WELCOME TO APROPOS
We have appended below some commentary and reaction to the Irish Government's proposals to legislate on abortion:
News Release by The Catholic Action League regarding the honour to be conferred on the Irish Prime Minister by Boston College;
Link to article concerning Cardinal O’Malley’s intention to Boycott Boston College.
Link to Youth Defence – an Irish Anti-abortion group.
May 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Irish government has produced an Abortion Bill that is cruel, archaic and utterly unacceptable.
It proposes to legalise the direct and intentional killing of unborn children in Ireland for the first time. There will be no term limits – this is abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. And abortion will be legal on suicide grounds, despite the fact that similar legislation has led to abortion on demand in other countries.
In a betrayal of the pro-life majority, to whom Fine Gael made a pro-life promise in Election 2011, Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Enda Kenny has rushed forward to insist that this horrendous legislation is a 'very restrictive measure'.
In fact, he is saying that the 'law on abortion is not being changed'.
These are truly weasel words.
Mr Kenny knows full well that if this Bill passes, all will have changed, changed utterly.
Let's be clear, the Bill is not about protecting women, something which everyone supports; it's about making the killing of unborn children legal.
We are not talking here about the early delivery of a baby due to medical necessity, this is about aborting a baby on mental health grounds – and being able to do so at any stage in the pregnancy.
The Minister of State, Alex White, has confirmed this on RTÉ radio. The Labour Party TD declared that the right to life of innocent unborn children was 'not absolute'.
Then he insisted that there would be no time limit on the 'right' to abort a baby. "[T]here is no question of a time limit. There’s no question of a time limit in this legislation,” he said.
This is almost beyond belief. Ireland, long a light to the world for her exemplary protection of mothers and babies, is now to legalise late term abortions.
Think about what that means. Consider what science tells us about that child in the womb.
The baby is perfectly formed at eight weeks. Every day after that, muscle gets stronger, bones get denser, and the baby gets bigger.
At 18 or 22 weeks abortion is a particularly horrendous procedure. After that again, we are entering into Gosnell territory.
Yet if a woman says she is suicidal, according to Minister Alex White, there are no time limits in the legislation.
What are Irish doctors going to do? What methods are they going to use?
Will they tear the baby apart piece by piece? Or will they inject this living, growing child into the heart with a substance that causes cardiac arrest. Either method is horrendously painful. And either method takes an innocent human life.
In order to distract from the horror of late term abortion, Health Minister James Reilly is suggesting that, after 6 months, the baby could be delivered prematurely and kept alive.
But that would deliberately inflict all the serious problems of extreme prematurity on a physically healthy baby – being born to a physically healthy mother.
All decent doctors would be appalled at this prospect. Yet the government wants allow this to happen in Irish hospitals.
They want to make abortionists out of Irish doctors – and allow the abortion industry to set up shop here. This is a cruel and unacceptable proposal, which also reveals the ignorant and archaic mindset of this government.
Instead of ensuring that both mother and baby are safe, they want to pit mothers against their children in the medieval belief that the violence of abortion can ever be a solution to a woman in crisis.
Enda Kenny and his Cabinet are making this decision in defiance of the best medical evidence presented to them earlier this year, when leading Irish psychiatrists confirmed that abortion was not a treatment for suicidality.
Furthermore, 113 psychiatrists have since told the government that the new legislation would require doctors to "participate in a process that is not evidence-based" and said that should not be asked of the profession.
Kenny choose to ignore them, just as he is choosing to ignore the pro-life majority in his bid to rush through this cruel, archaic and unacceptable proposal.
For a great many Irish people, he has now crossed the line. Some promises cannot be broken. Our mothers and babies deserve better than abortion.
(Published on Life Site News www.LifeSiteNews.com 10-05-13)
MONDAY, MAY 6, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: C. J. DOYLE
CATHOLIC ACTION LEAGUE CONDEMNS BOSTON COLLEGE FOR HONORING
IRISH PRIME MINISTER ENDA KENNY
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today condemned Jesuit administered Boston College for selecting Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny as its 2013 Commencement Speaker. The university will also confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Kenny during commencement exercises on May 20th.
On April 30th, Kenny's coalition government introduced legislation with the Orwellian title "The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013," which would legalise abortion in Ireland under the guise of preventing the suicide of pregnant women. As there is no gestational age limit to the measure, it would mean abortion on demand, under threat of suicide, through all nine months of pregnancy.
Catholic hospitals would be forced to comply with the proposed law. Moreover, the bill contains no conscience clause protections for physicians, nurses, and other health care workers.
The Catholic Church has denounced the measure and called upon the Irish people to lobby their elected representatives to oppose it. Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of Ireland, said the bill, if approved would "make the direct and intentional killing of unborn children lawful in Ireland." Brady went on to say that: "It is a tragic moment for Irish society when we regard the the deliberate destruction of a completely innocent person as an acceptable response to the threat of the preventable death of another person."
Kenny has threatened to expel pro-life Catholic TDs (members of parliament) from his Fine Gael parliamentary party if they refuse to vote for measure, which is expected to be acted upon in July.
Last year, Kenny's government published legislation---The Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill---which would impose criminal penalties, including imprisonment up to five years, on priests who refuse to violate the seal of the confessional in cases of sexual abuse.
In a July, 2011 speech, Kenny misrepresented the words of Pope Benedict XVI to imply that the Pontiff approved the cover up of sexual abuse and castigated what he called the "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism" and "narcissism" of the Vatican. Following that attack, Kenny closed the Irish Embassy to the Holy See.
