Christopher Hitchens on Q&A

He’s a brilliant debater. He knocked Fr Brennan off his perch (who chaired the Human Rights Consultation and came up with — nothing. Hardly surprising that a Catholic priest would decide we shouldn’t have any human rights charter).

Hitchens is paying a visit during the churches’ $1.5 million campaign promoting “Jesus”, which runs until the end of October.

There were so many highlights — read the transcript here, or watch it.

Hitchens on Mother Teresa: … Mother Teresa was endlessly praised for work that most of the time she actually never did. I went to watch her very closely in Calcutta. You don’t mind that she thinks that what Bengal and Calcutta mainly needs is a campaign … against birth control and family planning. Has anyone here ever been to Bengal and concluded that’s what it really needs? That’s what she was really campaigning for … She gives a wonderful impression of being a charitable person. So what Indians need is more missionaries to cure poverty, when everybody knows there’s only one cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women, which means giving them some control over their reproduction. You name me … a Catholic or Muslim charity that goes into the fields determined to secure the empowerment of women.

Jesuit Fr Frank Brennan on the topic of gays: No, homosexuality is not a sin. It’s a disposition. If you want to argue about whether particular homosexual acts are appropriate for an individual in a moral context, that would require a pastoral discussion with that individual.

I think that’s misleading. The Catechism of the Catholic Church  says:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.  Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 They are contrary to the natural law …  Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

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