Uncivil Unions: May 2006: Archives

May 21, 2006

Pope Assails Secularism (Update) genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Update:

Pope Benedict XVI continued his attacks on secularism and asserted that low birth rates in Canada were the evidence of the growing problem. Read the full article here.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that low birth rates in Canada are the result of the "pervasive effects of secularism" and asked the country's bishops to counter the trend by preaching the truth of Christ.

Benedict, who has spoken out several times in favor of large families, blamed Canada's low birth rate on social ills and moral ambiguities that result from secular ideology.

"Like many countries ... Canada is today suffering from the pervasive effects of secularism," Benedict told visiting bishops from Canada. "One of the more dramatic symptoms of this mentality, clearly evident in your own region, is the plummeting birth rate."

In my opinion, the linkage of low birth rates to secularism is an absurd generalization. The assertion seems to argue that having more children is an inherent good and a necessity. I'll offer my own generalization to expose the degree to which oversimplifications become the rhetoric of institutional ideologies. "The accumulation of wealth by the Catholic Church, that includes seeking money from struggling parishioners, is responsible for the pervasive poverty in the world." Taking it a step further, it seems far more logical to conclude that the growing cost of raising children has a much larger impact on the decline in birth rates in developed countries than does secularism. Consequently, one could easily make the generalized argument that the church is simply motivated by monetary considerations when it promotes higher birth rates...with the obvious intention being to create more Catholics to contribute more money to preserve the institution.

Separately, Benedict told the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See that family based on marriage should not be "replaced or confused" by other institutions -- an allusion to gay marriage, which is legal in Spain.

Continuing with my generalization, the church opposes gay marriage and homosexuality because neither has the likelihood to create more Catholics who will contribute more money. Given the waning influence of the Catholic Church, particularly in Europe, it seems obvious that these antiquated doctrines no longer withstand the tests of reality. As people have become more aware and more educated, they have begun to rely on their own ability to understand the world in which they live...leaving behind much of what they see as irrelevant rhetoric.

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Original Posting:

Pope Benedict has condemned gay unions; calling gay love weak. My own speculation on what is actually "weak" follows excerpts from the article.

From Bloomberg:

``Only the foundation of complete and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of forming the basis of a society that becomes the home of all men,'' Benedict told a convention of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute today. The pope said ``confusing marriage with other types of unions based on a love that is weak'' should be avoided.

Still, more than 71 percent of Italians are favorable to gay civil unions such as those allowed in the U.K., Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, according to a January report by research group Eurispes.

While the 1929 Lateran Treaty outlines the separation of church and state in Italy, about 43 percent of Italians believe the pope has meddled excessively in politics, according to the Eurispes report, published Jan. 17.

In my opinion, what seems weak to me is the character of the priests who violated the law and their vows when they decided to molest innocent young children. What seems weak to me is a hierarchy that allowed the molesting to go on for decades. What seems weak to me is those in positions of authority who covered up the molesting and moved priests from parish to parish knowing full well they were likely to re-offend.

What seems really weak to me is that these hypocrites think they hold infallible moral authority. History is riddled with examples of the Catholic Church burying its collective head in the sand when courage and candor was needed. See a prior Thought Theater posting on the silence of the church during the Holocaust and their continued misguided opposition to condoms with regards to the AIDS epidemic here.

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2006 | 12:06 PM | link | Comments (2)
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May 3, 2006

Virginity Pledges Not Effective genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that virginity pledges are not that effective and the ability to monitor the participants is fraught with difficulties. Todd Zeranski of the Bloomberg News Service reports the following.

Boston - Virginity pledges don't reflect the sexual practices of young people, as many renege and others take the oath after having had intercourse, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

A virginity oath is defined as a "public or written pledge to remain a virgin until marriage."

The results show the difficulty in accurately assessing the effects of the pledge on early sexual activity, Rosenbaum said.

Her study found that 52 percent of all adolescents who made the pledge in the 1995 survey denied making such a vow a year later. Nearly three-quarters of those who broke their pledge denied they had taken such an oath in the second survey.

Adolescents most likely to retract virginity pledges were those who were newly sexually active or who had renounced a previous identity as a born-again Christian, the study found.

Almost one-third of nonvirgins in the first survey who then took a virginity pledge disavowed their previous sexual experiences in the second survey. Teens who admitted having sex in the first survey and later made the pledge were four times as likely to deny a previous sexual experience as those who hadn't made a pledge in the second survey.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence that virginity pledges have limited effectiveness in delaying sexual intercourse among adolescents and that we need to continue to look for strategies that work, said Monica Rodriguez, a vice president at the nonprofit Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

The federal government is spending $178 million in the fiscal 2006 year, and the states are allocating an additional $37.6 million for abstinence education, the council said.

What I find so confounding is the desire to prevent a natural and normal progression taken by virtually all humans. I would compare the efforts to promote abstinence to the never ending dieting people endure to avoid gaining weight. In other words, the notion that one simply needs to pledge they won't have sex is similar to the idea that if one can simply find the right diet, ones weight gaining propensity will be extinguished. In both cases the principle of denying a fundamental human activity is the primary focus. This myopic approach is not only ineffective; it seeks to overturn human nature.

From my perspective, life is a comprehensive endeavor that requires a balanced approach. Applying absolute constructs to a human nature that is at best unpredictable is foolish and runs the risk of creating insecurities and idiosyncrasies that may be difficult to overcome. Instead of demonizing our humanity, we should focus on an understanding of the underlying motivations with candor and positive reinforcements for thoughtful decisions.

Coercing a young child to pledge virginity before they can comprehend the meaning of the promise will only lead the child to reject the notion once the conflicting, yet wholly natural, instincts emerge. Placing children in such a trap will more frequently alienate them from the parents whereby open and honest communication is seen as impossible given that the parental expectations of the child are also seen as insurmountable. Silence and deceit necessarily ensue. Once sex has been demonized to this extent, the damage may be difficult to reverse.

Daniel DiRito | May 3, 2006 | 7:53 AM | link | Comments (2)
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