Thanks Brian for a very comprehensive evaluation of Archbishop
Pell's Philadelphia paper. It is worth a quiet read isnt
The paper is quite timely, given the latest controversy
over the Vatican's latest PR blunder on condoms.
And, yes, Maggie, it is reported globally - not just on
the BBC - that Cardinal Alphonso Lopez Trujillo was speaking
as head of the Pontifical Council for the Family; a pivotal
and important institutional player in the whole debate about
sexuality, procreation and contraception.
Worse was the cardinal's cavalier dismissal of a decade
of health science research around the world - including
Australia - with his peremptory "They are wrong about that
[ie condom impermeability] ... this is an easily recognisable
Indeed the Associated Press story has Trujillo going further
than that even, on the much advertised BBC Panorama about
to be shown: "There are several doctors on our pontifical
council and these people have studied this matter and they
have also given instruction through various published articles,
so we have not seen any denial of this fact at the level
Well at the level of medicine Trujillo may well have not
see any denial - nor should he expect to. It's not so much
an issue in which medicine has any especially important
contribution to offer - health science and public health
research are not typically areas into which your average
doctor spends much time. It is, however, an issue about
which the health science community and public health authorities
around the world have had much importance to say - and AIDS
prevention is most definitely in their field.
So the point here is that Cardinal Trujillo digs the Vatican's
hole even deeper when, recognising that he has a credibility
problem here, he leans back on his medical mates on the
council to shore him up!
So what's all that got to do with Dr Pell's paper?
Quite a lot really.
His argument for the subordination of conscience to the
truth of God (Pell, 4 October, 2003)who "...speaks to us
behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives"
(ibit:5)can only stand if those representatives (presumeable
the pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops and magisterium
of the Church speak the truth. Indeed, in an earlier paragraph
(ibit:4) Dr Pell enjoins Catholics (including cardinals,
I guess)to the teaching of 'Dignitaris Humanae' (Vatican
II); '...that all men are "bound by a moral obligation to
seek the truth, especially religious truth".
Now, I do concede that you wouldn't necessarily want to
point the BBC's performance, nor that of many of its media
counterparts, as a beacon of 'the truth'. But you would
want to point, with some confidence, to the elevated representatives
of God, would you not?
Brian is quite correct to call for an open apology from
Cardinal Trujillo for trying to win a moral argument by
recourse to a scientific fiction. I don't share Brian's
optimism for a positive PR coup, of the order of Fr raper's;
but I do agree that an apology is an essential if not sufficient
Then one can but hope that, at the forthcoming consistory,
the very first thing Cardinal Pell does with his red hat
is to pass it around all of his colleagues full to the brim
with copies of his Philadelphia paper.
I would point them especially to the particular sentence
I reproduced in an earlier posting:
"The denial of truth makes an enduring concept of justice
that genuinely serves human life and love impossible." (ibit:9)