Dignitas Humana - March 2010.pub - Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

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Dignitas Humana - March 2010.pub - Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

March 2010a publication by theCatholic Commission for Justice and Peaceof the Diocese of ChristchurchPoverty in New ZealandAnnually the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, in conjunction with the Caritas SocialJustice Week, run an essay competition. The competition is open to senior secondary schoolstudents within our Diocese.The theme of Social Justice Week for 2008 was poverty in New Zealand. Entrants were asked to“Discuss the Church’s Teaching on Poverty. Use a practical example (eg. Housing affordability,children affected by poverty) to show how the teaching of the Church can assist the way wethink about, and respond to, poverty in our community”.The following is the winning essay for 2008 by Josh Toohey, Josh was a student at St Thomasof Canterbury College.overty not only exists in theP advertisements for aid donationsfor Third World nations viewed ontelevision. Poverty is a major problemin New Zealand. The Church teachesthat it is the responsibility and priorityof society to care for those affected bypoverty. A practical interpretation ofthese teachings when working forSocial Justice in the community is the“Head, heart, and hands” approach.This realises the reality of the worldwhilst reflecting the Church'steachings. Rising food prices are acontemporary circumstance in whichthe teachings of the Church are ableto assist our ideas and response.A moral measure of any society is howit treats its most vulnerable members;those oppressed by poverty. 1 Showinglove to those affected by poverty is atthe forefront of the Catholic Church'sagenda. Charity is the means by whichthis love is can be expressed. Thebuilding of a better world requires theChristian voice to show “Respect forthe rights and needs of everyone,especially the poor, the lowly and thedefenceless.” 2 The teachings of Jesusof Nazareth in the Gospels view thecare of the poor as very important. Inthe Gospel of Luke, Jesus declares,“Whatever you have done for one ofthese least brothers of mine, you havedone for Me.” 3 By showing love tothose who have little, love is beingshown to God, as, by implication, Godis a part of them. Recent Encyclicalsof the Church give instructionregarding the treatment of thoseaffected by poverty in moderncircumstances. The Encyclical “DeusCaritas Est” of Pope Benedict XVIteaches that “Within the community ofbelievers there can never be room fora poverty that deniesanyone what is neededfor a dignified life”. 4 TheEncyclical further alludesto charity being anextension of God. 5Charity is as important as the mass. 6However, as “Faith, hope, and charitygo together”, practical charity isinsufficient without love. 7 Thoseaffected by poverty should be givenboth practical charity for their needsand love.“By showing love to thosewho have little, love is beingshown to God, as, by implication,God is a part of them. ”In this issue...Poverty in New Zealand 1-2Liquor Licensing Laws 3The Economy, Recessionand Catholic Social Teaching4-6Our Neighbour WhoArt in Prison…6-7Homosexual Adoption 8-9New Zealand’s MilitaryInvolvement in AfghanistanCaritas in Veritate 1210-111


The phrase “Head, heart, and hands” is anapproach that can be taken to practicallyinterpret the Churches teachings onpoverty. 8 It is easy to see poverty in thecommunity and choose to ignore it, seeing itas “not my problem”. Jesus recognised thisproblem and said, “You will listen and listenagain, but not understand, look and lookagain, but not perceive.” 9 However, it is theresponsibility of a Christian to crusade for“It is easy to see poverty in thecommunity and choose toignore it, seeing it as "not myproblem". Jesus recognisedthis problem and said, "Youwill listen and listen again, butnot understand, look and lookagain, but not perceive....”Social Justice,using the “head” tosee a situation. A“binocular vision” isthen used toe x a m i n e t h esituation, both inthe perspective ofthe Gospels andTwenty-first centuryreality. This allows a balanced perspectiveon a situation. The situation subsequentlymust be judged, using the heart. Both theGospels view of the Church's teaching onpoverty and reality are now evaluated. Theindividual is then able to use their hands toact responsibly and in a Christian manner.This approach allows Christians topractically interpret the teachings of theGospel in the modern world, and thenpractice Social Justice on the street.A practical instance of the Church'steaching on poverty being applied in thecommunity is in the response to rising foodprices. New Zealand is a food-producingnation, but still has frequent foodinsecurity. 10 Food prices have risen 10.6%from August 2007 to August 2008. 11 Thesection of New Zealand society that is mostvulnerable are those in the lower incomebrackets, already affected by poverty. Theycan afford it least. Wages have notincreased at the same rate as the rise infood prices, and even after large increasesin economic activity, many beneficiaries andlow-paid workers do not earn enough to beable to purchase basic food supplies. 12Therefore, the community has relied oncharitable Christian organisations topractice the Church's teachings in apragmatic manner. The Society of StVincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, andthe City Mission are organisations whichhave taken this approach to those living inpoverty who cannot afford food. Somespecific instances of this action are TheSociety of St Vincent de Paul developing aprogram called “Loaves and Fishes”. 13 TheSociety saw children at school whoseparents could not afford to feed them. It wasjudged that, in accordance to Christianteachings, it is important to care for thepoor. The Society's guidelines to SocialJustice state, “Ours is the viewpoint of thepoor”. 