Boston College said Kenny represents the "progressive center" and is committed to "social justice."
The Catholic Action League called Kenny's selection "an astonishing, appalling, disgraceful and deplorable act of betrayal."
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle stated:"Even for a university whose Catholic identity is as compromised as that of BC, this decision is shameful and dishonorable. Boston College has gone beyond promoting dissent against Catholic teaching to giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the Church. Every faithful Catholic in this country ought to protest against this odious perfidy."
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle is an alumnus of Boston College.
Cardinal O’Malley to boycott Boston College commencement over honoring of pro-abortion Irish PM
Youth Defence Ireland http://www.youthdefence.ie/
10-05-13 - St Antoninus, Bishop and Confessor
SAME SEX "MARRIAGE"
(The following article, written by Robert R Reilly, was brought to our attention by a French friend. The article was first published on http://www.mercatornet.com Other articles by Robert Reilly on the same subject may be found here:
A few weeks ago, Margaret Thatcher’s observation that there is no such thing as society (which was possibly taken out of context) was held up by socialists and fellow travellers as a rampant defence of individualism – which they claim to abhor. As Reilly indicates in this article individualism lies at the basis of the call for “gay” “marriage: ‘By destroying man’s familial, social, and political ties, the state could make each individual totally dependent on the state and independent of each other. The state is the vehicle for bringing people together so they can be apart: a sort of radical individualism under state sponsorship.’
Igor Shafarevich in his work the Socialist Phenomenon remarked:
‘The majority of socialist doctrines proclaim the abolition of the family. In other doctrines, as well as in certain socialist states, this proposition is not proclaimed in such radical form, but the principle appears as a de-emphasis of the role of the family, the weakening of family ties, the abolition of certain functions of the family. Again, the negative form of the principle is more common. As a positive statement about specific relationships between the sexes or between parents and children, it appears in several variants as the total obliteration of the family, communality of wives and the destruction of all ties between parent and child to the point where they may not even know one another; as an impairment and weakening of family ties; or as the transformation of the family into a unit of the bureaucratic state subjected to its goals and control.’
We know that the cudgels of the anti-family movement have been taken up by almost every establishment political party – all of which have subscribed in part or in full to the cultural revolution. As the sexual revolutionary Marcuse stated: ‘One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of existing society. The traditional idea of revolution and the traditional strategy of revolution have ended. These ideas are old fashioned…what we must understand is a type of diffuse and dispersed disintegration of the system.’
An American friend has reminded us: We need to know the kind of war we are in. With that in mind we refer our readers to The Genesis of the Cultural Revolution – The Franfurt School which appears elsewhere in this blog.
A S Fraser)
The road to same-sex marriage was paved by Rousseau
At the heart of the debate over same-sex marriage are fundamental questions about who men are and how we decide what makes us flourish.
There is more to same-sex marriage than politics. It only becomes plausible if you accept certain assumptions about how to distinguish what is natural from what is unnatural and what is right from what is wrong. The intellectual origins of the debate stretch all the way back to the Greeks, but radical changes in philosophy over the past couple of hundred years accelerated the process. In the essay below, Robert R. Reilly gives some deep background.
Ineluctably, the issue of “gay” rights is about far more than sexual practices. It is, as lesbian advocate Paula Ettelbrick proclaimed, about “transforming the very fabric of society … [and] radically reordering society's views of reality”.
Since how we perceive reality is at stake in this struggle, the question inevitably rises: what is the nature of this reality? Is it good for us as human beings? Is it according to our Nature? Each side in the debate claims that what they are defending or advancing is according to Nature.
Opponents of same-sex marriage say that it is against Nature; proponents say that it is natural and that, therefore, they have a “right” to it. Yet the realities to which each side points are not just different but opposed: each negates the other. What does the word Nature really mean in this context? The words may be the same, but their meanings are directly contradictory, depending on the context. Therefore, it is vitally important to understand the broader contexts in which they are used and the larger views of reality of which they are a part since the status and meaning of Nature will be decisive in the outcome.
Let us then review briefly what the natural law understanding of "Nature" is and the kinds of distinctions an objective view of reality enables us to make in regard to our existence in general and to sexuality in particular. The point of departure must be that Nature is what is, regardless of what anyone desires or abhors. We are part of it and subject to it. It is not subject to us. Thus, we shall see how, once the objective status of Nature is lost or denied, we are incapacitated from possessing any true knowledge about ourselves and about how we are to relate to the world. This discussion may seem at times somewhat unrelated to the issues directly at hand, but it is not. It is at its heart and soul. Without it, the rest of our discussion is a mere battle of opinions.
Order in the Universe – Aristotle’s Laws of Nature
There are two basic, profoundly different anthropologies behind the competing visions of man at the heart of the dispute over same-sex marriage. For an understanding of the original notion of Nature, we will turn to those who began the use of the term in classical Greece, most especially Plato and Aristotle. To present the antithesis of this understanding, we will then turn to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who eviscerated the word of its traditional meaning in the 18th century and gave it its modern connotation. The older anthropology is Aristotelian, which claims that man is by Nature a political animal for whom the basic societal unit is the family. The newer is Rousseauian, which claims that man is not a political animal and that society in any form is fundamentally alien to him. These two disparate anthropologies presuppose, in turn, two radically different metaphysics: one is teleological; the other is non-teleological, or anti-teleological. Again, the first one has its roots in Aristotle, the second in Rousseau. These two schools of thought provide convenient and necessary philosophical perspectives within which to understand the uses of the words “natural” and “unnatural” as they are variously employed by the proponents and opponents of homosexual acts and same-sex marriage today.
