Rule of Three: SSPX, TAC, & the Orthodox Church

Saturday, January 31, AD 2009

metropolitan-kirill2

We have had a spate of exciting news these past two weeks.  So much good news that I have noticed a certain pattern forming.  That pattern usually comes in threes, so I’d like to introduce the Rule of Three theory.  The Rule of Three is a theorem that states good news comes in threes. 

First we have Pope Benedict XVI having the excommunications on the Society of St. Pius X (S.S.P.X.)  lifted on January 21.  Then we have rumors that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.) possibly offering the  Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) entry into the Catholic Church on January 29.  So there needs to be a third piece of good news percolating somewhere some would think?

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39 Responses to Rule of Three: SSPX, TAC, & the Orthodox Church

  • I think an invite will occur, but I don’t think it will be in the immediate future.

    Besides, the TAC issue is still just a rumor/consideration, though a really fascinating one at that.

  • It’s “interesting” that you call #1 “good news” with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. Telling.

  • I think it is all good news. Even though the ryumors of TAC might be premature there is somethig in the wind. We actually in the USA can reconcille some Anglican through a wder use of the Anglican Use Parish.

  • Michael I.,

    It’s “interesting” that you call #1 “good news” with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. Telling.

    Very telling that you abhor Forgiveness, The story of the Prodigal son, orthodoxy, Latin, the Extraodinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass, Ut Unum Sint, and many other Catholic doctrine just by that simple statement you left.

  • Forgiveness is fantastic. But the SSPX is not “orthodox.” News flash, Tito: You can love forgiveness, “orthodoxy,” Latin, the extraordinary form of the Mass, etc., and not embrace groups like SSPX that reject Vatican II, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism and who believe that “the Jews” committed “deicide.”

    Don’t flirt with these people, Tito. Seriously.

  • Michael I.,

    Don’t worry, I don’t flirt with them. I appreciate much that they do, it’s their arrogance that ruffles my feathers.

    I’m more of a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (F.S.S.P.) guy. Unfortunately there isn’t an F.S.S.P. church in my archdiocese for me to attend.

  • Looks like Rome is denying the TAC prelature rumors. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. But if it isn’t true, where did it come from? I remember the endless “Universal indult” rumors that came even years before Summorum Pontificum.

  • Alan, good point with the indult rummors, that thing seemed “imminent” for like 2 years! As to the TAC, everything will happen in God’s own time, but I have good reason to think the recent “rumors” are credible, things may be going slower (or even faster!) that we can tell but the wheels are certainly in motion!

    I have seen some of the vitrol SOME in the SSPX spew, esp. in regards to John Paul II, but the average SSPX’er I know (and to be fair that is only two and they are both college students if that is any indication) are not anywhere near as hostille as the image, indeed the ones I know seem to admire JP-II much more than certian liberal priests I am aware of!

    Tito, thanks so much for writing on this “rule of three!” The Russian situation is complex and mostly beyond my limited understanding, I am not sure what is the greater threshold to cross…

    1-Pope meeting with Patriarch or
    2-Pope being in Russia

    I have a feeling that at first you can’t do both. I have a feeling that the two men will have to meet at a “neutral” i.e not Moscow or Rome to save face. On first glance Ukraine would make sense but a little more of a look at that would show that to be the worst possible idea. I think John Paul II was well recieved in Romania before so that is possible, I’d put my money on Greece though, let’s the Patriarch come across looking good for the hard-line Russians, the Greek Orthodox Church seems to have good relations with Rome, indeed Patriarch Bartholemieu could do the inviting (yes he’s in Turkey but I am sure he has a free hand for hosting things in Greece.)

    Anyway my two cents, keep up the good work Tito!

  • PS-I think new Moscow Patriarch once operated out of Vienna so it could happen there too.

  • “Don’t flirt with these people, Tito. Seriously.”

    But Pope Benedict is “flirting” with them as well as the Vatican. It is time to get these people back in the Church to contribute to the Body of Christ their contributions and for the Church to moderate their extremes

  • Michael I,

    Forgiveness is fantastic. But the SSPX is not “orthodox.” News flash, Tito: You can love forgiveness, “orthodoxy,” Latin, the extraordinary form of the Mass, etc., and not embrace groups like SSPX that reject Vatican II, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism and who believe that “the Jews” committed “deicide.”

    Don’t flirt with these people, Tito. Seriously.

    Wow, I didn’t realize you were such a stickler for orthodoxy…. would you join me in calling for the excommunication of these much less orthodox folks who reject the ACTUAL TEACHINGS of Vatican II while subscribing to some twisted liberal and satanic “Spirit” of Vatican II?

    Nancy Pelosi,
    Joe Biden,
    Abp. Mahoney
    Bp. Gumbleton
    50% of the USCCB Staff
    100% of the National Catholic Reporter staff (except maybe John Allen)
    All members of Catholics For Free Choice, Call to Action, etc.
    All those who do not reject the possibility of women’s ordination
    All those who accept that contraception may be moral in certain circumstances

    let the inquisition begin.

  • Matt – How do your RCIA mentors feel about your “take” on the Catholic faith?

  • Michael I,

    pardon me?

  • I think you’re right, except I think the election of Patriarch Kirill WAS the third bit of good news. He likely will meet with the Pope on neutral territory the first time.

  • Christopher,

    You make an excellent point. Dave Hartline alluded to that in his post in Catholic Report.

  • Matt – Do excuse me. I now remember you saying that you are not yet AMERICAN, but that you are working on it or something. I got mixed up and thought you were not yet CATHOLIC. A sincere mistake.

    That said, it was certainly a jab at your take on Catholicism. The RCIA bit was not important.

  • I’m confused Michael. While Matt’s rhetoric certainly is fiery, and he’s likely hyperbolizing when he mentions percentages, the thrust of his argument is true. All the people he named have put forth and defended positions that are contrary to the Catholic faith, including several non-negotiables, such as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden defending and advocating abortion. I don’t see what’s wrong with saying people that disagree with the definitive teaching of the Catholic Church are outside of the Catholic faith. Personally, I think excommunication is a very drastic step to take, but I certainly wouldn’t mind it if more bishops spoke up and publicly declared that pro-abortion politicians cannot recieve communion. I don’t consider that politicizing the Eucharist, as a) it’s to protect the faithful from false teachers, and b) I believe the same thing should be done for Rudy Giuliani.

  • Looks like the Vatican is working on its equivalent of warp factor speed. Maybe that staid old bureaucracy is used to groundbreaking stuff, first with JP and now with B. Amazing times. One branch of Anglicans might graft onto the big redwood tree of Rome. This big Metro Bishop might also have civil relations with Holy See. Hey- maybe some day the Cardinals might make it to the Sup- oh, it happened.

  • A fourth bit of good news would be Msgr Williamson taking a perpetual vow of silence after repenting of his Jew-hatred, but I’ll take what has happened so far. Looking very much forward to seeing what the Russian Orthodox do.

    Oh, and Latin clergy definitely need to recultivate beards. 🙂

  • Michael (lionsdensf), I agree that some of the parties on Matt’s list are problematic and some simply do not represent the Catholic faith on various issues. You obviously agree that his across-the-board call for “excommunication” is absurd. I would also say his view of orthodoxy is quite narrow. As if the Vatican didn’t have better things to do than “excommunicate” the staff of NCR? Please.

  • Beards all around! :)#

    Gerard,

    I believe this has been planned out the previous two years. It just seems like warp drive, though it really is nice to see.

  • Michael I.
    a jab at your take on Catholicism.

    No Michael it was an attack on my personal Faith, not on my position. A most vile “ad hominem”.

    Michael I,

    Michael (lionsdensf), I agree that some of the parties on Matt’s list are problematic and some simply do not represent the Catholic faith on various issues. You obviously agree that his across-the-board call for “excommunication” is absurd. I would also say his view of orthodoxy is quite narrow.

    Yes, I used hyperbole to demonstrate that you have a very narrow view of orthodoxy when it comes to “conservative” perspectives suggesting the SSPX is not Catholic, but a very “BROAD” view when it comes to liberal ones by suggesting the people on my list are.

    As if the Vatican didn’t have better things to do than “excommunicate” the staff of NCR? Please.

    If the Vatican’s principle role is to lead souls to heaven, and preaching heresy is a principle way that those sheep are lost to the evil one, then NO… the Vatican hasn’t more important work.

    By the way, would you say that 100% of the NCR staff doesn’t render the assent of faith to the Church’s teachings on contraception and/or women’s ordination? Either case is completely legitimate grounds for excommunication, isn’t it?

  • By the way, would you say that 100% of the NCR staff doesn’t render the assent of faith to the Church’s teachings on contraception and/or women’s ordination?

    I have no idea. I don’t know the views of all of the staff members. Do you?

    Either case is completely legitimate grounds for excommunication, isn’t it?

    Either no, it’s not legitimate grounds for excommunication, or the Church has absolutely no interest in going around excommunicating people simply because they disagree with the Church’s teaching on birth control and/or women’s ordination. Thankfully they are a bit more generous and patient with such Catholics, unlike you who seems to get off on mindless internet “heretic”-hunting.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,

    By the way, would you say that 100% of the NCR staff doesn’t render the assent of faith to the Church’s teachings on contraception and/or women’s ordination?

    I have no idea. I don’t know the views of all of the staff members. Do you?

    If one can be judged by the articles one writes, edits or publishes, I have a pretty good idea that they do not…

    Either case is completely legitimate grounds for excommunication, isn’t it?

    Either no, it’s not legitimate grounds for excommunication, or the Church has absolutely no interest in going around excommunicating people simply because they disagree with the Church’s teaching on birth control and/or women’s ordination. Thankfully they are a bit more generous and patient with such Catholics, unlike you who seems to get off on mindless internet “heretic”-hunting.

    First of all, any Catholic who culpably persists in heresy is automatically excommunicated. People who hold such heretical views PRIVATELY are of course not notorious public sinners, and are to refrain from communion on their own, they are not generally subject to ecclsiastical action. Those who persist in teaching such heretical views, as does NCR are subject to ecclesiastical action up to and including excommunication for the good of their souls and those who they teach.

    c. 1364
    1. With due regard for can. 194, part 1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication and if a cleric, he can also be punished by the penalties mentioned in can. 1336, part 1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

    Do you deny that it is harmful to souls to preach heresy, such as women’s ordination?

  • Happy “heretic”-hunting, Matt!

  • Michael I,

    you sure hate to get pinned down on calling evil for what it is.

  • I suggest that we, who are not experts in canon law or its interpretation, refrain from throwing around quotes from canon law. Excommunication is a serious matter. Even the acknowledgment of latae sententiae is rarely asserted by the Church.

  • Matt,

    With your views on torture and excommunication, I’d be fearin’ and tremblin’.

  • Matt – It’s tough to take you seriously when you say that believing in women’s ordination is “evil.”

  • Well, those women who have simulated ordination to the priesthood, and at least one man who has assisted, all have been uniformly excommunicated, and excommunication isn’t exactly a pleasant place for the soul to be. I don’t know if I’d call believing in the necessity of women’s ordination “evil,” but it certainly gives aid and comfort to people who get themselves in a bad place.

    Otherwise, I’d agree that heresy-hunting and tossed accusations generate far more heat than light, and a smoky, choking heat at that.

  • Dale,

    I’d call believing in the necessity of women’s ordination “evil,”

    Believing in the necessity? It’s heresy to believe in the possibility. Period. This is not me, this is the teaching of the Church. Is not all heresy evil?

    If you read through the posts, I’m responding to Michael I’s opposition to the lifting of excommunications and the attempts to reconcile the SSPX. The point is that his strictness on “orthodoxy” is relative to who’s ox is being gored. At the same time, it is scandalous for people to preach error and remain unaffected by public sanctions.

  • Matt:

    Is not all heresy evil?

    Formal, yes. Material, no. Otherwise I’d be forced to call my evangelical neighbors “evil.” There’s a difference between being wrong and being sinfully wrong.

    Look, I wholeheartedly assent to the Magisterium on WO, without the slightest hesitation. Even on the merely pragmatic level, WO has been an unmitigated disaster for those denominations which practice it, both in terms of dwindling numbers and even faster-dwindling orthodoxy. That’s the Holy Spirit pointing to the canary in the coal-mine, which is consistently and studiously ignored by the proponents of WO.

    Impending qualifier alert: But. That doesn’t mean that I think everyone who still favors it is a formal heretic in need of the penalty of excommunication. Those who simulate and assist with attempted WO, yes. Everybody else deserves patience, education and the passage of time. And, yes, careful rebuking and repudiation where necessary.

  • Is not all heresy evil?

    No. Dale has a pretty good explanation about why.

  • Dale,

    Is not all heresy evil?

    Formal, yes. Material, no.

    Wrong. All heresy is evil, however all material heretics are not automatically excommunicated. I didn’t ask if all heretics are evil, that’s really not a proper question.

    Otherwise I’d be forced to call my evangelical neighbors “evil.” There’s a difference between being wrong and being sinfully wrong.

    I think you’re off base here, we’re talking about Catholics who reject the teachings of the Church willfully. Heresy is formal when it is known that ones belief is in opposition to the teachings of the Church. I don’t think the people we’re talking about, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and the NCR staff are uneducated in their faith, they are intentionally rejecting Church teachings. That is, by definition formal. As to those who “read” the NCR, some of them may not be so culpable.

  • Matt,

    Aren’t there better ways for you to imagine, to aid in the kingdom’s coming?

  • OK, looks like a matter of defining one’s terms. Here’s something more precise: Not all heresy is mortally sinful.

    all material heretics are not automatically excommunicated.

    Actually, it’s rather stronger than that. Give me an example of a material heretic who IS automatically excommunicated. The Church isn’t in the business of excommunicating material heretics. Period.

    I think you’re off base here, we’re talking about Catholics who reject the teachings of the Church willfully. Heresy is formal when it is known that ones belief is in opposition to the teachings of the Church.

    Correct as to the theological formulation. However, the problem is that determining willfulness is not that easy. Sure, for the WO simulators–absolutely. Hence the thunderbolt of excommunication. It’s a crucial step removed for the likes of Pelosi, Biden and even the staff of the Reporter, as tiresomely obnoxious as the reportage and editorial line of that publication is. I can’t presume that Pelosi and Biden aren’t being misled by the theological smoke belched up in their respective diocese during their formations, perhaps even by their confessors. I’ve been told stuff that I know was wrong by well-meaning confessors myself. Look–do I *think* they are knowingly standing in opposition to the Church? More likely than not, yes. Do I *know* that for a fact. No, and that’s for their Ordinaries to determine and authoritatively counsel and discipline them about, as canon law indicates. If their Ordinaries fail to act, then the sin is upon their heads as well.

  • OK, looks like a matter of defining one’s terms. Here’s something more precise: Not all heresy is mortally sinful.

    all material heretics are not automatically excommunicated.

    Actually, it’s rather stronger than that. Give me an example of a material heretic who IS automatically excommunicated. The Church isn’t in the business of excommunicating material heretics. Period.

    Formal heresy involves an added element to the material heresy, that it is “freely willed”. Now, if you want to make the labels to be mutually exclusive, rather than formal being a subset of material, I don’t really care, it is not material to the question. A Catholic who manifests heresy, and who by virtual of his station can reasonably be presumed to be aware of his error, is subject to be excommunicated (an act of law), unless he can demonstrate that he is not aware of his error. This is important to protect the purity of the Church’s teaching. In the area of moral theology it’s theoretically possible that the person is not morally culpable for his error, the point of excommunication is to resolve the situation, it is not a condemnation.

    Will you now answer the question: are you saying all heresy is not evil?

    Correct as to the theological formulation. However, the problem is that determining willfulness is not that easy. Sure, for the WO simulators–absolutely. Hence the thunderbolt of excommunication. It’s a crucial step removed for the likes of Pelosi, Biden and even the staff of the Reporter, as tiresomely obnoxious as the reportage and editorial line of that publication is. I can’t presume that Pelosi and Biden aren’t being misled by the theological smoke belched up in their respective diocese during their formations, perhaps even by their confessors. I’ve been told stuff that I know was wrong by well-meaning confessors myself. Look–do I *think* they are knowingly standing in opposition to the Church? More likely than not, yes. Do I *know* that for a fact. No, and that’s for their Ordinaries to determine and authoritatively counsel and discipline them about, as canon law indicates. If their Ordinaries fail to act, then the sin is upon their heads as well.

    You’re position is self-contradictory… why can we not assume that the WO simulators (who were actually excommunicated under Canon 1378) are as misled by the theological smoke as are the others? Speaking is an external material act.

    I agree with you that those bishops and priest who are responsible for such poor formation, and who refuse to take concrete steps to correct the errors will have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to Judgement Day. Nevertheless, automatic excommunication requires no act of the local ordinary to execute, but it does obligate him to help the subject to reconciliation, shame on them for refusing their duty.

  • At the risk of having my words parsed to the point of death by a thousand cuts, let’s try this again.

    1. No, I’m not getting into a taffy pull about “evil” because the Church looks at heresy from the standpoint of sin, both mortal and venial. Is sin evil? Well, yes, but not all sin is of the same magnitude, eternally speaking. Heresy is sinful. However, the effect on the soul and eternal destination is a matter of culpability.

    2. No, it’s not self contradictory–not remotely. Prelates have issued warnings to the simulators and there is the precedent of Church action excommunicating those who have done the same thing. Moreover, they have been offered the opportunity to defend themselves canonically. They know going in that if they do this, they will be excommunicated. Period. None of which obtains with respect to Pelosi, Biden, etc.

    “Formal heresy involves an added element to the material heresy, that it is “freely willed”. Now, if you want to make the labels to be mutually exclusive, rather than formal being a subset of material, I don’t really care, it is not material to the question. A Catholic who manifests heresy, and who by virtual of his station can reasonably be presumed to be aware of his error, is subject to be excommunicated (an act of law), unless he can demonstrate that he is not aware of his error.”

    Assumed, but not proven. Not by a long shot. And you simply cannot wave away the need to prove willfulness in this matter. You need to start giving some canonical precedents here for me to buy this line of argument. Excommunication, far from being presumed, is extraordinary. I recommend you run this past canonist Ed Peters of the Canon Law blog, as I would be very interested in his take.

  • I think the very fact that there has been much disagreement with your three “happy” news shows that perhaps these three pieces of news do not compliment one another. And if that is the case, I’m thinking the clergy of the Catholic Church still don’t have it all together. Perhaps they’re throwing stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks.
    ———
    OliviaB.

Now This Is An Archbishop!

Friday, January 30, AD 2009

archbishop-burke

Hattip to our commenter Phillip.  When Raymond Burke was Archbishop of Saint Louis he was a tireless advocate of the unborn and also tireless in taking to task those who supported abortion.  His elevation to be head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in Rome has not diminshed his zeal for the pro-life cause.  In an interview in October of last year he stated that the Democrat party risked transforming itself into the party of death.

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36 Responses to Now This Is An Archbishop!

  • Huzzahs to Archbishop Burke!

    We really need to rid ourselves of such documents like Faithful Citizenship and the Seamless Garment. They do nothing for particular bishops that choose to hide themselves behind official-looking USCCB documents and not stand up for the Truth. They want to remain popular amongst their worldly friends. Other bishops simply disdain the pro-life position altogether because it doesn’t sync up with their favorite party, ie, the Democratic Party (or as Archbishop Burke calls them, the future party of death).

    Too many times has the USCCB and many of their documents been used as a parallel magesterium to justify their liberal agenda’s. It’s gotten to the point where the word “pastoral” is turning a dirty word. A code word for, “the hell am I going to tow the line of the teachings of Jesus, I have compassion! I dare not teach the Truth!”

    In the end, the bishops of each diocese need(s) to step up to the bat and get away from the USCCB.

  • The USCCB- now an inefficient entity in the manner of GM, Citi, too many city and state governments. GIGO here- garbage in, garbage out. Years of blah blah blah statements by the entity clearly contributed to the Catholic majority who voted for the Presidential candidate with the clear, unyielding pro-abortion bias. USCCB was useful during the post-JFK years- the ascending of ethnic Catholics into Americano Mainstream. It incorporated the Don’t Make Waves sentiment of most Americano Catlicks- get along go along don’t be too bold about speaking out. Thus the blah many of our priests deliver posing as Sunday homilies. Thus a culture deprived of the clear, solid teaching that the Church provides on these and other matters. Thus the rhetorical dancing of Cardinal McCarrick, retired D.C. archbishop, surrounding Liveshot Kerry’s fitness to receive Holy Communion. Nuanced beyond anyone’s ability to deduce, as it turns out. The conference is largely a welfare state of career laypeople moving the bishops into moderate-lib standings. I work for the welfare state in PA. I cannot tell you clearly if my position will be intact six months hence. Perhaps we should provide this kind of not so gentle persuasion to the USCCB and its support team. In tough economic times, the USCCB may be a luxury that the Church in the U.S. of A. cannot afford.