14 They then acted by providing foodfor children effected by poverty. All threeorganisations also run more traditional “foodbank” 15 programs. Food is available for thepoor in the community when it is needed.The Society of St Vincent de Paul, the CityMission, and the Salvation Army serve asexamples of poverty being responded to inthe community with a Christian ethic.The Church's teachings on poverty deemlooking after the poor to be the highestpriority for the community. Christians canuse the “Head, heart, and hands” to think ofa practical response to poverty. It is theresponsibility of Christians to respond topoverty as a number of organisations havein the face of increasing food prices.2"On this earth God has no hands but our hands with which to do the workof healing. No eyes but our eyes to see the work that needs to be done.No feet but our feet, with which to walk about doing good." Teresa of Avila1 A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. A Catholic Framework for Economic Life. United States Conference of Catholic BishopsInc.:Washington, D.C., November 1996 2 Pope John Paul II. Ut unum sint. Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Vatican. 25 May, 1995.3 Matthew 25:40.4Pope Benedict XVI. Deus Caritas Est. Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Vatican, 25 December 20055 Pope Benedict XVI. Deus Caritas Est. Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Vatican, 25 December 20056 Pope Benedict XVI. Deus Caritas Est. Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Vatican, 25 December 20057 Pope Benedict XVI. Deus Caritas Est. Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Vatican, 25 December 20058 Ortega, Sr.Dorothy. Build With Living Stones: see, Judge, Act. Work Commission Resources: secular Franciscan Order: 2006 9 Matthew 13:14.1510 Wynd, Donna. Hard to Swallow: Foodbank use in New Zealand. Child Action Poverty Group: Auckland, 2005. 11 Statistics New Zealand. The Rising Cost of Food in New Zealand. 2008. 12 Press Release: NZ Council of Christian Social Services. Foodbank report provides a baseline. Friday, 15 August 2008 13 Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. 14 Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. 15 Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. City Mission: Services. Salvation Army: Services


Liquor Licensing Lawsecent incidents in Dunedin have rightly orR wrongly, focussed attention on the NewZealand Liquor Licensing Laws. Serious as theseevents were in Dunedin, they are but a microcosmcompared to what is happening in the widercommunity. The liquor law introduced in 1989under the title of The Sale of Liquor Act 1989 wasa well intentioned attempt to radically alter theethos and culture of alcohol consumption in NewZealand. It was designed to introduce andencourage a European style approach to socialdrinking in a cafe or bar environment rather thanthe ‘booze barn’ mentality then prevalent towardthe consumption of alcohol. Twenty years on, afundamental question has been raised. Thechange in legislation, has classed New Zealandas a country having one of the most liberal liquorlicensing laws in the world. Has this legislationachieved an appropriate balance between thebenefits consumers have enjoyed from theliberalisation of the liquor laws and the harmsassociated with the abuse of alcohol? Statisticsappear to suggest not.The Police estimate 50-70% of their work isassociated with alcohol. This includes disorder,assault, criminal damage, family violence anddrink driving. In addition to these serious socialdisorders, we can include the wasteful and costlytime and expense of treating people whoexperience injury as a result of the misuse ofalcohol in the emergency departments. And thetime spent in detaining drunks for detoxification. Itis estimated that 700,000 people in this countryare classified as being heavy drinkers. Researchsuggests that among other factors, excessivecommercialisation is a major cause of the heavydrinking culture, a culture which is endemic in thiscountry and one which, in some way affects us all.It comes as no surprise therefore to discover thatthe alcohol industry commits to aggressivemarketing and advertising including sponsorship,a sum in the region of a staggering $200,000 perday. (Ref Professor Doug Sellman OtagoUniversity) And the dissapointing aspect of thisaggressive marketing is that it is largely directedtowards young impressionable people.In August 2008, the former Labour governmentannounced that a review of the liquor laws wouldbe undertaken by the Law Commission, led by itsPresident Sir Geoffrey Palmer. Its brief was toundertake a widespread and fundamental reviewof liquor laws. As part of this review ‘Alcohol in ourlives’ an issues paper on the reform of NewZealand’s liquor laws was released in July thisyear. It has been well received. Part onedescribes the impact of alcohol on society, andincludes a range of significant harms associatedwith its heavy consumption. Part two suggestssome possible changes in the laws in what isreferred to as the 5+ Solution. Such changes mayinclude:1. Raise alcohol prices2. Raise the purchase age3. Reduce alcohol accessibility4. Reduce marketing and advertising5. Increase drink-driving counter-measuresPlus: Increase treatment opportunities forheavy drinkersSo what should our response be as Christians tothese proposals? What if any should be ourstance when confronted with these issues. SomeChristian denominations and indeed manycultures denounce the consumption of alcohol asbeing sinful. The question needs to be asked. Isthis assumption based on scripture or on culture?As Catholics we look for guidance firstly in theexample of Jesus, our ultimate role model. In hislife Jesus drank wine on many occasions and inaddition we have the real signicant events whichtook place at the wedding feast at Cana. This isnot to suggest that Jesus was ever given todrunkenness although he was wrongly accusedby the Pharisees in Luke 7:33. When we turn tothe Bible and consider the 247 references to wineand strong drink we find 145 references arepositive and only 40 references which arenegative the remaining references being neutral.It does not condemn the use of alcohol per se butdoes give strong warnings against drunkenness,much the same way as it condemns gluttony butdoes not condemn the use of food.However the Bible is strong to remind us that ouractions should not cause our brother to stumble.