The discovery of Nature was momentous, as it was the first product of philosophy. Man first deduced the existence of Nature by observing order in the universe. The regularity with which things happen could not be explained by random repetition. All activity seems governed by a purpose, by ends to which things are designed to move. Before this discovery, in the ancient, pre-philosophical world, man was immersed in mythological portrayals of the world, the gods, and himself. These mythopoeic accounts made no distinction between man and Nature, or between convention and Nature. A dog wagged its tail because that was the way of a dog. Egyptians painted their funeral caskets in bright colors because that was the way of the Egyptians. There was no way to differentiate between the two because the word “Nature” was not available in the vocabulary of the pre-philosophical world.
According to Henri Frankfort in Before Philosophy, it was Heraclitus who first grasped that the universe is an intelligible whole and that therefore man is able to comprehend its order. If this is true – and only if it is true – man's inquiry into the nature of reality becomes possible. The very idea of “Nature” becomes possible. How could this be? Heraclitus said that the universe is intelligible because it is ruled by and is the product of "thought" or wisdom. If it is the product of thought, then it can be apprehended by thinking. We can know what is because it was made by logos. We can have thoughts about things that are themselves the product of thought.
As far as we know, Heraclitus and Parmenides were the first to use the word logosto name this “thought” or wisdom. Logos, of course, means “reason” or “word” in Greek. Logos is the intelligence behind the intelligible whole. It is logos which makes the world intelligible to the endeavor of philosophy, ie, reason. In theTimaeus, Plato writes, "... now the sight of day and night, and the months and the revolutions of the years, have created number, and have given us a conception of time; and the power of inquiring about the nature of the universe; and from this source, we have derived philosophy, than which no greater good ever was or will be given by the gods to mortal man." Through reason, said Socrates, man can come to know "what is", ie, the nature of things.
Aristotle taught that the essence or nature of a thing is what makes it what it is, and why it is not something else. This is not a tautology. As an acorn develops into an oak tree, there is no point along its trajectory of growth that it will turn into a giraffe or something other than an oak. That is because it has the nature of an oak tree. By natural law, in terms of living things, we mean the principle of development which makes it what it is and, given the proper conditions, what it will become when it fulfills itself or reaches its end. For Aristotle, “Nature ever seeks an end”. This end state is its telos, its purpose or the reason for which it is. In non-human creation this design is manifested through either instinct or physical law. Every living thing has a telos toward which it purposefully moves. In plants or animals, this involves no self-conscious volition. In man, it does.
Anything that operates contrary to this principle in a thing is unnatural to it. By unnatural, we mean something that works against what a thing would become were it to operate according to its principle of development. For instance, an acorn will grow into an oak unless its roots are poisoned by highly acidic water. One would say that the acidic water is unnatural to the oak or against its “goodness”.
The term “teleological”, when applied to the universe, implies that everything has a purpose, and the purpose inheres in the structure of things themselves. There is what Aristotle called entelechy, “having one’s end within”. The goal of the thing is intrinsic to it. These laws of Nature, then, are not an imposition of order from without by a commander-in-chief, but an expression of it from within the very essence of things, which have their own integrity. This also means that the world is comprehensible because it operates on a rational basis.
It is by their natures that we are able to know what things are. Otherwise, we would only know specificities, and be unable to recognize things in their genus and species. In other words, we would only experience this piece of wood (a tree), as opposed to that piece of wood (another tree), but we would not know the word “tree” or even the word “wood”, because we would not know the essence of either. In fact, we would know nothing.
Nature is also what enables one person to recognize another person as a human being. What does human nature mean? It means that human beings are fundamentally the same in their very essence, which is immutable and, most profoundly, that every person's soul is ordered to the same transcendent good or end. (This act of recognition is the basis of Western civilization. We have forever since called barbarian those who are either incapable of seeing another person as a human being or who refuse to do so.) Both Socrates and Aristotle said that men's souls are ordered to the same good and that, therefore, there is a single standard of justice which transcends the political standards of the city. There should not be one standard of justice for Athenians and another for Spartans. There is only one justice and this justice is above the political order. It is the same at all times, everywhere, for everyone.
For the first time, reason becomes the arbiter. Reason becomes normative. It is through reason – not from the gods of the city – that man can discern what is just from what is unjust, what is good from what is evil, what is myth from what is reality. Behaving reasonably or doing what accords with reason becomes the standard of moral behavior. We see one of the highest expressions of this understanding in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.
As classics scholar Bruce S. Thornton expressed it: “If one believes, as did many Greek philosophers from Heraclitus on, that that the cosmos reflects some sort of rational order, then ‘natural’ would denote behavior consistent with that order. One could then act ‘unnaturally’ by indulging in behavior that subverted that order and its purpose”. Behaving according to Nature, therefore means acting rationally. Concomitantly, behaving unnaturally means acting irrationally. This notion of reality necessitates the rule of reason.
