Gender as Anti-Church Code

Oh dear: I seem to be experiencing another anti-Catholic moment. (Last month’s anti-Catholic moment, you will recall, concerned the way the Church in Boston is behaving like a bunch of thugs as it tries to evade responsibility for ruining many people’s lives: this piece by Christopher Hitchens also deserves a link). This month’s takes a different tack:

Vatican Says Word ‘Gender’ Is Anti-Church Code(WOMENSENEWS)–The Vatican announced it will publish a collection of phrases and words including “reproductive rights” and “gender” that it says are code for anti-Catholic sentiments.

The Vatican said these and approximately 76 other neutral-sounding terms about family and life are used to cover up deeper, anti-Church meanings, according to The Associated Press. The Vatican will publish the 1,000-page lexicon of the terms soon.

In an interview with the religious affairs monthly journal 30 Giorni (30 Days), Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said the phrase “reproductive rights” is misleading because it “is used for propaganda–not for the right to reproduction but . . . to abortion,” The Washington Times reported.

The Vatican decided to create the book after nongovernmental organizations complained about “ambiguous” words and phrases used at United Nations meetings…

It will be great fun to get a copy of this thousand-page lexicon when it comes out, which will be required and entertaining reading. But what’s sad — more than sad, in fact — is that this isn’t just the usual run of harmless religious lunacy, since these interventions on the subject of “gender” have a real impact on the development of the international legal regime.The International Criminal Court website, for example, trumpets this:

“The Rome Statute explicitly recognizes rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Trafficking is encompassed within the crime against humanity of enslavement. Also, for the first time, gender-based persecution is included as a crime against humanity. The codification of these crimes in the Statute is significant as prior humanitarian law has afforded trivial treatment to such grave violence.”

This sounds excellent, and indeed, it mostly is. Turn to Article 7, Paragraph 3, however, and you find the weaselly definition of “gender” being used by the Statute, negotiated by the Vatican and supported by various Islamic regimes and the United States (which isn’t proposing to cooperate with the Court after all):

It is understood that the term ‘gender’ refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term ‘gender’ does not indicate any meaning different from the above.

So much for the work of a generation of gender studies. And so much for the human rights of transsexuals and other gender queers who alone seem to be exempted from international legal protections against gender-based violence. The small print bit: Credit where it’s due: the above information came to me via Raj, but is originally from Women’s Enews, which is a nonprofit independent news service covering issues of concern to women and their allies: an incubator program of the Fund for the City of New York, Women’s Enews is supported by readers and various progressive foundations. Donate now by going here.

Eighth Deadly Sin?

Brad deLong is dumbfounded:

I must say that I had always thought that by the time I reached 40 I would have heard about or thought of every possible kind of sin. But the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has proved me wrong. I had never thought of:

* “Reaching out” to the victims of sexual abuse by priests, telling them that the church cares about them, suggesting that they get therapy and counseling.

* Offering to pay for the therapy.

* Then subpoenaing the therapists, trying to break the confidentiality of the patient-therapist relationship, in the hope of learning something (a) that will weaken the victim’s case in court, or (b) that would be so embarrassing if it were revealed in court that the plaintiff can be induced to drop or cheaply settle his or her legal case.

I am dumbfounded. This is betrayal of a high order: Dante’s Inferno Tenth-Circle buried-in-ice-for eternity order. Moreover, this is something that I would never have thought of doing in ten-thousand years.

He’s commenting on this article, from the Boston Globe.

Image of the Week, #17

Both Naunihal and Simon have written in to alert me about the appearance of a kind of Turin Chapati, but in Bangalore. The face of Christ miraculously appeared on a chapati a few days ago, and twenty thousand pilgrims have flocked to admire. The photo is from the BBC; there’s some more in the ANI story in the Hindustan Times.

God is certainly moving in some pretty mysterious ways these days. Only three months ago, He was indulging in a spot of aubergine interior design, giving a boost to Sikhism everywhere, and especially in Coventry.

Opus Dei

The Pope has just canonised the wretched Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei. The BBC report is here, Opus Dei’s own annoucement is here, the official Vatican canonisation website is here (which contains a link to the details of “the approved miracle”!), and — I’ve linked to this before — for those who want to know just why Opus Dei is regarded with such loathing and suspicion, the useful unofficial Opus Dei homepage is here, and the Opus Dei Awareness Network is here.

Opus Dei

Old news, but interesting news, from Opus Dei:

Blessed Josemaría Escriva to be canonized October 6, 2002

Pope John Paul II will canonize Blessed Josemar�a Escriv�, Opus Dei’s founder, the Vatican announced on February 26, 2002. The canonization will take place in Saint Peter’s Square on October 6, 2002. …

Blessed Josemar�a founded Opus Dei in Spain in 1928 to help people seek holiness in everyday life, especially through work. By the time of his death, on June 26, 1975, Opus Dei had spread to 32 countries and had 60,000 members.

“By his example and preaching, Blessed Josemar�a has taught many thousands of people that their daily activities can bring them closer to God,” said Rev. Arne Panula, the vicar of Opus Dei in the United States. “The Church, in declaring Blessed Josemar�a a saint, reminds us that all men and women are called to sanctity.”

Blessed Josemar�a�s emphasis on lay holiness, while first considered radical by some within the Catholic Church, was later re-affirmed by the Church�s Second Vatican Council. Pope John Paul and other Church leaders have described Blessed Josemar�a as a precursor of the Council.