  • Gerard E.,

    Amen brother. Amen.

  • Gerard E.,

    How about puting up a pic on your ID. You comment enough to decorate our sidebar.

    Maybe a saint.

  • T- can I use the template for Huckleberry Hound, my childhood idol?

  • Gerard E.,

    You can use whatever you want, just as long as small kids can view it.

  • “But they’re not. The economic situation, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenceless human life.””

    Some guy in another thread asked my opinion on Archbishop Burke’s statement on Faithful Citizenship. As a Catholic who wholeheartedly agrees with the Seamless Garment vision of what “pro-life” means, I actually agree with the basic idea that Burke expresses. He is right: not all “social justice” issues are of equal weight. He is right that the killing of innocent and defenseless human life is a unique category. The problem comes in when he and other Catholics assume that the unborn are the only innocent and defenseless persons being killed in the world today. Some would extend that to the elderly and the dying, of course. When Burke excludes, for example, “the war in Iraq,” does it not occur to him that 1) innocent and defenseless people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in the war and 2) if the war is unjust, as the Church declared over and over, then the killing involved necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war. Even economic matters involve the killing of innocent people; not, perhaps, in the direct, fast way that abortion or bombings do, but the slow death of hunger and poverty. These persons, too, are innocent and defenseless.

    So I agree with Burke, but only to the extent that his argument is not used to exclude painfully obvious cases of the killing of innocent persons for which american Catholics are responsible.

    We really need to rid ourselves of such documents like Faithful Citizenship and the Seamless Garment.

    You obviously have already done the individualist Catholic thing and have rid yourself of those documents, because you have repeatedly expressed your hatred of them. Respectfully, please leave the rest of us who take seriously the Church’s teaching on these matters alone.

    Too many times has the USCCB and many of their documents been used as a parallel magesterium to justify their liberal agenda’s. (sic)

    As I have pointed out to you before, the statements of the USCCB are part of the teaching exercise of the Church, and are thus part of the Magisterium, albeit with a particular kind of authority. You cannot simply dismiss them by charging that they are used as a “parallel Magisterium.”

    You can use whatever you want, just as long as small kids can view it.

    God forbid children read this blog!

  • Michael I.,

    The USCCB is not a parallel magisterium and nowhere do we as Catholics have to be adherents. Only to Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium are Catholics obliged to taking instruction from, not some episcopal national conference.

    God forbid children read this blog!

    You read this blog don’t you? 😉

  • Michael,

    He is right that the killing of innocent and defenseless human life is a unique category. The problem comes in when he and other Catholics assume that the unborn are the only innocent and defenseless persons being killed in the world today. Some would extend that to the elderly and the dying, of course. When Burke excludes, for example, “the war in Iraq,” does it not occur to him that 1) innocent and defenseless people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in the war and 2) if the war is unjust, as the Church declared over and over, then the killing involved necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war. Even economic matters involve the killing of innocent people; not, perhaps, in the direct, fast way that abortion or bombings do, but the slow death of hunger and poverty. These persons, too, are innocent and defenseless.

    This is were you and the rest of your social justice liberal friends are off base, and being misled by a false notion of the “Seamless Garment”. Abp. Burke, and the Church are very clear that it is “deliberate” killing of innocent life which is intrinsically evil and can never be defended, and that it is especially heinous in the case of abortion and euthanasia.

    YOU know that the documents bear this out, yet you continue, to obstinately reject these teachings and repeat disseminate your error among the faithful.

    Matt 5:19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

  • The USCCB is not a parallel magisterium and nowhere do we as Catholics have to be adherents.

    Of course they are not a parallel magisterium. They are part of the Magisterium. I set you straight on this some time ago, citing JPII on the matter. Did JPII not sink in? Is JPII a parallel magisterium too? Have you “rid yourself” of everything JPII said that you don’t like?

  • Abp. Burke, and the Church are very clear that it is “deliberate” killing of innocent life which is intrinsically evil and can never be defended, and that it is especially heinous in the case of abortion and euthanasia.

    The Church does not limit the deliberate killing of innocent human life to abortion and euthanasia alone.

    YOU know that the documents bear this out, yet you continue, to obstinately reject these teachings and repeat disseminate your error among the faithful.

    I know the documents well and I do not reject anything about them.

  • Michael I.,

    I highly doubt that the USCCB is part of the Magisterium and the way you interpret I don’t find that wording anywhere.

  • Did you read what I posted some time ago in our discussion on this very blog on this topic?

  • Michael I.,

    If I did I forgot about it.

    Post me the link to your comments or just tell me the document that you are referencing by JP2. Or just post it here in its entirety.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,

    Matt: Abp. Burke, and the Church are very clear that it is “deliberate” killing of innocent life which is intrinsically evil and can never be defended, and that it is especially heinous in the case of abortion and euthanasia.

    The Church does not limit the deliberate killing of innocent human life to abortion and euthanasia alone.

    Ummm… why are you throwing out red herrings? I said it was especially heinous.

    YOU know that the documents bear this out, yet you continue, to obstinately reject these teachings and repeat disseminate your error among the faithful.

    I know the documents well and I do not reject anything about them.

    SO you acknowledge that:
    1. The deliberate killing of innocent life is intrinsically evil, however the unintentional killing, or policies which may result indirectly in loss of life is not.

    2. Abortion and euthanasia are the most serious forms of killing because they attack they target the most innocent and defenseless?

    3. Economics and other prudential matters as to how best to deal with poverty, hunger, maintaining peace, are subject to a variety of opinion as to how best to deal with them.

    If you do, please stop disregarding these teachings in order to try and further your personal inclinations.

    Finally the USCCB is not endowed with doctrinal authority in matters of faith and morals, so it is not magisterial as such. The college of bishops in communion with the Holy See constitute the magisterium.

    This document may help you to conform your understanding of the place of the national councils of bishops in the Church.

    http://benedettoxvi.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html

  • Michael I.,

    What Matt “Mark” McDonald said.

  • I believe I posted excerpts from Apostolos Suos. You, and others, are absolutely right to recognize the limited nature of the authority of statements by Episcopal Conferences. But you are wrong to imply that we should “rid ourselves” of them. The authority of a particular document varies depending on a number of criteria. If the document expresses the position of the universal magisterium (as opposed to a local expression of the magisterium) then its authority obviously has more weight. From the passages below, it seems that the acknowledgment of the “limited” nature of the authority of local magisterial teaching is not meant to give the faithful in that area an “out,” so to speak, but to prevent one local church’s teaching from simply being transferred to another, i.e. from saying that the teaching of the u.s. bishops has authority for the church in France, for example.

    It is important to distinguish between different parts and levels of magisterial teaching, and I don’t think you are doing so. It sounds to me like you are using “magisterium” to refer only to papal teaching, when in fact 1) “magisterium” refers to the teaching office of the pope and the bishops 2) there is “universal” magisterial teaching as well as localized expressions of magisterial teaching.

    As far as Faithful Citizenship goes, if you are intending to “rid yourself” of its teaching authority, it seems to me the burden of proof is on YOU to show how its exercise of the teaching office (magisterium) is in disharmony with that of the universal magisterium.

    Some relevant passages:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html

    21. The joint exercise of the episcopal ministry also involves the teaching office. The Code of Canon Law establishes the fundamental norm in this regard: “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the Bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in Conferences of Bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own Bishops with a sense of religious respect (religioso animi obsequio)”.(79) Apart from this general norm the Code also establishes, more concretely, some areas of doctrinal competence of the Conferences of Bishops, such as providing “that catechisms are issued for its own territory if such seems useful, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See”,(80) and the approval of editions of the books of Sacred Scripture and their translations.(81)

    The concerted voice of the Bishops of a determined territory, when, in communion with the Roman Pontiff, they jointly proclaim the catholic truth in matters of faith and morals, can reach their people more effectively and can make it easier for their faithful to adhere to the magisterium with a sense of religious respect. In faithfully exercising their teaching office, the Bishops serve the word of God, to which their teaching is subject, they listen to it devoutly, guard it scrupulously and explain it faithfully in such a way that the faithful receive it in the best manner possible.(82) Since the doctrine of the faith is a common good of the whole Church and a bond of her communion, the Bishops, assembled in Episcopal Conference, must take special care to follow the magisterium of the universal Church and to communicate it opportunely to the people entrusted to them.

    22. In dealing with new questions and in acting so that the message of Christ enlightens and guides people’s consciences in resolving new problems arising from changes in society, the Bishops assembled in the Episcopal Conference and jointly exercizing their teaching office are well aware of the limits of their pronouncements. While being official and authentic and in communion with the Apostolic See, these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium. For this reason the Bishops are to be careful to avoid interfering with the doctrinal work of the Bishops of other territories, bearing in mind the wider, even world-wide, resonance which the means of social communication give to the events of a particular region.

    Taking into account that the authentic magisterium of the Bishops, namely what they teach insofar as they are invested with the authority of Christ, must always be in communion with the Head of the College and its members,(83) when the doctrinal declarations of Episcopal Conferences are approved unanimously, they may certainly be issued in the name of the Conferences themselves, and the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops. However, if this unanimity is lacking, a majority alone of the Bishops of a Conference cannot issue a declaration as authentic teaching of the Conference to which all the faithful of the territory would have to adhere, unless it obtains the recognitio of the Apostolic See, which will not give it if the majority requesting it is not substantial. The intervention of the Apostolic See is analogous to that required by the law in order for the Episcopal Conference to issue general decrees.(84) The recognitio of the Holy See serves furthermore to guarantee that, in dealing with new questions posed by the accelerated social and cultural changes characteristic of present times, the doctrinal response will favour communion and not harm it, and will rather prepare an eventual intervention of the universal magisterium.

  • Michael I.,

    The national episcopal conferences are disciplinary organizations and not defined doctrinally or dogmatically.

    I’m completely entitled to my opinion that they should be severely limited in scope, not part of the Magisterium, and possibly even eliminated.

  • Michael I,

    You, and others, are absolutely right to recognize the limited nature of the authority of statements by Episcopal Conferences. But you are wrong to imply that we should “rid ourselves” of them.

    We are completely within our rights as Catholics to judge that the USCCB is not a good organization, and it’s fruits have shown this. There is no doctrine or dogma that prevents us from opposing it’s continued existence.

  • SO you acknowledge that:
    1. The deliberate killing of innocent life is intrinsically evil, however the unintentional killing, or policies which may result indirectly in loss of life is not.

    Yes, I agree with this, but you are talking about two abstract categories. It is far from clear where to draw the line in many cases. Of course abortion is deliberate. Accidentally hitting someone with your car when you slide on ice is unintentional. The massive amounts of “collateral damage” involved in the u.s. bombing of Iraq involves both intentional and unintentional killing. Even those cases where the killing is claimed to be “unintentional” by the u.s. govt’ is often bogus because care is not taken to prevent preventable killing from occurring, and in such cases responsibility is greater. If I have a gun in my home and I am careless with how I handle the gun and recklessly use it without regard for who will be hurt, I am responsible even if I could somehow claim that shooting someone was “unintentional.”

    In short, the intentional/unintentional distinction is sometimes obvious. Most of the time it is not obvious.

    2. Abortion and euthanasia are the most serious forms of killing because they attack they target the most innocent and defenseless?

    Abortion is certainly a special category and is in some sense the most grave form of killing, absolutely. I’m not sure about the categories “most innocent” and “most defenseless.” When it comes to killing, the Church thinks about “innocence” in terms of whether or not there is some justification for killing the person (i.e. self-defense), not in terms of the person’s general moral state. Bombing an entire city, for example, IS killing innocent people in the sense of killing people when there is no justification for doing so, not in the sense that everyone in the city is sinless. It sounds to me like you are using “innocent” in the latter sense.

    3. Economics and other prudential matters as to how best to deal with poverty, hunger, maintaining peace, are subject to a variety of opinion as to how best to deal with them.

    Of course I agree with this.

    If you do, please stop disregarding these teachings in order to try and further your personal inclinations.

    I’m not disregarding any of it. The seriousness with which the Church takes the killing of human beings is deep and complex. It is much deeper and more complex than you are willing to admit.

  • I’m completely entitled to my opinion that they should be severely limited in scope, not part of the Magisterium, and possibly even eliminated.

    You are in disagreement with JPII and Paul VI.

  • I’m completely entitled to my opinion that they should be severely limited in scope, not part of the Magisterium, and possibly even eliminated.

    You are in disagreement with JPII and Paul VI.,

    While JPII and Paul VI, at least publicly have not called for the elimination of or severe limitation on the episcopal conferences…. they most definitely have suggested that to believe such is contrary to the teaching of the Church.

  • “not suggested” that is.

  • Michael I.,

    What Matt “Mark” McDonald said.

    I sincerely enjoyed the conversation and you certainly got me thinking (hard). Unfortunately I need to leave for confessions and Mass at the beautiful Holy Rosary Church (5:15pm on 3617 Milam St, Houston, TX 77002 — for those that are near and want to receive Jesus).

    Have a great weekend!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • May I point out the use of the word “unanimous” with reference to the statements of such as USCCB. There is no single authority – no pope – in the USCCB.

    And I have heard-tell that many of the statements are drawn up by the employees of the conference. They are a kind of committee agreement. [NB: the committee color is mud].

    The teaching authority of the bishops – of each bishop – is limited to his diocese.

  • And I have heard-tell that many of the statements are drawn up by the employees of the conference.

    This is the same with many papal statements.

  • But papal statements must be approved by one authoritative person: the pope.

  • Mr. Iafrate, you wrote:
    if the war is unjust, as the Church declared over and over, then the killing involved necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war.

    Uh, no. As the CCC n.2309 notes, after explaining the conditions for a just war: “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.” In other words, while the conditions are absolute, there is some leeway in their application, which moreover is the task of those in government. IOW, the Church doesn’t get to make the call.

    Also, you claim people are dying by the hundreds of thousands in the war

    Iraq Body Count lists just under 100,000 civilian deaths for the nearly 6-year period of the war, working out to approx 17,000 per year. Even assuming that all these were deliberate — certainly not true — more infants are murdered by abortionists, in the US alone, in a single week than the civilians killed in the Iraq war in a year.

    And that’s not taking into account the particular conditions that Pope John Paul says makes abortion especially grave.

    The reversal of the Mexico City Policy means that US Aid money will be funneled into abortion-promoting organizations, with the certain result that more babies than ever will be killed abroad.

  • In other words, while the conditions are absolute, there is some leeway in their application, which moreover is the task of those in government. IOW, the Church doesn’t get to make the call.

    The Church reserves the right to “make the call” on EVERYTHING. We do NOT give that kind of authority to the state.

    Funny, how in another thread you were saying to leave certain things to the Church and not the state because the state shouldn’t have that power. Here you are arguing just the opposite.

    Christ and his Church are the only authority for Catholics. Not the state.

    Even assuming that all these were deliberate — certainly not true — more infants are murdered by abortionists, in the US alone, in a single week than the civilians killed in the Iraq war in a year.

    So what? Does this make the deaths of human beings due to an UNJUST WAR less serious? Of course not.

  • Michael,

    necessarily involves “innocent persons,” persons who are innocent of whatever the claims are that lead to the war.

    this is not true at all. An unjust war could involve only the killing of men involved with serious evil, their deaths may be unjust, but that doesn’t make them innocent. The justness of a war does not prevent innocent’s from being killed at all. Even enemy soldiers may be innocent of any sin, and yet they are justly killed if that is the only possible means of neutralizing them as a threat.

    The Church reserves the right to “make the call” on EVERYTHING. We do NOT give that kind of authority to the state.

    This may be true, but she did not take this step in this case, the comments by the Holy Father and various bishops are not in any way given as absolute and definitive. They would never do so without knowing what the president knows.

    Funny, how in another thread you were saying to leave certain things to the Church and not the state because the state shouldn’t have that power. Here you are arguing just the opposite.

    Now you’re arguing with the Church??
    “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

  • Michael,

    one more thing, a question. Do you believe that the Iraq war is a moral equivalent to the holocaust of abortion?

    The reason I ask, is that every time the subject of abortion comes up, you bring up the Iraq war… every time.

  • An unjust war could involve only the killing of men involved with serious evil, their deaths may be unjust, but that doesn’t make them innocent. The justness of a war does not prevent innocent’s from being killed at all. Even enemy soldiers may be innocent of any sin, and yet they are justly killed if that is the only possible means of neutralizing them as a threat.

    You are completely missing my point regarding what it means when the Church talks about killing innocent persons.

    Killing “enemy” soldiers in a war that does not meet just war requirements is still MURDER even if it is justified by the state as a “means of neutralizing them as a threat.” What part of the Church’s authoritative just war teaching do you not understand, or rather, REJECT?

    Do you believe that the Iraq war is a moral equivalent to the holocaust of abortion?

    I agree with the judgment of the Vatican and the USCCB (and the rest of the worldwide Catholic communion, apart from nationalistic american Catholics) that the Iraq War did not meet just war requirements. Thus, the killing taking place in that war is unjustified and, thus, murder. I believe that the killing involved in the holocaust of abortion is also, obviously unjustified, and thus, murder. So yes, because I stand with the Church’s judgment on the Iraq War, I think they are equivalent in the sense that they are both murder. They are not equivalent in a technical sense because they involve different types of killing and different types of political options which contribute to them.

    The reason I ask, is that every time the subject of abortion comes up, you bring up the Iraq war… every time.

    I didn’t bring it up. Burke did. I was referring to his statement.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,
    An unjust war could involve only the killing of men involved with serious evil, their deaths may be unjust, but that doesn’t make them innocent. The justness of a war does not prevent innocent’s from being killed at all. Even enemy soldiers may be innocent of any sin, and yet they are justly killed if that is the only possible means of neutralizing them as a threat.

    You are completely missing my point regarding what it means when the Church talks about killing innocent persons.

    Killing “enemy” soldiers in a war that does not meet just war requirements is still MURDER even if it is justified by the state as a “means of neutralizing them as a threat.” What part of the Church’s authoritative just war teaching do you not understand, or rather, REJECT?

    Nothing in your response contradicts what I said, nor does anything in my statement contradict Church teaching. It was your original statement that the justness of a war affects the innocence of any particular casualties, which it does not.

    Do you believe that the Iraq war is a moral equivalent to the holocaust of abortion?

    I agree with the judgment of the Vatican and the USCCB (and the rest of the worldwide Catholic communion, apart from nationalistic american Catholics) that the Iraq War did not meet just war requirements. Thus, the killing taking place in that war is unjustified and, thus, murder. I believe that the killing involved in the holocaust of abortion is also, obviously unjustified, and thus, murder. So yes, because I stand with the Church’s judgment on the Iraq War, I think they are equivalent in the sense that they are both murder. They are not equivalent in a technical sense because they involve different types of killing and different types of political options which contribute to them.

    Ok, I’m sorry if you didn’t understand the question. Let me define what I mean by “moral equivalence”. I don’t mean that they are the same thing in a technical sense, it is that they are the morally equivalent, meaning neither is more or less morally evil. Let me use an example that might help. 6 million jews were killed in the shoah, merely for the fact they were jewish. I believe that is far worse than say, when North Korea invaded South Korea, where hundreds of thousands died, it is less evil in that it’s intentions where not sppecifically to cause those deaths, that most of the deaths were armed military personnel, and the easiest one, it was a small percentage of those who were killed in the shoah. I believe it would be morally repugnant to minimize the shoah by comparing it to a relatively lesser evil.

    So, do you consider the holocaust of abortion (40 Million worldwide annually) to be morally equivalent to the Iraq war (WHICH IS BY THE WAY…. OVER)?

  • Again, you are completely missing my point regarding what it means when the Church talks about killing innocent persons.

    I don’t mean that they are the same thing in a technical sense, it is that they are the morally equivalent, meaning neither is more or less morally evil.

    So, do you consider the holocaust of abortion (40 Million worldwide annually) to be morally equivalent to the Iraq war (WHICH IS BY THE WAY…. OVER)?

    Yes, they are morally equivalent. Numbers do not enter into it on the level of moral equivalence. Perhaps it might on the level of practical political action, but that is another question. I would also point out that the Shoah is also over, so even if the Iraq War were “over” (and it’s obviously not — what the hell are you smoking?) I’m not sure what the point is. When something is “over,” that means we should take it less seriously? Obviously not, or you would not invoke the Shoah as part of your argument.

  • Michael,

    Yes, they are morally equivalent.

    That’s what I figured you’d say.

    Iraq War were “over” (and it’s obviously not — what the hell are you smoking?)

