Spokeswoman Colleen Dolan says the archbishop of Chicago had hoped to make that trip in mid-October but will not be able to because of medical treatment. She says the trip may be rescheduled.
The 77-year-old George is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of cancer near his right kidney. Last week, the archdiocese announced he was participating in a clinical trial of an experimental drug at the University of Chicago Medicine.
George said early this year that he believes the cancer eventually will take his life. He survived bladder cancer eight years ago. Continue reading
Yellow-haired Hood with his wounds and his empty sleeve,
Leading his Texans,
a Viking shape of a man,
With the thrust and lack of craft of a berserk sword,
All lion, none of the fox.
When he supersedesJoe Johnston, he is lost, and his army with him,
But he could lead forlorn hopes with the ghost of Ney.
His big boned Texans follow him into the mist.
Who follows them?
Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body
Few Civil War generals get as bad a historical trouncing as John Bell Hood. A talented regimental, division and corps commander, his tenure as commander of the Army of the Tennessee is regarded as a disaster, with Hood being depicted as a reckless head on fighter who threw away any chance of victory by losing Atlanta and then leading his army to near annihilation during the Franklin-Nashville campaign. I have largely accepted that historical verdict, but a new book, John Bell Hood, The Rise Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General, gives me pause.
Stephen M. “Sam” Hood, a distant relative of the general, does a masterful job of defending the general from sloppy historical accounts. For example, the quote from John Brown’s Body about Hood being all of the lion and none of the fox has often been attributed to Lee. Other historical howlers that have made their way into historical accounts is that Hood, due to his injuries, was a laudanum addict. Stephen Hood demonstrates that there is no contemporary evidence to substantiate this. Stephen Hood does a service in this book not just to General Hood, but also to Civil War scholarship. Too many supposed factoids about the War, firmly ensconced in secondary sources, are mere fables, and The Rise Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General is an unsettling book length demonstration of how these myths need to be dispelled. Continue reading
If you want to know what is going on in Cuba, the Babalu blog is the go to blog. Carlos Eire tells us about the man who has just become my favorite papal nuncio:
Archbishop Bruno Musarò, Apostolic Nuncio to Castrogonia, blasted the island’s rulers recently, and a handful of news organizations are reporting on his comments.
Not surprisingly, the news reports thus far are only available in Italian, Spanish, and Polish. Nothing at all in English. No word from the AP or Reuters, or CNN, etc..
If the nuncio had denounced the “blockade” rather than the Castro regime, his comments would be getting a hell of a lot more attention, of course.
The nuncio’s remarks were first quoted by LecceNews24 in Italy, in an article entitled: “‘In Cuba you die’: Salentine bishop sounds the alarm.” You can find that full report HERE.
The comments were made after he celebrated mass in the Italian town of Vignacastrisi. (Ha! VignaCASTRIsi: Who says God lacks a sense of humor?)
Among his observations, the following stand out:
“In Cuba you die.” (A Cuba si muore).
“In Cuba eating is a luxury.”
“The Cuban people live in conditions of absolute poverty and degradation without human or civil rights. They are the victims of a socialist dictatorship that has kept them enslaved for fifty-six years.”
“Only freedom can give hope to the Cuban people.”
“The only hope Cubans can have for a better life is to leave their island.”
“Italians who complain about many things in Italy should know that in Cuba a physician only earns 25 euros per month and that in order to live with dignity many Cuban professionals have to work as waiters at night.”
“In Cuba everything is controlled by the government, even milk and meat. Beef is a luxury and anyone who dares to slaughter a cow in order to eat it is arrested and sent to prison.”
“After more than half a century, praise is still being heaped on this Revolution, but, in the meantime, the Cuban people don’t have proper work and don’t have a way of feeding their own children.”
“I’m grateful that the pope sent me to that island, and I hope to be there when the socialist regime comes to an end.”
Apostolic nuncios serve as the pope’s ambassadors to the world’s nations. Archbishop Musarò was appointed as nuncio to Castrogonia by Pope Benedict XVI in August 2011. Continue reading
Pat Archbold has a barn burner of a post up at One Peter Five looking at the calls by the USCCB for dialogue with Muslims:
It is a curious conceit of an obtuse generation that it believes itself to be committed to modernity, embodied by devotion to science and reason, and yet is so irrevocably immutable to evidence.
