert, told LifeSiteNews that the diocese would not comment on Fr. Bartolomeo's dismissal, saying "The reasons for these moves are between the individual priest and his bishop and is considered a personnel issue that our diocese does not discuss in the press out of respect for both the individual priest and his bishop."

Wiegert also defended the Rockford Diocese's pro-NFP stance, saying "The Rockford Diocese is in the forefront of supporting Natural Family Planning and educating the faithful on its physical and spiritual benefits especially in its marriage preparation programs, seminars for married couples and in informational classes....The aforementioned forums are considered to be the most appropriate for educating and promoting the benefits and details of NFP."

Fr. Bartolomeo, however, clearly does not agree that he was imprudent. "The Church is really under attack, and I think we flinch at the slight objections and I don't think that's the proper way to react to our enemies," he says. "Rather than dissuading me, all of this is drawing me more and more into that truth, into the Gospel. I have no idea where this is going to take me." He says that now he is beginning to read everything he can get on the life and family issues, and is looking into the possibility of pursuing advocacy in those areas. He also disagrees that his homily was "graphic," observing that even the youngest children routinely encounter much more explicit material in their day-to-day encounters with television, the internet, and sex-ed at school.

The priest says that he was surprised at the adverse reactions to his homily, but is also learning that many of the Church's teachings on sexuality are not well-known, and are often considered optional by some Catholics. "The fact is, I suspect that most Catholics do not practice NFP," he says. "I think for many people there's a visceral reaction to that, particularly if they haven't heard it before. And tweaking of consciences can be painful."

But, he adds, "There's nothing more central to the malaise and disease in the church than contracepting Catholic couples, and not realizing the wonderful strengthening of faith that can be found in NFP. All you have to do is meet a family and their children to see that they have found the proper way to relate to each other. It's so demonstrably wonderful to see this natural, loving union of children. You don't ordinarily see that in families."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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