Reason and morality
This is relevant to man alone because only he possesses free will. He can choose the means to his end or choose to frustrate his end altogether. This, of course, is why "moral" laws are applicable only to man. These moral laws are what natural law means in regard to man. That man can defy moral law in no way lessens the certainty of its operation. In fact, man not so much breaks the moral law as the moral law breaks man, if he transgresses it. In short, when we speak of man’s Nature, we mean the ordering of man’s being toward certain ends. It is the fulfillment of those ends which makes man fully human.
What is man’s end? In the Apology, Socrates said that, “A man who is good for anything…ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong – acting the part of a good man or bad…” The Republic states that “the idea of the Good… is seen only with an effort; and when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and the lord of the light of this visible world, and the source of truth and reason in the intellectual”. Since Socrates, we have called man’s end "the good". This end carries within it an intimation of immortality for, as Diotima said in the Symposium(207a): “… love loves good to be one's own forever. And hence it necessarily follows that love is of immortality”.
The good for man, Aristotle tells us, is happiness. However, happiness is not whatever we say it is, but only that thing which will by our nature truly make us happy. Since man’s nature is fundamentally rational, happiness will consist in the knowledge and contemplation of the ultimate good. (That good, the theologians tell us, is God). Aristotle explains that happiness is achieved only through virtuous actions – the repetition of good deeds. Deeds are considered good and bad, natural and unnatural, in relation to the effect they have on man’s progress toward his end.
So, it is through Nature that we come to understand the proper use of things. The enormous importance of this for our topic is that, since the purposes of things are intrinsic to them, man does not get to make them up, but only to discover them through the use of his reason. He can then choose to conform his behavior to these purposes in a life of virtue, or to frustrate them in a life of vice. He can choose to become fully human, or to dehumanize himself. However, if his choice is the latter, he will not present it to himself in those terms. As Aristotle said, he must see what he selects as a good in order for him to be able to select it. If he chooses to rebel against the order of things, he will present this choice to himself not as one in favor of disorder, but as one for order – but of another sort. He will, as we have said, rationalize: vice becomes virtue. It is to the construction of this other sort of “order”, to this alternate reality, that we now turn. One of its modern architects was Rousseau.
Rousseau’s Inversion of Aristotle
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) turned Aristotle’s notion of Nature on its head. Aristotle said Nature defined not only what man is but what he should be. Rousseau countered that Nature is not an end—a telos—but a beginning: Man’s end is his beginning. He has no immutable nature. “We do not know what our nature permits us to be”, wrote Rousseau in his Emile. A 20th century version of this view was offered by John Dewey, who said: “human nature is not to have a nature”. There is nothing man “ought” to become, no moral imperative. There is no purpose in man or nature; existence is therefore bereft of any rational principle. This means there is no entelechy, no such thing as ‘having one’s end within,’ as Aristotle put it. In fact, reason itself is not natural to man, according to Rousseau – whereas Aristotle said it is man’s very essence. For Rousseau, the roots of reason are in the irrational. Reason is the servant of the passions, not of the truth.
Contra Aristotle, Rousseau asserted that man by nature was not a social, political animal endowed with reason. Unlike Aristotle, Rousseau does not begin with the family, but with an isolated individual in the state of nature, where the pure “sentiment of his own existence” was such that “one suffices to oneself, like God.” Nature becomes a secular substitute for the Garden of Eden. Yet this self-satisfied god was asocial, amoral and pre-rational. His couplings with women were random and formed no lasting attachment. The family was not natural to him. As Rousseau wrote in his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality , “… there was one appetite which urged him to perpetuate his own species; and this blind impulse, devoid of any sentiment of the heart, produced only a purely animal act. The need satisfied, the two sexes recognized each other no longer, and even the child meant nothing to the mother, as soon as he could do without her.” (Rousseau, in fact, abandoned his five children.) The Marquis de Sade expressed a thoroughly Rousseauian sentiment in his novel Juliette, when he wrote that “all creatures are born isolated and with no need of one another”.
It was only when through some unexplainable “accident” one man was forced into association with another that his godlike autonomy ended. “Man is by nature good”, said Rousseau, but we have somehow fallen from Nature. What man has become is the result not of Nature but of this “accident”, which also in some way ignited his use of reason. Rousseau stresses the accidental character of man’s association in society in order to emphasize its unnaturalness and artificiality. It was not necessary. In fact, it shouldn’t have happened. Aristotle taught that you cannot reach perfection by yourself; man needs society and the political order to reach his full potential. The polis is necessary to him. Rousseau asserted the opposite: man begins in perfection, which the formation of society then takes from him.
Here is how Rousseau stated his thesis in his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality: “… this state [of nature] was the least subject to upheavals and the best for man, and that he must have left it only by virtue of some fatal chance happening that, for the common good, ought never to have happened. The example of savages, almost all of whom have been found in this state, seems to confirm that the human race had been made to remain in it always; that this state is the veritable youth of the world; and that all the subsequent progress has been in appearance so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, and in fact toward the decay of the species”.
In his Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, Rousseau purported to show the destructive influences of civilization and “progress” on men, whose “minds have been corrupted in proportion as the arts and sciences have improved”. In his work Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques, he describes himself as having advanced the "great principle that nature made man happy and good, but that society depraves him and makes him miserable....vice and error, foreign to his constitution, enter it from outside and insensibly change him." Speaking of himself in the third person, Rousseau wrote that “he makes us see the human race as better, wiser, and happier in its primitive constitution; blind, miserable, and wicked to the degree that it moves away from it."
