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CFFC in the News - 2003
Vatican writes "glossary" on sex; Will publish lexicon to clear up "grave moral confusion"
17 January 2003
The Vatican wants to prevent cultural manipulation of the family in no uncertain terms. Terms, in fact, are at the very heart of it.
The Holy See will soon publish a new glossary of 90 words related to sexual and family issues, according to Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, director of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
The "Lexicon of the Family and Life" will also clarify the Catholic Church's teachings on birth control, sex education, assisted procreation and homosexuality. The work intends to clarify "neologisms, ambiguous terms and difficult concepts in frequent use."
Those terms include "voluntary interruption of pregnancy," "reproductive health," "matrimonial indissolubility," "sexual education" and "conjugal love." When bandied about in a global forum, they can cause "grave moral confusion," the lexicon states.
The work has a waiting audience. "It's long overdue, but it's a welcome initiative to clarify the political hijacking of the language," said William Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
"The Orwellian use of language by the left for their own agendas has been going on for decades," he added.
Certain "elastic" terms are used in print and broadcast for better or worse, Mr. Donohue said, specifically citing the terms "gender" and "reproductive rights." They are simply code for feminist or homosexual issues and abortion, respectively, he said.
"They're sanitized, they become generic and therefore not offensive," Mr. Donohue said.
Cardinal Trujillo criticized the same words.
In an interview yesterday with the Italian magazine 30 Days, he said the family has been threatened by "cultural manipulation" in a world that increasingly affords homosexual and common-law couples the same rights as married couples. "Gender" no longer indicates a person's sex, "but in international debate is used to indicate radical ideological feminism," the cardinal said.
Like Mr. Donohue, Cardinal Trujillo also took issue with the term "reproductive rights," which he said "is used not to promote the right of reproduction, but the right of abortion. The meaning of these terms is exactly the opposite to their literal meaning."
In recent years, some liberal Catholics have challenged the Vatican's voice on global cultural issues, as well as its role at the United Nations. Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice, for example, has lobbied since 1999 to lessen the Vatican's diplomatic status at the United Nations.
The 29-year-old nonprofit group "is engaged in research, policy analysis, education and advocacy on issues of gender equality and reproductive health," according to its Web site [www.cath4choice.org].
Meanwhile, the lexicon has been 19 months in the making. This "critical glossary" is close to 1,000 pages long and includes input from about 50 anthropologists, sociologists, physicians, psychologists and non-Catholics.
The project grew out of a May 2001 meeting of the 155-member College of Cardinals, called by Pope John Paul II to determine the future of the Catholic Church.
Deemed in press reports as an "extraordinary consistory" by virtue of its frank discussions, the meeting also yielded updated Vatican strategies for dealing with the ever-present media.
The lexicon topped the priority list, however.
Cardinal Trujillo updated the pope in December about the work's progress; both men agreed to get the working document into print as soon as possible. Though some press reports say the lexicon will appear in early February, some Italian newspapers have printed small portions of the unpublished work in recent weeks.
According to Catholic World News, the new lexicon "is reportedly addressed not only to Catholics but to world leaders of all faiths, and is intended to help Church leaders who are engaged in discussion of family-oriented public issues."
This article courtesyt of the Washington Times.