Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Translations from the Vatican

Well, sort of. It's mixed. So much is right, yet not in the way I suspect they mean it.

Let's start with the original Italian.
Poiché la fede nel Creatore è una parte essenziale del Credo cristiano, la Chiesa non può e non deve limitarsi a trasmettere ai suoi fedeli soltanto il messaggio della salvezza. Essa ha una responsabilità per il creato e deve far valere questa responsabilità anche in pubblico. E facendolo deve difendere non solo la terra, l’acqua e l’aria come doni della creazione appartenenti a tutti. Deve proteggere anche l’uomo contro la distruzione di se stesso. È necessario che ci sia qualcosa come una ecologia dell’uomo, intesa nel senso giusto. Non è una metafisica superata, se la Chiesa parla della natura dell’essere umano come uomo e donna e chiede che quest’ordine della creazione venga rispettato. Qui si tratta di fatto della fede nel Creatore e dell’ascolto del linguaggio della creazione, il cui disprezzo sarebbe un’autodistruzione dell’uomo e quindi una distruzione dell’opera stessa di Dio. Ciò che spesso viene espresso ed inteso con il termine "gender", si risolve in definitiva nella autoemancipazione dell’uomo dal creato e dal Creatore. L’uomo vuole farsi da solo e disporre sempre ed esclusivamente da solo ciò che lo riguarda. Ma in questo modo vive contro la verità, vive contro lo Spirito creatore.
I include it because many of the translations and interpretations appear unsatisfactory to me. Google's translation is very clunky compared to a human one, though surprisingly good overall.
Poiché la fede nel Creatore è una parte essenziale del Credo cristiano, la Chiesa non può e non deve limitarsi a trasmettere ai suoi fedeli soltanto il messaggio della salvezza.
As the faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian Creed, the Church can not and should not be confined to convey to his people only the message of salvation.
Essa ha una responsabilità per il creato e deve far valere questa responsabilità anche in pubblico.
It has a responsibility for creation and must rely on this responsibility even in public.
E facendolo deve difendere non solo la terra, l’acqua el’aria come doni della creazione appartenenti a tutti.
And he must defend not only the land, water and air as gifts of creation belong to everyone.
Deve proteggere anche l’uomo contro la distruzione di se stesso.
It must also protect humans against the destruction of himself.
È necessario che ci sia qualcosa come una ecologia dell’uomo, intesa nel senso giusto.
It is necessary that there is something like an ecology of man, understood in the right direction.
Non è una metafisica superata, se la Chiesa parla della natura dell’essere umano come uomo e donna e chiede che quest’ordine della creazione venga rispettato.
It is not a metaphysical exceeded, if the Church speaks of the nature of man as man and woman, and calls for the creation of this order is respected.
Qui si tratta di fatto della fede nel Creatore e dell’ascolto del linguaggio della creazione, il cui disprezzo sarebbe un’autodistruzione dell’uomo e quindi una distruzione dell’opera stessa di Dio. Ciò che spesso viene espresso ed inteso con il termine " gender ", si risolve in definitiva nella autoemancipazione dell’uomo dal creato e dal Creatore.
This is in fact of faith in the Creator, given the language of creation, which would be self-contempt and then destruction of the work of God This is often expressed and understood by the term " gender ", is resolved finally in the creation of self-empowerment and the Creator.
L’uomo vuole farsi da solo e disporre sempre ed esclusivamente da solo ciò che lo riguarda.
The man wants to be alone and have always and exclusively alone what he is concerned.
Ma in questo modo vive contro la verità, vive contro lo Spirito creatore.
But living in this way against the truth, lives against the Creator Spirit.
One of the best translations is the Official Vatican Press Release, but it's more than a little clunky.
While highlighting that the Church "cannot and should not limit herself to transmitting just the message of salvation to her faithful", the Holy Father said that it must also "protect the human being against self-destruction. It is necessary to have something like an ecology of the human being, understood in the proper manner. It is not a surpassed metaphysics when Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected. ... That which is often expressed and understood by the term 'gender', is definitively resolved in the self-emancipation of the human being from creation and the Creator".
A slightly better translation is at the National Catholic Reporter cafe, and it's that one I'll use.
“[The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all,” he said. “It must also defend the human person against its own destruction. What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected.”