(Romans 14:21). Therefore the question whichshould be asked is; “Do the New ZealandLicensing laws cause my brother to stumble?’ Ibelieve they do. Am I in fact my brother’s keeper?Do the demands of the Gospel message bear onme the responsibility to advocate and supportlaws which are just and equitable? It is a realdilemma which challenges us all to consider thewisdom of the liquor laws in light of the GospelMessage. We need a law which recognises theuse of alcohol in moderation, but which alsorecognises that our own weakness and frailty canresult in its misuse and the creation of immensepain for many people.“They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders,but they themselves are not willing to help them.”(Matthew 12:2)3


The Economy, Recession and Catholic Social TeachingEconomists define a recession as a continuous downturn in aggregate economic activity(generally measured by Gross Domestic Product) of at least six month’s duration. By thisstandard New Zealand experienced an economic recession from March 2008 to June 2009, withits full effects perhaps yet to be felt. The recession was not limited to this nation, of course;many other significant economies befell a similar fate to lesser or greater extents. The intentionof this article is to examine the causes of this recession and policymakers’ responses to it in thecontext of Catholic Social Teaching.“once profit becomes theexclusive goal, if it is producedby improper means andwithout the common good asits ultimate end, it risksdestroying wealth and creatingpoverty”4Although the economy and itsassociated science are usuallyconsidered as secular in nature, theCatholic Church is clear in itsproclamations that economic activityis to occur “within the limits of themoral order, in keeping with socialjustice so as to correspond to God’splan for man” (Catechism of theCatholic Church, 2426). Becauseeconomic activity can either foster orretard charity, it cannot be separatedfrom morality or conscience. Indeed,Pope Benedict XVI commentsextensively upon economic issues inhis encyclical letter Caritas inVeritate (June 2009).The major causes of the recentglobal recession were similar tothose of the GreatDepression of the 1930s:bank failures and shareprice collapses originatingin the United States. Thecurrent crisis was alsomarked by speculativebubbles in ‘subprime’lending in the USA; that is,inflated rates of returns on loansmade to high risk assets andcustomers. Given the internationalintegration of financial markets,investor insecurity in Americanbased companies very quicklyspread around the world. Resultingin house price falls, losses ininvestor and consumer confidenceand future employment concernsbecame serious, international issues.Caritas in Veritate warns againstspeculative trading in stating that“once profit becomes the exclusivegoal, if it is produced by impropermeans and without the commongood as its ultimate end, it risksdestroying wealth and creatingpoverty” (21). The phrase “thecommon good” is explained inCaritas in Veritate as an importantcriterion in determining moral action.The common good is the welfare ofall bodies that form society:individuals, families and other largergroups including nations andhumanity as a whole. Caritas inVeritate points out that to seek thecommon good is a requirement ofjustice and is an expression of love.How we as individual people and oursocieties respond to the recentrecession should also be guided byChurch teachings. The concept ofsolidarity is relevant here and iscommonly referred to in Scripture,the Catechism and other sources,including Caritas in Veritate.Solidarity is social charity in itsChristian sense of concern for thematerial (and spiritual) well being ofothers. It is expressed in Jesus’second great commandment that“you shall love your neighbour asyourself” (Mk 12:31) and His promisethat “give alms from what you haveand, look, everything will be clean foryou” (Lk 11:41). According to ChurchTeachings, every economic decisionhas moral significance and sosolidarity can and should be aconsideration in every economicaction; from simple two partyexchanges to international trade andfinance.Because solidarity has the potentialto exist in all facets of economic life,it is a principle that should beobserved in the actions of theindividual, the corporation and thestate. Practical examples of solidaritytherefore include private initiatives(such as voluntary assistance, almsgiving and employer consideration ofworkers’ rights) as well asgovernment policies (examples


