Monday, November 10, 2008

Katherine Sinnott, MEP: "Human Rights" have become just a "list of demands that have gained political strength"

Exerpts from a speech by Mrs. Katherine Sinnott, MEP, Ireland South, at a conference in Rome sponsored by MaterCare International, Thursday, November 6, 2008

I got in a few minutes late and she was saying that the way the EU runs is essentially anti-democratic:

They only then send it to the elected Parliament and we make amendments and if those amendments are to the liking of the Commission and the Council then it will be tolerated and wind up in the finished product. But 20%, and they are the critical 20% in most cases, are rejected – even though the only elected people have voted for them.

Judges slip very easily into law-making and judicial activism
and this is particularly true in the European Court of Justice for a particularly interesting reason. Most of our High Courts or Supreme Courts or whatever you call them in your own countries – the job of most of those courts is to uphold your constitutions. But the actual stated job of the European Court of Justice – the EU’s court is to promote the European project. So, it takes whatever document or whatever treatise, and it decides what interpretation at this point in time will best promote the European project; not what do those words truly mean and what do case law tell us about them. And this is a particularly worrying thing in terms, again, of the Lisbon Treaty because for the first time, we had a Charter of Rights included – called the Fundamental Charter of Rights and those rights had very interesting things like ‘Everyone has a right to life.’ But, of course, the only country fighting that statement was Ireland because we wanted to retain our Right to Life – and we knew that a statement like “Everyone has a right to life” – actually did not apply to such things as abortion and euthanasia. It actually meant the opposite and it would mean the opposite because it was the European Court in Luxemburg that would decide what it meant and that was why countries that are very invested in things like abortion – even countries that are invested in policies of euthanasia – had no problem ratifying the Lisbon Treaty and even welcoming this fundamental charter because, in fact, it would reinforce their policy not counter-act it.

So, lawmakers increasingly are anyone above the citizens and those that they directly elect and we have to point out that this is true even at the national level. Certainly in Ireland, 80% of the laws that go through are Parliament - Germany has estimated that it is 83% - it is only transpositions of Laws already passed in Brussels.

They actually have no right to vote ‘no’ to these laws

– they must transpose them, they must implement them and only 20% or less of the laws in the national parliament, created by the people we actually elect, are original laws. And, even those, if they are not in line with the European policy you are not allowed to propose them or put them through to Parliament.

The Lisbon Treaty extends the competence of Europe to virtually every area of life. In fact, a Danish MEP, asked the constitutional courts in his country – was there anything not affected by the Lisbon Treaty, in Danish law or the Danish constitution. And the only thing that they could come up with after days and days of studying it, was the position of the Church in Denmark. There is a special position of – I think it is the Lutheran Church – in Denmark. But even that, on closer scrutiny, was subject to EU law. So, there was nothing, so that 20% will very quickly erode to 0% which would be the end of democracy at the national level as well.

As an MEP, and it is in light of this, to influence law, is extremely difficult even for an MEP. We did a report on the rights of Children – and, of course, the first legal base was the UN convention on the rights of the child. And, on the whole report, and by report, I mean it is the Commission’s document with our amendments – the word ‘family’ was never mentioned. In all the rights of children – the word ‘family’ was never mentioned. Now, it took me 13 amendments to get the word ‘family’ in twice. I am still not sure that the word family will stay in past the Council or it will be those 20% amendments that are removed.

We now have just launched a proposed agenda, social agenda for Europe because – I was temporarily one of the ‘presidents’ in the Parliament – a position I did not really run for because I had too many other things to do but immediately after the Irish referendum, they decided that Europe wasn’t social enough – so, they quickly cobbled together a ‘social agenda’. Now the social agenda which has yet to go through the whole process – takes all the functions of the family – care of the elderly, education of children, etc… and brings them under a ‘caring Europe.’ The one thing that isn’t mentioned in the whole social agenda – quite a big document – is the family.

In a dialogue with Commissioner Spidla – I asked him about this. I said, “How come this social agenda has every function of the family but doesn’t mention the family.” He said, “Well, you see – we have no competence in family but we have competence in this and that…”

And in fact many other areas that they actually don’t have competence in and they are taking it and their idea was that, that then would make the ratification [by Ireland] possible.

Of course, fortunately, one of our bishops has come out – in fact, I stood up in parliament and I said that probably much more important to people in voting ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty was a sense that Europe’s values were not our values and a sense of the loss of the Christian identity and the loss of Christian values and the dis-ease and unease with that. And I gave two speeches on that which I also sent to the bishops and I don’t know if it had anything to do with Bishop Sean Grady who came out and used much the same language – about the un-ease that people felt with the direction that Europe is going. But, it is within this that we are supposedly law-makers.