“Here it’s a question of faith in creation, in listening to the language of creation, disregard of which would mean self-destruction of the human person and hence destruction of the very work of God,” the pope said. “That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator. Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.”
Now here's the BBC's slant on it - a reasonable interpretation (though not the only one) that I fear will be all too common.
Pope Benedict XVI has said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

He explained that defending God's creation is not limited to saving the environment, but also protecting man from self-destruction.
...
His words, later released to the media, emphasised his total rejection of gender theory.

Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurs the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race.

(Explanatory note on Gender theory)

Gender theory explores sexual orientation, the roles assigned by society to individuals according to their gender, and how people perceive their biological identity.

Gay and transsexual groups, particularly in the United States, promote it as a key to understanding and tolerance, but the pope disagreed.

When the Roman Catholic Church defends God's Creation, "it does not only defend the earth, water and the air... but (it) also protects man from his own destruction," the pope said.

"If tropical forests deserve our protection, humankind... deserves it no less," the 81-year-old pontiff said, calling for "an ecology of the human being."

It is not "outmoded metaphysics" to urge respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman," he told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's sumptuous Clementine Hall.
So "transsexuals" are a threat to the very survival of humanity, and their existence goes against God's Holy Law. And any discussion of the subject of Gender, of anything other than a strict and concrete divide separating humans into men and women, is equally destructive.

It's a reasonable interpretation, but I hope that that's not what was meant. I hope that a correct reading is that there is a biological reality that should not be ignored in furtherance of ideology - though it's more than troubling that a view so simplistic as to be reasonably labelled "false" is now the official party line.

What's not clear is whether he's implying that the Intersexed do not exist, or that they should not exist. People whose biological reality blurs the line between male and female. People whose existence, if recognised, would be a threat to the survival of Humanity.

The Pope, of all people, should know the inevitable consequences of such ideas.
He played a trivial and distinctly unenthusiastic role in implementing uncomfortably similar ideas when young as an involuntary member of the Hitlerjugend.

Ignoring inconvenient facts can only last for so long, however. In another piece of news from the Vatican, they want to put a piece of embarassing history behind them. From the Times of London :
The Vatican is considering publishing the full record of the 17th century trial of Galileo Galilei for heresy as part of its rehabilitation of the great astronomer.

Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said at the start of the council's annual meeting that only parts of the 1633 trial proceedings had been published, and this had given a false impression. He said it was not widely known for example that the then pontiff, Pope Urban VIII, had never signed the Inquisition's condemnation of Galileo.

Monsignor Ravasi said publishing the full trial proceedings would help to "purify" the past through a "rigorous" examination of the historical record. However there was no point in using the past to continue "polemics". The aim was rather to "look to the future" and achieve greater harmony between science and faith.
...
Earlier this year Nicola Cabibbo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a nuclear physicist, said: "The Church wants to close the Galileo affair and reach a definitive understanding not only of his great legacy but also of the relationship between science and faith."
...
The Catholic Church long ago abandoned its opposition to Galileo's theories, and in 1979 John Paul II apologised for the Inquisition's treatment of him. However in January Pope Benedict XVI called off a visit to Rome University after staff and students accused him of defending the Inquisition's condemnation of Galileo. They cited a speech the Pope made in 1990, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in which he quoted a description of the trial of Galileo as "fair".
My own impression was that Galileo wasn't condemned for heresy so much as rude obnoxiousness and unreasonability. But that's another matter.

It's a bit of a Furphy, an Urban Legend, that "when Galileo presented his telescope to senior cardinals/Jesuits/Aristotelian philosophers/the Inquisition (delete as applicable) they refused to even look through it.". You'll find that although there is some basis of truth in this, it's a very slender thread. I recommend Quodlibeta on the subject.
Finally, the senior Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius said of the moons of Jupiter "One would first have to built a spyglass that creates them and only then would it show them." However, the fault was with the Jesuits' first effort to built a telescope. Once they had built themselves a better one, Clavius confirmed that he could see the moons.
May the Vatican acquire a better gender telescope than the rather shonky one provided by one Professor McHugh.

14 comments:

sumptos devil s advocate said...

