Archive for February, 2013

Overwhelming Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

February 23, 2013


Update: Vatileaks, Benedict’s Final Audience

February 23, 2013

ConclaveFrom La, 2/21/13.

(No byline) Translated from the Italian by Doughlas Remy

Father Lombardi: “No Comment on the Vatileaks.”

Boffo: “The Pope resigned to end scandals.”

VATICAN CITY: “Don’t expect comments, denials, or confirmations of anything that’s been said on this subject,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, regarding leaks to the press about the report that Cardinals Julian Herranz, Salvatore de Giorgi, and Josef Tomko delivered to the Pope in recent months after an investigation into the disappearance of documents from the Holy See. (Vatileaks)

“The commission has done its work and has submitted the report to the Holy Father pursuant to his request,” Lombardi said. “We’re not going to chase after all the rumors, the fantasies, or the opinions that are swirling around this matter. Nor should you expect the three cardinals to grant you interviews, because they’ve agreed not to respond or provide any further information.”

However, the director of Tv2000, Dino Boffo, insists that the Pope’s objective in resigning could be to “put an end to scandals that could rock the Vatican.” Commenting on the press leaks, Boffo added, “I think that the Holy See is trying to distance itself from the disturbing allegations made in certain anonymous letters.

No expection of an edict regarding new conclave rules: [Note: these rules would address the timing of the conclave and the installation mass for the new Pope.]  Regarding a papal edict, “we’re not expecting one to be published,” added the director of the Vatican Press Office. He clarified: “Whether or not there’s an edict, the Cardinals meeting in the General Congregation during the vacancy will decide on the beginning date of the Conclave. There’s no way of knowing that date before they make their decision. No one, not even the authorities, can yet say when the Conclave will begin.” But he added, “Tomorrow there will be a letter from the constituents, clarifying several points.” Lombardi repeated that the Pope “could intervene to add a few touches—but certainly nothing substantial,” and that it would only be a matter of days before the letter is ready. The Pope will of course collaborate with the constituents, but he won’t sign off on anything that he doesn’t absolutely understand and agree to.

The Lefebvre case. This ongoing case concerning the Church and the Society of St. Pius X [a world-wide radical traditionalist Catholic fraternal order founded in 1970 by the late French archbishop, Marcel-François Lefebvre], will be entrusted to the pastoral care of the next Pope. As the spokesman for the Holy See has made clear, this is Benedict’s decision. It was he who in 2009 attempted to bring the schismatic community founded by the French bishop back into compliance with Church doctrine before finally issuing his edict, “Ecclesiae unitatem.”

Meeting with President Napolitano: On Saturday February 23, following his spiritual exercises for Lent, Pope Benedict XVI will have a private audience with President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, who will be accompanied by a consort.

Already 30 thousand requests for the final papal audience: The papal audience to be held on the 27th of February will be attended by crowds of the adoring faithful in St. Peter’s Square. As of today, only a week before the event, more than 30 thousand people from the world over have requested permission to attend. Father Federico Lombardi has explained that the papal audience will follow a traditional format in terms of its length and other particulars. The audience is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. The Pope will ride around the square in the “pope-mobile” before arriving in front of the basilica to greet the faithful.

Final goodbyes: Thursday February 28 at 11 a.m., in the Clementina Room of the Vatican, the Pope will meet and personally greet all the cardinals then present in Rome. Father Lombardi has specified that there will be no private meetings between the Pontiff and the three Cardinals whom he tasked with investigating the leak of documents from the papal apartments. Instead, in the afternoon, before leaving from the helioport of the Holy See, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone will be present to greet the Pontiff in the courtyard of San Damaso. At this time, the Pontiff will also say farewell to Cardinal Dean Sodano. The Secretary of the Papal State and the parish priest will be on hand to greet the the Holy Father at Castel Gandolfo. A farewell to the faithful will follow, televised directly from the Vatican Television Center.

Shane Koyczan’s Anti-Bullying Poem with Animations

February 22, 2013

Shane Koyczan wrote an anti-bullying poem, “To This Day,” and then posted it and invited everyone to submit 20-second animated segments, resulting in a seven-minute masterpiece.