The society resulting from that “fatal chance happening” has corrupted man. This is Rousseau’s substitution for original sin. Through his association with others, man lost his self-sufficient “sentiment of his own existence.” He began to live in the esteem of others (amour propre), instead of in his own self-esteem (amour de soi). In this way man was “alienated” from himself and enslaved to others. This is what Rousseau meant when he said, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains”. Here we see in Rousseau the origin of Marx’s idea of exploitation, carried through, in more recent times, to Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential assertion that: “Hell is other people”. If hell is other people, then heaven must be oneself.
Nonetheless, Rousseau knew that the pre-rational, asocial state of blissful isolation in the state of nature was lost forever, much as was the Garden of Eden. But he thought that an all-powerful state could ameliorate the situation of alienated man. The closest man can come to secular salvation is to abolish those dependent forms of association which have enslaved him to other men and kept him always outside of himself. He must sever, as much as possible, his relations with his fellow members of society so he can return the sentiment of his own existence to himself. How can this be done?
The state demands complete dependence
Rousseau described the accomplishment of this condition: “Each person would then be completely independent of all his fellowmen, and absolutely dependent upon the state”. The state could restore a simulacrum of that original well-being by removing all of man’s subsidiary social relationships. By destroying man’s familial, social, and political ties, the state could make each individual totally dependent on the state and independent of each other. The state is the vehicle for bringing people together so they can be apart: a sort of radical individualism under state sponsorship.
Rousseau’s program was to politicize society totally and his first target was society’s foundation – the primary means by which men are curbed of that total self-absorption to which Rousseau wished them to return – the family. To destroy the family Rousseau proposed that its primary function of educating its children be taken from it and given to the state. “The public authority, in assuming the place of father and charging itself with this important function (should) acquire his (the father’s) rights in the discharge of his duties”. The father is supposed to console himself with the thought that he still has some authority over his children as a “citizen” of the state. His relationship with his children has metamorphosed into a purely political one.
Rousseau’s attack upon the family and his exclusive reliance upon the state as the vehicle of man’s redemption is the prototype for all future revolutionaries. The program is always the same: society, responsible for all evils, must be destroyed. To promote universal “brotherhood”, the only source from which the word “brother” can draw meaning – the family – must be eliminated. Once society is atomized, once the family ceases to interpose itself between the individual and the state, the state is free to transform by force the isolated individual into whatever version of “new man” the revolutionary visionaries espouse.
The artificial family
Here is the point of huge significance for our subject. If the family is artificial in its origins, as Rousseau claimed, then it can be changed and rearranged in any way the state or others may desire. It is simply a shift in convention, a change in a cultural artifact. We can revise human relations in any way we choose. Whoever has sufficient power may make these alternations to suit themselves. There is no standard in Nature to which they must adhere or by which they can be judged. If we do not have a Nature, then there could not possibly be a problem with homosexual acts or same-sex marriage – or with many other things, as well. Pointing out that there has never been such a thing as homosexual marriage in history is superfluous to this point of view since man’s “nature” is malleable. It is the product of history. History moves on and man changes with it. Or rather man can change himself according to his desires, as long as he has the means to do so. Since things do not have ends in themselves, they can be given ends by whoever is powerful enough to do so.
This is the philosophy of the Sophist Callicles in the Gorgias, when he says to Socrates: “the fact is this: luxury and licentiousness and liberty, if they have the support of force, are virtue and happiness, and the rest of these embellishments—the unnatural covenants of mankind—are all mere stuff and nonsense” (492c). With the support of force, virtue becomes whatever you choose. It is not conforming your behavior to the rational ends of Nature, but conforming things to your desires. Reason becomes your instrument for doing this. For Rousseau, man is a creature of desire and appetites, to which his reason is subordinated. Rousseau’s host in England, David Hume, wrote in A Treatise on Human Nature: “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions and may never pretend to any office other than to serve and obey them”. Reason is not, then, the means by which man reaches his end in the knowledge and contemplation of the good. It is a tool for satisfying the passions. The inversion of Aristotle is complete.
Natural laws or natural rights?
A modern day version of Callicles would not speak as frankly as he did to Socrates. He would cloak his inversion of natural law in the language of “natural right”, so that it might seem to be the same, while actually being its opposite – just as did Rousseau. If you are an active homosexual, you claim a “right” to sodomitical acts and same-sex marriage. Though “natural right” sounds like natural law, it is not, as Fr. James Schall has explained, at all similar. “Modern natural right theory”, he writes, “is a theory of will, a will presupposed to nothing but itself. In its politicized formulation, it has been the most enduring and dangerous alternative to a natural law that is based in the ontological reality of what man is.
Once natural right becomes the understood foundation of political life, the state is free to place any content into it that it wants, including the rewriting or elimination of natural law. The older constitutional tradition thought that the state was itself both a natural result of man's nature and, in that capacity, a check on the state. But if man has no ‘nature,’ he is freed from this restriction. Modern natural right means that nothing limits man or the state except what he wills. He can will whatever he can bring about whether or not it was held to be contrary to natural law.” Nothing less than this is what is playing itself out in the same-sex marriage struggle.
Though not directly speaking of Callicles or Rousseau in Salt of the Earth, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said something that characterizes this school of thought: “the idea that ‘nature’ has something to say is no longer admissible; man is to have the liberty to remodel himself at will. He is to be free from all of the prior givens of his essence. He makes of himself what he wants, and only in this way is he really ‘free’ and liberated. Behind this approach is a rebellion on man’s part against the limits that he has as a biological being. In the end, it is a revolt against our creatureliness. Man is to be his own creator – a modern, new edition of the immemorial attempts to be God, to be like God.”