Ah, good old sumptos devil s advocate couldn't have gotten this response, but the pope was able to. Perhaps the pope has seen all that stuff about intersex and transsexuality, but he ultimately realized that it was B.S. Regarding intersex, just because he does not rigorously discuss every exception when he is clearly referring to the modern phenomena of homosexuality and transsexuality doesn't mean he's ignorant or clueless about it; he's only got so much time to speak.

Zoe Brain said...

The pope said Deve proteggere anche luomo contro la distruzione di se stesso. - the Church must protect Humanity against self-destruction - Non è una metafisica superata, se la Chiesa parla della natura dellessere umano come uomo e donna e chiede che questordine della creazione venga rispettato. - It's not just an outmoded metaphysical concept when the Church demands respect for the natural fact that humans are all created either men or women - Qui si tratta di fatto della fede nel Creatore e dellascolto del linguaggio della creazione, il cui disprezzo sarebbe unautodistruzione delluomo e quindi una distruzione dellopera stessa di Dio.. This is an article of faith in the Creator, that if contradicted would result in Humanity's self-destruction and the destruction of all God's works.

I'm not sure whether he's saying that we cannot exist, or that we shouldn't exist. But he is saying that if we do, by existing, we endanger the whole Universe as well as Humanity.

Had he added "Oh, except for the Intersexed, they don't count" it would have rather contradicted his whole thesis about the universality of it all, wouldn't it? He could hardly say "men are men, women are women, it's that simple, and to deny it could destroy the Universe" followed by "oh, except for a few with odd medical conditions who are both or neither, they don't count".

How many will die as the result of these words, killed because their existence threatens Humanity? In civilised, western societies, perhaps a handful. In less educated and rather more religiously guided (I won't say "superstitious") Christian societies such as are found in parts of Africa, this cannot help but be seen as a call to exterminate the Untermenschen as soon as they're born. Deus Vult! God Wills It.

Or do you honestly disagree? Do you think he doesn't have the intellect to realise this? Or is he merely ignorant?

Laserlight said...

This sounds like an excerpt. Until I see a more complete version, the only opinion I feel justified in holding is that the Holy Father is smarter and subtler than your average BBC writer.

Anonymous said...

The strength of the language, calling us a threat to humanity, will give succour to those who wish to treat us as less than equal to the rest of humanity, even to the point of killing us. Surely that must be known by the Vatican.

I guess the childish response to this must be if G.d thinks I am so abhorrent why make me, a transsexual woman who was also born with a typically female defect in her urinary tract, in the first place? After all, if we are so abhorrent and G.d is so powerful, then how could our existence be allowed in the first place?

Ellen.

Nica said...

Papa goofed up. What he meant to say was, threat to himself and his church. Not threat to humanity.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Narf!

Zoe Brain said...

Laserlight - I gave a URL to the complete Italian original, also a URL to the official Vatican News Service report.

I too suspected that the words might have been taken out of context, or were incomplete. That doesn't appear to be the case. Catholic apologists are taking the NCR translation as being accurate, and I'd agree. The Pope really did say that, and has neither been misquoted nor taken out of context.

Those who for whatever reason cause confusion and blurring of a completely concrete and God-ordained divide between the sexes are threats to Humanity and all God's works. Gender Theorists and Gays are specifically called out: the Intersexed are not, as to admit that they exist is just as dangerous.

Laserlight said...

The original Italian doesnt help me and while the NCR is clearly the best translation and I see the NCR post you linked to, I don't see the original text of the Pope's speech (admittedly haven't had time to hunt much). But later it says "the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against treating sexuality as a kind of consumption, the future against the exclusive demands of the present, and the nature of the human being against manipulation”. That plus the mention of the rain forest, ecology, etc, would seem to me to indicate that what he was talking about was that male and female are each incomplete, and the healthy way to resolve that is by a permanent commitment--a covenant--rather a series of one night stands.
I feel confident that the Pope is not actually calling for a poogrom against TS/IS. It's possible you're being paranoid and reading something into it that really isn't there.
OTOH, I'm working from an incomplete text and am sleep- and caffeine- deprived, so I may be missing something that really is there.
Or both. There's no guarantee that either approach is right.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

