BBC News - Catholic synod: Gay rights groups 'disappointed'
Any illusions the 'reforming' Pope Francis may have been under that he is reforming the Catholic Church and bringing it into the 21st-Century by injecting a small dose of humanism into its doctrine were shattered today. The synod of bishops meeting in Rome put him firmly in his place and voted down his paragraph containing the mildest of calls to 'accept' and 'value' the contribution of homosexuals to society and replaced it with a reaffirmation of traditional censorious Church dogma.
The original draft of the synod's report had contained the paragraph:
Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community... Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
The Church affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same level as marriage between man and woman.
Even with that final line, this was a step too far for two-thirds of Catholic bishops, what with its talk of 'valuing' homosexuals. After a two-week debate it was replaced with a simple affirmation of existing doctrine, which itself pays only lip service even to the idea that 'unjust' discrimination should be avoided.
The Church teaches: "No grounds whatsoever exist for assimilating or drawing analogies, however remote, between homosexual unions and God's design for matrimony and the family." Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies should be accepted with respect and sensitivity. "Any sign of unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided."
[it was] very disappointing [that the synod's final report had not retained] the gracious welcome to lesbian and gay people that the draft of the report included.
The New Ways Ministry
(A US Catholic gay rights group)Is there such a thing as justified discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation? Apparently, two-thirds of Catholic bishops think there is. And 'unjust' discrimination only has to be 'avoided'; not banned or condemned unequivocally or declared a sin, just avoided. Like child sexual abuse, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal in civilised countries where laws are based on humanism rather than medieval prejudice, but, as with child abuse, the Catholic Church doesn't feel it should bring those known to be breaking the law to the attention of the authorities. The code of omerta is still reigning supreme in the criminal conspiracy that passes for the Holy See these days.
Astonishingly though, Christopher Lamb of The Tablet (the British Catholic Journal) tried to excuse the vote on the grounds that many of the bishops in the synod came from countries where homosexuality is illegal. The fact that it is illegal in many backward countries is of course precisely because the Catholic Church condemns it. But to excuse the attitude of Catholic bishops on the grounds that others where they come from behave inhumanely too is just astounding. And you thought the Catholic Church was there to give a moral lead...
What we saw through the Synod process is that there are deep divisions in what the Catholics bishops think about LGBT people, even at the highest levels of leadership. Unfortunately, today, doctrine won out over pastoral need. It is disappointing that those who recognised the need for a more inclusive Church were defeated.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, ED., DignityUSAAnd in a sop to the traditionalists in the church, the Pope today finalized the beatification of Pope Paul VI - a step on the road to full sainthood. Pope Paul VI was famous for banning contraception, especially the use of condoms, a policy which is adding to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict lied to Africans telling them condoms cause HIV/AIDS so that they would obey Pope Paul VI's instruction not to use them.
The present Pope's admiration for Pope Paul VI presages poorly for reforms in that respect too. Faced with falling church numbers and falling church income as the cost of helping to reduce overpopulation and environmental destruction, the Pope has of course stuck with the high population, high income and ruined planet strategy.
And we were originally expecting a now increasingly supine and compliant Pope Francis to actually give some sort of lead to the church and give it a semblance of the moral authority to which it has always loudly laid claim though rarely if ever done anything to actually deserve.
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C. inornatus (left) and C. tigris (right), which hybridize naturally to form C. neomexicanus (centre)
Photograph by Alistair J. Cullum. Via Wikimedia Commons
Of course, Intelligent Design 'Theory' has nothing to do with religion or the Bible, does it, creationists! No! Intelligent design is all based on good science and has no fundamentalist religious agenda at all. Intelligent Design 'Theory' would be just the same even if all the proponents of it weren't religious fundamentalist who believe Genesis is the inerrant word of a magic creator and the best available description of reality.
Or that's what they would have their non-fundamentalist victims believe anyway.
Similarly, it's merely a coincidence that proponents of IDT are invariable against same-sex relationships and agree with the the Bible that homosexuality is a mortal sin. And it's naturally no coincidence that the god of the Christian Bible agrees with IDTists because the Bible is science and what they are dealing with is science, not religion at all... isn't it?
So, what's all this about lesbian lizards? Doesn't the creator hate homosexuality?