This is the anthropological and metaphysical perspective within which the same-sex marriage movement makes its case. To accept same-sex marriage means to accept the entire perspective from which it comes, including the assertion that “human nature is not to have a nature”. But natural law is nothing other than what it is to be a human being. Its rejection is a denial of humanity, of what is.
Robert R. Reilly is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He is currently completing a book on the natural law argument against homosexual marriage for Ignatius Press.
For further insights into Rousseau and the Enlightenment please read this excellent article by Gerald Warner which appeared in Scotland on Sunday 5th May 2013:
We have been notified of the deaths of the following Apropos readers.
Mr and Mrs C Niggel.
Please pray for the repose of their souls and the souls of all deceased Apropos and Approaches readers, subscribers and benefactors. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.
Today we have added Arnaud de Lassus's study on the Frankfurt School. This first appeared in English in Apropos in 2003. It is essemtial reading for those who wish to understand the cultural revolution we are living through.
The Genesis of the Cultural Revolution - The Frankfurt School (click on blue text)
We have also appended the following short article by Professor Robert Hickson
Hilaire Belloc and a High Mass
Please note the following articles added to the site:
The Sacred Heart's Promises to Families (click on blue text).
Subtle Channels of Divine Grace
The former appeared in the first issue of Apropos and provides interesting and provocative advice (at least in our current society) regarding the roles of family members within the family.
The latter article is a lengthy article on the works of Maurice Baring. Readers whose appetite for further insights into Maurice Baring's life and works was whetted by Professor Robert Hickson's article on Baring in Apropos 30/31 may eat their fill from this essay.
Apropos' editorial policy may be found here:
Our Dead: We have been advised of the death of Deirdre Manifold, a subscriber and a fearless fighter for the Faith. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful rest in peace.
Due to factors outwith our control we will be unable to post material from now until around the end of April. We will then resume with more frequent contributions. We wish all our readers a happy and Holy Eastertide and every blessing of the Risen Christ.
We made reference earlier to moves to legalise abortion in Ireland. We refer our readers to the following article by John Smeaton of SPUC (regarding certain elements of the pro-life campaign in Ireland) which may be found at the following adddress also.
There is no right way to carry out abortions ... in Ireland or elsewhere
Recent news from Ireland surrounding the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar urgently requires deeper reflection on the part of pro-life leaders.
Pregnant women who are ill should be protected by good and ethical means. A woman should not be denied life-saving treatment which targets her own body and does not target her baby’s body, even if her baby dies as a result.
In this connection it must, however, be noted that, whilst deliberately choosing to 'remove a baby' before he or she is viable may have the good further motive of protecting the mother, the immediate intention and procedure is sadly identical to that involved in other abortions.
All abortions involve, at the very least, the intention to end the pregnancy. They target the baby and the baby's own tissues, unlike legitimate life-saving operations on the woman where harmful effects on her baby and on the baby's presence in her body are mere side-effects of treatment. Deliberate induction of pre-viable babies is abortion and is acceptable neither in medical ethics nor in Catholic Church teaching - which is an important fact for pro-life Catholics, and indeed for some pro-lifers from other faiths (or of no religious faith).
The statement put out this week by the Pro Life Campaign (PLC), a pro-life organization in Ireland, does not appear to rule out abortion in certain cases and is part of a worrying trend. Some have gone further in their defence of inducing pre-viable babies: thus one Irish pro-lifer has said of Savita's case:
“hospital staff should have considered accelerating delivery once miscarriage was inevitable in an attempt to pre-empt any infections that might be caused by Savita’s cervix being open”In other words, induction of the pre-viable baby is now to be encouraged even in cases where the mother is in no immediate danger of death. It is easy to see how this could then be extended by pro-abortionists to allow induction for suicidal pregnant women if it is wrongly claimed that this will help them (of course, abortion does not help suicidal women in any way). This is how we get liberalised abortion: by neglecting to analyse 'hard cases' in detail, which in practice means neglecting the most vulnerable babies and letting down the most vulnerable mothers, who instead need life-affirming health care.
Some defenders of pre-viability induction have gone on to defend D&Cs and D&Es – and it is hard to see why these two options should not also be allowed in principle once we start advocating abortion by induction, albeit with a good further motive.
The baby's own bodily integrity and its physical presence should always be respected, even as we treat illness or infection in the woman's own body as vigorously as we can. Doctors who respect the lives and bodies of both patients, in a way reflecting age-old principles of medical ethics, should be affirmed in this and should not be condemned by any guidelines, medical or otherwise, which are not truly pro-life. Nor should pro-lifers become involved in drawing up guidelines which instruct doctors in the ‘right way’ to carry out abortions. There is no right way to carry out abortions. [End of article by John Smeaton]
We would like to draw our readers' attention to the Hilaire Belloc Blog which can be found at http://thehilairebellocblog.blogspot.co.uk/
To whet our reader's appetite for things Bellocian (which may be found on the above site) we have posted two articles by Professor Robert Hickson who is a great Belloc fan.
