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Another example of how people act when their metaphysics are challenged: Status of Catholic Church in Spain Threatened. The Catholic Church in Spain has protested a citizenship education program that promotes full normalization of homosexuality. Professor Gregorio Peces-Barba Martínez, apparently the socialist government’s main theoretician, has responded with a newspaper column in which he accuses the Church of “an extreme arrogance, a sensation of impunity and an insufferable sense of superiority, derived from the fact that they administer ‘superior truths.’” He further accused them of “harassing those who are heterodox” and “showing disrespect for individual consciences,” and adds that they must back down or suffer consequences.

On its face it seems bizarre that restating a widespread and long-established opinion regarding some issue of morality and applying that opinion to new public policy ventures should be thought to show “extreme arrogance,” or that protesting mandatory indoctrination of schoolchildren should be considered a form of “harassing those who are heterodox.” To the professor, of course, it is not bizarre at all, because what is at issue for him is not something on which differing positions are possible but a fundamental principle necessary to a social and moral setting within which mutual respect and intelligent discussion is possible.

Peces-Barba apparently believes that questioning the full normalization of homosexuality, in and of itself, is extreme arrogance and harassment. The reason he believes that, I suppose, is that at bottom he accepts something equivalent to the modern technological understanding of reason: the only things that we must take into account in acting are wills, desires, resources, techniques, and formal constraints like equality. On such a view, will and desire is the sole basis of value, and a claim that one constellation of will and desire is better than another is irrational, as least as long as both accept constraints like equality. Such a claim cannot be made in legitimate public discussion that hopes to maintain peace and progress on the basis of reason and the equality of all parties. If a prominent institution that asserts moral authority makes such a claim it is a threat to social order and morality and must be treated as a public enemy. Hence the threats against the Church.

The battle between the Church and the socialists, then, is metaphysical: are there goods that transcend desire and can serve as its measure, or are there only desires and various schemes for satisfying them and dealing with their conflicts. Modern thought and institutions, along with Professor Peces-Barba, have resolutely chosen the latter view. To me it seems, as it seemed to Edmund Burke, that making everything a matter of desire and will puts us into an “antagonist world of madness, discord, vice, confusion, and unavailing sorrow.” Each can size up the situation as best he can and choose his side.

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I always believed that the traditionally Catholic countries in Europe would resist and hold out in the sea of christophobic and liberal madness. I was wrong. It appears there is only one left: Poland.

Where are the Spanish “Catholics”? Moreover, how am I to have any sympathy for a country that supposedly is majority-Catholic, yet can’t get out of bed to vote and prevent these socialist idiots from taking power? I understand that the Spanish red government has even renamed “father” and “mother” to “progenitor A” and “progenitor B”.

Spanish Catholics allowed this to happen by allowing these deviants into Parliament in the first place.

Conservative Spain, if there is such a thing, is guilty of its own negligence and recklessness.

Her cries are like those of a child who has wet its bed and complains about the smell.

This is what you get for being fat, lazy and letting your guard down.

That is why I have no sympathy for their plight, even as a traditionalist Catholic myself.

I too am alive to the emotional appeal of the “just deserts” angle. It is true that many contemporary churchmen, and their predecessors going back some 40 to 50 years, largely abandoned the work of handing down non-pluralist Catholic identities. It is true that the result is that most Catholics, as well as the Catholics who might have been, are now biopower in the service of the Church’s mortal foe, pluralism. It’s a disaster.

And there’s a part of me that wants, perhaps like Kilroy, if I understand him correctly, to laugh and say, “Where’s your aggiornamento now, Charlie Brown?” But let us transcend that. (It may sound phony and sanctimonious after my sneering at the 68-ers. I apologize.) History is still underway, and the historical switchmen can still set the train down a different track.

There’s been some Micawberism in the past, yes. But now let us pray to St. Rita that developments in Spain will spur Catholics everywhere to better grasp the nature of pluralism. It may come too late to make a difference, but the moment of each and every awakening is beautiful nevertheless.

Encouraging whatever is good is one way to help. Just this week Bishop Matano of Burlington, Vermont (America’s Spain?), on the Feast of the Assumption, said the traditional Mass of the Roman Rite. The cathedral was full. It was full, and before all those faithful, H.E. said the Mass that does not de-emphasize the propitiatory nature of Christ’s sacrifice, the Mass that reserves the reading of Sacred Scripture to ordained ministers and thereby emphasizes the God-ordained role of the hierarchical priesthood in the transmission of the Faith, the Mass in which the priest genuflects immediately upon consecration rather than waiting until after the elevation, the Mass of so many of our favorite saints.

Has anyone reading this sent H.E. a note of support? Now he’s a grown-up, and if he thinks this is the path forward, then he will lead accordingly. But don’t we all need encouragement sometimes, and doesn’t it perfect us to give encouragement at the right moments?

This is why I am grateful for our George Cardinal Pell whose initiative for Catholic schools will hopefully be the beginning of a renaissance for the Church in Australia: Bruce McDougal, ‘Pell’s Catholic School Revolution’ Daily Telegraph (8 August 2007)