Bashing the Bishop

I’ve really got to do something about these post titles. But first, here’s the Catholic Church. (Yeah, the Catholic Church that opposes contraception; teaches people in areas where AIDS is at epidemic levels that condoms cause rather than help protect against the disease; helped get abortion banned outright in Nicaragua; threatened (for the sake of the kids, mind) to close adoption agencies in Ireland if the government insisted on making it illegal for them to discriminate against homosexuals; and so on and so on.) Perhaps predictably, it’s using its influence to try and keep abortion illegal in Portugal.

The opposition to the proposed law change has been led by the Catholic Church, and they remain hopeful that when people walk into the voting booths, they will remember the Church’s central message.

“Life is from the beginning to the end. If we give in and begin to consider that it is not really human life, if society, the state does not defend life – then where are we as a society going to end up?” asks Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo plaintively.

So, “life is from the beginning to the end” is it? Well, from the beginning to the end of what? From the beginning to the end of life? Well, no shit. Just like Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo’s cassock extends from the beginning to the end of Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo’s cassock. I doubt the fact that things extend from their beginnings to their ends will come as news to anyone, but there’s not really anything else he can mean. Unless, of course, he’s presupposing that human life, even at its earliest stages, is an example of something that needs and deserves full state protection. In which case, it looks a little bit like he’s begging the question.

Moreover, “if we give in and begin to consider that [a foetus] is not really human life…” then… well, hang on. Who is asking anyone to consider that a foetus (or zygote) is not really human life? As far as I can tell, nobody at all is. But, anyway, “if society, the state does not defend life – then where are we as a society going to end up?” Well, nowhere very pleasant I don’t suppose, but, again, given that no one’s asking the state to simply stop defending life it’s not terribly relevant. Defending life: good! Not defending it: bad! Hoorah! Well, yeah, generally. However, it’s not as if the idea needs no further qualification.

But, nonetheless, Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo asked these things and, apparently, asked them plaintively. As well Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo plaintively might. I suppose that’s what you have to do when you want to influence state legislation to suit your sectarian, superstitious ideology because it’s not like you have rational argument available to you.

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