eing labour laws, incomeredistribution through taxation andwelfare, and foreign aid). Private andstate expressions of social charityare discussed below.With reference to private measuresof charity, the Catholic Church hasinstitutions at its disposal includingCaritas, St Vincent de Paul andweekly offerings. In times ofeconomic downturn andunemployment, it becomesincreasingly important for Catholicsto support these programmes andagencies however possible. In theworkplace, employers andemployees are called to transact forthe common good, including payingor receiving a ‘just wage’ which is thelegitimate fruit of work. The just or‘living wage’ was articulated by PopeLeo XIII in Rerum Novarum (1891). Itprovides a dignified livelihood for theworker and his or her family on “thematerial, social, cultural and spirituallevels” (Catechism, 2434). Catholicsocial teaching on profits is that theyare necessary to engenderinvestment and ongoingemployment, but are sociallyuncharitable when pursued at theexpense of the common good or theenvironment. Unfettered profit orremuneration seeking is avarice; acapital sin with a grave impact: “Forthe love of money is the root of allevil” (Tim 6:10).Catholic Social Teaching informs usthat the principal duty of the statewith reference to economic activity isto ensure the security of individualfreedoms and property rights, themaintenance of efficient publicservices and the protection of astable currency. The state shouldalso be mindful of protecting humanrights in the economy (Catechism,2431). And, of course, state policiesshould promote solidarity and thecommon good. These tenets areexamined below with reference tothe most grievous effect of economiccrisis, namely unemployment.Historically, rises in unemploymenthave coincided with and followedsignificant recessions. This trend isevident in present day New Zealand:96,000 people were officiallyunemployed in March 2008 but theDepartment of Labour forecasts thatby mid 2010 this figure will bearound 160,000. Economists believethat the brunt of this rise will beborne by the workers on the marginsof the workforce: the young, the loweducated and part time workers.Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of thehuman dimensions of employmentstatistics in Caritas in Veritate bycommenting that “the primary capitalto be safeguarded and valued isman, the human person in his or herintegrity” and that being unvalued inthe labour market causes “greatpsychological and spiritual suffering”.Unlike some previous NewZealand and overseasadministrations, the currentgovernment has not reactedto the recession by means oftrade protectionism. Theimposition of tariffs and othertrade barriers might serve toinsulate our manufacturingsector and its employment,but the costs are significant for localpurchasers who must pay higherprices for imported products. Also,most mainstream economists wouldpoint to the Great Depression as awarning that protectionism iscontagious and chokes theinternational transmissions ofrecovery. Aside from its economiceffects, protectionism raises a moraldilemma too: should a governmentfavour its own citizens over theinterests of overseas producers?Such a question lies at the heart ofeconomics in that more than oneoutcome is compatible with ajustifiable “common good”.Another remedy for widespreadunemployment is a programme ofpublic works projects, in the mannerof Depression America’s “New Deal”or, more recently, New Zealand’s“Think Big”. Such schemes areintended to create employmentthrough work on creating socialinfrastructure, such as rail or evencycle networks. The current NewZealand government has beencriticised in some quarters forinsufficient commitment to public5


“It is...an expression of charityto ensure that benefits aresufficient to protect therecipients’ human dignity.”work projects and ‘fiscal stimulus’ ingeneral. It must be noted, however,that public works projects areexpensive and usually entailgovernment borrowing. As a result,economists see the need for balancebetween current employment andfiscal prudence. Borrowing to financegovernment expenditure is really atransfer to the current generationfrom individuals yet to vote or evenexist. To this end, long termborrowing is taxation withoutrepresentation. This tension is foundin Catholic social teaching whichopposes the temporal and spiritualdegradation of unemployment butalso recognises thepreciousness of politicaldemocracy as a marker ofhuman equality and socialparticipation.The economic forces of supply anddemand mean that recessions leadnot just to unemployment but also todownward pressure on wages.Poorer business conditions and theexistence of a pool of unemployedworkers are specific factors behindgeneral wage and salary stagnation.As discussed, Catholic SocialTeaching refers to a just wage as anecessary condition for the commongood. It mentions, too, that“agreement between the parties isnot sufficient to justify morally theamount to be received inwages” (Catechism, 2434). To thisend, the Church defends theexistence of a statutory minimumwage (in this country currently$12.50 per hour) and the importanceof labour unions. Caritas in Veritatepays considerable attention to thesignificance and role of unions inpromoting solidarity and attaining thecommon good.Catholic social teaching informs usthat society – through thecoordination of the state - mustconcern itself with health of itscitizens. This includes the humanneeds of food, clothing, shelter andhealth care. Accordingly,unemployed people must receivethese in the form of a benefit, as wellas support to gain employment.Indeed, the Church emphasises theimportance of unemploymentassistance by noting that “it is unjustnot to pay the social securitycontributions required by legitimateauthority” (Catechism 2436). It is,therefore, an expression of charity toensure that benefits are sufficient toprotect the recipients’ human dignity.Several commentators have pointedout that the recession and itsassociated job losses will highlightthe disparity between current benefitlevels and work income, especiallywhen the latter includes supplementssuch as the Working for Familiespackages.By way of conclusion, it is imperativeto recognise that human economicactivity has a moral dimension. Theeconomy is part of God’s plan for ourtemporal existence and so is subjectto principles outlined in CatholicSocial Teaching. The currenteconomic downturn emphasises theneed for us as Catholics to practiseand proclaim these principles.6