The spiritual (but not religious) Mecca of modernity in the Catholic Church is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the headquarters of which would likely be a smoking ruin if we had a God quick to anger rather than slow.
The absurdity of this very modern institution is embodied perfectly in their recent USCCB statement on their “Commitment To Dialogue With Muslims.”
What is the bottom line? They are so committed to dialogue with Muslims, it seems, that they will persevere in useless dialogue until every last one of us Christians is dead.
“We understand the confusion and deep emotions stirred by real and apparent acts of aggression and discrimination by certain Muslims against non-Muslims, often against Christians abroad,” the bishops wrote. “Along with many of our fellow Catholics and the many Muslims who themselves are targeted by radicals, we wish to voice our sadness, indeed our outrage, over the random and sometimes systematic acts of violence and harassment—acts that for both Christians and Muslims threaten to disrupt the harmony that binds us together in mutual support, recognition, and friendship.”
In the face of a terrifying juggernaut of death and destruction that 50 years of dialogue have done absolutely nothing to stop and arguably encouraged, the USCCB is committed to more of the same. Everyone knows that dialogue with Islam is impossible since there is no monolithic Islam with which to dialogue, so we have endeavored to dialogue merely with its adherents. I think the most humble and unambitious goal of such interreligious dialogue would have been some sort of consensus that, in general, they shouldn’t try to kill us or anyone else. Even with the bar set so low, by any measurement, 50 years of dialogue has been a miserable failure. Continue reading
 Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.  The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.  They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
John 8: 56-59
Father Barron has a magnificent article in Catholic World Report in which he explains why it is improper to think of God as a Supreme Being:
Now to God’s invisibility. One of the most fundamental mistakes made by atheists both old and new is to suppose that God is a supreme being, an impressive item within or alongside the universe. As David Bentley Hart has argued, the gods of ancient mythology or the watchmaker God of 18th-century Deism might fit such a description, but the God presented by the Bible and by classical theism has nothing to do with it. The true God is the non-contingent ground of the contingent universe, the reason there is something rather than nothing, the ultimate explanation for why the world should exist at all. Accordingly, he is not a being, but rather, as Thomas Aquinas put it, ipsum esse subsistens, the sheer act of to be itself.
Thomas goes so far as to say that God cannot be placed in any genus, even in that most generic of genera, namely, being. But all of this must imply God’s invisibility. Whatever can be seen is, ipso facto, a being, a particular state of affairs, and hence something that can be placed in a genus, compared with other finite realities, etc. The visible is, by definition, conditioned—and God is the unconditioned. I hope it is clear that in affirming God’s invisibility, I am not placing limits on him, as though he were a type of being—the invisible type—over and against visible things, a ghost floating above physical objects. The invisible God is he whose reality transcends and includes whatever perfection can be found in creatures, since he himself is the source and ground of creatureliness in all its manifestations. Anything other than an invisible God would be a conditioned thing and hence utterly unworthy of worship. Continue reading
Interesting that the Vatican sent out Father Lombardi to deny that ISIS is planning to assassinate the pope:
The rumors spread following an Aug. 25 article published in Italian newspaper “Il Tempo,” which said the number of jihadists in Italy is on the rise due to the influx of unidentified immigrants in the country.
According to the article, Islamic fundamentalists led by Al-Baghdadi plan to “raise the level of confrontation” in Europe and alluded to Israeli sources who said that Pope Francis is “also in the crosshairs of ISIS” as “the greatest exponent of the Christian religions” and the “bearer of false truth.”
Al-Baghdadi has been named as Caliph – the head of state and absolute monarch – of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, and is the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Continue reading
Since my beloved son Larry died last year, not a day has gone by that I have not thought of him. Immediately after his death I would think about him, literally, almost every minute of each day. Now it is usually once every 15 minutes. He enriched beyond measure the life of myself and my bride and I miss him with all my heart. Larry had autism, and, as a result of his autism, my conversations with him were limited in words, although we each got our meanings across. I greatly admired the way in which my son did not let his disability add sorrow to his life, and the joy he normally radiated warmed my soul. I have had several privileges in my life that have been granted me by God, but I think the greatest was being entrusted with Larry.