Well, I wonder if gender theorists don't do this sort of thing:

"It's like someone who wants to study an animal. The best way to learn about an animal is to watch it unmolested. We can observe it doing what it does only by letting it be. How it eats, what it eats, when and where and how it sleeps, mating behavior, nesting behavior, how it raises its young, etc. But if you are like my mother you wouldn't try to learn about the animal this way. No, you would take it to your garage and pin it down. Then you would kill it and start looking carefully at all the pieces as you tear it apart bit by bit. You look at its limbs, organs, fur, features all in isolation and try to intuit how the animal must behave, eat, mate, sleep, and even how it looks after you've torn the thing to bits to look at each piece of it. This is how my mother studies this movie. It also is her method of Bible study. It is a pseudo-intellectualism that does not, in the end, impart true knowledge. She may be able to describe in great detail the various parts of the whole but she will never see the whole because she has torn it into pieces. "

http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2008/03/wizard-of-oz-how-one-narcissist.html

Nica said...

Yes, and the Holocaust didn't really happen, either...

Hah!

Gimme a break...

Frickin' Catholics

Anonymous said...

SDA, you seem to have a: a limited repertiore of sources and b: an encyclopaedic knowledge of http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com

"If you try to take a cat apart, to see how it works, the first thing you'll have on your hands is a non-working cat. -— Douglas Adams"

So on that point we agree. May I ask how you would determine the internal anatomy of an animal? Surely you would need to "take it apart". In that sense the observation / "social science" approach is just as limited as the "take it apart" approach and the correct thing to do is both - each approach can inform the other.

Clug

Battybattybats said...

SDA,
Your quoted source is, to be polite, sorely in error and needs to rexamine the history of medicine and science.

Without anatomists there would be no decent surgery.

My cat and myself would both right this moment be long mouldering corpses she would have died 6 odd years ago and myself decades ago were it not for the anatomists who cut up disected inspected analysed and understood the internal workings of cats and of humans that allowed for modern surgery!

So on behalf of my quite healthy cat and on behalf of myself and my mother and the millions of humans who have benefited from life-saving surgery thanks to the knowledge gained from the disections of corpses may I please request of you to try finding a better source to quote and perhaps a less embarrassingly flawed argument.

Or do you think I, my cat, my mother, my aunt and millions of other humans should all be dead, probably many of your loved ones included? Because disection has given us much knowledge and saved millions of lives.

Actually maybe you do have a point. As disection of corpses has given us profound knowledge and saved millions of lives over centuries then if gender theorists are doing the same thing then thats a mighty argument in favour of the gender theorists then isn't it!

Laserlight,
What is most important is not so much what the pope intended to say but how it is interpreted. Unless he releases a clarification then that many are taking his words as meaning not what you have suggested but what Zoe has suggested makes it a serious issue of great concern.

I'd love to see or hear such a clarification but, considering past comments on homosexuality I fear that it is unlikely.

MgS said...

Unfortunately, from a trans perspective, the second translation you reference still is deeply troubling in large part because it is a reassertion of the old 'biology is destiny' line that the church has used for centuries - whether it is to bash transsexuals, or to further confine the role of women (either in the church or society).

I think the second point that one has to pay attention to here is that this Pope is already well known for his hostility towards GLBT people in general.

Susan said...

The Pope's Christmas Message to the Roman Curia

http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/12/hug-a-tree-not.html#comment-143345918

It always amazes me how the GLBT can spin a message such as that the Pope gave to include classic transsexuality. They have trained the media well.

Bad hair days said...

From the linked translation

"it is necessary to have something like an ecology of man, understood in the right sense. It is not metaphysics that has been overcome by time, when the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this natural order be respected.

This has to do with faith in the Creator and listening to the language of creation, which, if disregarded, would be man's self-destruction and therefore a destruction of God's work itself.

That which has come to be expressed and understood with the term 'gender' effectively results in man's self-emancipation from Creation (nature) and from the Creator. Man wants to do everything by himself and to decide always and exclusively about anything that concerns him personally. But this is to live against truth, to live against the Spirit Creator."

I cannot see how this is not against anything that does not suit a naturalistic few. Its against LGB, feminism and T and ignores the reality of IS