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On a Slippery Slope in Spain

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 18, 2007

The political powers in Europe and America have recently prevented a bishop from relieving a priest of his parish assignment, stopped another bishop from ordering a priest not to write a certain book, compelled bishops to change the policies of Catholic hospitals, and generally meddled to their hearts' content in contemporary ecclesiastical affairs. But it is the honor of Spain’s Data Protection Agency to have established the precedent of meddling with the Catholic past.

You may mistake this for a trivial matter. It seems that Manuel Blat Gonzalez, a homosexual who objects to the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, demanded that the Church destroy the record of his baptism, which took place forty years ago. The Archdiocese of Valencia refused on the basis that a record is evidence of history, which cannot be changed. But the Data Protection Agency defended Gonzalez’ “privacy” and won a court ruling against the Church.

How the court construed an historical record as somehow “belonging” to the person to whom it refers is altogether beyond my comprehension. By their very nature, historical records record something. The elimination of the record does not change the historical fact to which it alludes, and so the deliberate destruction or alteration of historical records in order to change our perceptions is in fact a kind of a lie. In this case, the lie is being imposed on the Church, which needs such records for its own internal purposes. The lie says that Manuel Blat Gonzalez was not baptized.

If there is such a thing as a little white lie, this isn't it. We are all by now familiar with the efforts of propagandists of all kinds, personal as well as public, to rewrite history to serve their own purposes. Typically this is done by ignoring inconvenient facts, by explaining such facts in ways which ignore their obvious contextual meaning, or by preventing such facts from being presented by others. Now, a court in Spain has provided a third alternative: alter the records so that nobody else will know.

In the past, this has generally been regarded as a criminal act—tampering in order to perpetuate a fraud—but in the age of relativism, what is a fact for you and me may not be a fact for Mr. Gonzalez. It is hardly surprising that the Church should be the first victim of this alteration of records, nor that homosexuality—which provides an extremely powerful temptation to alter reality—should be at the root of it.

Ignoring truth, denying facts, explaining things away, rewriting history: These provide the ultimate in convenience. Indeed, one can understand how happy Mr. Gonzales and Spain must be. They've labored successfully to remove a formidable obstacle, and it's all downhill from here.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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