Then I read how some parents who are having their unborn children tested for Down Syndrome react:
Rayna Rapp, a former abortion clinic worker who aborted a baby with Down syndrome herself, conducted a survey of women and couples who sought amniocentesis to screen for Down syndrome and other problems with their babies. All of the interviewees intended to abort if the baby was found to have Down syndrome. Some of the things that these parents say about Down syndrome children are deeply troubling to anyone who values life. Here are some comments from men and women who said they would abort if the test came back positive for Down.
I would have a very hard time dealing with a retarded child. Retardation is relative, it could be so negligible that the child is normal, or so severe that the child has nothing… All of the sharing things you want to do, the things you want to share with a child – that, to me, is the essence of being a father. There would be a big void that I would feel. I would feel grief, not having what I consider a normal family.(133)
I have an image of how I want to interact with my child, and that’s not the kind of interaction I want, not the kind I could maintain. (133)
I’m sorry to say I couldn’t think about raising a child with Down’s. I’m something of a perfectionist. I want the best for my child. I’ve worked hard, I went to Cornell University, I’d want that for my child. I’d want to teach him things he couldn’t absorb. I’m sorry I can’t be more accepting, but I’m clear I wouldn’t want to continue the pregnancy.( 133 – 134)
The bottom line is when my neighbor said to me: “Having a “tard,” that’s a bummer for life.” (91)
I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t be that kind of mother who accepts everything, loves her kid no matter what. What about me? Maybe it’s selfish, I don’t know. But I just didn’t want all those problems in my life. (138)
If he can’t grow up to have a shot at becoming the president, we don’t want him.(92)
It’s devastating, it’s a waste, all the love that goes into kids like that. (134)
I think it’s kind of like triage, or like euthanasia. There aren’t enough resources in the world. We’d have to move, to focus our whole family on getting a handicapped kid a better deal… Why spend $50,000 to save one child?(146)
All of these mothers and fathers (for they are already mothers and fathers to their babies growing in the womb) had chosen to have abortions if the baby had Down. The book did not specify which pregnancies actually tested positive and how many went on to abort. But all of the quotes above were made by men and women who fully intended to kill their babies if they turned out to be mentally challenged. Continue reading
Dr. Edward Mulholland, an assistant professor of classical and modern languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, recently discussed a prayer for students composed by St. Thomas Aquinas which the Angelic Doctor prayed before studying:
Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your light penetrate the darkness of my understanding.
Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of sin and ignorance.
Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Commenting on this prayer as it concerns college students, Dr. Mulholland describes parents and educators some of whom believe education is only about academics, others of whom believe it’s all about money, and yet others of whom believe it’s about prestige. And, yes, there are those parents and educators—almost certainly a very tiny minority in today’s world—who could care less about all of that, believing as they do that education is all about getting young people to persevere in morality.
As St. Thomas’ prayer reminds all of us, education and the virtue of humility are inextricably related: The proper attitude toward learning—whether in an elementary or secondary school or a college or university—is to allow God to form one’s mind to grasp the light of truth and, then, to will it in one’s life from the beginning through its completion. With that attitude, other utilitarian ends—academic success, money, and prestige—are put into proper perspective with morality becoming an imperative.
In 2008, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/U.S. Religious Landscape survey reported the prayer habits of Americans. Of particular interest, note the habits of U.S. Catholics:
Among U.S. Catholics who report they do pray and broken down by political ideology, the following pattern emerges:
Of those Catholic parents who report they do pray—irrespective of political ideology—how many pray for their children ?
With the new academic year now underway in many locales, wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents wrote down St. Thomas’ prayer on a notecard and presented it to each of their children, asking them to say the prayer at the start of each day of school? Better yet, to tell their children they will be saying St. Thomas’ prayer for each of them at the start of each school day?
To read Dr. Mulholland’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Hattip to Instapundit. Your tax dollars at work:
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.
