Archived Posts July 2006 - Page 6 of 7 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: jmorse
Saturday, July 8, 2006
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There was an impressive Australian contingent at the World Meeting of Families. I saw one group of at least 50, and there may have been others. They were all decked out in yellow and green soccer shirts that said "Australia" on the back, wore Outback hats and carried a large Australian flag. That was just at the conference. (Cardinal Pell was terrific on the panel, as expected.)

At the Parade this morning, I saw the same green and yellow jerseys. But the Austrailian highlight for me, was when I heard, in the distance, a brass band playing "The Wild Colonial Boy." I assume it was an Australian band, though I never caught sight of them! :-)

Today, my Phillipina demographer friend and I went to the center city of Valencia. We have tickets to go to the Encounter with the Holy Father tonight, and we thought we’d do some sight-seeing during the day. Well, we couldn’t get near the Cathedral, where a cup reported to be the Holy Grail is kept. The streets were already filling with pilgrims waiting for the Pope’s arrival. The streets along the official parade were lined with police barriers, but no ordinary police barriers: they were yellow and white, the colors of the Vatican flag.

Families and groups of teens were lining the streets, waving the flags of their country, or papal flags and chanting "viva papa."  We saw flags from Ireland, Angola and Australia, as well as Spanish flags of course. A few vendors were selling small flags saying, "Papa Benedetto XVI: Benevenuto Fra Noi."  (English speakers might not realize this: but most Europeans follow the Italians in calling the Pope, "Papa,"  father.

We had a spot right up at the barriers. ਊs the Holy Father approached, the crowd pressed in closer. We were surrounded by a group from Angola, whom we recognized as participants in the lectures at the Meetings earlier in the week. They were dressed in identical blue and white traditional gowns. ਊs the Holy Father approached, my Phillipina friend and I became honorary Angolans, as we joined in their song, "Viva Papa."

Earlier this week at the World Meeting of Families:

On July 4, the opening day,the program began at 4 PM and was scheduled to go until 8:00. But the opening day had a cloud hanging over it. A subway accident in Valencia claimed the lives of 41 people and injured many others. The conference was originally scheduled to have welcoming speeches by the major of Valencia, Mrs. Rita Barbera, and the Archbishop of Valencia, the Most Rev. Agustin Garcia-Gascon Vicente. But because of the accident, they were not in attendance.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo quoted a Spanish proverb, "The true friend is like blood: which always goes to the wound, unbidden." He said that we needed to be in solidarity with the victims of the subway accident.

The first speaker was His Eminence Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy. His talk was called "The Family and Secularism." Most memorable quote from this presentation: "Real education must train people to be truly free and freely true."

He decried the loss of a sense of the meaning of marriage. January 18, 2006 was a dark day: the Parliament of the European Union passed a resolution giving the sense of the Parliament in favor of same sex marital unions and condemning anything less than that as "homophobia." Cardinal pointed out that same sex relationships have always been judged differently that marriage or opposite sex unions. He asked two questions:

1. How did we get to this point?

2. What are we risking by taking the step of legalizing same sex unions?

In answer to the first question, same sex marriage is one logical outcome of the secular state. The first step is to declare that all understandings of one’s own sexuality are equally valid. This is radical autonomy. The second step is to claim that no sexual practice can be preferred by the law. To do otherwise, would violate the impartiality of the law, and the principle of equality.

These two, autonomy and equality, are the pillars of liberal society.

He outlined two assumptions of radical secularism. First, no concept of life is "true." There is no truth regarding the good of the person or society. Second, we must organize society without any reference to any particular idea of the good. These two ideas imply that all ideas about the goods of marriage have to be replaced by something neutral, or at least, something everyone would agree upon.

What are we risking by the EU declaration normalizing same sex marriage?

1. We are creating a society of strangers. No one is truly related to anyone else through permanent bonds. The law is a teacher: it forms the ideas that people share. Instead of forming the shared idea that marriage is about lifelong monogamous reproductive unions, the law will promote the idea that marriage is whatever each couple says it is. The shared idea about marriage is that there is not allowed to be a shared idea about marriage.

2. These new ideas about marriage will promote ways of looking at marriage that undermine monogamy.

3. Normalizing same sex unions will create a completely contractual model of the family and marriage. this will marginalized the weakest members of society, who need the protections of family to sustain them.

Conclusion: Man is fascinated by Beauty and Holiness, which are the Splendor of Truth and Goodness. The splendor of married love shines in many couples. This give people a glimpse of Beauty. The struggle over same sex marriage is a struggle over Truth. We have an entire generation of parents who don’t really know how to educate the young, because they are afraid of the idea of Truth. This is where he made his most memorable statement: "Real education must train people to be truly free and freely true."

Cardinal Caffarra was terrific in my opinion.

I’m leaving tomorrow to attend the Advanced Studies in Freedom seminar sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies and hosted at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. The conference runs from July 8-14, and will “take a deeper look at topics such as spontaneous order, social development, and public choice, considering them in both a historical context and in light of issues today.”

Seminar faculty include Randy Barnett of Boston University (Law), Stephen Davies of Manchester Metropolitan University (History), Sandy Ikeda of SUNY-Purchase (Economics), David Schmidtz of the University of Arizona (Philosophy), and Jeremy Shearmur of the Australian National University (Philosophy).

I’ve been doing some prepatory reading over the last few weeks, as much as I could from the suggested readings for the seminar. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my experiences from the conference with the PowerBlog audience. Look for postings on a regular basis next week. I hope to have daily summaries for you.

Late evening, July 6.

