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The State is laic February 7, 2009

Posted by dorigo in history, personal, politics, religion.
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The other day, while waiting for my turn to operate the automatic coffee machine in the basement of the physics department, I read a small newspaper clip hung by somebody on the bulletin board in front of the machine. It was a comment by Michele Serra, who sarcastically thanked an italian archbishop of the catholic church, for clarifying in an interview that the Church’s rules, to a christian, come before the ones of the State. In other words, Serra clarified, catholics should not follow laws, in case those collide with the predicaments of the Church. So catholic physicians, for instance, are justified if they do not prescribe the “day after” pill against pregnancy: the State demands them to do it, but Christ comes first.

We of course have very clear and present in our minds how religious fundamentalism is dangerous to the civil world, thanks to recent terrorist actions in the US, in Spain, and elsewhere in the world. It still surprises, however, to read it clearly from the words spelt by a high mushroom in the catholic hierarchy.

And today, I was reading a book on the young catholics in Italy after WWII, their organization (GIAC, the catholic action movement), and their attempts to make sense of the conflicting needs of being a good catholic and a good citizen. My father was a member of this movement in the years immediately following 1948, when Italy was a young democracy and the relationship of State and Church needed to be rethought and rewritten (he became an atheist a decade or two later, after observing for a while the fundamentalism of catholics from a vantage point).

The book, by Francesco Piva, is titled “La gioventu’ cattolica in cammino… Memoria e storia del gruppo dirigente (1946-1954)“, ed. Franco Angeli 2003. I thus found a very interesting quote by Umberto Eco, who was to become a famous italian novelist and professor of Semiotic, and back then was a member of the GIAC along with my father. On page 205 Piva clarifies things in this revealing quote:

Eco insiste sul fatto che l’educazione cattolica era tutta concentrata sul sesto comandamento perche’ era impregnata di antistatalismo e non aveva alcuna sensibilit√† verso i doveri sociali: “Non dimentichiamoci che l’educazione cattolica che si riceveva era: il contrabbando e l’evasione fiscale non sono peccato, perch√© sono contro la legge dello Stato che √® contingente, non sono contro la legge divina. (…) Il problema era che uno non commettesse atti impuri: se poi fregava lo Stato…

Here is a tentative translation:

Eco insists on the fact that the catholic education was thoroughly concentrated on the sixth commandment, because it was filled with anti-statalism and it did not show any sensitivity towards social duties: “Don’t let’s forget that the catholic education that one was given was: smuggling and fiscal elusion are not a sin, because they are against the law of the State which is accidental, they are not against the divine law. (…). The problem was avoiding committing impure acts: if one then fucked the State…

Enlightening. It transpires that the archbishop mentioned by Serra in his article is not a white fly: they all have this belief deeply implanted in their roots. That, to me, is a clear reason for any politician, right or left, believer or atheist, to reject any ingerence in political decisions from the Vatican. This is another State trying to influence the law making in ours!

No sperm ? No mass. June 8, 2008

Posted by dorigo in humor, news, politics, religion.
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The catholic church showed its cynical face yesterday, but also a good dose of its legendary attention to canon law, as a couple got married with a non-religious ceremony in Viterbo, and it became known that the local religious authorities had denied them the sacrament of marriage because the man was a paraplegic with a clinical condition of impotence due to lesions caused by a car accident.

No sperm ? No mass. Even worse: although I do not know the details of the handicap to the reproductory organs of the man, I fear the church would deny a religious marriage even in presence of healthy production of vital semen, if the latter had no chance of being imparted the required kinetic energy and directionality. In fact, the church allows divorce -or rather, invalidation of marriage, through an institution called sacra rota– whenever it can be proven that the sexual act of procreation cannot be carried out. Here we are talking mechanics rather than biology. And this in fact goes hand in hand with the church’s opposition to assisted procreation.

A quote I like says “consistency requires you to be as ignorant as you were a year ago”. For catholic church one would have to modify this into “consistency calls for cynicism”. When they oppose by all means -with blatant ingerence in internal italian affairs- italian laws trying to provide with some basic rights unmarried pairs of human beings living together more uxorio -as they have recently done-, they really are following a very clear plan: discriminate by all possible means against men and women who won’t have children.

I have said it other times in the past: these failures to modernize will eventually be the cause of their extinction. It may take a while though.