Let's look at the facts:
The so-called New Mexico whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus) is one of about 50 reptiles that normally breed parthenogenically (i.e. without mating) to produce clones of themselves. All these lizards are female. In fact, although parthenogenesis is the normal way of producing new C. neomexicanus there is one less common way. It's the way the first ones were formed - by two other species mating to produce a hybrid. Genetics has shown that C. neomexicanus arose, and still arises occasionally, when the two bisexual species, the little striped whiptail (C. inornatus) and the western whiptail (C. tigris), which have overlapping ranges, mate naturally.
So, what's this, creationists? Here is a new species which can arise by a simple mating between two other species! That's the thing that you're supposed to believe is impossible because some mysterious, unspecified, process related to the laws of thermodynamics makes it impossible. Reguar readers may remember me writing about the edible frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus) which can only breed with difficulty with members of its own species and so females needs to mate with a member of another species, usually the pool frog (P. lessonae) or sometimes the marsh frog (P. ridibundus) to get more edible frogs. I don't recall seeing how that fact fitted in with a creationist claim that it's impossible either.
But our little whiptail lizard from New Mexico doesn't even need to mate with members of another species because, unlike edible frogs, but just like many other lizards, many of which have also arisen by hybridization, it doesn't need to mate at all. It simply lays fertile eggs which contain a full set of its genes and which hatch out into identical clones of itself.
C. neomexicnus mating.
But it doesn't stop there. All the New Mexico whiptail lizards are female and yet they go in for lesbian sex in which one adopts the 'normal' male role and the other the female, after which they both produce their eggs. There is some evidence that this act of pseudocopulation helps stimulate egg production even though nothing is passed between them. In these reptiles, like most birds, copulation consists of pressing the cloaca together and doesn't involve penetration.
Frankly, this looks superficially like a bit of a paradox for evolutionary biologists because the usual reason given for sexual reproduction having evolved and being the 'normal' mode of reproduction in the vast majority of multicellular animals is that the ensuing genetic mixing increases the likelihood of a beneficial mutation arising and ensures genetic diversity is maintained, so enabling the species to adapt more readily to a changing environment. So why then does clonal parthenogenesis seem to arise in some orders?
The answer seems to be that this mode of reproduction enables a parthenogenic species to move into a new range very quickly from a single individual. In bisexual species, one of each sex has to come into contact at the right time in the new range for a population to get started. It has often been noted that parthenogenesis is more often to be found in unusual or 'difficult' environments. And of course, we don't know if species such as the New Mexico whiptail would last long in evolutionary terms if the population isn't continually renewed through new hybridization. Some species are known to have several gene lines, indicating that each is derived from a new hybridization event.
A review of our current knowledge of teioid unisexuals and their hybrid origins is provided. Also, a reevaluation of teiine chromosomal evolution is presented from a phylogenetic perspective. These reviews elucidate the paradox that the capability of instantly producing parthenogenetic clones through one generation of hybridization has existed for approximately 200 million years, yet the extant unisexual taxa are of very recent origins. Consequently, these lineages must be ephemeral compared to those of bisexual taxa.
Phylogenetic Relationships of Whiptail Lizards of the Genus Cnemidophorus (Squamata: Teiidae):
A Test of Monophyly, Reevaluation of Karyotypic Evolution, and Review of Hybrid Origins.
Tod W. Reeder, Charles J. Cole & Herbert C. Dessauer.
The American Museum of Natural History, Number 3365, May 17, 2002
So, we know that the ability of these taxa to instantly produce a unisexual clonal species in a single generation has been around for 200 million years, and yet we know that all the known unisexual species are recent in origins. This suggests a short-term success but long-term lack of evolutionary viability, so there is actually no paradox in the detail. Rather, the facts appear to bear out the idea that sexual reproduction is the more successful strategy notwithstanding that parthenogenesis can give relatively stable short-term success.
So, no problem there for evolutionary science which understands that genes don't have moral scruples or conscious thought of any kind, let alone planning and forethought. However, given the invariably literal interpretation of the Christian Bible by creationists, even those who claim their creationism has nothing to do with religion and is all good, sound science which just happens to be fully in accord with the Bible, how does this all fit in please? Doesn't the god in the Bible supposedly abhor homosexuality, finding the act so abominable that people who do it deserve to be killed? - (Leviticus 20:13)
And didn't the god in the Bible supposedly create all the animals, including the lesbian whiptail lizard from New Mexico? - (Genesis 1:24)
Any creationist with the courage to explain all this and how it fits in the the 'science' of 'Intelligent Design Theory'? Does this god enjoy a bit of casual perving, maybe?
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