Caritas in VeritateThe Holy Father’s new social Encyclical,“Caritas in Veritate” – charity in truth, wasofficially presented on 7 July 2009. The Pope hasexplained (General Audience 8 July 2009) that theEncyclical’s main inspiration is the passage of theLetter of St Paul to the Ephesians in which theApostle speaks of acting in accordance with truthin love. For by “speaking the truth in love…we areto grow up in every way into him who is the Head,into Christ” (4:15).In this way, charity in truth is the main drivingforce behind the authentic development of everyperson and of all humanity. Therefore, the entiresocial doctrine of the Church revolves around theprinciple caritas in veritate. Only with charity,illumined by reason and faith, is it possible toachieve goals of development which recognizethe true nature of the human person (translationof General Audience Catechesis, L’OsservatoreRomano, 15 July 2009, p.11).For example, in article 28, the Pope asks us “tobroaden our concept of poverty andunderdevelopment to include questionsconnected with the acceptance of life, especiallyin cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.”Too often, economic aid from the West isaccompanied by conditions which dehumanizeand exploit the people receiving assistance.Tragically, these conditions include the samereproductive and technological ideologies thathave caused so much destruction in moreaffluent, Western societies. As Benedict XVIexplains, “openness to life is at the centre of truedevelopment. When a society moves toward thedenial or suppression of life, it ends up no longerfinding the necessary motivation and energy tostrive for man’s true good” (Caritas in Veritate,Article 28).The Pope teaches that there are two importantcriteria through which we can cling more faithfullyto the principle of charity in truth. These arejustice and the common good. Justice is anintegral part of that love “in deed and in truth” (1Jn 3:18), and “to love someone is to desire thatperson’s good and to take effective steps tosecure it. Besides the good of the individual, thereis a good that is linked to living in society…themore we strive to obtain a common goodcorresponding to the real needs of our neighbors,the more effectively we love them.” (Article 6).Consistent with Catholic Social Teaching, theEncyclical does not try and offer technicalsolutions to the many social problems of ourworld. This is not the job of the magisterium of theChurch (Article 9). It does however bring to mindthe principles that we will need to draw upon toachieve true human development. Theseprinciples include: respect for human life, respectfor the right to religious freedom, solidaritytowards the development of poorer countries andthe responsible participation of citizens in nationaland international politics.While the Encyclical provides an eloquentexample of the way in which Catholic SocialTeaching represents “a single teaching,consistent and at the same time evernew” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 3), Benedict XVIalso offers considerable innovation in promoting amoral and cultural renewal which can help lead tothe common good. Addressing the seriousconcerns facing the economy, Benedict XVI callsfor a serious reflection on the very meaning of theeconomy and its purpose in our lives: “if it is tofunction properly, the economy needs ethics; itneeds to recover the important contribution of theprinciple of gratuitousness and the “logic of gift” inthe market economy, where the rule cannot beprofit alone.” (General Audience Catechesis, 8July 2009).Another expression of this sense of newness isthe Holy Father’s idea that “uncertainty overworking conditions caused by mobility andderegulation, when it becomes endemic, tends tocreate new forms of psychological instability,giving rise to difficulties in forging coherent lifeplans,including that of marriage.” (Article 25).It is beyond the scope of this brief paper to offer acritique of the many statements made andproposals put forward in Benedict’s Encyclical;rather it is noted that it presents a goodopportunity for discussion among parish,academic and other communities. What then, aresome of these opportunities for discussion?First, many Catholics are unfamiliar with the basicprinciples of Catholic Social Teaching. ACompendium of Catholic Social Teaching hasbeen published by the Church which documentsCatholic thought in this area. Might this be a goodtime to introduce ourselves to these ideas?Second, Globalisation. At Article 42, Benedict XVIstates “Globalisation, a priori, is neither good norbad. It will be what people make of it. We shouldnot be its victims, but rather its protagonists…”.Benedict XVI confronts the reality of globalizationhead-on and offers us potential for fruitfuldialogue about the pros and cons of living in anincreasingly interdependent world.Third, the role of the consumer. At Article 66,Benedict says “it is good for people to realize thatpurchasing is always a moral – and not simplyeconomic – act. Hence the consumer has aspecific social responsibility, which goes hand inhand with the social responsibility of theenterprise.”Regardless of our station in life, Caritas in Veritateshould be welcomed as a source of fruitfuldiscussion in the daily lives of all those who takethe opportunity to read it.7


