Hypocrisy, history and public pol­icy

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY RICHARD DEATON Richard Deaton, Ph.D., LL.B., of Stan­ley Bridge, taught Mil­i­tary Ethics and Law at the Royal Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Canada (RMC), Kingston, Ont.

Bishop Grecco of Char­lot­te­town in­sults peo­ple’s in­tel­li­gence and abuses his of­fice.

The Ro­man Catholic Church is, again, vi­o­lat­ing the wall be­tween Church and state as it in­ter­feres with sec­u­lar af­fairs, as it has done so many times through­out history.

The good Bishop dares to tell peo­ple what to think and to pro­scribe so­cial pol­icy for peo­ple with re­spect to abor­tion and physi­cian as­sisted sui­cide.

The Church’s hubris seems to know no bounds. In its ar­ro­gance, a mor­tal sin, it pre­sumes to tell oth­ers what val­ues they should hold and how they should live their lives.

Noth­ing could be more anti-demo­cratic and au­thor­i­tar­ian.

His­tor­i­cally, the Catholic Church has hardly pro­moted the sanc­tity of life or tol­er­ance as ev­i­denced by its in­volve­ment in the Cru­sades, the Span­ish In­qui­si­tion, burn­ing heretics at the stake, butcher­ing mil­lions of Mex­i­can and Latin Amer­i­can Abo­rig­i­nals (In­di­ans) in the name of Chris­tian­ity and gold, de­mand­ing in­tel­lec­tual con­form­ity by es­tab­lish­ing the List of Pro­hib­ited Books (1559 - 1966), re­main­ing silent dur­ing the Holo­caust, as well as sup­port­ing many re­ac­tionary and bru­tal regimes through­out the world.

This is truly a “cul­ture of death”.

With its bloody history, and in­ter­fer­ence in po­lit­i­cal af­fairs, the Catholic Church has noth­ing to teach peo­ple about eth­i­cal be­hav­iour or the for­mu­la­tion of public pol­icy with re­spect to abor­tion and physi­cian as­sisted sui­cide.

Given the Catholic Church’s record re­gard­ing residential schools for Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren and its fail­ure to deal vig­or­ously with priest child abuse, it is in no po­si­tion to pon­tif­i­cate about so­cial poli­cies as they af­fect chil­dren.

Rather than con­demn­ing abor­tion the Church should ac­tively pro­mote fam­ily plan­ning and ar­ti­fi­cial con­tra­cep­tion so peo­ple don’t sub­sti­tute abor­tion for birth con­trol.

Cer­tainly in an al­ready over­crowded and starv­ing world, with far too many un­wanted and un­cared for chil­dren who are a bur­den rather than a bless­ing, fam­ily plan­ning and ar­ti­fi­cial con­tra­cep­tion are a ne­ces­sity for so­cial ad­vance­ment.

As well, ethi­cists have long rec­og­nized an in­di­vid­ual’s right to con­trol their own des­tiny and the pro­pri­ety of “ra­tio­nal sui­cide” when faced with a cer­tain painful or de­bil­i­tat­ing ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

But some­thing is wrong here: in­tol­er­ance, war, star­va­tion, dis­ease, il­lit­er­acy, poverty, crime, and mis­ery are seem­ingly in­her­ent to the hu­man con­di­tion.

This how­ever, does not speak well for an al­legedly all-know­ing and lov­ing Supreme Be­ing.

Are the 25, 000 Third World chil­dren who die ev­ery night of malnutrition and dis­ease the vic­tims of a lov­ing and com­pas­sion­ate god’s in­dif­fer­ence, or some sick grand de­sign?

In­quir­ing minds want to know.

Bishop Grecco has over­stepped him­self. Peo­ple have lost their heads for less. Ask Thomas Becket and Sir Thomas More.

Leave the for­mu­la­tion of public pol­icy in the sec­u­lar sphere - such as abor­tion and physi­cian as­sisted sui­cide - to our demo­crat­i­cally elected of­fi­cials and courts, and the­ol­ogy to oth­ers. Some how­ever, may con­clude that God’s not dead, he’s imag­i­nary.

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