    What have YOU been smoking? It’s over. Iraq has had several election cycles, they are largely responsible for security, the US has started to withdraw to bases in order to complete the transition and leave the country.

    When something is “over,” that means we should take it less seriously?

    No, but those babies are still being murdered daily, and we ought to take it more urgently (even if you believe it’s somehow no more heinous than the Iraq war, in contradiction to the words of Abp. Burke and the Holy Father).

Democrats "For Life"

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

In many ways, I am a natural Democrat. I do not have a problem, in principle, with large government or higher taxes that increase wealth distribution. I was against the War in Iraq. I favor amnesty for illegal immigrants (or at least I favored many of the plans we were assured were  ‘not amnesty,’ which looked a lot like amnesty). I favor health care reform, including higher taxes, as long as the policies in question have a strong empirical foundation. While I have concerns about taking on large amounts of debt, I do not have a principled objection to the recent stimulus package (provided it actually is a stimulus package).

But I can’t call myself a Democrat.

Continue reading...

37 Responses to Democrats "For Life"

  • John Henry,

    One day I won’t disappoint you. I was pro-life, an atheist, and a Democrat and I’ll die pro-life, Catholic, and a Democrat…well the last part is not so certain, but at this point, I can’t see it going the other way.

    Pray for Bob Casey, Jr. I admired him; he has disappointed me in the last year.

  • Maybe you’ll vote for me? I can always be hopeful.

  • John Henry,

    we can argue about those other things any time….but on this matter…Great post. I may not understand Catholics who lean as you do, but I have a great respect for you not being an apologist for the “party of death” as so many others have done.

  • “Maybe you’ll vote for me? I can always be hopeful.”

    Eric – We can both hope that happens. I think the party primaries are the biggest hurdle for a pro-life Democrat (depending on the region).

    Matt – I’ll try and start some arguments on the other topics in the next few weeks.

  • The good news is that you don’t have to identify with any political parties whatsoever. If only more Catholics realized this…

  • I am a natural Republican as you are a natural Democrat John Henry. Whenever my party has put up a pro-abort against a pro-life Democrat I have unhesitatingly voted for the Democrat. Some issues are much too important for the usual rules of partisan politics to apply.

    Casey the Lesser isn’t even a shadow of his late father, a Democrat I would have voted for in a nanosecond if I had ever had the opportunity.

  • I pretty much vote pro-life, so the majority of my votes in all levels of government have gone to the Republican Party. (Of course there’s only so much at certain levels of government that a pro-life politician can enact change)

    With that said, I would vote for an Eric Brown as long as he holds onto a pro-life position.

    Ironically, the majority of my donations have been to the Democratic Party, but those are for pro-life candidates in a faraway state.

    🙂

  • You need to take a look at Democrats for Life of America http://www.democratsforlife.org/ They supported many pro-life Democrats in the last election and helped many of them get elected.

    We need to get the Democratic Party to realize that it does not have to be pro-abortion in order to be different from the Republicans. Just caring about people and the environment is enough to differentiate Democrats from the GOP!

    If enough pro-life Democrats vote and financially support candidates, we can influence the Democratic Party to be more pro-life.

  • Bill,

    Did you read the link above? Bob Casey, Jr. is a member of “Democrats for life “. It’s a trojan horse operation.

    just caring about people and the environment is enough to differentiate Democrats from the GOP!

    This kind of ridiculous and baseless assertion is what’s wrong with politics. Just because we don’t think that being on the dole is good for a man, or that we ought to use creation responsibly rather than not at all, doesn’t mean we don’t care for people or the environment.

  • Wow! The collection of political stands you support in the name of being a Democrat suggest an inadequate philosophical understanding of where those stands lead.

    You say:

    I do not have a problem, in principle, with large government or higher taxes that increase wealth distribution. I was against the War in Iraq. I favor amnesty for illegal immigrants (or at least I favored many of the plans we were assured were ‘not amnesty,’ which looked a lot like amnesty). I favor health care reform, including higher taxes, as long as the policies in question have a strong empirical foundation. While I have concerns about taking on large amounts of debt, I do not have a principled objection to the recent stimulus package…

    If you believe in liberty, you are a Catholic. If you are a Catholic, you believe in the fundamental dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God. You believe in free will, given to the human person by his Creator, and respected by his Creator. Your political views should be in harmony with your faith, which means you will reluctantly accept certain limitations by government on authentic freedom. Those limitations are recognized as privations necessary due to our fallen nature. They are a concession to our sinfulness. Thus, we accept certain limitations on our freedom to support the defense infrastructure that provides collective security from external threats. We support, albeit with deep regret that we must accept the associated loss of liberty, an internal police infrastructure to provide collective security from internal threats.

    Every government act is at the expense of individual liberty. No true Catholic can support increased government, but he sometimes must accept it. Taxation is the taking of something from one person and giving it to another person. Government cannot make anything, only take and redistribute. The sharing of personal goods described in the Book of the Acts is voluntary. It is an act of charity, not force. When members of the group try to participate in the group but seek a special advantage (Annanias and Saphira), they demonstrate economic rent-seeking and pay for their dishonesty with their lives. So no thinking Catholic can support socialistic approaches to the problems of our fallen world. Go read Rerun Novarum and other writings of the latter part of the 19th century to learn how the Magisterium clearly explained the proper response to modern political structures. When those political institutions conflict with human dignity and liberty, they are to be opposed.

    Jesus tells us to to obey the laws and the governors of the land. Obeying the law is not in conflict with charity, so you are not against poor Mexicans if you oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. The problem with amnesty for illegal aliens is the problem with amnesty generally. Why should it be granted for these lawbreakers and not granted for all lawbreakers at all times? This past week, we got a new Secretary of the Treasury because we granted him amnesty from his tax cheating a few years ago. When you are in trouble with the tax authorities, will you be able to mention Timothy Geithner? Or Charlie Rangel, another tax cheat who was granted amnesty?

    As a Catholic, you are not limited to empiricism. On an empirical basis, Jesus Christ was either a nut or a dangerous rabble-rouser. As the high priest said, it was expedient to have him put to death. We know, however, Jesus Christ was the Way. We know that what looks like bread and wine is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, despite the empirical evidence to the contrary.

    When a Catholic looks at health care reform, he should look at it in terms of freedom and charity. Catholic hospitals offered real health care to people in need before the government inserted itself in the industry. Perhaps the most Catholic reform of health care is to remove the government so that people are free to be charitable with their time and money. Taxation of every kind and regardless of the stated purpose, is a loss of freedom which should be opposed at all times and in all places by Catholics.

    Regarding political party affliliation, there is no Catholic party. Christians, Catholic or otherwise, must know their faith and the political posture most consistent with their faith. Then they must find the political party with the principles most consistent with their faith. At times over the course of American history, the pro-freedom party has changed names. Likewise, the pro-life party. In the most recent decade, one could argue that outside the issue of abortion, there has been little difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. Both parties have been quick to take your money and your freedom, though the details have differed a bit.

    Catholics who want to participate in the political process will have to determine their priority. Is their faith the primary lens through which they view the world, or is it politics? If it is the former, there is no easy political affiliation. If it is the latter, perhaps they are not as Catholic as they claim.

  • One day I won’t disappoint you. I was pro-life, an atheist, and a Democrat and I’ll die pro-life, Catholic, and a Democrat…well the last part is not so certain, but at this point, I can’t see it going the other way.

    If you land yourself on a ballot over here in Williamson County, let me know and I’ll sign up for Republicans For Brown — we may not agree on other issues, but serious pro-life Catholicism deserves some solidarity.

  • I pretty much vote pro-life, so the majority of my votes in all levels of government have gone to the Republican Party.

    You mean you vote against abortion, not that you vote pro-life.

  • Michael,

    If you consult a dictionary, you’ll find that the definition (common usage) of the term ‘pro-life’ is ‘anti-abortion’.

  • Michael,

    John Henry is correct of course, but no matter what you want to include in pro-life…. he does not vote PRO-ABORTION as all of the Catholics supporting Obama did.

    Love to hear your response to Abp. Burke…

  • Matt – There is a distinction between voting for a candidate because of a position, and voting for a candidate despite their position. A person votes pro-‘something’ when they support a given politician’s policies on that particular issue. A person votes despite-‘something’ when they do not. Faithful Catholics supporting Obama did not vote ‘pro-abortion”; they voted for him despite his abortion stance.

  • John Henry,

    I’m only using Michael’s own medicine on him. Also, I think in effect my statement is logically consistent.

    Bob votes for Obama
    Obama is Pro-abortion
    therefore Bob in effect voted pro-abortion

    Now, Bob may not have voted for Obama because he is pro-abortion, but the effect is the same.

  • John Henry,

    You have the patience of Job.

  • If you consult a dictionary, you’ll find that the definition (common usage) of the term ‘pro-life’ is ‘anti-abortion’.

    I think I discussed this with you over at VN, or somewhere else, but my view is that Catholics should not settle for “common” definitions of terms like “pro-life.” Our understanding of the word is much more broad and inclusive.

    Faithful Catholics supporting Obama did not vote ‘pro-abortion”; they voted for him despite his abortion stance.

    I appreciate you recognizing this and for correcting the erroneous view of Mark McDonald.

    You have the patience of Job.

    I agree.

    Love to hear your response to Abp. Burke…

    I’ll check out the post at some point and perhaps I’ll have something to say about it.

  • Michael,

    I think I discussed this with you over at VN, or somewhere else, but my view is that Catholics should not settle for “common” definitions of terms like “pro-life.” Our understanding of the word is much more broad and inclusive.

    If you want to re-define pro-life, it changes nothing. There is no discord between opposing government expansion, a strong defense, and fighting Islamic-fascism that is contrary to the Church’s teaching on a “whole life ethic”, Catholics can have a diversity of opinion on the best way to protect life. What they can’t have is a diversity of opinion on, is whether abortion should be legal or not.

    Faithful Catholics supporting Obama did not vote ‘pro-abortion”; they voted for him despite his abortion stance.

    I know it ties your stomach in knots to hear this Michael, but there is a logical inconsistency to your position. Obama is pro-abortion, you voted for Obama, therefore you voted pro-abortion. At the end of the day, the dead babies are dead because of your vote, that you did not desire it may subjectively mitigate your culpability, but it does not effect your responsibility.

    I’ll check out the post at some point and perhaps I’ll have something to say about it.

    Ya, I guess Abp. Burke, is not really on your RADAR…. Hey. maybe you should have his picture added to the banner over at VN!

  • If you want to re-define pro-life, it changes nothing.

    I’m not suggesting we “redefine” what pro-life means. I’m suggesting we Catholics understand the perm pro-life in the Catholic sense of the word, not according to the definitions of the u.s. culture wars or the republican party.

    Obama is pro-abortion, you voted for Obama, therefore you voted pro-abortion.

    George W. Bush was in favor of abortion in the cases of rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother. According to your logic, you voted both pro-life and pro-choice. You also voted for a war that the Church opposes and you voted in favor of torture which is an intrinsic evil. Are you willing to say that you voted pro-torture? (Perhaps you actually ARE pro-torture. Would not be surprised.)

    At the end of the day, the dead babies are dead because of your vote, that you did not desire it may subjectively mitigate your culpability, but it does not effect your responsibility.

    Dead babies are not dead because of my vote. They are dead because they were aborted by particular human beings. Look, I am well aware of my culpability on the issues of abortion, war etc. Of course I’m responsible, but not because of a particular vote, but because I am an american citizen. You, too, are responsible for abortion.

    Ya, I guess Abp. Burke, is not really on your RADAR…

    Ecclesial matters of various kinds are “on my radar.”

    Hey. maybe you should have his picture added to the banner over at VN!

    Email us with your suggestion.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,
    George W. Bush was in favor of abortion in the cases of rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother. According to your logic, you voted both pro-life and pro-choice.

    Now, I’ll first say that I did not vote as I am not yet a US Citizen. However, I will take the criticism because I publicly supported George Bush. Yes, in effect I did “vote” pro-life and pro-choice. And given the disproportionately pro-abortion stance of the alternatives, this is permitted under moral law.

    You also voted for a war that the Church opposes

    No, that war was not envisioned in 2000, and was already a ‘fait accomplit’ in November 2003, furthermore, the “Church” did not oppose it, various bishops and the pope, carefully speaking to allow a diversity of opinion, and without the knowledge possessed by the political leaders did oppose it.

    and you voted in favor of torture which is an intrinsic evil. Are you willing to say that you voted pro-torture? (Perhaps you actually ARE pro-torture. Would not be surprised.)

    No, I did not vote for torture, because I am not aware of any practices, authorized by the Bush administration would be considered torture, nor is torture intrinsically evil.

    At the end of the day, the dead babies are dead because of your vote, that you did not desire it may subjectively mitigate your culpability, but it does not effect your responsibility.

    Dead babies are not dead because of my vote. They are dead because they were aborted by particular human beings. Look, I am well aware of my culpability on the issues of abortion, war etc. Of course I’m responsible, but not because of a particular vote, but because I am an American citizen. You, too, are responsible for abortion.

    Obama’s policies will fund abortions, he is responsible for them…. and so are you…. because you supported him. Of course, all Americans to a more remote extent bear some responsibility… if they haven’t done everything in their power to stop abortion…

  • No, I did not vote for torture, because I am not aware of any practices, authorized by the Bush administration would be considered torture,

    Have you been living under a rock?

    …nor is torture intrinsically evil.

    Your Church teaches that it is.

  • Matt,

    There is a culture of death that pervades America, and we all are responsible.

    The factors that lead into the degradation–if not utter destruction– of human life are many, and, rather than attempt to divide and determine degrees of individual or group responsibility, we are called to do otherise. This is especiallly so in the area of voting, which is much more complex than you surmise and only a fraction of what responsible citizenship involves/entails.

    In our having been claimed be Christ, we are called to take on Christ’s features and his love, embracing to Cross as THE example of how to counter death with life; hatred with charity; division with communio.

    Abortion, war, torture and economic exploitation will not end through a finger-pointing blame-game, but only with the LOVE which is capable of transforming all, a love that takes on ALL as though it were its responsibility alone.

  • Michael,

    Matt: No, I did not vote for torture, because I am not aware of any practices, authorized by the Bush administration would be considered torture,

    Michael: Have you been living under a rock?

    Have you? Demonstrate otherwise.

    Matt:…nor is torture intrinsically evil.

    Michael: Your Church teaches that it is.

    Not. I’ve demonstrated this is not true, at least not definitively, no point in rehashing it.

    By the way, you are bringing up lesser issues as if to treat them on the same level as abortion and euthanasia… dangerous territory.

  • Wow! The collection of political stands you support in the name of being a Democrat suggest an inadequate philosophical understanding of where those stands lead.

    Excellent post, Sidney. John Henry’s stated positions on these particualr issues are diametrically opposed to Catholicism and the teachings of Christ. They simply can’t be honestly reconciled.

  • Well, now that I’ve been accused of having ‘an inadequate philosophical understanding’ of my own positions, of supporting policies ‘no thinking Catholic can support,’ and being ‘not as Catholic as I claim’ by Sidney, and of holding positions ‘diametrically opposed to Catholicism’ that ‘can’t be honestly reconciled,’ by Felice, I suppose I’ll have to respond at some point to some of the criticisms articulated above. But this post was not intended as a defense (or even a discussion) of those positions, and so that will have to wait.

  • John Henry,

    But this post was not intended as a defense (or even a discussion) of those positions, and so that will have to wait.

    that’s what I thought too, as tempting as it was to take a potshot.

  • This question is directed mostly at Michael and Mark, since they seem to represent the Catholics who have found “grave reasons” to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Please know that I’m sincerely trying to understand how you came to this position.

    First, let me say that I *do* understand your premise, that being pro-life entails much more than simply being anti-abortion. Was it Barney Frank who made the (unfair, I think) remark that being pro-life means believing the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth? This is obviously a straw man. But it’s true that there’s a disconnect in the pro-life cause if we are anti-abortion and simultaneously callous about other forms of killing that are at best negligent about taking human life or at worst deliberately unjust about it.

    Having said that, let’s throw out a hypothetical example. Forget abortion for a moment, and let’s say that your ideal candidate is a guy like Obama in every way, except he supports policies of infanticide. He says it should be legal for women to kill their newborns within the first several weeks of life or so, if they’re too much of a burden. Not only that, but the best statistics we have show that about 3,000 or so mothers decide to act on this policy every day. My question is, do you still vote for this guy because he opposes the Iraq war, etc.?

    I doubt there’d be many voters at all for such a person. That’s because the vast majority of Americans have a disconnect about life inside and outside the womb… *But Michael and Mark, we’re not ‘most Americans.’* We’re Catholic, and we know better. We realize abortion for what it is, and we don’t make the qualitative distinctions and equivocations that most of unthinking Americans make about this issue. So we see it as 3,000 innocent lives taken unjustly every day. Are we at least in agreement on this point, or do you see a qualitative difference?

    Continuing: I also realize that the pro-life calculus is not simply a numbers game, a matter of weighing “which policy kills more?” If every life is sacred, then obviously *any* unjust killing is a sin in the eyes of God. Even though it’s not simply a numbers game, the mere fact of magnitude and proportionality *must* enter into the equation somehow, right? What would be the “grave reason” to vote for someone when the numbers aren’t even in the same order of magnitude?

    There is dispute in the numbers, of course. I don’t believe for a second the “hundreds of thousands” of innocents killed in Iraq. Look at the civil war in Sri Lanka, which has raged in densely populated areas for more than 25 years… Even in that country, which is only slightly less populous than Iraq, you don’t see more than 100,000 killed, civilian and military combined. It doesn’t pass the smell test at all. This is not to question your opposition to the Iraq War or to say that no innocents have died as a result, but I think it’s fair to claim that the numbers just don’t add up. And even if they did, we’d still be far behind the abortion numbers.

    Again, please understand why so many of us are confused. The premise you claim is a valid one, but the actual reality of doesn’t bear out. I think that’s why it’s so troubling. No one — religious or not — would vote for a guy advocating a 3,000 infant-a-day murder spree. No one.

    Why you, then?

  • “Well, now that I’ve been accused of having ‘an inadequate philosophical understanding’ of my own positions, of supporting policies ‘no thinking Catholic can support,’ and being ‘not as Catholic as I claim’ by Sidney, and of holding positions ‘diametrically opposed to Catholicism’ that ‘can’t be honestly reconciled,’ by Felice, I suppose I’ll have to respond at some point to some of the criticisms articulated above. But this post was not intended as a defense (or even a discussion) of those positions, and so that will have to wait.”

    I am afraid John Henry that quite a few Catholics, right or left, cannot resist the temptation to attempt to enlist the Church in support of their political positions. I do not doubt their sincerity when they do this. For myself, I think the political issues on which the Church has spoken clearly over time are rather few. I think opposition to abortion is one of those few issues. In regard to most other political issues I try to be careful, as you do I believe, to debate them as political issues and not to contend that the Church mandates that all Catholics adhere to the position I favor.

  • Sidney,

    If you believe in liberty, you are a Catholic. If you are a Catholic, you believe in the fundamental dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God. You believe in free will, given to the human person by his Creator, and respected by his Creator. Your political views should be in harmony with your faith, which means you will reluctantly accept certain limitations by government on authentic freedom. Those limitations are recognized as privations necessary due to our fallen nature. They are a concession to our sinfulness. Thus, we accept certain limitations on our freedom to support the defense infrastructure that provides collective security from external threats. We support, albeit with deep regret that we must accept the associated loss of liberty, an internal police infrastructure to provide collective security from internal threats.

    Every government act is at the expense of individual liberty. No true Catholic can support increased government, but he sometimes must accept it. Taxation is the taking of something from one person and giving it to another person. Government cannot make anything, only take and redistribute.

    Though I can generally win “I’m more conservative than you” games, I think you’re dead wrong on this — and indeed not reflecting a conservative approach to authority as the Church has understood it throughout the centuries.

    The key point, to my mind, is the section I’ve highlighted. You’re right, of course, that the human person is made in the image of God and enjoys free will as a part of that innate human dignity. However, I think you go off the tracks when you assert that this means there should be minimal restrictions on free action. Recall that the Church has traditionally taught that freedom consists of being able to do that which is right without being compelled — not being free to do what is wrong. Indeed, John Paul II wrote on several occasions that freedom is freedom to do the good — while sin is enslaving. Or to put it as we used to in the less apologetic days before the 1960s: “Error has no rights.”

    Now this certainly does not mean that we must support an all encompassing state. The demands of human dignity and subsidiarity will leave us plenty of room to prefer local or informal institutions to solve major social needs. But we can’t let ourselves go into a total libertarian free fall of seeing all obligation as evil. Scripture hits an almost terrifying balance on this: Christ and the early Church certainly never forced anyone to give their resources to help others — yet in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Christ describes someone condemned to everlasting suffering simply for not providing sufficient help to the poor man out doors.