Homosexual Adoption“In Catholic teaching, a familyis born of the intimatecommunion of love, and lovefounded on the marriagebetween one man andone woman.”ecently, Judge Paul vonR Dadelszen called for the FamiliesCommission to conduct a completereview of the New Zealand AdoptionAct (1955). He cited that it wasdiscriminatory against same-sexcouples, for under the present Act,they are not legally able to adoptchildren. This sparked of a debateand the call to change the Act toallow homosexual couples to adoptchildren. The argument given byJudge von Dadelszen was that theAct was an archaic piece oflegislation, drafted in a different era,where "stranger" adoptions were thenorm and only straight marriedcouples were seen assuitable parents. Hepointed out that societyhas changedsignificantly, and thatthe assumptions onwhich the Act wasbased are no longertrue because adoptions should belegal confirmations of existing familyrelationships. Furthermore, it wasproposed that the present Act goesagainst the tenor of more recent lawchanges (e.g. Civil Union Act).The New Zealand Catholic Bishopsresponded against the change to theAdoption Act to allow homosexualcouples to adopt. The Bishopsreiterate the point that was publishedin their pre-election document:“Psychologists point out that afather’s love and a mother’s love aredifferent and that each contributesdifferently to a child’sdevelopment. The Church continuesto recognise and respect the needfor a child to receive both kinds oflove.” Bishop Cullinane, speakingon behalf of the bishops, said that tosuggest that the current adoption isdiscriminatory “only takes intoaccount the rights of adults, withalmost no reference to the rights ofthe children”.The Bishops’ position is consistentwith the moral and social teaching ofthe Catholic Church – i.e. the rightsof children must be legally protectedwithin juridical systems and in thiscase, the rights of children “to beborn in a real family” . Perhaps it ishere that the crux of the debate isfound: the very definition of whatconstitutes a “family”. The CatholicChurch has consistently proclaimedthat the constitution of a family is anobvious feature of the natural order,as stated in the Catechism of theCatholic Church:“A man and a woman united inmarriage, together with theirchildren, form a family. Thisinstitution is prior to any recognitionby public authority, which has anobligation to recognize it. It shouldbe considered the normal referencepoint by which the different forms offamily relationship are to beevaluated.”In Catholic teaching, a family is bornof the intimate communion of love,and love founded on the marriagebetween one man and one woman.The Pontifical Council for Family,quoting Pope John Paul II, did notmince words when it said: “The bondbetween two men or two womencannot constitute a real family, normuch less can the right be attributedto a union of this kind to adoptchildren without a family”. Withregard to foster care and adoption,the great principle to be applied isalways the child’s higher interestswhich much prevail over otherconsiderations.”Given that the Relationships(Statutory References) Act 2005 hasequalized heterosexual, lesbian andgay spousal status in New Zealandlaw and regulatory policy, it was onlya matter of time that the AdoptionAct (1955) becomes the next moraldomino to be pushed. Thecomments that many citizens of NewZealand have made on the internetand newsmedia would suggest thatmany have embraced the modernand erroneous idea that reduce theconcept of “family” to one that isoutside that of the natural order.Furthermore, there appears to be awide acceptance of the theory thatgender identity is merely the culturaland social product of the interactionbetween the community and the8


individual, independent of personal sexualidentity and without any reference to thetrue meaning of sexuality. Anyone takingthis position will see the Catholic Church’steaching as “discriminatory” againsthomosexuals. However this argument isflawed as the Catholic Church championsthe equality of every human being. Sheteaches that the equality of every humanbeing rests essentially on their dignity aspersons and the rights that flow from it.Everyone, including those who experiencehomosexual inclination, are of equaldignity to every other human beings.However, that does not mean that everyhuman act or lifestyle is morally neutral.The Catholic Church’s teaching is veryclear that homosexuality is objectivelydisordered, but at the same time sheacknowledges that it contitutes a trial forthose who experience homosexualinclination. The Catechism states: “They(i.e. those who experience homosexualinclination) must be accepted withrespect, compassion, and sensitivity.Every sign of unjust discrimination in theirregard should be avoided. These personsare called to fulfill God's will in their livesand, if they are Christians, to unite to thesacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficultiesthey may encounter from their condition.”A priest and psychoanalyst puts theproblems succintly in these words “Thetheory of gender leads us to understandthat sexual differences, that is, the fact ofbeing a man or a woman, is secondary inthe setting up of social ties and theemotional bonds entered into in marriageand that consequently have a role in theforming of a family. It favours andrecognises sexual gender that does notdepend on the masculine or femininegender but on that which each one buildssubjectively and that orients towardsheterosexuality, homosexuality, transsexuality,etc. In that way one could speakof heterosexual and homosexual couplesand families. In other words, sexualdifference is replaced by difference insexualities”. The gender theory is largelydiffused by the UN PopulationsCommission and by the EuropeanParliament in order to oblige countries tomodify their legislation and to recognise,for example, homosexual unions or"omoparenté" (same-sex parenthood) forthe adoption of children. This newideology actually represents semanticmanipulation by applying the notion ofcouple and parenthood to homosexuality.Yet couple implies sexual dissymmetryand is based on no other relationship thanthat of man and woman. Besides,homosexuality cannot be at the origin ofconjugality and parenthood. It has nosocial value. If homosexuality is a matterof an individual problem, it cannot be asocial norm and be recognised as a valueon which it is possible to educatechildren.”Under the present climate, perhaps thebest arguments against homosexualadoption that may hold some weightamongst the general public would have tobe on the grounds, not