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Ann Coulter dumped as ‘hateful,’ but pro-infanticide Peter Singer ok?: Jesuit university

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Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM EST to include a statement from Dr. Charles Camosy, the organizer of the panel discussion featuring Peter Singer, and to include more information about the panel.

NEW YORK, November 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Days after popular American conservative pundit Ann Coulter was disinvited from Fordham university amidst accusations that she is too “hateful”, the world’s most notorious promoter of infanticide, Dr. Peter Singer, was welcomed at a conference at the university, the Jesuit order’s premier university on the east coast.

Fordham hosted Dr. Singer as the main attraction at a one-day conference titled, “Conference with Peter Singer: Christians and Other Animals, Moving the Conversation Forward.” In addition to Singer, the panel discussion featured R.R. Reno, a Professor of Theological Ethics at Creighton University, and editor of First Things, David Clough, Professor of Theological Ethics and Department Chair, University of Chester, and Eric Meyer, Fordham Doctoral Candidate in Theology.

The event stirred controversy, coming days after the university’s Republican group canceled a scheduled appearance with Ann Coulter in response to a scathing letter from Fordham’s president, Fr. Joseph McShane. In that letter the priest had called Coulter “hateful and needlessly provocative,” and described her work as “aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.”

Fr. McShane had said that Coulter’s appearance would only barely be tolerated by the university for the sake of “academic freedom.” When the College Republican group responded to the criticism by rescinding Coulter’s invitation, Fr. McShane wrote in response, “Allow me to give credit where it is due: the leadership of the College Republicans acted quickly, took responsibility for their decisions, and expressed their regrets sincerely and eloquently.

“Most gratifying, I believe, is that they framed their decision in light of Fordham’s mission and values.”

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In a post advertising the conference with Peter Singer, Fordham’s official blog described the Princeton philosopher as “most influential philosopher alive today” and “the intellectual heft behind the beginning of the animal rights movement in the 1970s.”

The moderator of the Singer conference, Dr. Charles Camosy, a Fordham theologian who describes himself as “a pro-life Christian ethicist,” defended his decision to invite Singer in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, pointing out that the other members of the panel disagreed with Singer’s views.

“The conversation was fantastic, and a rich, prophetic Christian theology was on full display in a public setting in front of non-Christians in a beautiful and important way,” said Camosy.

Camosy has defended Singer in the past and invited him to lecture in his ethics classes. In an article titled, “Peter Singer is not the Antichrist,” Camosy compared Singer to the late Pope John Paul II. Camosy said he “likes” Singer personally. Though Singer is “pro-choice” on infanticide and “the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion,” and “attacks many of the vulnerable populations Christians are called to defend,” Camosy described him as “friendly and compassionate” and sounding “an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”

“He is motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals, and an equally admirable willingness to logically follow his arguments wherever they lead,” Camosy wrote. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI in his recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate to defend his collaborations with Singer, saying that Christians should engage in “fraternal collaboration” with non-believers. Camosy has written a book on Singer, “Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization,” which he says shows “that the disagreements between us are remarkably narrow”.

The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic student group that monitors the adherence to Catholic doctrine of the Church’s universities in the U.S., commented that Pope Benedict has never advocated “hosting an advocate of heinous acts on a Catholic campus for a conference seeming to celebrate his work.”

“There is also something quite disturbing about Camosy inviting a dangerous provocateur into the classroom to prey on students who may be unprepared for such dialogue. Better to engage Singer’s ideas with careful and moderated analysis in the light of Truth, and never a hint of respect for what Singer espouses,” the watchdog group said.

Camosy, however, said that pro-lifers should “look at the history of Christians engaging with those that think differently than we do,” citing Thomas Aquinas’ use of Aristotle, who Camosy pointed out also supported infanticide.  “To suggest that Christians should not support these kinds of academic discussions is precisely the kind of anti-intellectualism which keeps so many good people from taking the pro-life movement seriously, and this does serious damage to our ability to protect vulnerable prenatal (and postnatal) persons in our culture,” he said.

Camosy also said that “despite being the world’s most important expert on animal ethics, [Singer] was not paid by Fordham nor were his views promoted.”

In the pro-life world Singer is notorious for espousing some of the most extreme anti-life positions anywhere in academia. He is most famous for his rejection of the notion of inherent dignity, and therefore the personhood, of all human beings, and his promotion of abortion and infanticide at parents’ discretion and euthanasia of disabled people. His appearances in Europe are often interrupted by protests from disability rights groups.

His Preference Utilitarianism holds that the right to life is tied to a human being’s capacity to hold preferences, to experience pain and enjoy pleasure. He summarised his outlook in an editorial in The Scotsman, saying, “Membership of the species Homo sapiens is not enough to confer a right to life.”

As Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University, Singer has positioned himself as the leading light in modern secularist bioethics and was described by the New York Times as the “greatest living philosopher”. In 2004 he was recognized as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies, and in June 2012 was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to philosophy and bioethics.

