“Personally opposed” Rocco

Rocco Buttiglione acted in a more principled way than Larry Summers when he said the wrong thing, but was he principled enough? I don’t think Summers would have knuckled under to any pressure group whatever that threatened to make things difficult for him. At Stalin’s show trials the Old Bolsheviks didn’t confess simply because they were afraid of torture or wanted to protect their families but because they thought the Party really was necessarily right in the end, so there couldn’t possibly be good grounds for taking a stand against it. I think something of the same willingness to embrace fantasy in the interests of a higher good is at work in Summers’ case. It seems fundamental to his view of things that “discrimination” is a stupefying horror that has to be utterly rooted out no matter what the institutional or intellectual cost. So although he’s too confused to be principled, at least on these issues, I’m sure he’s not altogether lacking in the quality.

It appears that Buttiglione, who as someone who wants to be a respectable intellectual today opposes “discrimination”, has also absorbed more of the down-with-discrimination view than is good for the solidity of his thought. After all, thought is based on recognition of distinctions, while anti-discrimination insists on ignoring them. How can both survive in a single mind? Buttiglione claims it was simply not relevant to his candidacy for EU justice commissioner that he considers homosexual conduct a sin while the EU opposes, as a matter of its fundamental law, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The claim makes no sense. If God made the world then a man’s view on sin is his view on the ultimate reality of human life and conduct. In the case of homosexuality the Catholic view is that it’s wrong because it’s radically at odds with the right ordering of sexuality, something comprehensible through natural reason and absolutely fundamental to the well-being of the family and therefore society itself. How could such a thing possibly fail to influence a man’s attitudes toward others and what’s good for them, and thus the common good and the standards that are socially right?

Anti-discrimination is based on the belief that it is wrong to recognize certain distinctions, and thus right, in the activist and socially just society to which the EU aspires, to take effective action to eliminate the effect of those distinctions on social relations. If you truly believe homosexual conduct is a sin, and thus at odds with right human order, how could you support resolute attempts to prevent such a judgment, which discriminates between sexual orientations and calls some good and some bad, from ever affecting social relations? Why is Buttiglione’s claim that he is personally opposed to sodomy but would never let his position on the matter affect his public actions different in principle from the similar claim John Kerry and others make as to abortion?

(Also see previous Turnabout comments on Buttiglione.)

3 thoughts on ““Personally opposed” Rocco”

  1. A Christian example?
    I never understood why some in the Church held Buttiglione up as an example. I guess he is an example of the anti-Christian bias in the EU government, but he’s hardly an example of a Christian.

    Kevin V.

    (God asks for our obedience, not our opinion)

    • He’s said to be a friend of J
      He’s said to be a friend of JP II. My impression is that he’s a sincere Catholic who’s tried as hard as he can to put into effect what still seems to be the ruling opinion at the highest levels of the Church, that a kind of liberalism with which Catholicism is consistent is both possible and realistic. So (to speak crudely but I think with some justification) if you are a neocon Catholic you’ll think he’s a good model.

      (While I compared his stated view on homosexuality with John Kerry’s on abortion, that was a comment on the logic of the position rather than on motive or manner of holding it.)

      Rem tene, verba sequentur.

      • Republican nominees to the fe
        Republican nominees to the federal bench take the same position on abortion: “Although I am personally opposed to abortion, I will of course follow the law in the discharge of my duties as a federal judge.”

        If you were a liberal, would you not hold such a man in absolute contempt? Not because he disagrees with you on abortion, but because he so readily and cravenly surrenders on an issue that he putatively considers a matter of the life and death of innocents.

        As a conservative, one could take the position that a conservative nominee should take such a position in order to secure the appointment and insinuate oneself into the machinery of the state, from which position one could work to minimize the number of abortions or participate in the consolidation of a critical mass to sway professional and/or public opinion against abortion (I think liberals view it in this way).

        As for Europe and the Church, Europe (for the second time within a century) is sinking into a willful Dark Age of irrationalism. The last time this happened (the 1930’s), the Pope was, and is, severely criticized after the fact for failing to speak and act forcefully enough. Another challenge is upon the Church and its leaders. John Paul II fought his battles against Bolshevism, battles that defined his life. Perhaps the next Pope will be a prophetic voice within and against the nihilism that is now Europe.


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