only of the right ofthe children, but also that it is aunjustifiable “discrimination” against thechildren to be deny their rights.Homosexual Adoption is singularly uniquein that two adults intentionally eliminatethe essential presence of either a motheror a father. It substitutes a distortion forthe missing adoptive parent and for thenature of marriage and family in theirentirety. In the natural order of things, achild is meant to grow up with a motherand a father and exposed to both themasculine and the feminine. Placing achild or constantly exposing the child tosexual affection between homosexualsplaces him in an intolerable position withrespect to his own sexual, moral,psychological and social development. Itis in this sense that the placement of anychild with homosexual couples is quitesimply a brutality, and an act of violence,for every child has an intrinsic right to amother and a father, and a right not to beexposed only to lifestyle that is contrary toand violates the natural order.Homosexual Adoption must first andforemost be considered from the point ofview of the child. No government shouldhave Laws that sanction the adoption ofany child by homosexual couples, for todo so is to take away the right of the childto be brought up in the natural order ofthings, and the right to have a mother anda father’s love as part of his human,spiritual and psychological development.12345678Mindful of the Common Good – Thinking AboutElection 2008Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,para. 244Para 2202, Catechism of the Catholic ChurchPara 211Third World Meeting of the Pope with Families –Jubilee of Families, Vatican, October 11-13, 2000Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 1935Fr Yony Anatrella,Rome 10-13 April 2003, Fr. Tony Anatrella,Psychoanalyst, specialist in Social Psychiatry9


New Zealand’s Military Involvement in AfghanistanThe New Zealand Government has recently authorised the return to Afghanistan of the country'selite SAS troops who, presumably, will be utilised by the UN sanctioned forces in an activecombat role in assisting the continuing war against insurgents and active terrorist networks inAfghanistan.“While in modern times theChurch has emphasised theimportance of seeking apeaceful resolution to conflictand injustice, this does notmean that military action cannever be justified…”What is the Catholic Church'sposition in respect of this militaryengagement?The Church's basic vision whichforms Her teaching on mattersrelating to justice and peace is thatGod is the creator of all people, andthus the dignity that each of uspossess is given to us by God. Thisdignity is not distributed arbitrarily;rather we all share equally in it. TheChurch therefore does not speak tofavour one group of people overanother, nor to provoke one partyagainst another. Her duty is to raiseher voice against injustice and tocome to the defence of those whoselegitimate rights have been ignored.Traditional Church teaching on justwar theory distinguishes between:(i) when it is justified to use force,"jus ad bellum"; and(ii) the rules outlining the use offorce, "Jus in bello."For a war to be justifiable, a numberof conditions need to be met: thatthere be a just cause; that the actionbe started by a legitimate authority;that it be guided by right intention;that the results of anyaction do not lead to moreevil than good(proportionality); that thereis a reasonable chance ofsuccess; and that theeventual result will be theestablishment of peace.If it is established that a proposedmilitary action meets theserequirements, there are alsoconditions placed on the use of forcein the resulting action (seeCatechism of the Catholic Church,No. 2309). For example, force inexcess of that needed to achieve theends of the conflict should beavoided, as should damage or deathto innocent parties.Technological advances in the useof modern warfare and the resultantdestruction that these advances canhave on combatants and civiliansalike has lead to a greater reluctanceon the part of the Church tocontemplate he use of force as alegitimate tool to resolve conflict (seePacem in Terris”. Nos, 126-129,“The Church in the Modern World”,Nos, 78-79)However the Church also holds thatgovernments cannot be denied theright of lawful defence, once allpeace efforts have failed. Indeed,the Catechism says that if those whoserve in the armed forces “carry outtheir duty honourably, they trulycontribute to the common good ofthe nation and maintenance ofpeace,” (No. 2310)What then, are we to make of NewZealand's contribution to theconflict in Afghanistan?While in modern times the Churchhas emphasised the importance ofseeking a peaceful resolution toconflict and injustice, this does notmean that military action can neverbe justified (see John Paul II,Message for World Day of Peace,1982, NO12) It is the responsibility oflegitimate authorities to make aninformed prudential judgementbased on the particularcircumstances under consideration,as to whether the use of force isjustified.The New Zealand Government hasbased its decision, in part, on thefact that insurgents and terrorist cellsin Afghanistan have used terrorismin an attempt to attain political ends,both within and outside ofAfghanistan. There can be no doubtas to the immorality of terroristactions (see The Congregation forthe Doctrine of the Faith, in its 1986“lnstruction on Christian Freedom10