The American Psychological Association’s Brief on Homosexuality and Sexual Orientation

February 21, 2013

APA LogoSince 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations. The discipline of psychology is concerned with the well-being of people and groups and therefore with threats to that well-being. The prejudice and discrimination that people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual regularly experience have been shown to have negative psychological effects. This information is designed to provide accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation and the impact of prejudice and discrimination on those who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Continue reading this article.

Liberty Counsel Maintains ‘Viewpoint’ That Sexuality Is ‘Changeable’

February 21, 2013

by Zach Ford, Think Progress LGBT, 2/20/13

The Liberty Counsel has filed its final brief in its challenge of California’s ban on ex-gay therapy (SB 1172) on behalf of NARTH. In it, the group reiterates its claims that encouraging young people to change their sexual orientation is simply a “viewpoint,” and thus protected by the First Amendment. Despite the dearth of evidence supporting its effectiveness and the research that shows not only that it’s ineffective but that it can also be harmful, the conservatives stand by their claim that same-sex attractions (SSA) can be changed.

Continue reading this article.

Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation

February 21, 2013

APA LogoThe following is an abstract of the 2013 Report of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation:

The task force conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates.

Even though the research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation identity, the task force concluded that the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation.

Thus, the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome.

Read the entire report here.

Gallup: LGBT Percentage Highest in D.C., Lowest in North Dakota

February 20, 2013

by Gary J. Gates and Frank Newport

from Gallup Politics, 2/15/13

The percentage of U.S. adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) ranges from 1.7% in North Dakota to 5.1% in Hawaii and 10% in the District of Columbia, according to Gallup surveys conducted from June-December 2012.

Continue reading this article.

Did Robert L. Fulghum Hand Us an Alternative to Natural Law?

February 20, 2013
Robert Fulghum

Robert Fulghum

From Robert L. Fulghum. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Ballantine Books, 2003:

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Austin Ruse and Robert P. George Get Bogged Down in Anti-SSM Arguments (Again)

February 18, 2013
Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse, writing for Crisis Magazine, explains why the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8:

In a Harvard Law Review article, … [Robert] George, [Ryan] Anderson, and [Sherif] Girgis answer the question “what is marriage?” They describe two competing views; one they call “conjugal”, and the other “revisionist.” Allowing for the revisionist view “can cause corresponding social harms. It weakens the rational foundation (and hence social practice) of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.”

George and his colleagues argue that marriage can only be “conjugal”, that is, a “comprehensive union joining spouses in body as well as in mind, it is begun by commitment and sealed by sexual intercourse. So completed in the acts by which new life is made, it is especially apt for and deepened by procreation and calls for that broad sharing uniquely fit for family life.” Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals.

So here’s what Mr. Ruse would have us believe: Opposite-sex marriage (OSM), in its current incarnation in many parts of the world, is conjugal, not revisionist. And same-sex marriage (SSM), wherever it is practiced, is revisionist and not conjugal. Let’s unpack that a bit.

Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of “conjugal:” of or relating to the married state or to married persons and their relations. From Latin conjungere, to join, unite in marriage.

Robert P. George

Robert P. George

Ironically, it appears that Mr. George and his associates would like us to buy a revisionist definition of “conjugal,” one that appropriates the term for opposite-sex couples while denying it to same-sex ones. Do we have to remind Mr. George and Mr. Ruse that marriage between homosexual couples is a fait accompli in about a dozen countries and in as many U.S. states? In those jurisdictions, the definition of “marriage” has expanded, and with it the definition of “conjugal.” The horses are out of the barn. The gin has already gone into the tonic. Canada, France, the U.K., Argentina, Spain, and the Netherlands, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington State are highly unlikely to reverse course on this issue.

