The freedom of choice
I freely confess I've made no careful study of the articles in the Spectator which David Reichardt says are unfair to Catholics (Letters to the Editor, Vol. 6 no. 47 and no.48). However, the general question of rights for gay and lesbian couples is not merely a Slovak issue or one of the balance of an English-language newspaper.
David Reichardt would have us believe that he is not actually engaging with that issue. He says I have misunderstood him and have been guilty of sliding from a discussion of the "legitimacy" of Catholic teachings to a discussion about the truth of such doctrines. With all due respect, I must say that I don't think I've made a mistake and I don't think he has managed to avoid taking a stand about what's true.
Reichardt trivialises the desire of gays and lesbians to form families by comparing them to a 16 year-old who'd like to vote or a person who likes to smoke marijuana. Of course, if you think that the desire to have a family with a partner of the same sex is not natural, a perversion, then the comparison might seem fair. But what if you think that gay and lesbian couples are motivated by the very same desire as same-sex couples? The comparison looks invidious.
Reichardt's examples raise the question of whether his claim that Catholic theologians are not biased is really believable. Can you really be fair to a person if you think their most basic desires are perverted? Reichardt's treatment of this issue seems to show otherwise.
For the sake of balance, I offer two of my own suggestions to counter Reichardt's: Perhaps even a cursory investigation of modern biology would cast doubt upon the validity of the Catholic concept of nature. And a cursory investigation of modern biology might lead one to doubt whether what's natural is automatically good.
Is there a right to associate with whomever one chooses? Yes, at least in democratic societies. Does that include same-sex relationships? The right to choose your friends and make a family are basic rights. It is a disservice to miss that point by introducing examples of giving votes to sixteen year-olds.
Not so fast
It is good to give balance and also good to not skip facts. If a community of believers constitutes a definite majority of its people and is furthermore associated in other countries with other large communities of the same church, it certainly has the right to use the definite article.
It is one thing to count 200,000 members, (with all due respect to them), another to constitute a church of 800 million people, the majority of whose moral teachings is shared with other great Christian churches both from the Orient and the western evangelical fold.
Moreover, many of these teachings are shared with other great religions and also with laistic regimes. So the opinion of the Catholic Church is not so "fringe" as it is purported to be. And if it may be true that those opinions do not necessarily coincide with a generous and broad view of the human condition and its aspects, it is also true that science - also as sociology - has often changed its 'advanced' views.
However, the Church and its believers have the right and the duty not to forget the teachings of their Master in order to preserve values which are respected and cherished by millions, and also have the right not to be pilloried by minorities, which daub themselves as progressive.
Progressive towards what? Especially when we see where this path, which seemed right, 'modern' and perfectly justified four decades ago, is now leading us, and how it purports to undermine the foundations of society, i.e. family. To whose advantage?
Egone Ratzenberger,Italian Ambassador
25. Dec 2000 at 0:00