    In the history of the Church, tithing was in most times and places mandatory — and all to often (though I’d tend to see this as an abuse leading to problems) it was combined with taxes to the local lord and all collected at once.

    So while I doubtless agree with you on a preference for smaller and more local institutions, I think it’s important that we remember that this is actually a pretty new thing in the history of the Church. And indeed, our libertarian view of liberty is mostly the result of post-Enlightenment skepticism about our ability to agree as a society on what “the good” is, and thus the insistence that we back off and let everyone define the common good for themselves. It may be a good thing, in a highly morally corrupt society like our own, but it’s not necessarily the ideal, nor is it the only approach that a Catholic can take. Most Catholic rulers in history have done quite the opposite.

  • DC,

    Very, very timely, sensitive,fair and well thought out response.

    Kudos!

  • I don’t get to say this often, but ditto what Mark DeFrancis said.

  • Paul,

    How about a pic for your ID?

    Go to this link: http://wordpress.com/signup/

    Sign up and follow the directions there. You don’t need to create a blog to create a username. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see what I mean.

    Good luck!

  • Tito,

    I already have a wordpress blog (I’m the crankycon, in case you didn’t scroll over the name). Not sure why my pic doesn’t show up.

  • Paul,

    I knew you were the CrankyCon, but I never made the connection that you use a WordPress account. Oops!

  • Oh DarwinCatholic…100% support.

  • Pingback: Socialism, Catholicism, & the Common Good « The American Catholic

Contact Conservatism

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

Bearing has an interesting post up which I suspect reflects the political experience of many serious Catholics over the last twenty five years. The whole thing is worth reading, but I’m quoting it extensively because I think the point she’s making is interesting and widely applicable:

I entered full communion with the Catholic church at the Easter Vigil in 1993, when I was a freshman in college…. A couple of years after that, I had a second conversion in which I was forced to realize that I could not be simultaneously a believing Catholic and a supporter of legal abortion. (Why it took me so long is another story again. Hint: There were some serious problems in that particular RCIA program.)

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21 Responses to Contact Conservatism

  • The phenomenon is among the good fruits of the pro-life movement. Like Catholic younguns standing with fundamentalist elders and Orthodox Jewish rabbis at the D.C. Mall every February 22. Or a major hardcore teevee fundy minister, John Hagee, disavowing any real or imagined anti-Catholic sentiments to express his admiration for our own Benedictus Magnus. Or a bright, conscientious young man like see above getting older, more orthodox Catholic, and horrors more conservative. Attention Iafrate or the other folk who occasionally get snotty on this blog- these are the people for whom you claim to speak. Doesn’t work that way.

  • “I’ve noticed more and more over the years that serious Catholics I know who I would not think of as being political seem to gradually get drawn into strongly conservative stands on a number of essentially secular issues.”

    I’ve noticed the same phenomenon. I think one of the main reasons for this is that we tend to read people who agree or are sympathetic with us. I don’t visit Daily Kos very often, for instance (although I’ll read people like Yglesias). Nobody likes to regularly read people who mock their deepest beliefs.

    And so, over time, we gradually hear much more about the good arguments for all sorts of conservative positions, and less of the counter-arguments. As abortion is one of the most significant (perhaps the most significant) divides between the parties, conservatives are more likely to at least be sympathetic to pro-lifers, and so pro-lifers are more in contact with people in the conservative movement.

    Personally, I think it is important for people to resist this tendency to a certain extent. I try, at least, to formulate my opinion on various issues without regard to which political party supports them. But, honestly, it seems to me that many people do not make the effort to do this. Granted, everyone has a limited amount of time to spend arguing about politics; it’s reasonable once you’ve determined that there are not other proportionate reasons not to keep up-to-date on every issue. But political tribalism can get tiresome.

  • I think this is a reasonable point, but I would hasten to suggest that these moves to conservatism are necessarily wrong. Especially when you consider that the paradigm has shifted such that many things that today’s Republicans do is not necessarily all that conservative in a historic context. Reagan would have been mortified at some of the actions of the Bush administration, Obama is certainly no JFK.

    It certainly would be better if there was a balance between the parties on the most fundamental of Catholic issues, as there had been prior to Roe vs. Wade, perhaps, this balance could be restored though, if all Catholics voted against the evil of abortion. If all Catholics refused to vote for democrats as long as abortion was one of their platforms, they would either wither and die or drop it like a hot rock. If all Catholics took an active role in the Republican party, they could certainly create a very balanced left-right position, and one weighted in justice as well.

  • What a excellent post. Also let me say something as to political “tribalism” In some ways its is easier being a conservative and being what could be argued the broad tent of the Republican party than perhaps the Dems

    We see this in the fact that conservatives seems to be eating their own lately calling everyone else in the party RINOs. We have Movement Conservatives, Liberatarian COnservatives, COmapssionate Conservtive Republicans, Cruncy Cons, Paleo Cons, Neo Cons etc etc.

    I think the diversity of all this for good and for bad is not really contemplated a good bit but it is a reality. I can put lets say 5 or 6 of some of the leading Republican leaning conservatiove Catholic bloggers in a room and while uniting on abortion will be at each others throats on the torture debate, Policy toward Israel, No Child Left behind, immigration policy, the Medicare Drug Benefit , global warming etc etc.

    So while I do think that Pro-lifers because of interaction might take on a overall more conservative ethos I am not sure in reality they are all in the same tribe.

    The Democrat party does not seem to me to exactly allow this as well as they once did. If though there is long time effective Blue Dog Democrats movement with real numbers and a real pro-life movement wellwe might see that over there

  • should be “not necessarily”

  • I agree with John Henry’s analysis, but I would also had that to a large extent party loyalty has more to do with the party than with the actual policies the party favors. Here in the Midwest, for example, it’s not uncommon to meet people who hold conservative views on a whole range of issues (not just social issues but also on matters relating to economic policy and national defense) who are nonetheless Democrats. The same phenomenon used to be true in the South though it has since died out. If you probe them on why this is, the answers typically have to do with policies and politicians from the past, rather than anything going on right now. In many cases being a Democrat is like being a sports fan – it’s more a matter of loyalty to the “home team” rather than support based on any recent accomplishments.

  • Jh,

    will be at each others throats on the torture debate, Policy toward Israel, No Child Left behind, immigration policy, the Medicare Drug Benefit , global warming etc etc.

    and rightly so, the Church is clear there is morally acceptable diversity of opinions in these areas.

  • blackadderiv,

    do you think that is exclusive to the Dems? If so, why is that? I don’t know many Republicans who that would apply to.

  • Matt,
    I think that would describe a lot of northeastern Republicans who are becoming democrats. Party affiliation throughout New England, NY, and PA seems to be switching toward Dems, partly because of new voters, but also because the kind of Republicans who correspond to BA’s analysis are becoming independents or Republicans – the reverse of the Southern shift.

  • do you think that is exclusive to the Dems? If so, why is that? I don’t know many Republicans who that would apply to.

    I think there are cases where something like this would be true of Republicans, but my impression is that (at least recently) this has been less true of them than for Democrats. Part of the reason for this, I think, is that the Democratic party tended to be associated with other groups, such as unions, particular ethnic communities, etc., which helped to forge loyalty and identity among members. I don’t think there was anything comparable for Republicans, aside from perhaps the country club.

  • I fit with the original post. The Democratic party drove me away over abortion. I vote for a lot of Republicans I can barely stomach. Still, I have drifted more conservative, partly because I argue with the conservatives and rarely debate liberals. I find arguments for smaller government, and free markets persuasive – but I don’t just roll over. If it weren’t for abortion, I’d probably still lean Democratic, but that’s changing.

    What does surprise me is how many people ‘drink the GOP cool aide” as some put it. I supported Bush (although I voted Constitutional Party – I’m in a solid blue state) generally, but found it odd how many intelligent otherwise thinking Catholics would get so upset and antagonized at any questioning of Bush – which lessened by the end, but seems to be coming back.

    I need to reread Eric Hoffer’s “True Believers”

    @GNW_Paul

  • Somewhat similar situation with me.

    What has turned me off most with Democrat(ic)s is that when challenged they get emotionally unstable and begin ad hominem attacks instead of focusing on the issues. Granted these aren’t all Democrat(ic)s, but it was enough that it partly contributed towards me drifting towards more pro-life and conservative issues (though my faith was the predominant denominator).

    What I’ve noticed in this past election is the obtuseness of many (alleged?) Catholics that know their faith yet go on voting for pro-abortion candidates. I’m still grasping whether it’s due to party loyalty or a just poor catechesis.

  • Tito- the latter. Oh, and folks get together on January 22. I knew that. Bad typing fingers, bad typing fingers….

  • I think it’s poor catechesis combined with a crisis of identity. Speaking as the OP, I know part of what took me so long was “I can’t bear to see myself as someone who votes Republican.”

    Before that, it was hard to see myself as someone who opposed abortion, too.

    And I think a lot of that is successful propaganda from legal abortion supporters who try to paint the anti-abortion side as backward, anti-woman, anti-science, “single-issue” voters, etc. There’s so much marginalization of any opinion that might move people even a step towards protecting the unborn.

    An impulse to fairness has me wondering if it goes both ways, if there is an element of propaganda within the pro-life movement aimed at vilifying or marginalizing pro-choice people [as opposed to vilifying abortion] in order to create an emotional barrier to “conversions” of identity from pro-life to pro-choice.

    I mean, I know I’ve seen pro-choice people claim that pro-life people call them babykillers, but I’ve never seen anyone actually aim that word at another person, in writing or in speech.

    Unless our insistence that preborn humans are people is supposedly the “emotional” barrier, since it prevents us from seeing the truth that’s obvious to them, e.g., that preborn humans are only potential people and therefore have only potential rights. I guess from that perspective it could look like a sort of emotional blackmail, aimed at getting us to identify with the preborn human, to see ourselves as former fetuses. Just like I felt a strong emotional pressure to avoid seeing myself as one of “those” people who opposed abortion, a pressure that lasted years into my conversion and kept it incomplete.

  • Bearing,

    It goes both ways. I don’t know how the pro-choice crowd talks about us, but us pro-lifers have our own language and it can get out of hand (at times). Though I have noticed a considerable drop in this type of derogatory language these past three years.

  • Interesting…I’ve never understood the Catholic comfort with voting Democrat. I can’t think of a single issue advocated by the Democrats in the last 50-odd years that I would have agreed with them on.

    I certainly grew up in the post-Roe world, born well after the intellectual shift in the two parties had taken place in the early 1970s.

    As a teenager I never saw myself voting for or supporting Democrats, even when I was indifferent to abortion as a political issue.

    I’ve never grasped what’s so appealing, especially to Catholics, about the statist economic policies and dovish weakness the braying ass has stood for.

    [ed. – please no profane language]

  • Well, Flambeaux, I guess the last few years have been a process of me wondering that myself. I was Democrat-leaning before I became Catholic, and have leaned less that way since.

    But perhaps it will make more sense to look at it negatively. How about, instead of trying to understand a Catholic comfort with voting Democrat, try to understand a discomfort with voting Republican. Maybe for some, Republicans are more revolting than Democrats are appealing.

    Or maybe it’s just easier to claim you dislike one politician than to claim you like another. Disdain is cooler than enthusiastic support.

  • bearing,

    Maybe for some, Republicans are more revolting than Democrats are appealing.

    Or maybe it’s just easier to claim you dislike one politician than to claim you like another. Disdain is cooler than enthusiastic support.

    What do you find less more revolting than abortion? More importantly, what does Church?

  • I’m working my way backwards through a bunch of your past posts and adding my two (or three or four) cents to them 🙂

    Politically I tend to vote Republican, mainly due to the pro-life issue and a general tendency to prefer smaller government. But, that being said, I have voted for pro-life Democrats and if one were running for a major office today I would go out of my way to vote for them, because I believe that if the pro-life movement is to survive, it needs to become bipartisan and not be anchored so tightly to the conservative wing of the GOP. In this fashion it will be better able to ride out the inevitable swings back and forth in public opinion.

    I also believe that the GOP at the national level is making a huge mistake by being overly harsh on immigration. Yes, I sympathize with all the arguments about how immigrants should “play by the rules” and respect the law. I believe uncontrolled illegal immigration is unfair to the immigrants themselves (since it allows them to be exploited by their employers) as well as to legal immigrants and U.S. citizens. Some kind of reasonable solution, neither too harsh nor too lax, is needed.

    That being said: like it or not, the children of illegal immigrants who are born in this country are citizens and will be old enough to vote before you know it. Some of them already are. Hispanic voters could be a gold mine for the GOP with their pro-life, pro-family ethic and strong affiliation to either Catholicism or evangelical Protestantism. If the GOP keeps hammering on the “send them all back where they came from” message, they will lose the next generation of Hispanic voters. Hispanics will soon pass blacks as the biggest minority in the nation so to lose them is to lose, period.

    I think the pro-life and conservative movements have shot themselves in the foot too many times by voting for candidates who proved to be corrupt or incompetent, and thereby discredited everything they stood for, making it that much harder to elect conservatives in the future. Some will argue that President Bush 43 fell into this category; I would not classify him as incompetent, so much as disappointing.

    In closing let me cite an example from the wonderful world of Illinois politics. In 1998 we had a real live pro-life Democrat, Glenn Poshard, running for governor against then-Secretary of State George Ryan. Ryan was Republican and also claimed to be pro-life. I was tempted to vote Democrat that time, but ended up voting for Ryan, thinking that the Republicans were the more reliable pro-life and pro-family party. Well, we all know where that got us. Ryan pretty much destroyed the Illinois GOP and paved the way for the walking, hairbrushing disaster we know as Blago. If there is any vote I have ever cast in my life that I wish I could take back, that is it.

    I do not know what I would do if I were confronted with a choice between a pro-choice candidate who seemed to be reasonably competent on other issues, and a candidate who claimed to be pro-life but was obviously corrupt, incompetent, or insane. In other words, envision a replay of the 2006 gubernatorial election, but with Blago’s and Topinka’s party affiliations reversed and Blago being pro-life. Would I, as a Catholic, have been obligated to vote for Blago in that situation? Would I have been obliged not to vote at all?

  • I voted for Poshard. I had my doubts about Ryan on the pro-life issue, amply justified as it turned out, and I knew from my contacts in Kankakee, Ryan’s home turf, that Ryan was a crook. In regard to Blago and Topinka what a miserable election that was: both pro-aborts, with one a crook, and another a member in good standing of the corrupt Combine. I held my nose and voted for Topinka, while despairing of the low state of Illinois politics.

  • I voted for Topinka as well, on the grounds that she was the lesser of two evils both with regard to abortion (Planned Parenthood didn’t consider her pro-abortion enough for their taste, since she did actually endorse things like parental notification) and with regard to corruption and mismanagement, though she was far from ideal on either count.

And They Accuse Us of Brainless Sloganisms

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

So there’s a new You-Tube video  spreading around meant to be the final word in exposing the hypocrisy of anti-abortion advocates. In what many seem to believe is highly telling, an interviewer asks a group of demonstrating pro-lifers that, should abortion be declared illegal, if they would punish women who had abortions. Apparently the confused looks, murmured “I don’t know, I don’t think they should be punished,” and the otherwise general indication that they hadn’t thought much on the issue, somehow shows that pro-lifers do not believe that abortion is murder, or even the taking of human life. There is a huge amount of self-congratulatory straining of shoulders, clapping themselves on the back for having discovered this one-shot knockdown argument.

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33 Responses to And They Accuse Us of Brainless Sloganisms

  • Ryan,

    a good discussion.

    Third, to some extent this heinous act, while there is plenty of evidence that it does harm society in general, is a matter between the person who has procured an abortion and God.

    No less than a private murder of an innocent person in their home or anywhere else that they ought to be safe.

    I think in justice, one must give abortion the weight in law that it is due, and under the conditions that apply to homicide in general. The justice system has a means of considering the degree of free will attached to the killing of another human being under particular circumstances, and provides manslaughter when it is diminished. To specifically define in the law that for a mother to kill her unborn child as less serious a crime than a man killing a guard while robbing a bank is not just.

    Obviously, there would need to be intermediate measures to eliminate access to abortion and educate the populace before it could be charged criminally.

  • I’d be interested in reading anything the Church might officially say about this (???). Absent that, I’m sure there are some articles out there by Catholic thinkers on what just abortion laws would look like (???).

    (My wife and I were just talking about this last night, how Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” has deluded people into believing that the pro-life cause wants a world in which every miscarriage is investigated by secret police or some such nonsense.)

  • No less than a private murder of an innocent person in their home or anywhere else that they ought to be safe.

    Of course, I realized that the statement I made sounds very soft, and I tried to qualify exactly what I meant. Let me try again to explain what I meant there.

    With abortion between a person and God, I don’t mean exclusively, because obviously abortion has severe societal impact. I mean that ultimately, all justice will be meted out, and everyone will receive their due. Some people who have abortion will sincerely repent, spend their time in purgatory, and eventually come out cleansed of their sins. Others will not repent, but due to ignorance of important details, they will spend their time in purgatory and come out cleansed. Others may persist in placing their lifestyle above God, reject God, and be lost forever. In the end, we will all reap what we have sown. To that extent, worrying much over the worldly punishments we would exact on people who have abortions is secondary to trying to outlaw abortion. Furthermore, the problem has legal ramifications that would be better served by a team of legal (and hopefully faithful Catholic) advisers who can try to make the system as a just as possible in light of the crime. Finally, trying to state on the spot what punishments should be exacted runs the risk of being vindictive and retributive in nature, rather than corrective and just. Thus, given the complications, the nuances, and everything else, it is simpler at the moment to say, “I know eventually everything will be squared away at the final judgment, and then it will be between a person and God, regardless of what happens legally.” It may seem like a cop-out, but I personally take it as an acknowledgment that the answers are neither simple nor adequately addressed by a lay person on the streets.

    I do believe a discussion of what abortions laws should look like is important, and that maybe we could take some time to look at them here. My view is in my post, but what do others think? Do you agree that a doctor giving the abortion is more culpable (or at least deserves a harsher sentence) than the woman receiving the abortion? Do we need to worry about the claims that every miscarriage would be investigated?

  • Ryan,

    I don’t think I misunderstood you, I just disagree. I would propose that, ultimately, abortion should be defined as homicide, the justice system would sort out whether the subject’s actions and state of mind merit charge and conviction under manslaughter or murder. Obviously, if I was involved in a case I would orient towards the former for mothers, and the latter for the purveyors, but not necessarily in every case.

    I would agree that in the general case the doctors deserve a harsher sentence.

    I don’t think we need to worry all that much about miscarriage’s being investigated, any more than they already are. Doctors or others who discover evidence of intentional miscarriage would have the same obligation to report such to the authorities as I would assume they do for any other case of wrongful death. It certainly would not be the place of police to seek out these cases without any sort of complaint. This will certainly happen though, and law enforcement should probably focus efforts on the sources of the drugs rather than the recipients.

  • I don’t think I misunderstood you, I just disagree.

    Well, obviously (tongue-in-cheek) if you disagree with me, you misunderstood what I said! Heh…

    How exactly, then, do you disagree? We seem to be in lockstep with that abortion should be defined as homicide, with some statutes that pay attention to the state of mind of the woman getting an abortion. My statements in regard to abortion being between the woman and God were not to exclude any legal ramifications, but to explain why some people haven’t given the punishment issue much thought, and why some are justified in not concentrating on the issue. It was also an attempt to show why this pro-abortionists aren’t justified in using the lack of a definite answer as indication that pro-lifers don’t really believe abortion is murder.

  • Ryan,

    some statutes that pay attention to the state of mind of the woman getting an abortion

    I believe the current statutes which make the distinction between manslaughter and murder #2, or #1, should suffice without a specific reference to abortion and the mother. It’s perhaps reasonable that this case could be addressed provided that it does not preclude the conclusion that mother is guilty of a greater crime should circumstances dictate.

  • I believe the current statutes which make the distinction between manslaughter and murder #2, or #1, should suffice without a specific reference to abortion and the mother. It’s perhaps reasonable that this case could be addressed provided that it does not preclude the conclusion that mother is guilty of a greater crime should circumstances dictate.

    Not knowing the exact statues, I might hesitate, but in general, yes, I’m lockstep with you here, as well.

  • Ryan,

    I’m lockstep with you here, as well.</i<

    I must have misstated my position then… heheh

  • Now if I can only convince American Catholic blogger Ryan Harkins to put up a pic for his ID. Maybe the flag of Wyoming?