I have never written much about Distributism because, to quote Gertrude Stein, there is no there, there. Chesterton and Belloc I think used Distributism primarily as a springboard to attack the capitalism they both loathed. The details were kept vague because it was obvious that, unless humanity were suddenly to become exempt from sin, the implementation of such a system, if it could be implemented at all, would require a very powerful state indeed, something that Chesterton and Belloc both loathed just as much as they loathed capitalism. Thus Distributism was something to be trotted out in their writings periodically, but neither Chesterton or Belloc made any attempts to seriously implement it in the real world, and of course one would not expect a pair of writers to do so. That would be done, if at all, by those inspired by the concept. However, although the concept evokes a lot of sturm und drang on Catholic blogs, attempts to implement it in reality have been precious few and far between. It is therefore only appropriate that a science fiction novelist, John C. Wright, has examined a concept that I think will always remain firmly ensconced in the fictional realm:
A reader asked me my opinion of Distributionism, which is GK Chesterton’s tentative venture into economic philosophy.
For better or worse, my take on Distributism is uniformly and unabashedly negative. You see, I had studied economics for many a year before I stumbled across the writings of Mr Chesterton, and I found him wise and witty and much to be admired in all other areas but this one. Once he starts writing about rich folk, he speaks frothing nonsense, and there is a touch of hatred, of true malice, in his tone I do not detect anywhere else.
Chesterton holds that the concentration of wealth into a few hands was bad for all concerned, and looked favorably on the idea of each man owning his own means of production, and their incomes being more equal.
By what means this was to be accomplished is left vague in his writings. Whether this was to be by a medieval guild system, or some form of government-run syndicate, or an all-volunteer affair, is never mentioned one way or the other. He states clearly that he opposes the Enclosure Laws, by which common greens, formerly owned and used communally, were made private property; but he does not state clearly how, or even if, he would reverse this.
His position differs from Socialism mainly by being nondoctrinaire by being unclear. Continue reading
VATICAN CITY (RNS) China has reacted cautiously to a bid by Pope Francis to open new dialogue with Beijing, with some officials quick to warn the Vatican not to “interfere” with the country’s religion.
On his return flight from a five-day tour of South Korea, Francis said he was ready to go to China — “For sure! Tomorrow!” — after receiving a positive response to two goodwill telegrams he sent to President Xi Jinping as the pope flew over Chinese airspace.
“We respect the Chinese people,” Francis told journalists on the return flight Monday (Aug. 18). “The church only asks for liberty for its task, for its work.”
That is still a huge challenge, as the Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with China since 1951. The Catholic Church in China is divided between an “official” church known as the Catholic Patriotic Association, answerable to the Communist Party, and an underground church that swears allegiance to Rome.
The state-run Catholic Patriotic Association was quick to respond to the pope’s overtures for greater dialogue, albeit with a warning.
“China will always safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and it never allows foreign forces to interfere with religion. The Vatican should respect China in terms of the personnel of a diocese,” Liu Yuanlong, vice president of the association, told the state-run Global Times in a report also published in English.
I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its conscience to neither kings or priests, the genuine doctrine of only one God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.
Thomas Jefferson, 1822
For a very, very long time individuals have been proposing that if churches wish to survive in future they must “modernize”, which usually comes down to agreeing with the person giving the advice. The hilarious fact is that churches that accept such advice normally rapidly lose members and become pale shadows, at best, of what they once were. Alexander Griswold gives, at The Federalist, examples of what has happened to churches that have modified their doctrine in regard to homosexuality:
But a number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes. On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.
The Episcopal Church
In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay, noncelibate man to be consecrated as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. In the wake of his consecration, entire dioceses severed ties with the Episcopal Church, eventually creating the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). But the Episcopal Church continued to liberalize its sexual teachings, lifting a moratorium on any more gay bishops in 2006 and creating a “blessing ceremony” for gay couples in 2009.
In 2002, the number of baptized U.S. members of the Episcopal Church stood at 2.32 million. By 2012, that number had fallen to 1.89 million, a decline of 18.4 percent. Meanwhile, attendance has fallen even more steeply. Average Sunday attendance in its U.S. churches was 846,000 in 2002, but had fallen 24.4 percent by 2012 to only 640,000. Other signs of congregational liveliness have fallen even further. Baptisms have fallen by 39.6 percent, and marriages have fallen by 44.9 percent.