It is at that point that I am very glad that we do have an all-powerful and a very much loving and good God watching over us because otherwise it would be a very worrying situation and it could even lead one to despair.

But, as an MEP, I also work in an environment where we have two languages, and I don’t mean English and French. I mean the language of the culture of life and the language of the culture of death and what is very confusing is that they use the same terminology – the exact same terminology. They often attribute different and usually opposing meanings to the same terms. So, human rights, to me, means the rights that accrue from the dignity and destiny of the human person which in turn are a gift of God.

And in the other lexicon, human rights are increasingly just a list of demands that have gained political strength.

One morning on the radio in Ireland, I heard an activist saying that every child had a human right – a fundamental human right to high quality free child care. To me, this would have meant that the human baby has the natural need, so therefore the right to mothering and therefore, the right to receive that mothering from his or her mother. And that we, as a society, have a duty to support the family and through that – to support the mother so that she could give this child what the child needed – or to give that support to a committed mother substitute where that wasn’t possible. But, to this campaigner, this human right meant that women had a fundamental human right to be absent from their babies and to have a professionally accredited child care facility free of charge.

In the same way, this difference in understanding is particularly in the word ‘dignity’ itself. It’s a special gift of the Creator, intellect, free-will, immortal soul that separates us from the rest of creation. But to them dignity, means a value measured by health, mental ability, emotional happiness and other quality of life indicators as they call them – so the word can also be used to justify abortion, infanticide and euthanasia where dignity to me – makes these things impossible.

And to give one more example of the area is religion – and this is one that is coming up very much. For me, the freedom of religion is very much, as a human right, is the right to live your duty to God as you best understand that and the freedom to do that because it is an essential need of the human person to honor, interact and have a relationship with this God. Increasingly, freedom of religion, in the EU means from religion and again, we have a new directive coming up that is called an “Anti-Discrimination Directive”. This is very sad because it has come out of years of work to get a disability directive and an age directive – and there is one on gender and there is one on race and years of work has gone into getting one of disability. And now that pretty much all the countries have agreed to have one on disability – which would have been a bulwark against euthanasia – that was one of the things that it was supposed to do – we have had a whole group of lobbyists jump on the back of that[saying] 'let's not waste time and just do a disability and age directive, let's do an across the board discrimination directive which will include ethnicity, language, religion and sexual orientation'.

But, religion in this context, means that, if you are a Catholic school – you have no right to pick an employee on the basis that they actually know or care anything about Catholicism. Or, if you are Mater Care – you have no right to discriminate against a doctor in your charity who believes in abortion. It also includes the right to not be offended by a Christmas Crib in the town square or by the words “God bless you”. ‘Bless you’ will actually be a hate crime. This is just in proposed stage – it is in the parliament now. We are having a big hoo-haa about it and I assure you, it will pass. I assure you.

The culture of life – the human rights in the culture of life – also has a hierarchy which depends on the essential nature of the right. And, really the way that God gives us that right and therefore it is quite obvious that the right to life is at the highest rank because it is a direct gift from God and without it, none of the other rights have any meaning.

However, the culture of Death also have a system of ranking – and again, it is based on political influence at any given time. So, for instance, in some countries – the right to abortion – in Ireland, the right to abortion is not acknowledged but in the US, the right to abortion to the moment of birth is in place and so much so, that there even moving on from that to seeing the right to abortion actually as meaning the right to a dead baby – not just a right to abortion. So, the expansion of the right to abortion – and the expansion of it to include infanticide and already that is detectable even within Europe. I think that a study about 3 years ago, showed that half of infant deaths in France and in the Netherlands, in the first year of life, were either active or passive euthanasia.

So, to come to hope. In hierarchy, hope, as Obama’s election shows, is very similar in both cultures – they both recognize hope as one of the really high values. Where hope differs is in the object of our hope and in that, it’s meaning is completely different. For us, hope is Jesus. It is expressed in the gospels where it is personified in His life and in the life of those who followed Him. It is embodied and received in the Eucharist and in the other sacraments. It is embodied in our understanding and our experience of hope and our experience that God is always bringing forth good and always ready to forgive, always ready to lift and correct and guide and to bestow blessing and in doing so, that he is living with us and preparing to welcome us into another life at the end of this one. So, that is our hope.


Aaron Traas said...

And to give one more example of the area is religion – and this is one that is coming up very much. For me, the freedom of religion is very much, as a human right, is the right to live your duty to God as you best understand that and the freedom to do that because it is an essential need of the human person to honor, interact and have a relationship with this God.

Error has no right. Freedom of religion is stupid. This is where a lot of other modern era comes from.

Anonymous said...

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