  • Concerning the Video, a couple of points you did not make. First, when I am out on the lines with my sign, and someone approaches me, I get slightly nerved up, or stressed – not a lot, just a bit. There is always the possibility that person is going to start ranting at me or something. That stress response is increased for most people when someone is holding a camera on them. The stress is increased even more when they ask you a tough question, and they are obviously trying to get you to say something they can use. Second, most people, even those on the lines, are not practiced speakers adept at articulating ‘hot button’ topics on the fly. You can tell clearly several of the interviewees are just hoping the camera people will go away.

    It is more of a cheap shot that you make it out to be.

    Beyond that nit picking, great post. It is true we need to talk more in the pro-life community about what criminalizing abortion would really look like.

    Also, if abortion were criminalized, imagine what would happen. How would the opposition react? Not just politically. Statutes and penalties should also include dealing with people who run conspiracies (organized crime) to provide abortions.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Paul @GNW_Paul

  • Thanks for the input, Paul! I admit, I did gloss over the majority of the impact of being confronted by someone with a camera just looking to get a few snippits of dialogue that they can use. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • Ryan,

    University of Wyoming Cowboys!

    Nice pic.

  • Tito,

    Thanks. As per request, I have delivered. Of course, while the bucking bronco is one of UW’s great symbols, it was also on the back of the Wyoming state quarter. (And NOTHING else!!!! We could have put in Devil’s Tower behind it, but noooooo….) So I figured it would symbolize well both my Wyomingness and my University of Wyomingness, the former being important because I might just graduate one of these semesters… (Thinking December…)

  • Ryan,

    I love the Avatar also. Big Sky territory is my land, but Wyoming is just fine with me.

    @GNW_Paul

  • Paul in the GNW,

    Your next to get an avatar.

    Maybe some rain drops or Mark Shea in purple?

  • I tried, lets see if it shows up know?

  • Paul,

    If it doesn’t show up, it’s not a big deal.

    Email me if you have any questions and I’d be happy to guide you through the process.

  • Paul,

    Forgive me if you have done this already.

    Go to this link: http://wordpress.com/signup/

    Sign up and follow the directions there. You don’t need to create a blog to create a username. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see what I mean.

    Good luck!

  • Ryan,
    Historically in the U. S. women who underwent illegal abortions were not punished. Prior to the 19th century incomplete understanding of human embryology combined with the difficulty of proving intent in an early abortion meant that there was little effort made to prosecute anyone connected.

    The first generation of feminists–the suffragists of the 19th century–opposed abortion to a woman. This was only partly because of the risks the procedure held for women; they–perhaps more than most men outside the medical profession–quickly realized the implications of the scientific advances in human development. The Revolution, the feminist paper launched by Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, often decried abortion in the strongest terms and refused to sell advertising to purveyors of “patent medicines” (many of which were abortifacients.)

    Anthony, Stanton, and their sisters-in-arms called for punishment for those who performed abortions, but not for women. Their reasoning was simple. They recognized that, while there were women who aborted out of selfishness, most did so out of desperation and for reasons that stemmed from the inherent inequality of women in the society of the day. Women were, in a sense, co-victims with their murdered babies even when they survived the abortion.

    I think there is a case for continuing this policy were abortion to be outlawed again:

    1. While legalizing something does not make it right, it does create the public perception that it is. Likewise, outlawing something creates the perception that it is wrong. Thus there are good reasons for outlawing heinous acts apart from the opportunity for prosecution of the perpetrators.
    2. Our legal system allows for compassion in the case of crimes committed under duress. (Moreover, the ethics upon which the system is founded call for compassion in such cases.)
    3. Even today, women who resort to abortion frequently do so because they feel they have “no other choice.” Abandonment or compulsion by the baby’s father or other family members is still not unusual, and societal pressures still lead many women against their consciences. Abortionists are not as a rule coerced into the trade.
    4. Women procuring an abortion may or may not have full understanding that they are taking a human life; abortionists do, or should as they are usually medical professionals.
    5. Women who have abortions do not profit financially from them (there are nonlethal alternatives to the costs of birth and childrearing) and may suffer physical or emotional harm; abortionists generally profit handsomely.

    There. Now when somebody sticks a camera in your face, you have some ammunition.

  • Cminor,

    while it’s likely that a transitory period could be considered, it would be unjust to treat abortion so much less serious a crime than murder. What about women that kill born infants because of stress and pressure? Do they not largely meet those conditions? Now, every case is different and there is a degree of lattitude permitted to prosecutors, judges, and juries with regard to charges being laid, and sentencing, and that is the place to determine any mitigating circumstances, no differently than any other murder.

  • Now I’ll try that Avatar again.

    Cminor, I agree that the abortionists should be treated more severely under the law than the women, but women who seek out abortions should be judge in court – their circumstances can be considered then.

    Paul

  • NO, one more time

  • For lack of time to write more extensively: I agree with CMinor.

  • Matt and Paul,
    I’ll concur and dissent, but with the caveat that if you embark on this discussion with the guy with the camcorder, anything you say will be used against you. 😉

    Matt, you point out that abortion isn’t really different from killing a born infant, and I agree. Nonetheless, if the objective is to obtain legal protection for unborn children, I would caution against impeding that end in the name of justice. I don’t think we’d have a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade if we made prosecuting aborted women part of the deal.

    It will be a great day when aborting a preborn baby is regarded by society at large with the abhorrence normally reserved for infanticide, but I don’t think we’re going to accomplish that overnight. Our society may well evolve to that point eventually.

    In the meantime, we have to work with the society we have. Were an HLA to be passed tomorrow, we would still have to contend with a sizeable segment of the population that had become accustomed to thinking of abortion as a “right” and of the preborn baby at whatever stage as a “blob of tissue.” We can make it harder for them to act on that viewpoint, but we will not be able to change every heart and mind. (I live in former Jim Crow country. Trust me, it may take a few generations.)

    I’d predict that if we prosecuted aborted women, many would end up getting clemency because of duress anyhow–few women decide to have abortions independently of the decisions of others. There’s the impregnator’s part in the act to consider, for example, and often that of family members or employers. I don’t think it’s at all just to single out the woman for special punishment just because she’s the one who carried the baby. Besides, we could end up with some awfully crowded courtrooms. But this could turn into a very long discussion, so I’ll leave it at that.


  • I’ll concur and dissent, but with the caveat that if you embark on this discussion with the guy with the camcorder, anything you say will be used against you. 😉

    Agreed. Wrong time and place for sucha discussion.

    Matt, you point out that abortion isn’t really different from killing a born infant, and I agree. Nonetheless, if the objective is to obtain legal protection for unborn children, I would caution against impeding that end in the name of justice. I don’t think we’d have a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade if we made prosecuting aborted women part of the deal.

    It will be a great day when aborting a preborn baby is regarded by society at large with the abhorrence normally reserved for infanticide, but I don’t think we’re going to accomplish that overnight. Our society may well evolve to that point eventually.

    Absolutely, I am all for incremental approaches that make slow and steady progress. Even a law which bans abortion except in the case rape/incest/life of mother would be a massive step forward and would also serve to help develop the culture of life.

    In the meantime, we have to work with the society we have. Were an HLA to be passed tomorrow, we would still have to contend with a sizeable segment of the population that had become accustomed to thinking of abortion as a “right” and of the preborn baby at whatever stage as a “blob of tissue.” We can make it harder for them to act on that viewpoint, but we will not be able to change every heart and mind. (I live in former Jim Crow country. Trust me, it may take a few generations.)

    Very true, as I acknowledged earlier, a transitory period would be necessary.

    I’d predict that if we prosecuted aborted women, many would end up getting clemency because of duress anyhow–few women decide to have abortions independently of the decisions of others. There’s the impregnator’s part in the act to consider, for example, and often that of family members or employers. I don’t think it’s at all just to single out the woman for special punishment just because she’s the one who carried the baby.

    Here is where we depart company. I agree we shouldn’t single out the woman, and I’ve never said we should. Only that all the pertinent parties should charges to the extent of their participation, and degree of culpability. Let the legal system figure out the details on any particular case.

    Besides, we could end up with some awfully crowded courtrooms. But this could turn into a very long discussion, so I’ll leave it at that.

    What does the severity of the charge have to do with the degree of overcrowding? Or are you suggesting no charges at all?

  • Oh, I’m all for going after abortionists. Beyond that, no, I’m not for going after women; my intent was to suggest that if we did, it would be only fair to go after anyone who by action or inaction led the defendant to abort. Hence my remark about the “crowded courtrooms.” Somewhere in there was intended to be the suggestion that I think making a case stick at this point would be difficult given cultural factors. Sorry, it was late.

    At some point in the future, there may well be a case for prosecuting aborters. But I think society would have to have reached a point at which there was no compulsion to abort.

  • I’m not for going after women

    Could we apply this exemption to early infanticide? Or is it only for women who kill their babies in the womb that no criminal penalty applies? We must apply the law evenly, that is why justice wears a blindfold.

    action or inaction led the defendant to abort.

    Wow, that’s a giant leap of jurisprudence. There is no legal system in the world which would consider that standard to make a person an accomplice to a crime. If I don’t give money to a beggar, do I go to jail with him when he robs me, or someone else? Good grief.

    At some point in the future, there may well be a case for prosecuting aborters. But I think society would have to have reached a point at which there was no compulsion to abort.

    If a person is coerced into commiting a crime then there is either a diminished or eliminated culpability, the law provides for that and is within the power of prosecutors, judges and juries to respond accordingly. Why should there be a special case for women who murder their unborn children?

    My whole point is related to the ultimate situation in which abortion is not readily available on the open market. Where any abortions which take place will be obvious to the participants to be murder, if they proceed then they ought to be charged. Obviously, as long as abortion is legal, or appears legal it isn’t just to target those who reasonably believe they are not comitting a crime.

244-188

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

broke-uncle-sam1

Bravo to the 177 Republicans, every member of the GOP in the house, and the 11 brave Democrats, who voted against the 819 billion Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009.  This pork laden monstrosity may well serve as an example for future historians, along with the Bailout Swindle of 2008, as the culminating acts of fiscal madness that led to the decline, at least temporarily, of the US as an economic power.  This also sends a message to the Public: ” You wanted change?  This is the change you are getting.”  This policy is now owned lock and stock by the Democrat party.  If it works, something I think unlikely in the extreme, they will be in power for a generation.  If it does not, 2010 and 2012 might be very good years for the Grand Old Party.  In either case, the public is going to be given a clear choice next time around.

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17 Responses to 244-188

  • Well, I think the economy will control the electoral outcomes either way (barring a major international event). It’s not clear to me that most of the programs included in the bill (e.g. infrastructure spending, unemployment insurance, health insurance, education) are broadly unpopular. I think the next couple of years were going to come down to economic performance either way. In the long-term, the effects of the additional debt could be significant; but I don’t think that this will have much affect on shorter-term electoral prospects.

  • Mister, we could use some men like Herbert Hoover again…

  • Ah, Mr. DeFrancisis, Norman Lear, and his ilk of social liberals, helped lead the Democrats into a political wilderness that began with Reagan and ended in 2006. Obama is your great hope. If he and his plans to transform the US come a cropper, then it is back to the wilderness for your party. As for the Hoover reference, what Obama is trying now is much like FDR’s New Deal, except that FDR went on his spending binge with a nation that was relatively debt free, and that FDR focused on policies that were tailored to give an immediate shot in the arm to the economy, unlike much of the misnamed stimulus package. We of course also know with hindsight that the New Deal did not work, and that the economy remained ailing, until WW2 rescued both it and FDR’s historical reputation.

  • The G.E. Master Plan is working. My deep-seated theory that when everything comes out of the washer, Mr. Obama will be the Dems’ worst nightmare. He has united the dispirited GOP troops in the House into a fighting, with the assistance of a dozen Blue Dog Dems. Now onto the Senate, where the most capable and imaginative Mitch McConnell can marshall his own lads- and possibly lasses like nearly lib Susan Collins. When the package fails- and mark my words dear brethren it will- the Pubs will be well out of the range of the shrapnel. Perhaps real hope and change in ’10 and ’12. We will not even get into the electronic spitting contest that the Obamaites are now engaging in against Prof. Dr. Limbaugh. The esteemed Mark Twain observed that it was not wise to engage in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Same with one who has access to a dozen 50kw blowtorch stations- WABC, KFI, WLS, KMOX, WPHT, WHO. Cold fun in the wintertime.

  • Contrary to popular imagination, Hoover didn’t just sit back and do nothing after the stock market collapse. Hoover engaged in the very sort of economic engineering that FDR would enact and Obama is attempting right now. In fact, FDR ran to Hoover’s right on certain economic matters. Hoover and FDR both failed to stimulate the economy to recovery through their efforts at intervention.

  • That is, House Pubs united as a ‘fighting force.’ Of course, of course.

  • Gerard, you are on target as usual.

    Paul, you are quite right. Hoover was quite the interventionist in regard to the economy while in the White House, although he grew more conservative after he got booted out. I have always liked Coolidge’s line about Hoover: “For six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad.”

  • nearly lib Susan Collins.

    Nearly? heheh…

    Henry,

    you’re quite right, a lot of this spending is “popular”, the old adage goes: “when you rob Peter to pay Paul, it’s likely to win the support of paul”.

    Given the current circumstances though, Peter is the employer of Andrew, James and John who will lose their jobs because Peter has no money to pay them… I suspect the policy will be less than popular with the other apostles…

  • “Mister, we could use some men like Herbert Hoover again…”

    Barney Frank? Chris Dodd?

  • …And where were all those united no votes when the Republicans actually had power? Oh yeah, they were calling Ron Paul a crank.

    Further proof that Republicans only stick to their values when conveniently not in charge.

    For the G.O.P. I doubt this is about economic principle and more about denying Obama any claim to a bipartisan effort.

    If it “works” Americans will come out of it poorer, more dependent on the state and with a dollar better used as toilet paper.

    If it doesn’t then actual political change will have to occur.

    Either way… it won’t be boring!

  • The problem is, if the business cycle corrects as it usually does, we’ll never be able to tease out the causality behind the recovery, and the stimulus plan will look like it worked regardless of its actual impact.

  • J.,

    if the business cycle corrects itself in the next two years despite the “stimulus” package I will be very surprised, such a result could cause more harm than good in the long run with such an expansion.

  • Heh, here’s another piece that tackles the myth of Hoover’s do-nothingism,

  • Anthony — you are spot on. If I were in Congress, I would have thrown my vote to sink this bill.

  • Anthony & Eric,

    I couldn’t agree more. The GOP spent to high-hog heaven when they were in power. They got what they deserved.

    But Obama’s ‘New New Deal’ is scary to say the least. Throwing money at a problem never seems to work when done at the governmental level.

  • Nice weblog my friend, good job 🙂

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10 Responses to 50 Years

  • Stuff happens. Hard to build a house in the center of a hurricane. Hard to implement the good fruits of the Council during the howling and raging of the GoGo 60s. As many of our folk with alleged vocations went buck wild, bowing to the weird trends of a weird era. Out of that ferment emerged our beloved Johannes Paulus may he get the Big Halo soon. Who dedicated his pontificate to the proper implementation of V2. Possibly did far more. Meanwhile a good time to remember fondly our beloved Blessed Pope John and pray for his intercession in our hard cold world. With fewer geetar Masses, please.

  • Donald,

    excellent post. Here’s a little known item on Bl. John XXIII. He is lying in St. Peter’s Basilica in a glass sarcophagus, looking as well as he did they day he died. He was embalmed, so he will never be declared incorruptible, but it is quite amazing how well preserved he is considering he’s been dead so long.

  • Hard to build a house in the center of a hurricane.

    The lesson may be… don’t try to do a lot of home renovations during a hurricane…. 🙂

  • The lesson may be… don’t try to do a lot of home renovations during a hurricane

    Indeed.

    Though in that regard, I can’t helping thinking that Vatican II would have been safely and better carried out in the 20s or 30s rather than the 60s.

    And, of course, I think it would have helped if some of the visual changes were much more incremental. (For instance, I imagine there would have been much less split over the mass if it had been required that all of the Novus Ordo except the readings be said in Latin, and greater use of the vernacular only very gradually introduced.)

    Either way, all traditional religions took a beating in the 60s and 70s — the Orthodox and conservatives Jews no less so than Catholicism. Perhaps it was just a bad time.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    I quite agree. In many ways VII’s reforms perhaps should have been part of VI which was interrupted before it had run it’s course due to wars.

    if it had been required that all of the Novus Ordo except the readings be said in Latin

    It was according to Sacrosanctum Concillium and a number of exhortations from Paul VI. Only the propers were to be in vernacular and only on a limited basis.

    and greater use of the vernacular only very gradually introduced.

    of course this was never called for by V-II, or Paul VI. By the time JP II it was a ‘fait accompit’. Benedict has been attempting to reverse this course along with all of the other excesses, with some notable success, but much work to complete.

  • It normally takes a generation or two after a council for the Church to settle and right its course.

    We need to continue to pray and be witnesses to our faith to get through these times.

  • JPII and B16 were and are major advocates of the Council. That’s good enough for me. 🙂

    More substantially, recall that many of the problems came not in 1965, but after 1968, i.e. after the dissent regarding Humane Vitae and after the “cultural revolutions” in Europe and the US. I agree with those who argue that the Church might well have been *worse* off in facing the post-’68 world without the Council, and I concur with Tito that upheaval after a Council is the historical norm.

    Incidentally, both JPII and B16 argue/d that the Council had yet to be fully implemented, and I concur with that as wel… we did the “easy” stuff (and in some cases [liturgy] did so poorly), but the more substantial renewal remains unaccomplished.

  • When the secular world was going through a period of chaotic change in the sixties, it was inopportune, to say the least, that Vatican II gave the impression to quite a few Catholics that suddenly everything was up for grabs. Small wonder that Humanae Vitae came as a shock to many Catholics, since so many earthshaking changes had come so swiftly that they could be excused for thinking that yet another change from tradition was in the offing.

    Two questions that I would throw out for analysis: What has the Church, if anything, gained by Vatican II that was lacking in the Church prior to Vatican II? What, if anything, is the Church post Vatican II lacking that the Church prior to Vatican II possessed?

  • Donald, to your first paragraph I’d reiterate what I noted above: the cultural turmoil didn’t occur for years *after* the Council. John didn’t call the Council in the midst of turmoil, nor did the Council convene in the midst of turmoil. Rather, it all happened some years later.

    I’m not sure what to make of your two questions… I think they could be posed to virtually any Council, given that the Deposit of Faith is one and the same throughout time.

  • Differ with you as a matter of historical fact Chris. Sixty-eight was a high point of the turmoil in the US, but the entire sixties was a period of rapid and chaotic change throughout most of the world. Sixty-eight was merely a display case for trends already well under way. That this was thought so at the time is demonstrated by many contemporary documents available on the net. I would direct your attention to Time January 4, 1963 in the issue where Pope John XXIII was declared Man of the Year:

    “By launching a reform whose goal is to make the Catholic Church sine macula et ruga (without spot or wrinkle), John set out to adapt his church’s whole life and stance to the revolutionary changes in science, economics, morals and politics that have swept the modern world: to make it, in short, more Catholic and less Roman.”

    http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/personoftheyear/archive/stories/1962.html

    This statement I find hilarious from the Time article in light of the experience of the last 45 years: “The great majority of Protestant and Catholic clergymen and theologians—as well as many non-Christians—agree that Christianity is much stronger today than it was when World War II ended. Their reason is not the postwar “religious revival” (which many of them distrust as superficial) or the numerical strength of Christianity. It is that the Christian Church has finally recognized and faced the problems that have cut off much of its communication with the modern world. Says Notre Dame’s President Theodore Hesburgh: “We better understand the job that is before us. The challenge is to make religion relevant to real life.””

    As for my two questions, the Deposit of the Faith is the same always for the Church as a sacred institution in eternity. Here on earth, and in time, the Church as an earthly institution has differed greatly in what it has emphasized and what it has not over time and also with the success it has met with. For example, the somewhat moribund Church of the Avignon Papacy had precisely the same Deposit of the Faith as the dynamic Church of the Counter Reformation, yet the Church in these time periods differed greatly on many points, and also as to the success with which the gospel of Christ was presented to the world during these two ages. I have always thought that an examination of how the Church has functioned in different ages as an earthly institution can be useful in helping to understand the problems and successes of the Church in current times.

CDF to Offer Personal Prelature Status to the Traditional Anglican Communion

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

October 20, AD 2009, New Developments: Vatican Announces Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans!  To read more on this click here.