As for the ACNA? It’s seen its membership rise by 13 percent and its Sunday attendance rise by 16 percent in the past five years. Since 2009, the ACNA has planted 488 new congregations. In 2012, the entire Episcopal Church managed to plant four new churches.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) was formed in 1987, when three Lutheran denominations merged to create the largest Lutheran church in America. For most of its history, gay men and women were permitted to be pastors, so long as they remained celibate. But in a narrow vote at its 2009 Churchwide Assembly, ordination was extended to gay men and women in “committed monogamous relationships.” In addition, the Assembly passed an amendment allowing churches “to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”
From ELCA’s formation in 1987 to 2009, the average decrease in membership each year was only 0.62 percent. But after the liberalization of the ELCA’s stance on sexuality, membership declined a whopping 5.95 percent in 2010 and 4.98 percent in 2011. Since 2009, more than 600 congregations abandoned the denomination, with almost two-thirds joining conservative Lutheran denominations like the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Churches in Ministry for Christ.
By the end of 2012, ELCA had lost 12.3 percent of its members in three years—nearly 600,000 people. If the present rate of defections holds steady, ELCA will cease to exist in less than two decades.
The United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has long had a reputation for unfettered liberalism, sometimes bordering on the radical. In 2008, for example, the pastor of the largest UCC congregations in the country was one Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The UCC’s tendency for pushing traditional boundaries has led to unquestionably positive developments (such as the first African-American pastor as early as 1785) and the unquestionably silly (such as the first hymnal that refuses to call Jesus male). Needless to say, in 2005 UCC became the first U.S. mainline Protestant denomination to support same-sex marriage, and has been an outspoken voice in the gay marriage debate ever since.
While UCC has been bleeding members for decades, its decline rapidly accelerated after the gay marriage vote. Since 2005, UCC has lost 250,000 members, a decline of 20.4 percent over seven years. While an average of 39 congregations left UCC annually from 1990 to 2004, more than 350 congregations departed in the following three years. The UCC’s own pension board called the 2000’s decline “the worst decade among 25 reporting Protestant denominations,” and admitted that “…the rate of decline is accelerating.”
2013 marked a particularly grim milestone for the denomination, as membership finally fell below one million. If the post-2005 rate in membership losses doesn’t taper out, the denomination will cease to exist in 30 years.
The habit of Pope Francis in calling people out of the blue has sometimes produced controversial results, but he made one call last week that all Catholics can support:
The massive casualties taken by the Army of the Potomac since the beginning of Grant’s drive on Richmond had destroyed the combat effectiveness of many units in the Army, with large numbers of veteran troops either killed or in hospital to recover from wounds and the ranks filled up with hastitly trained recruits. This decrease in combat capability was dramatically demonstrated at the Second Battle of Reams Station. On August 24, Grant sent Hancock and his II corps south along the Weldon railroad to destroy as much of the rail line currently in Confederate hands as he could, to increase the difficulties of the Confederates in transporting supplies from the portion of the Weldon railroad they stilled controlled to Petersburg and Richmond.
All went well initially with Hancock’s corps destroying three miles of track. However on the afternoon of the 25th a Confederate attack routed the II corps, with Hancock being forced to withdraw to the Union fortified lines. Union casualties were 2,743 to 814 Confederate. 2073 of the Union casualties were prisoners, many of whom surrendered after only brief resistance. Hancock’s reaction to all this, no doubt remembering the days when his troops were considered the elite of the Army, was to remark in despair to an aide as he was unable to rally his retreating troops: “I do not care to die, but I pray God I may never leave this field.” Continue reading
One of the more humiliating events in American history, the burning of Washington was the low point in American fortunes during the War of 1812.
After the British landed an army to attack Washington, Captain Johsua Barney, a Catholic and Revolutionary War hero, go here to read about him, and 500 of his sailors and marines, joined the American army seeking to stop the invaders. At the battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, Barney and his men put up a spirited defense, with cutlasses and bayonets against the advancing British, and throughout it all Barney rallying his men with cries of “Board ‘em! Board ‘em!” Ultimately the Americans retreated, and Barney, seriously wounded, was captured one last time in his career by the British. After being paroled by his captors, he spent the rest of the War recuperating at his farm in Maryland. The heroic stand of Barney and his men had given enough time for Washington to be evacuated, and after the war the grateful citizens of Washington presented a sword to the old sailor for the land fight which ended his naval career. Continue reading