These will be also be posted in our Contributor's Archive in due course:
'One hundred years ago, shortly before the manifold devastation of World War I, Hilaire Belloc wrote “The Missioner” about the gradual implantation of the Faith in Norway in the Viking days. He also composed at that time a complementary and more extended essay, Esto Perpetua (1906), about the historical implantation of Rome in North Africa after the Punic Wars, and the later rootedness of the Christian Faith in those lands before it was lost to the sudden, combative, and permeating Mohammedans.
In this centenary commemoration of Belloc's Nordic essay and Esto Perpetua – his longer study and historically informed travel-book containing cultural and religious reflections on the former Roman Province of North Africa in the Maghreb – we shall also come to see the vivid insights of a young man in his mid-thirties.'
Hilaire Belloc's view of a Pilgrimage
'When Hilaire Belloc was a rumbustious young man in his mid-thirties, and only a few years after he had completed his journey afoot to Rome, he wrote an essay entitled “The Idea of a Pilgrimage,” which first appeared in his memorable 1906 collection of essays Hills and the Sea.2 In this essay are some insights—even about “the heart of a child”—which will be, I believe, still a fortifying inspiration for us today, and a deep moral nourishment.'
We have a Pope - Pope Francis I
The election of any pope often results in speculation regarding his policies and the possible direction of his pontificate. We have seen much of such speculation in the past few days - indeed, we have engaged in some private speculation ourselves. The picture in these very early days is full of contradictions and even some ungracious opinions. We do not therefore wish to engage publicly in such speculation and await the more concrete decisions of the new Pontiff before making any comment - other than to reiterate our hope that he be a holy, strong and orthodox Pontiff who will restore order in the Church, and seek to re-establish all things in Christ. May God bless him and guide him.
We are slightly bemused by many blogs and commentaries coming from Rome during the conclave. Black smoke is not the only hot air arising in Rome. To what end? Will conclave blogs or commentaries or bookies odds affect the outcome?
There is only one effective thing we can do: to pray for a holy, strong and orthodox pontiff - for a Pope that we do not deserve - a Pope who will seek to re-establish all things in Christ - Instaurare omnia in Christo.
From Hockey Stick to Snooker Cue
In this article Christopher Booker indicates that data does not support the rises in global warming suggested by the anthropomorphic climate change lobby.
Here can be found an article by the Scottish Catholic journalist, Gerald Warner, regarding the late Hugo Chavez. This might help counteract the fawning adulation of Chavez which has appeared on most UK broadcasting sites.
St Frances of Rome, March 09, 2013
The Church will soon celebrate the feast of St Joseph, Patron Saint of the Church. To help prepare for this we attach below a small article by Paul Kokoski, a Canadian, who reminds us that St Joseph is also the Patron Saint of that country. We would also like to bring our readers' attention to the preparatory document prepared by the SSPX for a Novena to St Joseph. This contains many reflections on St Joseph by Popes and theologians.
Article by Joseph Kokoski:
St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Canada and the Universal Church
On March 19 we celebrate the solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On May 1 we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.Scripture tells us that St. Joseph was of royal lineage, a descendent of David, the greatest king of Israel. He was the foster father of Jesus. To him, "son of David", God entrusted the safekeeping of the Eternal Word, made man by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. St. Joseph is described in the Gospel as a "just man", that is to say a godly man, and for all believers he is a model of life in faith. Even in difficult and sometimes tragic moments, the humble carpenter of Nazareth never disputed God's plan. Rather he fulfilled it with docile responsibility. He listened attentively to the angel when he was asked to take the Virgin of Nazareth as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned and fled with his family into Egypt. He then waited patiently until the angel told him it was safe to return.St. Joseph was a poor but humble man, rich in compassion. He was the protector of our Lady’s good name, the caring guardian of Jesus, an attentive and faithful husband who exercised his family authority in a constant attitude of service. It was Joseph’s trade that Jesus learned. It was his manner of speech that the boy Jesus would have imitated, it was he whom our Lady herself seemed to invest with full parental rights when she said "Thy father and I have sought the sorrowing".Speaking on fatherhood Jesus once told his disciples : "You have only one Father and that is your father in heaven" (Mt. 23:9). Though there is but one fatherhood, man, created in the image of God, has been granted a share in this one paternity of God (Eph 3:15). St. Joseph is a striking example of this since he is a father, without fatherhood according to the flesh. Though he was not the biological father of Jesus he lived his fatherhood fully and completely by putting himself at the service of Christ. As Jesus teaches us "the leader must become as one who serves" (Lk 22: 26). Joseph thus understood that Jesus was superior to him even as he submitted to him, and, knowing the superiority of his charge, he commanded him with respect and moderation. There is a lesson here for everyone: frequently a lesser man is placed over people who are greater, and it happens at times that an inferior is more worthy than the one who appears to be set above him. If a person of greater dignity understands this, then he will not be puffed up with pride because of his higher rank; he will know that his inferior may well be superior to him, even as Jesus was superior to Joseph. St. Joseph, whose only reward was to be with Christ, teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing. He teaches us that we can experience healing from our emotional wounds if we embrace God’s plan for us by devoting our lives fully to Christ whether that be through the priesthood, the consecrated life through the different forms of lay engagement. In St. Joseph, faith is not separated from action. Every day St Joseph had to provide for the family's needs with hard manual work. The human being, Pope John Paul II tells us " is the subject and the primary agent of work...Human activity... proceeds from the human person and is ordered to the person... it must serve the true good of humanity". Thus the Church rightly points to St. Joseph as the patron of workers. We celebrate this feast on May 1.Apart from these few details Sacred Scriptures tells us very little about St. Joseph. This silence, however, contains the special style of his mission: a life lived in the greyness of everyday life, but with steadfast faith in Providence.It is not know for certain when St. Joseph died but many historians believe it was probably before Jesus entered public ministry. In the Coptic document "The History of Joseph the Carpenter" a full account is given of St. Joseph’s last illness. It speaks of his fear of God’s judgments, of his self-reproach, and of the efforts made by Our Lord and his Mother to comfort him and ease his passage to the next world, and of the promises of protection in life and death made by Jesus to such as should do good in Joseph’s name. St. Joseph is thus the patron of the dying and of a happy death because he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.