Updates at the bottom of the post ? (‘nothing’s been decided’ & ‘unlikely’)

papal-emblemThe Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly recommending that the Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) be offered the status of personal prelature.  The Traditional Anglican Communion is a group of approximately 400,000 Anglican’s that have broken away from the Anglican Communion seeking to preserve their Anglo-Catholic traditions.  They formerly requested entry into the Catholic Church in 2007.  These reports are emanating from an Australian Catholic weekly called The Record.

Due to the unprecedented volume of traffic it can be difficult to access The Record website.   I can only ladyonthrone1surmise this is because of the excitement that this bit of news must be generating among Traditional Anglicans as well as faithful Catholics and various observers from Canterbury.

Again, this has just been reported within the last two hours (1:50am Central Standard Time).  Here is the following posted information from The Record:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.

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62 Responses to CDF to Offer Personal Prelature Status to the Traditional Anglican Communion

  • I wonder if this is the same group of Anglicans that Mark Shea spoke to a couple of years ago in South Australia?

    Anyway, its great news.

    Ut Unum Sint, indeed.

  • Don the Kiwi,

    Not sure about that one.

    But if this is true and the negotiations go well, all I can say is WOW!

    Ut Unum Sint indeed.

  • This is good news. I hope it’s true ut unum sint.

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  • This is great news! I understood that there were many other issues that needed to be dealt with. While the priests and bishops of the TAC will probably need to be ordained (doubting as to the validity of their orders), it is my understanding that the TAC has a married episcopate, which I cannot see Rome accepting. Rome may offer the prelature with some other preconditions, but it is no guarantee that the TAC will accept.

  • Need not worry, Alan. The Holy Spirit- the anti-devil- is in the details. Wonderful development. Ut unum sint indeed.

  • This is indeed fantastic news! If the TAC is able to integrate successfully without having their unique heritage suppressed it could be the first of many groups to enter the Church without fear of “Latinization” and yet able to gain full communion.

    Alan Phipps,

    TAC has a married episcopate

    it is indeed very unlikely that the Holy Father would elevate a married man to the episcopate, however there is a history of permitting married clergy of converting Lutheran and Anglican congregations to be ordained priests while maintaining their state. I suspect that the TAC bishops understand this and will accept that condition, they would still retain leadership positions in the new prelature, and would only be limited in their faculties for the sacraments.

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  • Matt,

    Yes, I expect that the pastoral provision may be fully leveraged here in the case of married priest converts, but I also understood that for the TAC bishops, maintaining their married episcopate was a must. While I expressed concern, I in no way feel that this is necessarily a huge stumbling block… primarily just a curious question on my part. Hopefully they will accept Rome’s magnanimity.

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  • Alan,

    for the TAC bishops, maintaining their married episcopate was a must.

    I haven’t come across this before, all I could see is that they stipulated to the entire Catechism, so I don’t see how they could insist on this. We can certainly trust the Holy Father to work it out.

  • Matt,

    See if you can add a pic to your ID.

  • Tito,

    See if you can add a pic to your ID.

    Alright already.

  • Matt,

    “I haven’t come across this before,”

    I recall it from an interview I watched about a year and a half ago with the presiding prelate, Archbishop John Hepworth, who is married. I’ll have to see if I can track it down again, but I’ve heard conflicting reports that he may retire should Rome welcome them in.

  • “Niiiice.”

    For myself, I prefer that cool looking design as my ID.

  • Alan,

    It’s your turn. Put up a saint, like the one you have on Facebook.

    C’mon! Do it!

    Nothing like peer pressure eh?

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  • Tito,

    After the election of the most pro-choice pres. in US history things seemed dark. Then in January, the month he is sworn in and the month of the 50th aniv. of the Vatican Council three things happen (always in threes)…

    1-Total healing between the Vatican and SSPX
    2-A personal prelature for Anglicans is in the works (this could be huge even beyond the 400,000 in the TAC, indeed I think this could catch on like wild-fire perhapes even in Africa.)
    3-New Russian Orthodox Patriach is the most favorable to Catholics possible in the present Russian context and is in the mold of the Patriarch of Constantinople in terms of viewing the Church East and West as “two-lungs,” and I think it is at last a possibility that the Pope can visit Russia.

    Tito if I was still a blogger I’d post on this, these three things, taken by themselves are meaningless footnotes to the msm but I think in the context Church history these are all epic milestones.

    God bless and protect his Holiness. The Pope who so many liberals said would be so divisive is turning out to be the great unifier and the unity has come not due to pandering and pleastries but rather a robust embrace of Truth.

  • I forgot to add caveats of “potential for” in points 1 and 2.

  • I hope and pray this is true. I am a member of the Anglican Church in America a TAC church. This is an answer to our prayers. There will be whole sale movement over by American Episcopalians and Cof E members. The American Episcopal church has been ruined and the remaining Christians there pray for an alternative. Please pray that this effort towards uniting our church works if it is Gods will.

  • Claiborne,

    welcome home to Rome (a bit premature perhaps)! There a large number of Catholics praying for this union as well. We trust that the Holy Father will ensure that the process is just and merciful for all.

    What is your opinion on the prospective status of currently married bishops in TAC? The prevalent belief is that the Church will accept them as priests, but not in their current position. Do you believe that will be a stumbling block?

    Do you know if there are any TAC parishes in Houston?

    God Bless!

  • Matt –

    It is my understanding that all the TAC Bishops have offered to step aside from the Episcopacy to make this work.

  • watching,

    that would show great wisdom and humility indeed… something we need so much more of in the Church. Their sacrifice will be rewarded. Are you a member of TAC?

  • I hope and pray that we can officially say welcome home very soon!

  • A little research shows that the requirement for married TAC Bishops to retained is misinformation published on a “Catholic” website (probably an attempt to sabotage).

    Anglican Church in America

    Another self-proclaimed Catholic website states that the retention of “their married episcopate” was a requirement of the TAC. Once again, no reference to any such requirement was in the letter.

    Obviously, the only thing actually requested was “the guidance of the Holy See” – no list of conditions, no requests for a “Catholic bishop to preside over” us, for special treatment or consideration for current bishops, for Uniate status, or for any other specific structure, etc., etc. – just a simple statement that we want to be in communion with the Holy See without losing our Anglican heritage and identity, ending with the implied question, “How should we proceed?” The entire matter was undertaken with no agenda other than responding to our Lord’s prayer for unity among his followers (John 17), with the belief and understanding that such unity can only be achieved by restoring relationships severed by past schisms. It is hoped the above may bring some truth and clarity to the discussion.

    This is wonderful!

  • “A little research shows that the requirement for married TAC Bishops to retained is misinformation published on a “Catholic” website”

    Again, what I saw was from an interview, not from a website. I have no idea what the petition actually said… Apparently nothing pertinent to the question of married bishops.

  • I want to clarify that I do not mean in any way to suggest Alan as intentionally providing misinformation, attempting to sabotage.

  • Alan,

    Niiice pic!

    Tito

    Fidei Defensor,

    Good to see you!

  • Matt,

    The fear of “Latinization”???….they (TAC) were in the Western (latin) Church to begin with!!

    I’m fine with Rome’s offer, but really, if anyone is searching for truth, there should be no negotiating on their part. If they believe the fullness of the faith to exist in union with Rome, they should have just JOINED already. Any preconditions whatsoever illustrate a ‘stiff neck’ and we already have enough of those within the Church as it is.

    I hope that the TAC bishops can convince their laity to come over…I don’t know that all will do so…I’ve heard a lot of TAC laity declaring that they will not…they are, after all, protesters at heart and schism is what they do best.

  • Diane,

    by that I mean being put under the thumb of the local bishop and forced to discard their customs. This happened during the consolidation of rites after the Council of Trent. Of course they are technically Latin Rite, so it’s a bit of a misuse of the expression.

    According to the TAC website they set know pre-conditions, only requesting that they can maintain their cultural customs.

    I don’t agree with your stiff-neck criticism, they have, as a group, asked the Holy Father what they should do next, if he said come over individually, then that would have been the right thing to do. Also, bear in mind that, many of the laity, while they subscribe to the doctrine of the Church are not necessarily anxious to be back home in Rome. It is their bishops, leading them.

    Most will come, but those who do not? To whom shall they go? If they were “episcopal” they would have apostatized long ago… Perhaps to the SSPX if they haven’t already been reconciled.

  • This Roman Catholic Convert is thrilled! I will be praying that His will be done.

  • I am so excited. I came home to Rome 5 years ago this Easter. This will be a tremendous victory for the Unity of Christendom. A former cradle Episcopalian, and now an elated member of the Holy Catholic Church of Rome.
    Pray for the visible unity of Christendom.
    That we all may be one.

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  • Matt,

    Wanting to maintain their cultural customs is a precondition.

    Having all of these out-of-the ordinary juridical structures supports my sense that they are not willing to come in in total obedience. Not that I don’t support what B16 is doing…I’m just saying that I don’t believe that huge swathes of their laity will be joining their bishops in union with Rome.

    For examples of priests and laity that are defiant towards Rome, check out The Continuum. These ‘real’ Anglicans discarded the Canturbury Anglicans sometime ago and they pattern themselves after the Orthodox….having always existed as part of the ancient Church that included an important Bishop of Rome, but who never exercised universal jurisdiction.

  • “The Continuum” is hardly representative of the TAC. They spend a great deal of time trying to prove they are catholic, but yet reject many essential truths.

    Diane, you are in error in stating preconditions. There were no preconditions given to the Holy See.

  • Watching:

    Just for fun, I wonder what would happen if Rome responded “Sure! Glad to have ya’ll. Just get yourselves to the closest Catholic Church, sign up for and complete RCIA, and voila, you’re in!”.

  • Diane –

    That option has always been there.

    The TAC approached the Holy See and asked guidance on how to bring the entire TAC in. There were no preconditions and there was full acceptance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, evidenced by a signed copy together with the Statement:

    “We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed, together with this letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.”

  • Why not let them maintain their culture customs hasn’t the Church done that often throughout history?

    It seems to me what the TAC really wanted was their own Anglican Rite ala the Melekite Rite or something but I think they’ll be plenty happy with a personal prelature. I think it was fair though, there is a historical basis, the old Sarum Rite Mass, etc. I think telling all these 400,000 to go through RCIA is really going to whittle down the numbers of converts, frankly there are some parishes I know of where I wouldn’t recomend RCIA as sometimes the would-be converts come in with more love and loyalty to say the Holy Father than the local RCIA bureocracy.

  • Diane,

    it seems you are suggesting the prodigal son should not be treated to a banquet. That is not the Catholic way. When the sinner returns the Church and begs to be let in the fold, the Church doesn’t place obstacles in the penitents path like yous suggest. Furthermore, these individuals are being led into the Church by their pastors and bishops, valid or not, to take away this good leadership from them would not serve the interest of bringing souls to Christ… and that’s what is important, isn’t it?

    Frankly, the power of bringing in such a large block of Anglican’s intact, versus even this number on an individual basis is incredible, both for the possibility of more lost sheep returning and for the strength of the Church herself. How WE treat these new brothers and sisters will deeply affect the potential for Christian unity.

    Finally, once fully ensconced, this group will likely represent a strong, orthodox, and traditional group within the Church, something that we are in desperate need to have more of.

  • Matt,
    I’m clear about what the ‘Catholic way’ is, thank you. I’ve suggested no obstacles. I’ve simply said, the Church is here…there are ways to come home NOW.

    And, it won’t be a ‘large block’. It will be a fraction of a large block. The TAC is hopelessly fractured and it will not move as a unit. I want orthodox Catholics in the Church just as much as any other person. I’m with B16 in even accepting a smaller, purer Church….but we all need to be realistic about this.

    I am firm in my belief that any TAC parish, priest or person that is seeking truth and comes to the conclusion that it subsists in the Catholic Church, then they will come to Rome, no matter what, with or without their pastors, customs, etc. Yes, those things may make it more comfortable for them, but it shouldn’t be the basis upon which a decision to come home to Rome is made.

    They will simply just convert. If this doesn’t happen, then that tells us that truth was not their priority.

  • Diane,

    I would also suggest that you are talking about groups who didn’t want to be part of ‘liberal’ Anglican parishes back when “liberal” meant the ’79-prayerbook. They certainly aren’t going to want to go do RCIA at ‘liberal’ Catholic parishes.

    On the flip side, recent events suggest that BXVI seems to have settled on a policy of bringing groups like this into communion intact. Presumeably this will add to the richness and complexity of the Catholic body, which does not strike me as a bad thing. It also creates a stable community with a sense of identity and mission.

    And on a personal note, I would NEVER consider going to an SSPX parish (the other group with whom Rome is conducting prominent negotiations), but as someone who became Catholic by way of the Anglican communion and the BCP, I will be at a TAC parish the first Sunday they are Catholic. I painfully miss English hymnody and adore the BCP. So, would they lose some members that are in their pews now? Probably. Will they gain Catholics (esp. converts from/thru Anglicanism) and Anglo-Catholics who are nourished by the English tradition? Absolutely.

    LoA.

  • Diane –

    You seem to know more about how many in the TAC will respond to this than do I, a well connected member of the TAC.

    It will be a large block. We will lose a small group most likely, but I am astounded at your pontification on your uninformed opinion about the TAC.

    If we were not on the same page in terms of the faith, we would not be dealing with the part of the Holy See we are in discussion with.

    Those who are not Catholic, such as the Anglican Communion, work with the ecumenical section. You will notice that no other group works with the CDF.

  • Waiting:

    I hope I’m totally wrong on this one. I’d be thrilled with a large block of TAC members coming in.

    We can pray that it happens and, with that, we are all on the same page.

  • Matt,
    My understanding is that all our present bishops signed the proposal and said they would give up their office as Bishop. I assume they would continue as Priests. The Arch Bishop is married but I understand he is set to retire which will clear the way for a single celebate Bishop.

  • I have several friends who are Episcopalians who came into the Catholic Church, and all of them ended up taking refuge in Byzantine Catholic parishes in order to find something like the love of liturgy that they had held before becoming Catholic (and in some ways had lead them towards the Church as traditional liturgy was abandoned in their Episcopal parishes) and also the difficulties of liberal RCIA programs.

    So only looking at their example, I’m sure that it would be a great benefit for those coming into the Church (and for many of similar praxis who are already Catholic) to have an influx of Anglican Use parishes.

  • AWESOME THIS POPE BENEDICT 16TH HAS INDEED WITH THE HAND OF THE CREATOR TO GUIDE HIM IN THREE FELL SWOOPS HAS BROUGHT OVER 500+ TRADITIONAL (ORTHODOX) PRIESTS AND FOUR BISHOPS & BETWEEN 1 & 7 MILLION PEOPLE BACK INTO A REGULARIZED STATUS IN THE CHURCH. WITH A POSSIBLE PERSONAL PRELATURE OR GOD WILLING AN ANGLICAN RITE IN THE MIX OVER A 1000 TRADITIONAL ANGLICANS AND 400.000 ANGLICAN LAYPEOPLE MAY SOON ENTER FULL COMMUNION WITH ROME. WHICH I SUSPECT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING WITH MILLIONS OF ANGLICANS REUNITING UNDER THE SEE OF ROME, BE SWEET TO SEE THE SARUM RITE REVIVED AND RESTORED. THIRD BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST AFTER A THOUSAND YEAR SPLIT AND WITH THE ELECTION OF THE PATRIARCH KIRILL IN MOSCOW THE CHANCES OF RECIPRICAL RESTORATION OF UNITY BETWEEN MOSCOW AND ROME MAY NO LONGER BE A DREAM BUT A FACT, REMEMBER THAT THIS (THE ORTHODOX CHURCH) IS A COMMUNION OF OVER 500 MILLION PEOPLE. IF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NOT AT WORK HERE I WOULD BE MORE THAN SURPRISED. THIS IS NOT THE WORK OF MAN. AS FOR THE SOCIALIST-LIBERAL-60’S CUMBYA CHURCH OF MODERNITY, THOSE CLERICS AND LAITY THAT CRIED IN ANGER AT THE ELECTION OF JOSEPH RATZINGER AS POPE OF ROME, THOSE PSYDO-CHRISTIANS PREACHING “LIBERATION THEOLOGY” THAT HATE ORTHODOXY YOU STILL HAVE UR GODS, KARL MARX, FREDRICK ENGELS, STALIN AND POL POT.

  • I can understand the excitement at the possible return of Anglicans to the fold of the RCC but I do not understand the enthusiasm about Kirill. I used to read Interfax when he was the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. He was the most vociferous critic when the JPII elevated Patriarch Husar to the level of Cardinal of Lviv(Ukrainian Catholic Church) as well as creating the Diocese of the Mother of God(unofficially the Archdiocese of Moscow). He is not anymore pro-RCC than Alexei was when he was the Patriarch of Moscow.

  • Don’t get me wrong, If Kirill, as head of the Russian Orthodox church, acts more pragmatically great. I do not expect the Russians to agree to unification with Rome but I would hope he becomes more understanding of the Ukrainians and small Russian populations of Catholics who are loyal to Rome. It is a very sensitive topic over there in Russia.

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  • Glenn,

    I agree with you about Patriarch Kirill (do they get a new name like our Pope?).

    But I believe the enthusiasm is based on the possibility that Patriarch Kirill will meet with Pope Benedict, either in Russia or elsewhere. Which would be a significant step forward for two reasons:

    1) The Russian Orthodox Church represents the largest Orthodox congregation in Orthodoxy.

    2) The previous Patriarch (Alexy), refused to meet with either Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. Thus the potential of finally having a summit between the worlds two largest religious groups gains a bit more momentum.

  • Well Tito, God does work in strange ways after all, we all know from the prophecy at Fatima, Russia WILL eventually come into the fold; its just a matter of when, not if. I was merely basing my scepticism on statements from Alexy that it not possible for either JPII or BenedictXVI to visit in Russia or for Alexy to travel to Rome for face to face meetings. I don’t know if it pride on the part of the individuals concerned or intra church politics with in each branch of the faith which precludes such an event. Should such a meeting take place, I am sure it would be a momentous occasion for people of both faiths. I do pray it happens as I do wish for the Anglicans to return and will be waiting for Easter and hoping for the Vatican to make the anticipated announcement of the Anglican prelature.

  • Glenn,

    I agree with your sentiments.

    Padre Pio even said that Russia will convert to Catholicism before America does. It’ll be a very interesting time when this does occur.

  • Fr. Peters,

    according to statements by members of TAC above, and the US website, there are no preconditions on the offer to join full communion with the Church. They accepted the Catechism in it’s entirety, and have, apparently agreed to abide by any instructions from the Holy See with regard to their entry into the Church.

    As you are surely aware, the Church has welcomed her separated brethren from the Anglican communion before. A process was established whereby their priests where accepted to seminaries and ordained, even if currently married. There’s no doubt that a similar process would occur in this case, although it seems virtually impossible that any would be ordained to the episcopate.

    As to the personal moral situation of the TAC priests and bishops, that is no reason to turn the lost sheep away? I trust the Holy Father will deal with them as a true shepherd.

  • Fr Peters,

    my comment in no way conflicts with the reality that conversion is individual. For those already in the Church, conversion is still required.

    We have not been informed that this is going to happen; maybe the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is more informed but we have not received any update,” he said. “All we know is what we have read on newspapers and on some blogs.”

    That is a denial of nothing, as it’s likely the Holy Father would be holding his cards close, and quite possibly using his former congregation to execute.

    Fr. Peter’s comments notwithstanding, there is significant precedence of the Church welcoming large organized groups back into the fold after working out conditions with their leaders. Likely the first was the Arians after the Council of Nicea.

    Please Fr., what is the reason for your pessimism in this matter? Are you for some reason opposed to this re-union?

  • Fr. Bosco keeps worrying about conversion. Why do you suppose this matter has consistently bypassed the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity?

    Why has it been allowed to deal exclusively with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?

    It is because there is not a difference of belief. We would not be allowed to follow the path we have, if our beliefs were different.

  • Its interesting Msgr. Langham is reported as conceding that “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could be involved in talks with the Traditional Anglican Communion.”

    There is no secret here, it has been open from the first whom we are working with.

8 Responses to The Angelic Doctor

6 Responses to Defining a "Stimulus Package"

  • Also, one can’t help thinking that making promises to spend vast amounts of money _later_ will have the dual effect of not helping the economy now and making our debt load even worse.

    It’s ironic that just when the Bush administration (and the 2000-2006 GOP led congress) went on such a spending spree as to seemingly remove one of the GOP’s most popular issues (fiscal responsibility) the Obama administration and democratic congress should immediately go so far overboard with incurring more debt as to make it possible that in 2-4 years the GOP will come back with a, “These guys inherited a recession and took it as a license to spend money they didn’t have. Would you do that?” campaign.

  • What part of the word “pork” is difficult to understand? Only a small portion of this fire-hose of pork will create jobs, most of it is simply a massive expansion of the federal government. Anyone who thinks these spending levels are temporary is insane. This is like drugs, once cities, states and special interest groups get a taste of federal “crack” they will never give it up.

