Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A logical puzzle for a Wednesday

Keeping in mind Italian Senator Paola Binetti's remarks in the wake of the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato's speech to a gathering of Italian Hospital Chaplains last week, in which he railed against abortion, euthanasia, and homosexual marriage, calling the first two "terrorism with a human face," I hope my remarks will be taken in the constructive spirit in which they are offered. While not disputing Archbishop Amato's positions, Senator Binetti, an Opus Dei numerary, questions the prudence of a high Church official publicly expressing himself in this manner. National Catholic Reporter's John Allen writes about the interview that Senator Binetti gave to Marco Tosatti, Vatican reporter for the Italian newspaper La Stampa on his All Things Catholic blog, in which she distances herself from Archbishop Amato's tone, if not the substance of his remarks:

"Today, we are all the children of a culture that makes language an element that’s often more important than the content of what one says," Binetti said. "Paraphrasing [Marshall] McLuhan [who opined "the media is the message"], we can say that 'language is the message.' In these cases, we have to pay careful attention to express our values in a way that people will receive them, so that we’re not just proposing them, so to speak, for the sake of proposing them. This is the great challenge that all of us Catholics face in this moment."

She was careful to point out that this "doesn’t mean being relativistic with respect to the truth. It simply means knowing that every time I say something, I have to think about whom I’m addressing, and in what way my point might best be understood, might best be useful."

"In a culture like the one in which we try to move," the senator continued, "which is a culture of charity, I’m always reminded of that phrase of Scripture that says, Vertitatem facientem in caritate. ('Do the truth in charity' [Eph 4,15]). One always has to speak the truth, but in a way that helps." Senator Binetti went on to express the hope that the good archbishop's remarks will not be taken as a verbal "act of terrorism."

Anyway, the argument that seems to have won the day in the debate in Mexico City about allowing unrestricted abortions in the first tri-mester of pregnancy is one that is heard often in this same debate in our own country, namely that if abortion remains illegal, many women will continue to seek and to receive illegal, unhygenic abortions often provided by medical hacks under unregulated conditions. Now, this should concern everybody, especially law enforcement officials. However, consider the logic of such an argument by means of a counter-example. To that end, let's consider stealing. Stealing (i.e., to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully: to take away by force or unjust means) is illegal. Despite the fact that stealing is illegal, thieves continue to steal and many never get caught, charged, tried, convicted, and punished. Does this state of affairs indicate that stealing should be made legal?


  1. But, Deacon Scott, that would be using logical thought.

    (Good commentary BTW.)

  2. Thank you, Father. Sadly, in our emotivist society, we rarely apply logic to morals, thus we are ethically handicapped. After all, why apply logic when we can just emote about issues?


Heeding the most important call of all

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