My session finally took place today at about 4:15 pm. Cardinal Martino presented the Compendium of the Social Doctrine. He pointed out that the family was given pride of place in the document, listed before the economy or government or international relations or the environment. Most memorable statement: “The family is not a function of society or the state. State and society are functions of the family.”

Madame Boutin made her presentation. She is an accomplished public speaker. It is easy to see why she has been reelected for twenty years from her district near Versailles. She is one of the few pro-life members of the French Parliament. Most memorable statement: “The foundation of the family is sexual differentiation. Up until now, the culture has always confirmed nature. Now, the gay rights lobby is asking that the culture not be based on the natural differences between men and women. Even heterosexuals subconsciously seek to create distance between nature and the law.”

About my own presentation: I asked the question, why do the attacks on the family so often come from the Left? I offered the answer that the idea of equality is the problem. The fact that we are sexual creatures, male and female, affronts the radical egalitarian mind-set. The Church proposes an alternative to Socialism. Instead of creating equality, the Church insists that we defend the weak. And instead of trying to make men and women equal, the Church invites us to embrace our differences, and treat them as opportunities to support each other.

I can’t forebear saying that I had two occasions of noticeable reactions from the audience. At the beginning of my talk, I defined the family with these words:

“My definition of the family is the one grounded in the teaching of the Catholic Church and based on the clear instruction of our Founder, Jesus of Nazareth. I do not accept the various attempts by the United Nations and others to redefine the family into “families.” I simply mean one man, one woman, for life.”

The audience applauded these words.

I reported that the Spanish government, which has approved same sex marriage, no longer lists “Mother” and “Father” on the birth certificates. Instead, they list, “Progenitor A,” and “Progenitor B.” I then went on:

“I suppose that when Pope Benedict XVI arrives for these meetings, we shall not be allowed to call him our Holy Father. We shall have to call him our Spiritual Progenitor.”

I heard a tittering of laughter. About thirty seconds later, I heard a roar of laughter: the translators had finished, and the non-English speakers got the joke. It was good fun for me.

I plan to post the entire talk on my website.

Blog post: July 5, 2005. 11:30 PM, Valencia time.

I am writing from the Fifth World Meeting of Families, held this year in Valencia Spain. This periodic event is sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family, chaired by the formidable Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo. I have come at the invitation of His Eminence to give a presentation on The Family, the Social Doctrine of the Church and Social Questions. In addition to the Theological and Pastoral Congress, the Meeting also has a Congress for the Young and a Congress for the Elderly. There is also the Family Fare, which is a huge display of family-oriented ministries from all over the world. Since the meeting is in Spain, most of the displays are in Spanish.

The Meeting will end this weekend, with a visit from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. The streets are festooned with banners and flags in anticipation of his arrival. The organizers anticipate over one million people for the Papal visit this Saturday and Sunday. Right now, there are nowhere near that many people. It is impossible for me to guess how many children, teens and grandparents are attending the sessions designed for them. I would estimate that about five thousand people attend the sessions at the Theological Congress. That is an impressive number, when you realize that this is a combination academic conference and showcase of pro-family organizations. The audience is composed of clergy, religious and earnest lay people.

I was asked to prepare a fifteen minute presentation. When I arrived here, however, I noticed that only 2 of the 4 people originally invited for my session had actually come. So I made a back-up plan to speak for 30 minutes, if necessary. I stayed up late last night, adding material on demography to my paper. My session was supposed to be today. But it was postponed. The session is to be chaired by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace. He will present the new Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. He was unable to come today, so the session is postponed until he can arrive. I am scheduled to speak, as well as a French Member of Parliament, Madame Christine Boutin.

It is now almost midnight Valencia time. Anything can happen tomorrow, so I must be prepared. I am going to bed. I will post more, when able.

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, July 6, 2006
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The Drexel University Libraries have posted video and audio from the Scholarly Communications Symposium convened earlier this year. The event, held on April 28, 2006, included a presentation by me, “The Digital Ad Fontes!: Scholarly Research Trends in the Humanities,” as well as Rosalind Reid, “Access, Inertia, and Innovation: Turbulent Times in Scientific Publishing” (Dr. Blaise Cronin was ill and unable to attend).

The video is divided into two parts and is archived in the streaming content library (scroll down to the bottom). My talk begins the first part, preceded by a brief introduction, and starts at roughly the four minute mark, continuing up through the the beginning of the second hour, including a Q&A period.

A panel discussion begins at roughly the eight minute mark of the second part. These videocasts are in MP4 format (.m4v) and are viewable through iTunes (you can right click to save these files for local viewing. File sizes are 572 MB and 276 MB respectively). I have posted the text from the introduction to my lecture here.

Jordan J. Ballor at the Drexel University Libraries Scholarly Communications Symposium, April 28, 2006

From the abstract of a new paper from the NBER, “Globalization and Poverty,” by Ann Harrison:

“This essay surveys the evidence on the linkages between globalization and poverty. I focus on two measures of globalization: trade and international capital flows…. The collected evidence suggests that globalization produces both winners and losers among the poor. The fact that some poor individuals are made worse off by trade or financial integration underscores the need for carefully targeted safety nets.”

Dr. Mart Laar, former prime minister of Estonia, discusses the relevance for the papal encyclical Centesimus Annus for Europe today. “The message of Centesimus Annus is not a message of left or right. It is a universal message of hope. We can see these same ideas in most groups working on the future of Europe. The only problem is in finding political leaders ready to implement them in reality,” he writes.

Read Dr. Mart Laar’s full commentary here.

Acton PowerBlog contributor Don Bosch (aka The Evangelical Ecologist) had his post, “Guilt Free Ecology,” picked up and recognized by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in their feature “Best of the Blogs,” on June 18. Good job, Don!