    Before anyone asks… yes, I am completely critical of the Bush administration’s expansion of federal spending.

  • This Wall Street Journal editorial is right on target: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123310466514522309.html

    As a boomer I agree with Victor Davis Hanson:

    “If anyone wished to know what the baby-boomer generation would do when, in its full maturity, it hit its first self-created, big-time recession, I think we are seeing the hysterical results. After two decades of unprecedented economic growth, rampant consumer spending, and unimaginable borrowing to satisfy our insatiable appetites, we are suddenly going into even larger debt and printing trillions of dollars in paper money to ensure that someone else after we are gone pays the debt. As if the permanent solution to a financial panic and years of spending wealth we didn’t create were a government take-over of the economy in the manner we currently witness in Spain, Italy, and Greece—or the high-tax, high-spend ethos of a bankrupt California.”
    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZGRjZTJiZjlkN2UxMDEyYTkwZmIxMzc3YjYyZWU5OWM=

    The Great Bailout Swindle of 2008 is being followed by the Great Bailout Swindle of 2009. This is economic lunacy, and our great grandchildren will still be trying to repair the damage caused by this drunken sailor approach to public spending embraced by both parties.

  • Contra President Clinton, I think that the era of small government is over. It’s good to see that now that the GOP has been routed into being an almost significant minority it has rediscovered its fiscal sanity, but it’s a little too little, too late, for the party and for the country.

  • @ tito

    Tito I asked you a simple question about what you believe about excorcism please answer it to the best of your ability. To leave links that I may or may not understand is wrong. My question to you is really very simple please answer it on the thread over at unreasonble faith. Thank you mark.

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The Great Divide

Wednesday, January 28, AD 2009

Some people think that the most important division is between those who believe in God and those who do not.  Others say the true dividing line is between conservatives and liberals.  Yet more regard humanity’s separation into men and women to be all important.  Rubbish!!!

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3 Responses to The Great Divide

Mark Shea's 'Change' He Can Believe In

Wednesday, January 28, AD 2009

sand-dollar

Apparently Mark Shea, one of the Catholic Blogosphere’s sage’s, has gotten caught up in all the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s ascension inauguration.  He has succumbed to change.  After six years and eight months of staying faithful to what I believe to be the Sand Dollar template that Blogger offers, Mr. Mark Shea decided to change, in the spirit of bipartisanship, the template he uses for his blog (Catholic and Enjoying It!) from Sand Dollar to Minima Lefty.

Mark Shea, a proficient blogger, writer, and apologist.  An insightful and sometimes provocative Catholic with his interminable style of debating has shocked, shocked I tell you, the Catholic blogosphere with this switch to Minima Lefty!  In one bold stroke Mark Shea has decided to thumb his nose in the face of traditionalists.

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11 Responses to Mark Shea's 'Change' He Can Believe In

  • Sad but true.
    So is the the Mark of Scripture, or the Shea of history?

    This could be debated in the bolgosphere fo eternity. 😉

  • Good to see you my favorite New Zealander!

  • Yeah. How ya doing.

  • Walter I left a question for you over at unreasonable faith, I am curious as to what you may say. Thank you

  • I capitulated to all the people who have been demanding I enter the New Millennium with a blog that actually cooperated with RSS feeds and such. Every ten years I try to catch up.

  • Mark,

    That makes a lot of sense. I remember asking a silly question on how to create a link to a post of yours. I’m sure you’ll have less of those questions with this particular template allowing for such things (among other questions).

    I remember finally purchasing a cell phone. Yeah I caught up. Now I’m reconsidering and thinking of getting a land-line again and chucking my cell phone.

    The simple life is very relaxing.

  • Hi Don.

    Happy to be here 🙂

  • At least Bugs stays. And welcome to our NZ Peep Don To The K. Some Pacific warmth in these cold Americano days.

  • Phillip 😆

    Well, that’s the mentality of crims, isn’t it?

    I’ve gotta say, we do get some doozies here.
    But the latest wasn’t too funny – young hard working man was accidently shot by police who were actually aiming for a “P” (pure methamphetamine) crazed idiot who had stolen 4 cars, crashed them, and was taking pot shots at pursuing police with a .22 sawn off, and at the time was about to shoot a driver of a small truck after he had pranged his last car – that’s when the cops shot at him -the young man was behind, and in the line of fire – very sad.

    But we are an environmentally friendly, safe, and people freindly country – right? Just ask the Dutch Govt. after a Dutch tourist was raped in a remote tourist caravan park. Keep to the towns.

    So much for my little rant.

    But great to be here 🙂

  • Don, in my criminal defense work I often have to strain to keep a straight face in court. Criminals are rarely masterminds. Often their explanation to me is that they were drunk or on drugs. My stock response: “Good! I would hate to think you would do such a stupid thing stone cold sober!”

Fellay to Williamson: Shut It

Tuesday, January 27, AD 2009

I must confess that when I read yesterday that Pope Benedict had lifted the excommunications against the four SSPX bishops, my first thought was not rejoicing that this suggested that a million semi-schismatic Catholics around the world might soon be fully returned to the fold, but rather, “Oh brother, does this mean that Bishop Williamson is now our problem?”

Though we’ve had our share of loopy bishops in union with the pope, Williamson takes episcopal antics to new levels. He’s been known to issue letters discussing how women have no business going to college, the dangerous modernist threat which the movie The Sound Of Music poses, and more sinisterly has recently flirted with holocaust denial.

Thus, I was encouraged to see that Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX, has issued a statement saying, “I have forbidden Bishop Williamson to issue any public opinion on any political or historical matter until further notice.”

Now there’s something I can say Amen to. Perhaps we may hope that the SSPX will not only become fully reunited with the Church in the near future, but will fail to embarrass liturgically traditional Catholics in the process. Deo gratias.

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13 Responses to Fellay to Williamson: Shut It

  • Williamson is no longer excommunicate, but he should never be a bishop. The man is a disgrace, plain and simple.

  • Donald,

    amen to that.

    Let’s be honest though, there are millions of fully heretical Catholics who enjoy “apparent” communion with the Holy See, and many millions more who are semi-heretical.

  • No argument from me on that score Matt.

  • Deo Gratias on Mr. Fellay’s ‘delayed’ reproach on Mr. Williamson.

  • I’m no authority on Bishop (?) Fellay, but he seems to me to be somewhat “loopy” himself, at times.

  • I’m no authority on Bishop (?) Fellay, but he seems to me to be somewhat “loopy” himself, at times.

    Nevertheless, he did the right thing in this case.

    liturgically traditional Catholics

    Catholics who prefer the “new” Mass are also “liturgically traditional.” We just prefer a different tradition. 🙂

  • Michael,

    To be clear, I prefer the “new” mass as well — by “liturgically traditional” I just meant preferring a “do the red, say the black” approach combined with the music, vestments, incense, etc. that reflect the sacredness of the mass and the history of the Church.

  • Darwin – Fair enough. But even there, I’m not sure “traditional” is the right word when we’re talking about a Church with a diversity of liturgical traditions. Like it or not, there are different “traditions” when it comes to which music, vestments, etc. reflect “sacredness.”

    I dig incense, absolutely. Insisted on using it at my wedding. 🙂

  • I’m not sure innovations of the last 40 years qualify as “traditions”, unless you mean introducing “traditions” of other faiths to the Catholic Mass… In any event, I would say that by “liturgically traditional” one means celebrating mass according to all of the rubrics, and guided by authoritative documents, such as Redemptionis Sacramentum and Sacrosanctum Concillium (Latin is to be retained). This can refer to the Ordinary Form, or the Extraordinary Form, but it is sadly rare outside the Extraordinary Form.

  • Michael & Darwin,

    I agree about the Ordinary Form. When it’s done right, I feel like I’m in Heaven!

  • Tito,

    you must be talking about that Cranmerian rite 😉

    Kidding aside, that is an awesome Mass, even if it is in English.

  • news flash:

    Pope Benedict speaks about SSPX during Wednesday Audience


    I decided, a few days ago, to grant the remission of the excommunication in which the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, without pontifical mandate, had incurred. I fulfilled this act of fatherly mercy because those prelates repeatedly manifested to me their deep suffering for the situation in which they found themselves. I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by the solicitous effort by them to accomplish the ulterior steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.

    While I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our brothers receivers of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man.

    May the Shoah be for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, a famous poet write. The Shoah particularly teaches, both old an the new generations, that only the tiresome path of listening and dialogue, of love and of forgiveness lead the peoples, the cultures, and the religions of the world to the hoped-for goal of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again crush the dignity of man!

24 Responses to Agree to Disagree

  • I can agree to disagree with people about tastes in novels and movies. Ending a human life however,is a bit different than “you say tomato, I say tomatoe.”

  • Indeed!

  • My guess is that Pope Benedict will soon find ways to disabuse our pro-abort President of this misconception.

    I don’t know. What if Pope Benedict got a thrill going up his leg and come to see that the way to reduce abortion was to promote and facilitate it? That being pro-life has nothing to do with defending and upholding life. That the only doctrine we need is “Yes we can!”, that the theological virtues are now faith, hope, and change. I know it sounds silly, but as you point out it happened once or twice or twenty million times.

    In fairness to Obama though, what could he have said? I mean, sure it would be nice if he converted, but frankly there’s no direct and honest way for him to respond – he’s literally having to answer to truth. So let’s just be grateful he didn’t respond by querying the Pope as to how many divisions he had…

  • “In fairness to Obama though, what could he have said?”

    The smart response would have been to say that he was open to “dialogue” on the issue, which he would have done if he thought it was important to do so. That he did not, idicates that he believes that the Pope, and those who believe as he does in this country, are no threat to him politically. I hope that experience will teach him otherwise.

  • True, “open to dialogue” tends to disarm things and is actually a quite hollow gesture when dealing with fundamentals such as this. However, there’s a risk to saying it in this situation. No sooner would it have came out of his mouth, the Holy Father might have said, “Great, let’s have a call tomorrow morning where we can discuss the matter. – Tomorrow is no good for you, you say? How about Thursday between 9:00 AM and Noon or is between Noon and midnight better for you?”….

  • I tend to agree with Rick here. Benedict insists that ecumenical dialogue must involve a frank recognition of differences. It seems that Obama was simply paying Benedict XVI the courtesy of speaking clearly about their differences.

  • To be clear, I recognize that there are important differences between ecumenical and diplomatic contexts, but my opinion is that Benedict would probably favor directness in both.

  • Would appear our President is a master of the fast quip. Telling the Holy Father that they will agree to disagree on abortion. Noting possible GOP opposition to stimulus packages, he responded, “I won.” Not to mention singling out Prof. Dr. Limbaugh as Someone That Republicans Should Not Listen To- forgetting a. they haven’t anyway and b. a superb means to rocket his ratings when Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage are now competing against him in that time period. We are happy to note that the Holy Father took the Americano bishops to the woodshed last April. Leading to the wonderful flow of bold pro-life statements through the balance of the campaign. Methinks he will have similar conversations with Mr. Obama.

  • Gerard E.,

    I think you have correctly identified one of Obama’s potential weaknesses. Personally, I favor directness, but it can be perceived as ungracious (and, in some cases, is). It’s somewhat irritating that Obama is permitted to say stuff like “I won,” and get a pass. If Bush had made a similar remark, his ‘arrogance and intolerance for other’s viewpoints’ would have been fodder for articles for several years. Ah, well.

  • I think there’s a subtle but less than venial difference between “we’ll have to agree to disagree” and an appropriate response of let’s continue to dialogue and try to work on those areas where we agree, or perhaps that we can at least work out a compromise. This is Obama’s big problem, he really isn’t willing to have open-minded dialogue, or compromise. THe Mexico City policy is the perfect example. A compromise with “life” would be to oppose restrictions on abortion but not to FORCE people to fund them…. He is not interested in compromise.

  • What’s interesting to me is that many pro-life Obama supporters used the argument that Obama was open to dialogue on the issue. That though there was disagreement there was a chance to change his mind. “Agree to disagree” is a significant rejection of that argument; it’s a declaration that he’s not going to shift. I’m glad for Obama’s honesty in this case; I wish his supporters shared the same virtue.

  • Indeed Matt. Leaving the MCP in place really would do nothing to compromise Obama’s first principle on abortion (a woman’s right to choose to end the life of her child). Had he left it in tact and not do anything more to fund or promote abortion he could possibly claim some high ground as someone willing to compromise and/or demonstrate some good will concerning the oft-used, meaningless rhetoric of “nobody really likes abortion”. He has just shown his true colors, though they’re not a surprise to anyone, including his supporters.

  • Oh, and Don. Love the picture you selected! It has such the “let the children come to me” thing going on. Really beautiful.

  • That picture is used by the USCCB for a series of terrific pro-life posters and brochures.

  • I just read the same thing. It appears that he realizes that it will delay the passage of the bill, particularly in the Senate. So let’s thank God for the graces we get.

  • Wow. Over a “Big Hollywood,” a contributor has written a powerful piece arguing for life. And he knows what abortion is:

    And I stand condemned. I’ve paid for three of them and was responsible for probably several more, I’m not really sure. But it breaks my heart. Because I’ve been convicted in my soul. It took years after the fact, but I was shown the Truth. And not to get mumbo-jumbo, oogly-boogly on you, but it was a spiritual awakening that did it. It happened unexpectedly, and it threw me to my knees in sudden tearful epiphany of what it meant for a man to be with a woman, what sex was really designed for by our Creator and… what abortion is.

    His pro-life arguments are not new to us, but on a secular blog – he is going to get a massive amount of vitriol thrown at him in the comments section.

    I rejoice. It looks like a Prodigal Son has returned home. One more set of eyes have been opened. May his piece will help to open someone elses eyes.

  • Here’s the link to that piece:

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/

    Scroll down to “Flashpoint! A Woman’s Right to Choose” by Gary Graham.

  • Michael,

    I am of the same mind. Unfortunately the Daily Kos/Huffpo crowd could care less about “dialogue”.

    … I wish his supporters shared the same virtue. …

  • Donna that was an extremely powerful piece you linked to. I especially liked this line: “So this abortion thing was pretty damn convenient for a guy.” How very true. People who argue with a straight face that abortion is necessary for the emancipation of women always crack me up. Abortion is the escape clause for every caddish man who ever wanted responsibility free sex. Let the woman deal with killing the child, and then claim what a wonderful thing that it was, and how the cad is a supporter of a woman’s right to choose. In the meantime she deals with the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of having killed her child. Abortion is right up there with sati as a benefit for women.

  • Donald, what heartens me is that I clicked on the author’s name and Gary Graham is a Hollywood producer and actor. I never heard of him but I don’t take that much interest in Hollywood (although I enjoy that blog, which is a place for conservative voices in Hollywood – all 10 of them.)

    A Tinseltown hotshot, a former Don Juan, saw the light, repented, and is now a witness for the truth. Man, I love stories like that.

  • He is a pretty well known actor Donna. He was one of the stars of the Alien Nation sci-fi series, was a semi-regular on Jag and Enterprise, and is a well respected character actor. Here is his web-site. http://www.garygraham.com/

    I have always liked his work as an actor, and now I repect him as a man.

  • “Pro-life” Democrat?

    Sadly, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who claims to value life as much as his father did, voted once again to force taxpayers to promote abortion overseas. The Pennsylvania Senator used a lot of his capital as a so-called pro-life Democrat to help President Obama get elected. The question to all the pro-life groups that have lent him credibility on the issue is–how many strikes before Casey is out?

  • Robert Casey senior was a pro-life hero; Junior is a pro-abort pretending to be pro-life. He brings shame to the memory of his great father.

When to be Progressive

Monday, January 26, AD 2009

Being a contarian sort of creature, I’ve been wanting for some time to write a post on why the progressive instinct is sometimes the right one. I’m quite certain that neither conservatism nor progressivism, properly understood, is the only possible view for the moral and reasonable citizen — and yet I find myself impeded in this by being in fact a very temperamentally conservative person.

First off, I’d like to suggest that as most precisely used “conservative” and “progressive” (I’m avoiding the term “liberal” here because it strikes me as having an even more confusing and increasingly imprecise meaning) are very relative terms. The progressive seeks to change current social structures, attitudes and political institutions in order to make them better. He seeks to progress. Conservative seeks to preserve existing structures and institutions, and when he accedes to change he urges that it be done slowly in order to avoid the disruption which rapid change often results in.

I would argue that there are some times when we should follow the progressive instinct, others when we should clearly follow the conservative one, and many in which it is a matter of debate which should be followed.

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51 Responses to When to be Progressive

  • “A society without the means to change itself is without means of its own preservation.” – Edmund Burke

  • Chesterton has m any essays on being progressive; he is generally critical. And the reason foe that is the failure to define [even more or less] what is meant by being “progressive”. A brake-less car running downhill is progressing at greater and greater speed.

    The good of progress can lie only in progressing to a particular goal.

  • I think Gabriel nailed it. The whole idea that “change” is good is simply wrong, as wrong as the notion that “change” bad. Neither is true, if the change is good in intention, rightness of the act, and a result that is good, it is good, otherwise it is bad. Those generally referred to as “conservative” here are those who resist changes they believe to fail one of these tests, and to be in favor of those changes which they believe to pass all of these tests. My best understanding of “progressive” is the imperative to change the rightness of the “act” or even the definition of “good result”.

    I’m not sure I would consider the American Revolution progressive, it was not a revolution as such but an establishment of independence based on established principles and natural law, that is much different from a revolution.

  • Chesterton is a man with a thought on everything, and now that I think about it there’s one which touches closely on what I was trying to get at here. In 1924 newspaper column he wrote:

    “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types–the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine.”

    Now, I would agree that many progressives now (as in 1924 and as in 1789) hail change for change’s sake, but I think to a great extent that stems from a shorthand in which they assume that everyone must share their ideas of what the goal of society ought to be. One can hardly progress without a goal you’re progressing towards, and if you ask someone why they support same sex marriage or abortion rights or some such you won’t get, “Because that’s a change” but rather “Because marriage should be any kind of loving compact between two adults” or “Because women need to be equal to men not slaves to their wombs.” I think those are things we should run away from terribly fast rather than progressing towards the, but they’re definitely goals.

    Indeed, in the wider sense, I’d argue that one of the basic differences between progressives and conservatives is often that progressives believe human society is mutable and that we can thus achieve a world with no proverty, or no ignorance, or no war. So progressivism often seeks big, world changing solutions which will solve big problems. Conservatives are (or ought to be) much more modest in their goals and recognize that society is not perfectable. But in this comes the danger of hesitating to correct evils that _can_ be ameliorted.

    As for the American Revolution, my question would be: To what extent were the principles and natural law which formed the basis of the Declaration of Independence truly seen as established at the time? Only a couple generations before the people asserting the right of the representatives of the people over the rights of the king were the Roundheads of the English Civil War and the Parliamentarians of the Glorious Revolution — in neither case people one could label as “conservative”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m highy supportive of the ideals of the American Revolution — I’m just not sure one can rightly label them “conservative” within their own context — whereas in our present day to a great extent it is conservatives who want to hold on to a more classical American vision of representative government while progressives seek a much more all-encompassing modern state.

  • DarwinCatholic,
    As for the American Revolution, my question would be: To what extent were the principles and natural law which formed the basis of the Declaration of Independence truly seen as established at the time? Only a couple generations before the people asserting the right of the representatives of the people over the rights of the king were the Roundheads of the English Civil War and the Parliamentarians of the Glorious Revolution — in neither case people one could label as “conservative”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m highy supportive of the ideals of the American Revolution — I’m just not sure one can rightly label them “conservative” within their own context — whereas in our present day to a great extent it is conservatives who want to hold on to a more classical American vision of representative government while progressives seek a much more all-encompassing modern state.

    I think if you accept my premise, that conservatives are not opposed to change by nature but that the change must meet the overriding principles of good intent, right action, and good result, then the American declaration of independance is conservative (not that it is not “progressive” either). The right of self determination has a long history in jurisprudence, recognized in the Magna Carta 500 years before. Keep in mind that the turning point for the declaration was not the fact that the colonies were subject to royal rule as were all the constituencies of the British Empire, but that they lacked the representation which was afforded to the English alone. In fact, it was not strictly King George alone who was oppressing the colonies but the British Parlaiment.

    In my point of view, to be conservative is to believe in certain absolutes principles, and then to apply those principles to the situation of the day. Take the “New Deal” it was opposed by conservatives at the time, but today the damage of dismantling the Federal welfare state that it resulted in would be so grave that no mainstream conservative would support it. On the other hand, most conservatives believe that reforms can and do improve the situation, and so they support them.

