The Pope is closing out Advent and bringing us into Christmastide with yet one more rendition of his favorite theme: natural law and its place in scholastic theology, in particular as it speaks to the divinely ordered status of men and women qua men and women. (I like to use qua in contexts such as this, as it gives the appearance of seriousness to an otherwise trivial concept: that men and women are men and women.) It's what the Scholastic Theologians got from this that is the problem; and the pope is hammering away on his one-note marimba once again. As the officers will say at a roadside accident, "Nothing to see here; move along."
I can't help but take note, however, about the insistent persistence of this outmoded metaphysic, and the natural law to which it gives rise. Of course, as reported in the Australian, the pope told his audience, "It is not 'outmoded metaphysics'" to urge respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman."
Oh, but it is, when you get beyond the respect due to individual men and women, and try to draw conclusions for the whole, in an essentialist mode. "Scholastic theology" is at the root of the problem. For all of his Scriptural references, when it comes to anthropology Aquinas relies as much on "the Philosopher" (i.e, Aristotle) as on Scripture. This is precisely where the outmoded metaphysics comes in. Not only outmoded (lots of old fashioned things are just fine!) but wrong. Just factually wrong, erroneous, mistaken. I mean, read Aquinas on where babies come from and how sperm is made, and what the fundamental difference between man and woman is. Any theology based on falsehoods cannot claim to be in keeping with the one who is the Perfect Truth.
Of course, back in the days when he went by Ratzinger, the present pontiff had defended the church's actions in re Galileo; continuing to affirm the authority of the magisterium over against the insufficiencies of mere secular science.
Infallible? Sed contra.
And while I'm at it, let me make an observation about the pope's "ecological" concern about human nature and the damage any legitimizing of same-sex relationships or other gender-bending might cause to society as we know it, perhaps leading, as he suggests, to its "destruction." As quoted by John Allen in NCR:
[The Church] 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 It's not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected...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...
Yes, let's listen to creation, and take heed that if celibacy were given approval, then too many people might become celibate, and the human race would die out.
Blessed Feast of the Incarnation -- when perfect Truth dared enter this world in a completely unnatural way, and without making use of what Benedict sees as the God-ordained pairing of male and female. Odd that God chose not to use what Benedict thinks all folk should choose.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
with a tip of the hat to Episcopal Café