He strongly advocates euthanasia, particularly for people with dementia, and sterilizing most of the human race to save the environment. He has said that some great apes are more “persons” than human infants, believes that animals can give consent to having sex with humans, and complains that Christianity “discriminates” against animals. The media’s gentle handling of Singer is evidenced by the fact that despite his insistence that it is acceptable to murder infants, he is best known as the founder of the “animal rights” movement and for his book Animal Liberation which is the founding document for extremist animal rights groups like PETA.

The Cardinal Newman society noted in June this year that Singer offered a solution to the conflict over Catholic universities being forced to provide contraceptives for employees. He argued that President Obama’s contraceptive mandate “does not prevent Catholics from practicing their religion,” and suggested that Catholics simply close their universities. Catholicism, he said, “does not oblige its adherents to run hospitals and universities.”

Fordham was founded in the 1900s and was given over to the Jesuit order. It is now a private university governed by a lay board of trustees that describes it as being “in the Jesuit tradition.”

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To contact Fr. McShane with concerns:
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.,
President, Fordham University
Room 107, Administration Building
Rose Hill Campus
441 E. Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

(718) 817-3000
President@fordham.edu


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UK quietly opens the door to genetic engineering, ‘3-parent’ embryos

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By Hilary White

Last month the UK’s Department of Health quietly redefined the term “genetic modification” to open the door to allow certain kinds of modification of human embryos – thus potentially making it the first country in the world to allow genetic engineering.

Scottish journalist Lori Anderson recently raised the alarm over the change in a column in the Scotsman, in which she alleged that the change is designed to “dupe” the British public into accepting “full-scale germline genetic engineering,” using human embryos as test subjects.

Anderson said that in July, the Department of Health “effectively re-wrote the definition of ‘genetic modification’ to specifically exclude the alteration of human mitochondrial genes or any other genetic material that exists outside the chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell.”

“The reason for doing this is that it believes it will be easier to sell such an advancement to the public if it can insist that the end result will not be a ‘GM baby’.”

This change follows a statement from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government body that regulates experimental research on human embryos, approving the procedure to create an embryo from one couple’s gametes but with genetic material added from a third party donor, a procedure called in the press “three-parent embryos”.

Anderson quoted a statement from the Department of Health comparing this procedure to donating blood. The statement read, “There is no universally agreed definition of ‘genetic modification’ in humans – people who have organ transplants, blood donations, or even gene therapy are not generally regarded as being ‘genetically modified’. The Government has decided to adopt a working definition for the purpose of taking forward these regulations.”

This assertion was challenged by one of the UK’s leading fertility researchers, Lord Robert Winston, who told the Independent, “Of course mitochondrial transfer is genetic modification and this modification is handed down the generations. It is totally wrong to compare it with a blood transfusion.”

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The HFEA, which throughout its history has been known as one of the world’s most permissive regulatory bodies, has been working steadily towards allowing genetically modified embryos to be implanted in women undergoing artificial procreation treatments. In a document issued to the government last year, they called the insertion of mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) into embryos “mitochondrial donation” or “mitochondrial replacement”. mDNA is the genetic material found in the cytoplasm outside a cell’s nucleus, problems with which can cause a host of currently incurable genetic illnesses.

In the statement issued in June, the HFEA said the technique of inserting “donated” mDNA into already existing in vitro embryos, “should be considered ‘not unsafe’ for the use on a ‘specific and defined group of patients.’”

“Mitochondria replacement (or mitochondrial donation) describes two medical techniques, currently being worked on by UK researchers, which could allow women to avoid passing on genetically inherited mitochondrial diseases to their children,” the statement said.

The HFEA admitted that the techniques are “at the cutting edge of both science and ethics” and said that the results of a “public consultation” in 2012/13 were being examined by the government, which is considering “draft regulations”.

In June, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children echoed Lori Anderson’s concern, commenting that the HFEA is attempting to deceive the public. Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, said, “Human gene manipulation is being sold to a gullible public on a promise of reducing suffering, the same old con-trick that the test-tube baby lobby has been using for decades.” 

Any manipulation of human genetics, always breaks “several important moral rules,” entailing the creation of “human guinea-pigs,” Tully said. “Human germ-line manipulation and cloning – changing the genetic inheritance of future generations - goes against internationally-agreed norms for ethical science.”

He quoted Professor Andy Greenfield, the chairman of the scientific review panel that approved the techniques, who said that there is no way of knowing what effect this would have on the children created until it is actually done.

“We have to subject children who have not consented and cannot consent to being test subjects,” Tully said.

Altering the mDNA of an embryo is what cloning scientists refer to as “germline” alteration, meaning that the changes will be carried on through the altered embryo’s own offspring, a longstanding goal of eugenicists.

In their 1999 book, “Human Molecular Genetics” Tom Strachan and Andrew Read warned that the use of mitochondrial alteration of embryos would cross serious ethical boundaries.