And since when is the term “revision” so negatively loaded? Editors “revise” documents with the aim of improving them, not compromising them. George claims that the revisionist view “weakens the rational foundation of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.” Weakens? Why not “strengthens?” Do we detect a bias here? What is his basis for claiming that same-sex unions are not just as “permanent, exclusive, and monogamous” as opposite-sex ones? With divorce rates at around 50% in the U.S., heterosexuals have not set the bar very high. And what if SSMs proved to be more permanent, exclusive, and monogamous than OSMs? Would either Mr. Ruse or Mr. George renounce OSM as an institution?

But even assuming that the word has purely negative connotations, is anyone trying to “revise” or downgrade the meaning of Mr. Ruse’s marriage or Mr. George’s? An even more pertinent question is whether the marriage template that they consider normative is not itself also a revision of earlier ones. And a quick scan of the history of marriage tells us that it is. That history is so well-known by now that it doesn’t bear repeating here.

If Messrs Ruse and George are trying to lay a sturdy foundation for their argument, bubble-wrap and jello are not good choices for a material. But let’s go on.

Assuming that SSM is indeed revisionist and that revisionism is “bad” in a world resistant to change of any kind, is it fair to describe the “revisionist” understanding of marriage as “essentially an emotional union, accompanied by any consensual activity?” Reducing all the variety and richness of marriage to a single one of its elements is a gratuitous insult to same-sex married couples the world over. And the characterization is patently false, all the more so because it appends the phrase, “accompanied by any consensual activity.” “Any??” Is George suggesting that “revisionist” ideas of marriage allow ANY consensual activity whatsoever? This is the old slippery-slope scare coded into the phrase with a single three-letter word. But the U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating on SSM, not on incestuous marriage or polyandry or marriage with one’s most cherished farm animal. Hopefully, the Supremes will recognize this for the red herring that it is.

George’s panegyric to marriage (the second paragraph I cited above) would describe an SSM very well except for the part about “making new life,” which is pivotal to the Catholic concept. However, he stops short of asserting that marriage should be unavailable to those who cannot or choose not to procreate, though the Church itself requires that there be some “openness” to the possibility of procreation. George’s slight but significant pull-back from Catholic teaching on this point may be a sign of realism on his part: he knows that any argument based explicitly and overtly on Catholic doctrine will be shot down in the SCOTUS. The problem for his modified position (i.e., allowing for the possibility of non-procreative marriage) may open the door to non-procreative marriage between homosexuals, at least from the Court’s point of view. Only by keeping procreation in the equation can George argue against SSM, but in doing so, he limits his audience to fellow conservative Catholics. In other words, he is in a no-win situation.

Ruse acts as though he hasn’t understood what George just said, for he adds: “Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals.” Or maybe he thought he needed to firm it up a bit. George’s reasoning doesn’t justify such a conclusion, and Ruse doesn’t explain what he means. SCOTUS would certainly want to know. Pro-SSM attorneys could drive a semi into such a gaping hole in the argument.

The rest of Ruse’s article is plagued by the same sorts of circular reasoning, red herrings, false premises, semantic slights of hand, and non sequiturs. If either Mr. Ruse or Mr. George imagines they have something to contribute to the defense of DOMA or Proposition 8, would somebody kindly inform them that they’re nowhere ready for prime time. If the SCOTUS judges are half as astute as Judge Roy Walker (whose court overturned Proposition 8), gays and lesbians have nothing to fear.

Finally, I cannot resist calling out Mr. Ruse’s operatic hyperbole at the very end of his article: “[SCOTUS] could declare  homosexual marriage the law of the land. … This would signal the end of any kind of marriage culture in the United States.” Here the beautiful but beleaguered heroine jumps off the castle wall / dies in the arms of her protector (the Church?) / swallows the poison / impales herself upon a sword / is impaled upon a sword by a gang of rampaging homosexuals hell bent on destroying not only the traditional family but Civilization As We Know It. Following the heroine’s death, opposite-sex marriage is outlawed and only homosexuals may marry. Children may only be raised by same-sex parents, who instruct them about the joys of gay sex night and day. Oh weh! What have we come to?

The Global Catholic Population, 1910-2010

February 18, 2013


To view the recent Pew Research Center analysis of the global Catholic population, click here.