Friday, January 30, 2015

Catholics can disagree with Pope Francis on climate change

photo credit: ultrablunt via photopin cc
Last night I called in to ask a question on Catholic Answers Live about papal communication through encyclicals (audio clip below).





I've been rather concerned lately at the thought of Pope Francis releasing an encyclical on climate change. I have a science degree (not that it matters), and I am not convinced by studies claiming that human activity is responsible for global warming. I also reject the notion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. It is a naturally occurring gas that trees and plants require to survive.

According to Father John Trigilio, there have only been two ex cathedra statements in history: (1) The Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX and (2) the Assumption of Mary by Pope Pius XII.

It was quite refreshing to listen to Father John, and I am really glad to know that whatever Pope Francis says about climate change, it won't be binding on my conscience. I will respect his opinions, but I can disagree with them if I so choose. His statements will most likely not be about faith and morals, and will only reflect his own personal opinions.

Related




Saturday, January 17, 2015

I want my right to offend terrorists

God gave us the gift of freedom
(to love and to sin)
I am utterly appalled that people are killed in this world for the things they say, write, or draw. The simple fact of drawing cartoons, no matter how much they mock or offend, must continue to be permitted. Our secularized leftist liberal society should not be in the position to determine what can or can't be said. It isn't qualified. I neither expect nor wish for the court system to protect me from being offended by what other people say, write or draw.

The society I wish to live in should do more to remove the barriers to free speech instead of imposing more limitations. There are already too many limitations. Western culture has already gone bonkers with political correctness (PC).

In the case of Charlie Hebdo, even though I would never support them by purchasing their newspaper, I support their right to continue to make their political points using satirical cartoons. Islamicized terrorists really do need to work on developing a thicker skin, and dealing with their low self-esteem. I guess they have never heard of this nursery rhyme, which should be their new guiding principle:
"Sticks and stones will break my bones,
but words will never harm me".
-- The Christian Recorder, 1862
I grew up with this nursery rhyme in Canada, and it taught me how to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured. I never resorted to picking up a knife, and going after the boys who shouted out "paki" or "human mosquito" at me, and so on. Their words did hurt me, but so what? It wasn't a crime, and I certainly wouldn't want the police to charge them for it. The words of God Himself when he lived on earth as Jesus Christ are appropriate here:
Concerning Retaliation
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.

Love for Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

-- Matthew 5:38-48
The whole issue here is not about right and wrong, or what is sinful and what is not. The point is that God gave us freedom to love and to sin, and so it's up to each and every one of us to freely choose the good of our own free will. That means, Charlie Hebdo is free to express themselves with their pencil crayons even if they are sinning by doing so, and even if they are offending others. However, terrorists must not be free to retaliate with their guns because they are taking human lives. Society should go after the real bad guys with the guns, and leave Charlie Hebdo alone to offend others with its satire, just like Monty Python did.

If there is a line to draw in the sand, this is where I would draw it. Any form of speech in writing or drawing that calls for the killing and murder of an individual or group, should be banned. That's true hate speech. I am all for limiting the hate speech that teenagers use on Facebook who bully others to the point of suicide. Teens at risk of suicide need protection, and so I favour legislation in this regard.

As a faithful Catholic, I completely disagree with Pope Francis' response, that "there are limits to freedom of expression". I agree with my wife's reaction, Pope Francis is wrong on free speech, and with Michael Coren's reaction, Why the Pope is Wrong. By the way, for anyone reading who is not Catholic, a Catholic CAN disagree with the Pope's 'off-the-cuff' comments while flying on an airplane, and still remain a Catholic in good standing, whenever the Pope is NOT speaking ex cathedra. Here's another good article, Pope Francis is fair game for criticism, from left or right.
  • Please people, don't support any effort to limit the freedom of thought and conscience.
  • Please people, don't support any effort to limit the human expression of thought in speech, writing, or drawings.
If we continue on the path of using legislation to limit the right to offend others, then you can bet, Christians will be the first to lose their right to express opposition to abortion, contraception, euthanasia, homosexuality, polygamy, etc. Christian views are already on the chopping block, and we are being labelled as bigots for going against the mainstream religion of secularism, e.g. Trinity Western University Law School, Loyola High School, religious liberty of doctors, hostile working conditions against Christians at Mozilla, etc.

Let's at least make the playing field fair, by allowing people to express themselves. We are still somewhat civilized aren't we? Rather than codifying everything in the law, we should learn how to censor ourselves if we think we will be committing a sin. Reviewing The Ten Commandments and the seven capital sins should help in this regard.

Finally, shame on all the radicalized, Islamicized terrorist killers out there.

Even though Charlie Hebdo may insult your religion and mine, let them do it. We can take higher ground and exercise our right to ignore them. As far as I know, we Christians didn't kill the photographer of Piss Christ, and we consider Jesus Christ to be God Himself, higher than Muhammad.

Related
Comment: In general, I believe that freedom of speech should be as unlimited as possible. While Charlie Hebdo's cartoons were offensive to the religions they targeted, I don't think that disqualifies them from legal protection. They are political speech, they are not just pure entertainment or advertising, they are not inciting to violence or even to hatred of a particular group (though they are definitely mocking), and they are focusing on religion rather than on any physical characteristics, ethnicity, or other features that would make their speech racist. They are inside the line that I would draw in the sand.
-- Lea Singh




(discussion about Pope Francis around the 6-minute mark)


photo credit: strangnet via photopin cc