Rekindling the debate … perhaps

I was not planning to return to the disappointingly sad statement released by the Cana Movement as a follow up to the pastoral letter of our Bishops on IVF. I changed plans when I noticed that the two main points I mentioned in my original blog - The Cana statement: disappointing and sad – were hardly addressed by those who choose to post comments. Most comments were out of subject, even though, I gladly admit, some raised very good points indeed.

Let me try once more to rekindle the debate.

1. A question of strategy

In the blog in question I criticised the strategy used by the Cana Movement. They released a set of ‘principles’ (for want of a better word) about IVF. I think that after the publication of the draft legislation the Cana Movement were expected to give us a detailed opinion about the law as presented. This they did not do and I believe it is a pity that they did not.

People expect Cana to tell them whether the draft legislation is acceptable to them or not; if yes, how it can be improved; and what is the way forward. They did none of these things. They should also have told the general public whether or not they would find any form of legislation objectionable.  I got the feeling that the blogger who asked me to read between the lines has this position. Is this the correct feeling? Does he represent just himself?

At the moment in Malta there is a legal vacuum. Dr Brincat wrote a number of things about IVF. At the present moment all these can happen in Malta without any sanction. The proposed legislation will make illegal the things he objected to. Is this enough? Should more be done? What is his legal position on the law?

A Church which really wants to be a church incarnated as a relevant component of contemporary socio-cultural structures has to be a church which – at least in some of its levels – discusses and enlightens concrete reality, concretely. Just listing general principles instead of going into the nitty-gritty gives one the feeling of a cop-out.

2. A totally incorrect sentence

There was, in my opinion, a highly incorrecte sentence in the Cana statement. "Jaghraf li, kull fejn dahal l-IVF dan wassal ghal hafna abbuzi u fetah it-triq ghall-permissibilita' tal-abort." I will not repeat the criticism I already levelled at this sentence, particularly since no one put up a credible defence for what was uttered. I ask, though, what, according to the Cana Movement, should be the logical conclusion of that position? Is it a definitive no to  IVF? Whether the answer is a yes ora no people have a right for an answer.

No quibbling around please. A straight yes or no would be appreciated.

3. In line with Church’s teaching

I will now address quite a chunky red herring that was repeatedly thrown in the discussion pond by those who do not agree with my point of view. There were direct and indirect allegations that what I am writing is not in line with the authentic teachings of the Church.

I invite readers to point out to one paragraph or sentence I wrote (not the guest commentary, but my position) in this blog which goes against the teaching of the Church. I don’t think that a statement by Cana Movement is an infallible declaration of Church teaching, but whatever.

Let me tip the scales against me. Besides this blog I penned two articles for my regular column in The Sunday Times. One commentary presented some reflections of mine on the pastoral letter; while the other was my analysis of the present state of the Church in Malta.

I have no problem with bloggers having a different assessment than mine regarding the content, the style or people’s perception of the pastoral letter or the state of the Church in Malta. That’s not the issue. The issue is the accusation that these two articles present positions which are not in line with the teaching of the Church on the subject.

Please give me a direct quote from what I wrote and not a paraphrase or interpretation. Then give me a quote referring to the definitive teaching of the Church on the matter.

Who will take up the invitation?

There was one blogger who wrote that the declaration I signed with six other priests (including the Dean of the Faculty of Theology, the Director of the Cana Movement and the Pro Vicar of the Archdiocese) at the start of the divorce referendum campaign goes against the teaching of the Church. May I remind this person that that declaration was approved and endorsed by Archbishop Cremona. It is very clear that the target of that attack was the Archbishop and not poor me.

4. Yawn, yawn, rebel, yawn, priests

The accusation of rebellion is not just the biggest red herring thrown in the discussion. It is also a yawning red herring.

I do understand that there could be some confusion in people minds since the catechetical formation of most ended with confirmation, and their religious studies ended with the GCE – ordinary or advanced. Let us try to  – the authentic teaching of the Church is not their forte.

But one should never stop trying to learn more. I suggest they read something serious about the role of public opinion and dialogue in the Church before throwing up accusation which make me yawn.



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