St. Joseph is also patron of the universal church as well as the patron saint of Canada. May St. Joseph, a great and humble saint, watch over the church in these days of severe trials and be an inspiration especially to Christian workers and all whom should call on him in every circumstance.
St John of God, March 08, 2013
As moves are afoot to legalise abortion in the Republic of Ireland, we post two articles, from the Approaches archive, which provide some background to the forces, recent and not so recent and often foreign, which have sought and seek to secularise Ireland and to pave the way for a modern secular State inimical to the true character of Ireland:
- ‘A Nation Betrayed’ by Hamish Fraser. This article was written at the time of the so-called ‘Troubles’ in 1971 and describes attempts then to secularise the Irish State on the back of attempts to bring “peace” to Northern Ireland.
- ‘The Historic Origin of the Irish State’ by John Campbell. This was an address given at an Approaches conference in Ireland in 1981. It questions why the Catholic champions of Irish independence are ignored while secular, Irish revolutionaries are lauded.
First Friday - Ist March 2013
Now that Pope Benedict XVI has resigned and we await the election of a new Pope, we find ourselves on much the same wavelength as Fr Alain Lorans who expressed these sentiments in Dici:
Do we pray, or do we play?
On the eve of a conclave, journalists are drawing up lists of papabili and speculating on the chances that one or another will be elected pope. Some bets are even made publicly, and people feverishly follow the “odds” on the cardinals!
The liturgy demands that we pray, not play the odds! The Mass pro eligendo summo pontifice—for the election of the Supreme Pontiff—offers prayers that are much more worthwhile than human reasoning or derisive speculations.
Collect: Humbly we beseech and implore You, Lord: may Your infinite goodness give to the Holy Roman Church a pontiff who will always be pleasing to You by his supernatural zeal on our behalf and will merit the veneration of Your people by his wise government to the glory of Your Name.
Secret: In Your abundant goodness, Lord, be gracious to us: that through these holy gifts that we respectfully offer to You, we may have the joy of seeing a pontiff pleasing to Your Majesty preside over the government of our Holy Mother the Church.
Postcommunion: Having been renewed by Your precious Body and Blood, may we rejoice, O Lord, through the admirable grace of Your Majesty, to have a pontiff who will instruct Your people in virtue and diffuse in the souls of the faithful the sweet fragrance of spiritual graces.
Fr. Alain Lorans
21st February 2013
We ask for your prayers for the repose of the souls of the following Apropos readers whose deaths occurred recently or were notified to us following the issue of the last edition: Hugh McGoogan and
J. Cunnington. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful rest in peace.
19th February 2013
Herewith an article by John Vennari of Catholic Family News regardind the Sandro Magister article mentioned by us on 11th February: 'The "Original Sin" of Vatican II'.
Commemoration of St Simeon - 18th Feb. 2013
Dr John Rao has asked us to advertise the First International Congress of Catholic Christendom - The Roman Forum Summer Symposium 2013 - Theme: Divine Comedy or Theatre of the Absurd.
The Seven Holy Founders of The Servite Orders - 12th Feb. 2013
We have uploaded the article 'Yoga and Zen - Philosophies of Despair' which appeared in Apropos No 15, Advent 1993. It can be found under the Apropos archive - Apropos 15.
Feast of the Apparition of Our Blessed Lady at Lourdes - 11th February 2013
We have just learned of the Pope's decision to resign and pray for him. The first thing that comes to mind is who might be his successor. We pray that, whoever he might be, he manages to restore order and orthodoxy to the Church. Many had great hopes that Benedict XVI might have managed to do so, but their hopes were dashed. We must recognise that is was Benedict who exposed the fallacy that the traditional Mass had been banned, although for all intents and purposes it remains "banned" in many of our parishes because priests cannot celebrate it or refuse to do so.
We provide a link here to Sandro Magister's article on Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli's new book, in Italian, which deals with associated concerns. We pray that the new Pontiff will address these concerns rapidly and with the courage required to expel Modernism from the Church. Sandro Magister's article may be found here:
We also attach a link to the SSPX statement regarding the Pope's resignation:
We agree with the sentiments of this statement
John Vennari, Catholic Family News, has posted his initial observations at the following: http://www.cfnews.org/page10/page87/ex-pope-in-media-age.html
As Lent beckons we recommend this little article by Paul Kokoski on Fasting: Fasting
Feast of St Andrew Corsini - 4th Feb. 2013
The next issue of Apropos - No 30-31 is a double issue. The reason for this will be clear from the editorial. It will also be the last issue as we have also ceased publication with this issue. The reasons for that too will be explained in the editorial.
We may continue to publish material on our website from time time from contributors and the location of such will be indicated in this blog.
Apropos 30-31 will be posted within the next 3-4 days.