“Your institution has as its aim the sanctification of one�s life, while remaining within the world at one�s place of work and profession,” Pope John Paul once told members of Opus Dei. “This is a truly great ideal, which right from the beginning has anticipated the theology of the lay state, a mark of the Church and the Council.”

Blessed Josemar�a was born in Barbastro, Spain, on Jan. 9, 1902. He founded Opus Dei on Oct. 2, 1928. After his death in 1975, a third of the world�s bishops petitioned the Vatican to open his cause of beatification and canonization.

Vatican procedures for canonization � a formal declaration that someone is a saint � require an exhaustive investigation of a potential saint’s life, plus two authenticated miracles.

Pope John Paul II beatified Monsignor Escriv� in Saint Peter’s Square on May 17, 1992, attracting an audience of about 300,000 people.

On Dec. 20, 2001, the Vatican authenticated a second miracle attributed to Blessed Josemar�a, thus clearing the way for the canonization. A Spanish doctor suffering from chronic radiodermatitis, damage to his hands caused by repeated exposure to x-rays, was miraculously healed after praying for Blessed Josemar�a’s intercession.

The canonization later this year coincides with a worldwide, year-long series of events commemorating the hundredth anniversary of Blessed Josemar�a’s birth. At one of these events last month Pope John Paul said, “Blessed Josemar�a placed at the center of his own preaching the truth that all the baptized are called to the fullness of charity, and that the most immediate way to reach this common goal is through the ordinary events of each day.”

Since Blessed Josemar�a’s death in 1975, the number of people in Opus Dei has grown to 84,000 people worldwide, with 3,000 in the United States. …

In what sense precisely was Escriv� a “precursor” of Vatican Two? For an alternative perspective, and to learn a bit about What’s Wrong with Opus Dei, try or the Opus Dei Unofficial Home Page.


Job 41: 1-34 (KJV):

1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
2 Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
3 Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?
4 Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
5 Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
6 Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?
7 Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
8 Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
9 Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?
10 None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? 11 Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
12 I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.
13 Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?
14 Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.
15 His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.
16 One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
17 They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
18 By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
20 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
21 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
22 In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.
23 The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
24 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
25 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.
26 The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.
27 He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
28 The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.
29 Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
30 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.
31 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
33 Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.

“Neesings” is a very good word indeed, and not one I think I have encountered before. The OED rises to the occasion, defining it as “Sneezing; a sneeze” and giving us these useful attestations:

1382 WYCLIF Job xli. 9 His nesing [is] shynyng of fyr, and his eyen as eyelidis of morutid. 1432-50 tr. Higden (Rolls) V. 389 A mervellous pestilence folowede.., pereschynge moche peple in yoskenge or nesynge. 1530 PALSGR. 247/2 Nesyng with the nose, esternuement. 1543 TRAHERON Vigo’s Chirurg. IV. 148 Nysynge also, provoked by arte, is convenient in thys case. 1578 LYTE Dodoens 194 The same roote… put into the nose causeth Sternutation or niesing. 1609 B. JONSON Sil. Wom. IV. i, The spitting, the coughing, the laughter, the neesing. 1663 J. SPENCER Prodigies (1665) 61 That..usage of praying for a Person upon neezing. 1676 Gentleman’s Jockey 286 There be two other excellent helps for sick Horses, as Frictions and Neesings.

This is very helpful.

Chris adds [6.2.2002]: I was discussing “neesings” earlier today with a colleague, who told me that the shift from “neesing” to “sneezing” is probably a phonesthemic change — I think that’s the right word — in which a word which makes a great deal of sense on its own (through its connection to “nez”, “nose”, etc.) gets an “s” stuck on the front of it, which brings it into the family of “sn-” words with general family resemblances, including “sniffle”, “snuffle”, “sniff”, “snort”, and so on.


I was lucky enough earlier this evening to come across the email address of the last remaining Shaker community in the United States, so I sent them a polite note to express a modicum of admiration and find out how they were getting along. They replied within a couple of hours to report that there were now five Shakers, aged between 38 and 74, that they continue to be open to new members, that the most recent arrival became a Shaker in May of last year, and that they continue the traditional Shaker way of life, farming cattle, sheep and pigs, and growing various vegetables. It is excellent to hear from them.

The Shakers are, of course, the oldest communal association in the United States, with a history of over two hundred years of utopian socialism in action. You may have come across their furniture, of course, which is fine (if a little expensive these days); and the tune of the classic hymn “Lord of the Dance” is an old Shaker tune, which Aaron Copland appropriated for his Appalachian Spring, and for which Sydney Carter supplied a new set of words. There were once many thousands of Shakers across the North and East of the United States — and now, we learn, there are five; but from the evidence of this message, they still seem to be in good spirits, and we all wish them well.

For more on the Shakers, try or the Sabbathday Lake community.

Pope sends first e-mail apology

From the BBC:

Pope John Paul II has sent an apology by e-mail for a string of injustices, including sexual abuse, committed by Roman Catholic clergy in the Pacific nations. The 81-year-old pontiff transmitted the message, his first virtual apology, in a recent string of statements of contrition, from a laptop in the Vatican’s frescoed Clementine Hall on Wednesday.

Pope John Paul II Reporting on a Synod meeting held in 1998, the Pope wrote that bishops from the region “apologised unreservedly” for the “shameful injustices done to indigenous peoples” in Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific.

The Vatican website is still highly recommended.Nick writes [23.11.2001]: “My favourite detail was in the last paragraph of the Grauniad account:

“The Pope pressed the send button which emailed the document, by tradition a publication he would deliver by hand. Aides said it was intended to spare him a lengthy journey.”

A perfect example IMO of your old friend, “traditional values in a modern setting.”