As usual the media has proved totally incapable of discerning what the embryonic stem cell issue is about. More surprising was the cluelessness exhibited by the Catholic politicians who voted in favour of the Bill. But what was truly remarkable was their display of hubris and self-righteous- ness in response to Cardinal Pell's comments.
Cardinal Pell was merely pointing out the obvious on two levels. First, embryonic stem cell research involves the experimentation on and the destruction of embryonic human beings. Clearly a moral issue, in fact the most basic moral issue, and as such a matter on which the Church not only has a right to speak out, but a duty, because that is why the Church exists, to teach and remind people of Christ's teaching on faith and morals.
Second, Cardinal Pell's comments to politicians on the consequences of any material cooperation with serious immorality fulfilled his pastoral duty and natural justice to them as members of the Church. It is not the case that any denial of communion to these politicians would be a penalty imposed by the Cardinal. In reality it would merely be recognition that these politicians have effectively excluded themselves from communion with the Church because their actions expressly contradict that comm- union with the will of Christ.
It would be hypocritical for these politicians to seek communion and, I suspect, communion would be of no benefit to them because grace requires cooperation of the will, not hubris and self-righteousness. This is why Christ so condemned and could have no effect on the Pharisees - they were so sure of their own goodness that they were closed off to what Christ had to offer.
Finally, and possibly most bizarrely and worrying of all, politicians and the media no longer even seem to realise that the essence of politics is justice. As the present Pope has said, 'Politics is more than a mere pragmatism É the goal of politics is justice accompanied by peace'. Justice must extend to all human beings.
How upside-down it is then for the media and politicians to trot out the familiar angle of the Cardinal overstepping the Church/State boundary when it is the State that oversteps its legitimate authority when it creates laws that deprive a class of human beings of their fundamental rights. Again, the Cardinal was doing his duty in reminding politicians of the requirements of justice. They must never violate fundamental human rights.