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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    A clearing house of the challenges facing Catholic public witness

    ... is handily provided by this article in the UK Times, both in what it says, and in how it says it:

    "Italian bishops condemned for urging actors to shun sex scenes"

    Point 1: Let's just pause at the title.

    The bishops themselves are the ones being "condemned" for urging actors to shun sex scenes. The news subject is actually the bishops being criticized for speaking out.

    Point 2: A misappropriation of the facts:
    Father Nicolò Anselmi, head of the youth section of the Italian Bishops Conference, said that Moretti was normally noted for his “idealistic and sensitive” films. But the “gratuitous” sex scene with Isabella Ferrari, his co-star, would have an undesirable effect on the “impressionable young” since it was shown without any context involving love or tenderness.
    I doubt this quite captures the essence of the Italian Bishops' criticism. Sex scenes in movies are not problematic only when they are "shown without any context involving love or tenderness." Sure, that's a part of the problem. But more fundamentally, sex scenes involve ... people engaging in sexual activity(!), and doing so outside of marriage b) publically c) for profit and publicity, etc., etc.

    In other words, sex scenes depicted even in a "context involving love or tenderness" would still be wrong.

    Point 3: Anti-Catholicism.

    Franco Zeffirelli, the film and opera director, said: “The Church is full of pedants who have lost all sense of proportion.” It was a “fourth-rate” film that did not merit the publicity generated by the bishops' intervention.
    A condescending generalization. It's like saying "America is full of nitwits who have lost all sense of honor." What organization besides the Church can routinely be treated in this way with such tolerance? This comment from the man who has previously offered to help Pope Benedict with his style, saying on the one hand "The papal robes are too opulent and flashy" but then claiming "I am in continual contact with his inner circle. The Holy Father honours me with his esteem." He sure isn't sounding like a reliable opinion source to me.

    Point 4: Anti-Catholicism (again):

    "The row comes amid charges that the Centre Right, led by Silvio Berlusconi, is playing the Catholic card by making abortion an issue in the run-up to the general election in April. Mr Berlusconi has asked the United Nations to pass a moratorium on abortion and the death penalty."
    Bringing up the issue of abortion, in a county with one of the lowest birth rates in a continent already experiencing population implosion, is ... "playing the Catholic card." I'm sorry, I don't get it.

    Point 5: Anti-Catholicism (surprise):

    The comments posted in response to the article follow certain numbing, universal patterns of argument on this topic. Most of them hold that because the Church allowed the sex abuse scandal to happen, for it to speak out on any issue of human sexuality ever again is nothing but hypocrisy. Well, try to defend that conclusion logically.

    The later comments do, however, contribute a little glimmering of hope in their use of reason and practice of civility. But honestly, those voices are generally marginalized.

    Just like the Italian bishops.

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