Having argued that germline therapy would be “pointless” from a therapeutic standpoint, the authors said, “There are serious concerns, therefore, that a hidden motive for germline gene therapy is to enable research to be done on germline manipulation with the ultimate aim of germline-based genetic enhancement.”

“The latter could result in positive eugenics programs, whereby planned genetic modification of the germline could involve artificial selection for genes that are thought to confer advantageous traits.”


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Cable series portrays nun as back-alley abortionist

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By Ben Johnson
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'To depict a nun who performs an abortion is a new low,' said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

The Cinemax TV series The Knick portrayed a Roman Catholic nun as a back alley abortionist who tells a Catholic woman God will forgive her for going through with the procedure.

In its latest episode, which aired Friday night, the series showed Sister Harriet (an Irish nun played by Cara Seymour) telling a Catholic woman named Nora, “Your husband will know nothing of it. I promise.”

“Will God forgive me?” Nora asked, adding, “I don't want to go to Hell for killing a baby.”

“He knows that you suffered,” the sister replied, before performing the illegal abortion off-screen. “I believe the Lord's compassion will be yours.” 

The period medical drama is set at the Knickerbocker Hospital (“The Knick”) in New York City around the turn of the 20th century, when abortion was against both civil and ecclesiastical law.

“It is no secret that Hollywood is a big pro-abortion town, but to depict a nun who performs an abortion is a new low,” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said. “The only saving grace in this episode is the real-life recognition of the woman who is about to have the abortion: she admits that her baby is going to be killed.”

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The series is directed by Steven Soderbergh, known for such films as Erin Brockovich, the Oceans Eleven franchise, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape. More recently he directed The Girlfriend Experience, a film about prostitution starring pornographic actress Sasha Grey.

Critics have hailed his decision to include a black surgeon in circa 1900 America. But after last week's episode, the New York Times stated that The Knick has chosen to “demonstrate concern for other kinds of progress,” citing the depiction of the abortion. 


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Balcony of the Grandmaster Palace in Valletta, which houses the Maltese Parliament. Shutterstock
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Catholic Malta enacts ‘transgender’ employment discrimination law

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By Hilary White

An amendment to Malta’s Employment and Industrial Relations Act means that employment “discrimination” against “transsexuals” is now officially prohibited in the Catholic country. The provision, which was quietly passed in May, came into effect on August 12th.

The law allows those who believe they have a complaint to make a case with the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, with an industrial tribunal or the courts. A government spokesman told local  media, “Employees do not need to prove that their employer has discriminated against them.”

“They only need to provide enough evidence pointing to a likely case of discrimination. The employer will then need to prove that discrimination has not taken place.”

The amendment defines illegal discrimination against “transgendered” people as, “in so far as the ground of sex is concerned, any less favourable treatment of a person who underwent or is undergoing gender reassignment, which, for the purpose of those regulations shall mean, where a person is considering or intends to undergo, or is undergoing, a process, or part of a process, for the purposes of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.” 

Silvan Agius, Human Rights policy coordinator with the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, told Malta Today newspaper that the new amendment brings Maltese law into harmony with EU law.

“This amendment is continuing the government’s equality mainstreaming exercise. The inclusion of gender reassignment in the Act also brings it in line with the anti-discrimination articles found in both Malta’s Constitution and the Equality for Men and Woman Act,” Agius said.

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Agius is a key member of the homosexual activist apparatus in Malta’s government working to entrench the ideology of gender in law in Malta and elsewhere. In June, he was a featured speaker, with the notorious British anti-Catholic campaigner Peter Tatchell, at a Glasgow conference organised by the Edinburgh-based Equality Network, a group that helps organise and train homosexualist campaign groups.

The amendment to the law follows promises made recently by the country’s equalities minister, Helena Dalli, to a “transgender” congress in Hungary in May. Dalli, who brought forward Malta’s recently passed same-sex civil unions bill, told a meeting of gender activists in Budapest that while her government’s focus had been mainly on homosexuals, that she would shortly be turning her attention to “trans” people.

“The next step now is a Bill towards the enactment of a Gender Identity law. A draft bill has been prepared and it has now been passed to the LGBTI Consultative Council for its vetting and amendment as necessary,” Dalli said.

“Some of you may be thinking that we are moving forward quickly. I have a different perspective though. We are doing what is right, what should have been done a long time ago,” she added.

Since the legalisation of divorce in 2011, Malta has been remarkable for its rapid adoption of the gender ideology’s agenda. In 2013, Malta was named the “fastest climber” on the Rainbow Europe Index, a survey organised annually by ILGA Europe, the leading homosexualist lobby group funded directly by the European Union.

The ILGA Europe report notes (p. 114) that Helena Dalli Helena “was one of 11 EU Member States’ equality ministers to co-sign a call for the European Commission to work on a comprehensive EU policy for LGBT equality.” The report also noted that although the new Labour government has proved cooperative, the Christian Democrat Nationalist Party has “progressively proved more receptive to LGBTI issues, including same-sex unions.”


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