and Liberation”, NO. 79) .As part ofthe Media Statement released by thePrime Minister on 10 August 2009when the decision to deploy SASpersonnel in Afghanistan wasannounced, Mr Key stated that "NewZealand has a direct and vitalinterest in supporting internationalefforts to eradicate terrorism, andpromote peace and stability."Prudential judgment involves, amongother things, establishing whether inthe circumstances, military action isnecessary as a last resort to end aclear and prolonged tyranny whichotherwise seriously harms thecommon good. Have all other meansof conflict resolution beenexhausted, including negotiation,dialogue and the distribution ofobjective information?This is not the first time NewZealand's SAS personnel have beenengaged in the current Afghanistanconflict, and in a certain sense, thequestion "should New Zealand beinvolved?" has been replaced by thequestion; "Is New Zealand'sinvolvement an action which willactually lead to an end to injustice;or will it result in an even greaterharm to the oppressed?"These are not easy questions, andthere are no straightforwardanswers. Identifying and removingterrorists brings its own uniquechallenges and complexities,including the problem ofdistinguishing insurgents from thecivilian population. Recent analysesof the conflict suggest that the war inAfghanistan presents almostinsurmountable difficulties. Historytells us that the people ofAfghanistan have suffered terriblyunder decades of warfare and manyare dependent on international aidfor their day to day needs. Theflawed thinking which sits behindterrorist action easily exports itselfbeyond traditional geographicalborders and there is no guaranteethat if the war is won in Afghanistanthat the threat posed by terroristgroups in that country will beremoved.It seems that the presentmoment in Afghanistan isone of the most difficultin terms of the increasein violence as well as thegeneral political,economic, and socialInstability. Perhaps it iseasy to lose sight of thereal prize - a true andlasting peace.Peace is not the pure absence ofwar, nor can it be created by amilitary occupation. Peace is the fruitof an order inscribed in humansociety by its Divine FounderGaudium et Spes No. 78) Itpresupposes justice and dignity forall: the protection of everyone'sgoods, their rights 'and theirsovereignty. Peace is also a taskwhich God has entrusted to us as agood to be continually sought anddefended (Michael Sabbah, LatinPatriarch of Jerusalem, "Seek Peaceand Pursue It", 15 September 1998,No.2). It is the fruit of a permanentstruggle.“Peace is not the pure absence of war,nor can it be created by a military occupation.Peace is the fruit of an order inscribed in human society by its Divine Founder…”11


Our Neighbour Who Art in Prison…Purpose of PunishmentThe New Zealand Catholic Bishops intheir October 2006 statementprovided ‘Research shows that aretributive and punitive attitudetowards offenders is not the answerto solving crime or reducing reoffending.’Any form of punishment must besentenced for accountability andcorrection through a constructive andredemptive purpose. At the UnitedStates Conference of Catholic Bishopin 2000 it was stated St Thomas ofAquinas taught us ‘punishment ofwrongdoers is clearly justified inCatholic tradition, but it is neverjustified for its own sake.’ Punishmentshould not be administered out ofrevenge or anger.The Statement of the CatholicBishops of New Zealand 30 August1995 provided ‘Despite the widelypopular misuse of the concept of lextalionis the law of proportionality asexpressed in the notion ‘an eye for aneye’ biblical tradition has a restorativefocus.’ Expressed simply, it meantthat one would not harm anothermore than what they have harmedthem. This was to seek, protect andpromote peace. It did not mean onehad right to get even.Mercy and ForgivenessOur Catholic Faith requires each oneof us to demonstrate justice andmercy through a restorative process.We should not hurt our neighbour butlove our neighbour (1 John 3:10-11).Our neighbour may even be a personwe do not like or even know. TheEncyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est ofthe Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVlstates ‘Anyone who needs me, andwhom I can help, is my neighbour.’To love our neighbour in prison, is toforgive our neighbour in prison. It iswritten in the Scriptures that if weforgive others their trespasses wecan expect the same mercy from theLord of our own trespasses (Matt6:14-15). Peter asked Jesus howmany times he must forgive hisbrother’s sin and he was told notseven but seventy times seven (Matt18:20-22).Principle of Dignity of the PersonEvery person is created in the imageof God, and is valuable and worthy ofrespect as a member of the Humanfamily. The United States Bishops attheir Conference in 2000 stated‘Human Dignity is not something weearn by our good behaviour. It issomething we have as children ofGod.’ The crucifixion of Christ on theCross was made out of the love ofGod so all would be forgiven. It isclear from the Message of HisHoliness John Paul ll for the Jubileein Prisons, 9 July 2000 ‘Christ is insearch of every human being,whatever the situation.’ It has beensaid that there will be more joyin heaven over one sinner whorepents than over ninety-ninejust persons who need norepentance (Luke 15:5-7).ConclusionIn Pope John Paul ll Message for theWorld Day of Peace, 1 January 1997he states ‘As Scipture bears witness,God is rich in mercy and full offorgiveness for those who come backto him.’ We are all made in the imageof God, and must take up Christ’sCross in our every day life. We mustbreathe the words of Jesus. Like theShepherd looking for his lost sheep orthe father waiting for his Prodigal son,we must never give up hope. Ourhearts must always be open toforgive even in tough times. Godawaits those who are lost but turntheir back on sin and seek out theLord. Our lives must be God’s staff,guiding the lost sheep home.“Human Dignity is notsomething we earn by ourgood behaviour.It is something we have aschildren of God.”The name of the newsletter, which is Latin for the dignity of the person, expressesthe cornerstone principle of Catholic Social Teaching: “the human person...is andought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions.”No 1881, Catechism of the Catholic Church12

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