BY MICHAEL MULLINS
In his Media Watch Dog blog over the past two weeks, Gerard Henderson has blogged on what he sees as the hostility against the Catholic Church of journalist David Marr. Most recently, he has questioned what he sees to be Marr’s assumption that Christians are the only force behind opposition to same-sex marriage.
He might like to consider why Julia Gillard, an atheist, opposed the legislation in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. He might also want to travel to Sydney’s suburbs, a long way from his inner-city abode, and check out what Muslims think about same sex marriage or even homosexuality. Or he might check what Hindus think about same sex marriage. Or Marr might like to ask himself why Labor MP Ed Husic, the only Muslim member of the House of Representatives, voted with the Catholic Tony Abbott and the atheist Julia Gillard and the Christian Kevin Rudd and the atheist Chris Bowen against same sex marriage.
The fact is that David Marr, the author of The High Price of Heaven (Allen & Unwin, 1999), is an obsessive opponent of Christianity and an anti-Catholic sectarian to boot. ... Consequently he tends to blame “all” Christians for life’s disappointments. And he loves to add inverted commas to the word Christian – suggesting that these Christians are not really Christian at all since they are so intolerant as to oppose gay marriage (according to Marr’s argument).
The previous week, Henderson catalogued the the “hyperbole” of the anti-Catholic sectarian “lowlights” of Marr’s “shoddy, unprofessional” Quarterly Essay on “Vatican ideologue” Tony Abbott, such as:
Page 13 : Marr refers to the fact that Abbott’s girlfriend Kathy McDonald fell pregnant while at university (it was found out, years later, to someone other than Abbott) as “the old Catholic catastrophe: no chastity, no contraception, no abortion, and…no marriage”. Marr seems to believe that such a fate only befell young Catholic women in the 1970s.
In the US, George Weigel blogs at First Things on the “aggressive humanism”, a European import which he sees to have taken root in the US. He describes it as “the determination of some intellectuals, activists, and politicians to scour public life of transcendent religious and moral reference points in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusion’.”
Weigel says the Church asks just two things from the state. These are freedom to evangelise celebrate the sacraments and “do its works of education, charity, mercy, and justice, without undue interference from government”, as well as “respect [for] the sanctuary of conscience, so that the Church’s people are not required by law to do things the Church teaches are immoral”. According to Weigel, the upshot of this is that:
Catholic bishops across the country have made clear that they will, if necessary, close the Catholic medical facilities for which they are responsible—a drastic action that would seriously imperil health services for the poor. But it doesn’t have to come to that. Aggressive, hegemonic humanism need not have the last word in the United States.
Back in Australia, Sentire Cum Ecclesia blogs on the recent and ongoing violent protests of some Muslims in response to the film Innocence of Muslims.
I was thinking, “This isn’t about “that film”. ... Waleed [Aly in The Age] says exactly what I was thinking... It is not an option to leave an insult unanswered because that is a sign of weakness, rather than transcendence. ... The solution, it seems to me, lies in harnessing the power of this “honour/shame” culture against this kind of behaviour. ... If the Australian Muslim Community in particular, and the Australian community as a whole, can successfully brand this kind of violence (or any for that matter) as “shameful” it will no longer be a sign of weakness to refuse to act violently – it will be a sign of strength.
But of course, I am a Christian, and this has long been a part of our ethic. From “turn the other cheek” to “my strength is made perfect in weakness”, Christianity has long upheld non-violence as a strong (and hence honourable) way of reacting to the violence or offensive activity of others.
Finally, John W at v2catholic has an intriguing scoop on a development that suggests the way of the future for Catholic newspapers.
A leading Catholic newspaper is soon to announce a bold re-structuring plan. ... No longer will the paper be printed in its present form. Instead it will become a one page paid advertisement in the city's main local newspaper, appearing each Friday. In this way, it will be read by many more Catholics than at present read it. It will also be an outreach to the wider community. ... No staff at the paper will lose their jobs, because the paper will still produce a digital edition for the internet. This digital edition will be expanded with many extra features.
The paper's editor is eagerly looking forward to the changes. "Our paper will have a far greater readership, and no longer will we have to run items that are a week or more out of date,” she said.
Though he is specific about the detail of the plan, John W – an Australian Oblate based in Hong Kong – does not say whether the newspaper is from Australia or elsewhere. But at least one diocesan newspaper here has already adopted a similar model of insertion of its content within the pages of a secular newspaper.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every week.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.