Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Catholic values in the public arena

Cardinal George Pell has entered the RU486 debate with a predictable piece of obfuscation. First, anyone who disagrees with minister Tony Abbot is "not pro-life". This means that if you think a minister should not have discretion to employ his or her own personal values in making what is an administrative decision, they are in favour of abortion. Funny, I thought that this was a debate about allowing the medical profession to make medical decisions. It seems that, according to Pell, this is all about being anti-Catholic. "These sectarian anti-Catholic attacks by parliamentarians and cartoonists are cheap and nasty, revealing a poverty of argumentation and a fear the tide is turning," he said. So we are afraid that we will end up with a Catholic-run society? You bet. The track record of Catholic dominated societies is no better than the track record of any other religion. I don't want to live in a society where I have to follow the moral dictates of a religion I do not practice, nor do I want anyone else to be so forced. Abbott's use of his own religion as policy is deplorable.

According to the Australian,
Dr Pell also warned the Westminster system demanded parliamentary supervision of important moral issues. Rubbish! Parliamentarians are there to supervise the law and represent all their constituents, not just those who happen to be Catholic. And that means that the might of government must never be used to impose moral values. The Westminster system requires that governments follow the will of the electorate; not guide or control it.

If Pell, who often tries to insert Catholic doctrine into public life, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not, wants people to not focus on people's Catholicism, then he should stop making it the issue. The Roman Catholic Church can enforce its moral values on Catholics - that is, after all, what a church is there for in part. But it cannot do so for non-Catholics any more than Islamist imams can enforce Muslim values as they construe them on non-Muslims. Pell and Abbott are reaping what they sow.

And while we are talking about Muslims, how about that blindingly stupid woman Danna Vale? A federal MP declaring that abortion will make us Muslim in 50 years? Hell, it's more likely to make us Catholic, surely. But Muslims are the villains du jour, so let's scare people that way, hey?

John Howard, who I have tended to think of as a relatively decent person, needs to take steps to stop this McCarthyism from getting any worse. When 9/11 happened, he did some good things to show that his government didn't demonise Muslims because of the acts of the Islamists. He needs to do this again, loudly and unequivocally.