The French Catholic websites have been flooded with articles and commentaries on two of Pope Benedict's recent actions: first, the lifting of the excommunication on the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), an event that has been widely reported in the English-speaking press, and more recently the remark made by the Pope concerning the inefficiency of contraceptives in the fight against AIDS in Africa.There is interesting commentary on the Williamson affair from a reader of Lawrence Auster's VFR, with a link in the first sentence to a previous article, also at VFR.I am hardly qualified to talk about this matter, but I remember reading about the SSPX a year or so ago at French websites and have no problem with the lifting of the excommunication, despite the obnoxious Bishop.The hue and cry over the remark on contraceptives is puzzling to me because it is not totalitarian or in any way repressive. It does not condemn contraception (even if that is part of Church doctrine) but simply states that contraception alone will not solve the problem of AIDS, and in fact aggravates it. (Le Salon Beige has posted some information, here and here, on the worsening of a disease once a "cure" is found. I will try to get to that later, but you can easily guess that if people think they are "safe" from a disease, they will redouble their indulgence in the behavior that caused the disease in the first place.)I see nothing extreme or fanatical in the Pope's observation. I see nothing that would generate the kind of tsunami of invectives and mockery that, according to the French websites, has been unleashed in the wake of his statement.
Nouvel Observateur (a left-wing paper) reports on a recent IFOP poll (made by phone to 620 Catholics) showing that 43% of French Catholics would like the Pope to resign or retire! Who are these Catholics? Are they the thousands who came out en masse last summer to hear him say Mass at Notre-Dame Cathedral? Then the article says that the figure is even greater for "non-practicing" Catholics (47%), but decreases among the "practicing Catholics" (31%). It goes on:A great majority of the French people also believe that the Catholic Church should "modify its statements and its positions to take into account changes that have occurred in society and its mores," notably on contraception. The IFOP poll shows that 85% wish the Church would modify its position on contraception, 83% wish it would do the same on abortion! 77% on the remarriage of divorced persons and 69% on homosexuality.Note: I am not Catholic, but I know that if the Church caved in to its critics on these non-negotiable issues, it would no longer be the Catholic Church. The same is true of the American Constitution: once you begin changing it to suit the low-level trends of a decadent society it is no longer the American Constitution. It becomes the Constitution of the children of 1968 and their descendants!The article then moves on to another poll by CSA made by phone to 1,012 persons:(...) It revealed that 29% of Catholics have a good opinion of Benedict XVI and 55% have a bad opinion. But among the practicing Catholics, 52% are positive towards him and 28% negative. Among the French in general, Catholic or not, 57% have a bad opinion, a figure that doubled since September 2008. (...)Enough of polls. Does this really mean anything? Is there a campaign to discredit and even bring down the Church? The well-known positions of the Church on moral issues are hardly cause for outbursts of anger or calls for resignation. The Church cannot contravene these positions. On the other hand, it might consider modifying Vatican II, a drastic deviation that transformed the Church into a liberal, left-leaning entity, at odds with its basic mission, since it extended "equality" to ideologies such as Islam that threaten the very existence of the Church. I do not say this because I have an axe to grind against the Church, but because the survival of European civilization is at stake.Here is Louis Chagnon writing at Bernard Antony's blog:(...) This time the motivation (for the controversy) is the statement on the use of contraceptives in Africa: "The distribution of contraceptives does not allow us to move on past the problem of AIDS, it aggravates the problem." At once, like bolts of lightening, the fanatical do-gooders of the "copulation internationale" swooped down on the Bishop of Rome, whose remarks are merely a reflection of Church principles in the fight against AIDS: abstinence and marital fidelity. Abstinence and marital fidelity are far from being the norm in Africa as anyone aware of the mores there knows. Moreover these principles are only indications that any Christian can follow or not according to his conscience.It is nonetheless surreal to observe how not one of these "progressives" raises a voice against Islam, that favors a hundred whip lashes for unmarried persons who have sexual relations outside of marriage, and the stoning of adulterers. It is true that the whip and the stone are certainly more effective that contraceptives in fighting AIDS. Our "copulatory addicts" were hardly phased when a 75-year-old woman was recently condemned to 40 whip lashes and four months in prison by the Saudi religious police for having in her home two young men, not directly related to her family, who ran errands for her. If the whip and the stone are favored by our Islamophile media, can we expect to see "contraceptive-phobia" declared a crime in France in the near future? At any rate, if there were a contraceptive against intellectual dishonesty, many of our so-called elitists would have their head in a condom!There are numerous articles on this topic, even one at Le Salon Beige purporting to show that the policy of the Vatican on contraceptives is not nearly as censorious or intransigent as people often think. A tsunami (another one!) of angry comments from devout Catholic readers quashes this theory utterly. I'll try to get to it, time permitting. In the meantime, suffice it to say that Benedict XVI recently returned from a successful tour of Africa that has reactivated much debate and religious fervor at the French Catholic websites.Before I close this post, just a quick look at what transpired yesterday (Sunday, March 22) at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. Le Parisien reports:The confrontation was explosive. Clashes erupted on Sunday, a little before noon, between young people presenting themselves as Catholics and activists ("militants") of the Green and Communist parties. The latter intended to distribute condoms and tracts denouncing the recent remarks of the Pope:
"You cannot resolve the problem of AIDS with contraceptives. On the contrary, their use aggravates the problem," Benedict XVI had declared on Tuesday.
The Greens and Communists had scarcely arrived at the very symbolic John-Paul II Square in front of Notre-Dame, than the insults began flying from the young extremists, some of whom were dressed in fatigues. The verbal assault quickly degenerated into a fight, with two wounded members of the Green Party being taken to the hospital. They said they would file a complaint.The tension increased with the arrival of demonstrators from Act Up, around 12:30. Greeted by a volley of insults, eggs and bags filled with water, they sprawled out on the ground that was strewn with tracts and condoms. Additional police arrived and formed a veritable barricade between the organization that fights AIDS (this would be Act Up) and the young "Catholics". According to our sources, there were several arrests. Calm was restored around 1:00 p.m. But there is another factor. It appears that the Front National may have gotten involved in a way that was detrimental to the cause of the Catholic demonstrators who say they just wanted to pray in front of the cathedral. François Desouche reports:The Communist Party had announced its intentions: the Pope's remarks cannot be allowed. To show their opposition, elected officials and sympathizers organized a distribution of condoms at a highly symbolic site: the terrace in front of Notre-Dame, known as John-Paul II Square.This initiative did not find favor among young Catholics who wrote in their Facebook page "Leave my Pope alone" ("touche pas à mon pape"). Except that members of the Front National joined in the protest and began to have it out with those distributing condoms. To Europe 1 Radio, Florian, one of the Catholics, did not hide his annoyance: "Facebook is a free media site. Anybody can see what you write there. We did not want people from the Front National to come. We simply wanted to pray". A young man calling himself "Catholic" hit a demonstrator from Act Up in the face, while she was talking to France Info News.Technically, it became difficult to pray, once Act Up joined in the demonstration. Sprawled out on the terrace (photo below) of the cathedral which was closed as a precautionary measure, they demonstrated by whistling. The police came and attempted to separate everybody. The leader of the Communists, Ian Brossat, refused to admit defeat: to Europe 1 Radio he declared that he would continue distributing condoms... "a little further on."Did the FN interfere deliberately, or are the Catholics embarrassed by the presence of the party of JMLP? Or is there more to this crazy story? As of now there are 229 comments at FDS, as well as two Daily Motion videos, easily understandable even if you do not know French.I must end this post. New developments of importance will be reported on later.
Labels: Africa, AIDS, Benedict XVI, Family Values, Homosexuality, Media, Urban Violence