    Progressivism, I think decries the possibility of absolutes which might interfere with the remaking of society to the absolute equality they seek.

    Matt

  • We cannot escape the Enlightenment, liberal framework of our existence. It is in everything, which is not all bad…..but I would say – with a recent VN debate on my mind – that a sentiment of morality, custom, the good, virtue, is the way to go….anti-ideology, anti-totalizing. This is not so much “conservative” as it is humanist.

    Much of American conservatism is heavily infused with liberal, EN, contractual thought….the assumptions of Locke, basically. But liberty and freedom as first virtue is a false anthropology. We should be free insofar as we are free to seek the good! Goodness and virtue are of the highest value.

  • I think the “progressive” label is misleading. I began moving from left to right when I started noticing how crestfallen and sour certain writers at “The Nation” were about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of Soviet style socialism. What in the world was “progressive” I wondered, about clinging to a system which had produced so much death and misery?

    Of course, liberals are not Communists. But the liberal prescription for solving human ills has not changed. Larger government and more government control and confusing charity with spending other people’s money. Perhaps that wouldn’t matter if these social programs actually worked. But I lived in Washington DC for 13 years, a laboratory for every social program dreamt of and the crime rate never seemed to improve, the public schools got ever worse and the pot-holes got ever larger. More and bigger government was keeping a lot of people in Arlington and Alexandria and Georgetown employed – but was it really helping the folks in Anacostia?

    When people today talk of Obama’s “New New Deal” I remember that the first New Deal prolonged and deepened the Depression, which only came to an end with WWII. The “New New Deal” is not new, not fresh, and I really fear that it will turn a recesssion into a depression. Good news if you’re a left-wing policy wonk looking for employment in DC, bad news for the rest of us.

    Your post is a good reminder that we must have the wisdom to discern positive change from destructive change. One thing I truly admire liberals for is their support of MLK and the civil rights movement of the early ’60’s. The tragedy is that MLK was assassinated and more radical groups moved to the fore.

  • The fatal flaw in “progressivism” as a political ideology is that it ultimately reduces to the force of will. Might makes right; the raw exercise of power determines the Good. All is about dominant power structures. There is no appeal to a transcendent order, and there is no sense of telos. Change pointing toward what???

    Jonathanjones02 is right that liberty and freedom as first virtue is a false anthropology that often plagues conservatism; I would add that progressivism is also victim of a false anthropology, that of the preeminence of power. The only correct anthropology is that of the Cross.

  • I have often described myself as an American Conservative, because most of my political philosophy is grounded in the American Revolution: a wariness of governmental power, anti-utopianism, a firm conviction that men are not angels and that govenment is necessary because of that sad fact, that the best government tends to be that government which governs least, a fear of subordinating American sovereignty to any outside power, that the union of the states is necessary to preserve American freedom,etc. I do not agree with the Founding Fathers on everything, but on most things I am in accord with them.

  • Donna,

    great post!

    One thing I truly admire liberals for is their support of MLK and the civil rights movement of the early ’60’s. The tragedy is that MLK was assassinated and more radical groups moved to the fore.

    Conservatives of the 60’s are often villified for obstructing the civil rights movement, but that is not exactly their position:

    Bill Buckley, wrote at the time:
    we applaud the efforts to define their rights by the lawful and non-violent use of social and economic sanctions which they choose freely to exert, and to which those against whom they are exerted are free to respond, or not, depending on what is in balance. That way is legitimate, organic progress.

    Rightly or wrongly, he was applying a conservative view which believed in racial equality, but not one forced on the state or private citizens by the federal government, or by reverse discrimination policies. He may have been in error, but he was not the monster that many have painted civil rights era conservatives. Bear in mind that the civil rights era was preceded by an era when progressives were trying to remove the problem of racial inequality by exterminating “unequal” races…

    An interesting point that I have read of, is that progressives will often grab on to whatever movement is ascendant and ride it’s coat-tails to power. Thus you see a lot of far left infiltration into and integration with civil rights, gay activism, environmentalism, and even Catholic organizations.

  • “Bear in mind that the civil rights era was preceded by an era when progressives were trying to remove the problem of racial inequality by exterminating “unequal” races…”

    To me, nothing says “American progressive” more than Margaret Sanger and eugenics. Or Oliver W. Holmes writing in Buck v. Bell that “three generations of imbeciles are enough” (in favor of forced sterilization). American progressivism seems to follow the prevailing tide of opinion, hence the idea that power is everything.

  • Thus you see a lot of far left infiltration into and integration with civil rights, gay activism, environmentalism, and even Catholic organizations.

    Now that is interesting. On my way home from work, I was trying to think of a movement meant to remedy a genuine social ill that did not swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Far left infiltration certainly is one explanation. Another, perhaps, is just the human tendency to go to extremes, which is magnified in the mass (and another reason to fear an overextended government.) And there’s the rub – how do you seek to right wrongs without setting the law of unintended consequences into effect? I believe it was right, for instance, to decriminalize homosexual actions back in the ’60’s. But nobody then forsaw that gay marriage would be an issue 4 decades down the road. Heck, I don’t believe anybody saw it coming back in the ’80’s.

  • A historical note: France actually had two empires, the second under Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, from 1852-1870. A great post nonetheless, however.

  • The Radicals on the Right were wrong during the civil rights era, clearly wrong over the last 8 years by voting for dimwit W; and will, not surprisingly, be wrong on gay marriage and the environment. You are therefore deemed unfortunately hopeless. Please stand aside and let us adults take it from here.

  • “Please stand aside and let us adults take it from here.”

    Don’t you just love it when you make a point, and someone comes along a few hours later to prove it?

  • Please do not mistake your reality with reality. For yours is a special one that requires the full removal of reasoning and common sense. Nothing to fear, however; as cooler heads are now in charge and everything will be okay. It may take a little time for the grown-ups to undo the last 8 years of mid-bogglingly bad policies, but we will ultimately put it all back together again and make it all better. Sleep well, kiddo.

  • Keep digging the hole deeper, Obama-can! It gets better with everything you write.

  • I have to get it out of my system now, for once we move to full socialism I will not need to debate with you radicals as you will all be silenced, your churches shut down, and free-abortion clinics (paid for by your hard earned dollars) will spring up on every corner.

    Oops, did I just let the master plan cat out of the bag?

  • “The Radicals on the Right were wrong during the civil rights era…”

    This is historically false. Republicans were opposed to slavery, not Democrats. Republicans fought for civil rights, not Democrats. As an African American, my civil rights are partially indebted to the Republican men and women who fought for them — not to Democrats.

  • Lyndon Baines Johnson and JFK were republicans, I guess? You may try to rewrite the events of the day but you run into problems when rewriting history. It was the South, the predominantly republicans south, that fought literally to the death to try and continue slavery. I don’t think there were a lot of democrats named Bubba trying to prevent integration in the 60’s. To hang your hat on the republicans as the current representative of minorities is to miss almost every event of the last 150 years. Next you will argue that the republicans are the true protectors of the separation of church and state and are against torture. You have the right idea, just seemed to have the parties mixed up.

  • “and free-abortion clinics (paid for by your hard earned dollars)”

    What was that you were saying about reality? Mexico City, anyone?

  • Obama-can,

    I think you’re getting your history mixed up. It was the Democratically controlled south that seceded from the Union. And it was the Republicans in both chambers of congress that pushed through LBJ’s Great Society legislation.

    This is getting amusing I must say.

  • Eric Brown,
    This is historically false. Republicans were opposed to slavery, not Democrats. Republicans fought for civil rights, not Democrats. As an African American, my civil rights are partially indebted to the Republican men and women who fought for them — not to Democrats.

    This is pretty accurate regarding political parties, but I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to label all democrats as “progressives”, certainly not the the southern democrats who opposed the civil rights movement to the bitter end. Somewhere along the way the elitist northern democrats who really were progressives, realized they could abandon their genocidal approach and ride this wave to power and joined on. It may be fair to criticize democrats and republicans for a lack of action on civil rights in the 60’s, however it is certainly not terribly imbalanced on either side.

    In fairness, I think there were many principled democrats right up until the late 70’s and even into the 80’s who opposed the evils that their party was embracing, they’re all now deceased, or Republicans. Interestingly most of the old warhorses of the democrat party were once pro-life: Kennedy of course, Al Gore, Joe Biden to name a few.

    Obama-can,
    Lyndon Baines Johnson and JFK were republicans, I guess? You may try to rewrite the events of the day but you run into problems when rewriting history. It was the South, the predominantly republicans south, that fought literally to the death to try and continue slavery. I don’t think there were a lot of democrats named Bubba trying to prevent integration in the 60’s. To hang your hat on the republicans as the current representative of minorities is to miss almost every event of the last 150 years. Next you will argue that the republicans are the true protectors of the separation of church and state and are against torture. You have the right idea, just seemed to have the parties mixed up

    The greatest hero of civil rights was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. His nemesis Jefferson Davis was a Democrat.

    The South was heavily democrat until the early 70’s as the “party of death” abandoned it’s moral values entirely and embraced the holocaust of abortion as it’s major plank. So, yes, I imagine that there were quite a lot of democrats named Bubba. You might note, as I saw mentioned somewhere recently that it was a Republican Governor who executed the Brown vs Board of Education ruling… not a deathocrat.

    Here’s a little history lesson:
    Former KKK Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd served as a Democratic congressman and senator from 1952 until today.

    Where are the progressives? Aside from the quite insane Obama-can, it would be nice to hear a defense of progressivism… or have they retreated to their haven, where posts they can’t refute are suppressed.

  • I almost suspect that Obama-can is pulling our legs. Surely nobody can be so deluded as to believe the South that fought the Civil War was Republican.

    But when I contemplate our public school system, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out they’re teaching that Lincoln, the first Republican president, was actually a Democrat.

    I recently met a young person who was under the impression that Nixon “got us into” the Vietnam War. Because only Republicans get us into wars, dotcha know? He was taken aback when I told him about a certain Mr. Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. No prizes for guessing who that young person voted for in Nov.

  • Looking at a couple of the interesting comments here (which would be basically all the comments except the odd interruptions of Obama-can) I should clarify that I’m essentially using “progressive” as an opposite term to “conservative”, not in the sense of the progressive movement as an entity which has existed in more-or-less unbroken form since the mid-nineteenth century.

    Part of what I’m wrestling with here is that I on the one hand have a strong sympathy with the basic reflexive “let’s not do anything too fast — you can’t change human nature” kind of conservatism, yet at a historical level the classical liberalism of the 18th century which is what so many modern American conservatives want to “conserve” was itself a “liberal” movement against the anciene regime kind of instincts that conservatives of the 18th century had.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    so you’re referring to “progress” vs. “non-progress” more than the progressivist movement. At that point, I think you’re 100% right, there are times for both, and it is very hard to know when each inclination should be followed. The first 2 principles of double effect are relatively easy to determine, the last one is the problem… will this change have a good effect which outweighs the bad effect. Even hindsight doesn’t always provide the needed clarity.

  • And expanding on the above: I’m hesitant to call “conservatism” an approach in which one preserves that which is good and rejects that which is destructive because that basically turns “conservatism” into a shorthand for “good sense as I see it”.

    I would hope that most self declared conservatives would take that approach, but I’m trying to come to some sort of an idea of what the conservative and progressive tendencies are, and I don’t think that turning “conservative” and “progressive” into synonymns for “reasonable” and “unreasonable” will prove to be useful in describing what is a conservative and what is a progressive tendency.

    Certainly, we want both self declared conservatives and progressives to be reasonable, but doing this means understanding what our overall political tendencies are and from that coming to an understanding of when we need to go against them: When the progressive needs to realize that he may not be able to organize a new system better than the status quo; and when the conservative needs to admit that overturning the traditions of the past in a given area would actually be a good thing.

  • “It was the South, the predominantly republicans south, that fought literally to the death to try and continue slavery. I don’t think there were a lot of democrats named Bubba trying to prevent integration in the 60’s.”

    Actually virtually all the Bubbas trying to stop integration in the 60’s were Democrats. George Wallace, Bull Connor, Lester Maddox, Orville Faubus, all Democrats. The Democrats in the South fought vociferously against desegregation. In regard to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 63% of Democrats in the House voted in favor of it, while 80% of Republicans did. In the Senate, 69% of Democrats voted in favor of it, while 82% of Republicans voted in favor. The Democrat Party controlled the South following Reconstruction for two reasons: The Republican Party led the successful fight in the Civil War to preserve the Union and end slavery, and because the Republican party nationally was the party in support of Civil Rights for blacks.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    neither do I think it’s reasonable to consider “conservatism” a monolithic rejection of all change, which is the mischaracterisation used by the left. Progressivism and conservatism have real meanings beyond the root of their name, just as the americanist heresy did. Calling all support of a change “progressive” and all opposition to change “conservative” makes those words really devoid of value in my opinion.

    I do recognize that their may be an subjective aspect, an impulse to change or not change, and that’s perhaps what tends to put us in one camp or the other. I just don’t think it’s something we can generalize on. I know some conservatives, on the far right who have a radical impulse for change (the Ron Paulites are typical of this), it’s perhaps only the moderates on either side who really have a smaller impulse for change.

    I would still like to hear a response to my proposal that “progressivism” allows for the movement of the definition of what is “right” to suit the common good. Take for example the progressivist view that torture is intrinsically evil. This is a change in what is right (at least according to the Church) which for hundreds of years considered that in the circumstances of the times torture was not intrinsically evil, and even carried it out to some extent. Now, one can be conservative and say that in the present context, torture is always evil, but that’s not the same as intrinsically evil. In the same way, it appears many progressivists support women’s ordination despite the fact that Church has absolutely declared it to be impossible, they are seeking to move the goal-posts.

  • Matt,

    Would you say that it is a mischaracterisation of the right to say that “progressivism” is a monolithic movement to change things for the sake of change, rather than to seek to reform — versus revolutionize — and adapt institutions to be better oriented toward true justice?

    In regard to torture, I think you’re profoundly mistaken. I’m a theology major at a vibrantly orthodox Catholic school and I have never learned anything, nor read anything as a convert, that has asserted anything other than torture is an objectively wrong intrinsic moral evil. My boss, Fr. Joseph Pilsner, who is a moral theologian with a Ph.D. from Oxford University confirmed this fact before I even began looking into it just now. I think it is safe to side with him on this matter.

    Torture IS in a fact an intrinsic evil that is objectively wrong in and of itself. Torture hardly has any place in Christian morality given that God Himself was tortured before his ghastly death on a Cross. It seems to me hardly reasonable to argue that as Christians — imitators of Christ — we would view torture as a justified course of action given that the ends do not justify the means and the basic fact that every person is made in the image and likeness of God with an inherent dignity that cannot be violated. It is hardly conceivable to see any moment or circumstance whereas such physical and moral violence that was inflicted on the Lord can and should be inflicted on another human being.

    “A prime example [of intrinsically evil actions] is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia… Direct threats to the sanctity and dignity of human life, such as human cloning and destructive research on human embryos, are also intrinsically evil. These must always be opposed. Other direct assaults on innocent human life and violations of human dignity, such as genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, can never be justified.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States , No. 22, 23, November 2007)

    Pope Benedict XVI talked about this in September 2007, when he addressed an international congress of Catholic prison ministers. “Means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners” must be eschewed by public authorities, he said. Immediately he added the following statement, which incorporates a quote taken from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any circumstances’” (No. 404).

    The Bishops hit the point again. “The use of torture must be rejected as fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of the human person and ultimately counterproductive in the effort to combat terrorism” (No. 88). The terminology — fundamentally — refers to something that in and of itself, by its very nature is not compatitble with human dignity. Therefore, there is no justification of it. It is an intrinsic moral evil just as abortion is. In Veritatis Splendor Pope John Paul II included ‘physical and mental torture’ in his long list of social evils that are not only ‘shameful’ (‘probra’), as they are declared to be by the Second Vatican Council, but also “intrinsically evil.”

    The following is from Gaudiem et Spes:

    “Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.”

    Torture is listed in the Catechism as a violation of the Fifth Commandment. “Torture…is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Torture is not SOMETIMES contrary to human dignity. Torture is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity, period. The government or any party may have a good intention, but the problem is that since some action is not in accord with the natural moral law; therefore, the deliberate employment of and support of torture, no matter how one tries to disguise it or make it seem not like torture, is an intrinsic moral evil, which translates in Catholic moral theology as a mortal sin.

    I’m sure this may seem like “liberal-fuzziness,” but I am taken by the Lord’s commandment to love thy enemies. I can agree that sometimes loving one’s enemies can involve an unfortunate resort to self-defense, remotely in the form of violence. But torture since it is intrinsically evil does not fit the criteria. St. Paul beautifully says in his letter to the Romans , “No ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

    In the spirit of Pope John Paul II to promote the intrinsic evil of torture and the scandal of capital punishment undermines credibility as well as spiritually and morally diminishes us and any attempt to truly build a Culture of Life.

  • Eric,
    Would you say that it is a mischaracterisation of the right to say that “progressivism” is a monolithic movement to change things for the sake of change,

    yes I would.

    rather than to seek to reform — versus revolutionize —

    both are true, I don’t think it’s properly called progressive if it’s just a matter of reform.

    and adapt institutions to be better oriented toward true justice?

    This is an intention that is neither progressive nor conservative.

    In regard to torture, I think you’re profoundly mistaken. I’m a theology major at a vibrantly orthodox Catholic school and I have never learned anything, nor read anything as a convert, that has asserted anything other than torture is an objectively wrong intrinsic moral evil. My boss, Fr. Joseph Pilsner, who is a moral theologian with a Ph.D. from Oxford University confirmed this fact before I even began looking into it just now. I think it is safe to side with him on this matter. Torture IS in a fact an intrinsic evil that is objectively wrong in and of itself.

    I know Fr. Pilsner is orthodox, and he is certainly entitled to that opinion, as are you. There are many eminent theologians past and present who disagree and the Church has not definitively said otherwise.

    Fr. Harrison is a good and orthodox priest also, and he disagrees with you. As does the namesake of your Catholic school (ST, IIa IIae 65, 1). As does the great theologian St. Alphonsas Ligouri.

    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt119.html

    Ligouri:
    Under what conditions can a judge proceed to have an accused person tortured (#202)? Answer: the judge may only “descend to torture” as a last resort, i.e., when full proof cannot be obtained by non-violent means; next, there must already be “semi-complete proof” (semiplenam probationem) of the accused’s guilt arising from other evidence; and finally, certain classes of persons are to be exempt from torture, either because of their frailty or their great value to society: “men of great dignity”, knights of equestrian orders, royal officials, soldiers, doctors [probably in the general sense of learned men] and their children, pre-pubescent children, senile old folks, pregnant women, and those who are still weak after childbirth.

    Are you saying these saints and doctors of the Church are in error in their moral theology? Or is it perhaps more likely that the context and circumstances of today render torture no longer an acceptable practice as Cdl. Palazzini suggests (1954):

    Other reasons [i.e., other than human rights per se] are very weighty, especially today when sophisticated investigative methods aided by scientific expertise render much less useful any recourse to methods [i.e., torture] which, to say the least, are so imperfect. Public opinion, which carries a certain weight among the various means of deciding on specific social goals, is today clearly against the use of torture.

    Torture hardly has any place in Christian morality given that God Himself was tortured before his ghastly death on a Cross.

    Really, spare me. Christ was executed by the state, does that make capital punishment intrinsically evil? no.

    It seems to me hardly reasonable to argue that as Christians — imitators of Christ — we would view torture as a justified course of action given that the ends do not justify the means and the basic fact that every person is made in the image and likeness of God with an inherent dignity that cannot be violated. It is hardly conceivable to see any moment or circumstance whereas such physical and moral violence that was inflicted on the Lord can and should be inflicted on another human being.

    I agree, I don’t believe that the type of torture and execution Christ endured could ever be justified, but there is a large difference between that and what the Church accepted as justified for most of 2000 years.

    “A prime example [of intrinsically evil actions] is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia… Direct threats to the sanctity and dignity of human life, such as human cloning and destructive research on human embryos, are also intrinsically evil. These must always be opposed. Other direct assaults on innocent human life and violations of human dignity, such as genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, can never be justified.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States , No. 22, 23, November 2007)

    Can never be justified, is not the same as intrinsically evil, and this document is not definitive in any event.

    Pope Benedict XVI talked about this in September 2007, when he addressed an international congress of Catholic prison ministers. “Means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners” must be eschewed by public authorities, he said. Immediately he added the following statement, which incorporates a quote taken from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any circumstances’” (No. 404).

    Can never be contravened, is not the same as intrinsiclly evil, and this document is not definitive in any event.

    etc. etc. etc.

    Torture is listed in the Catechism as a violation of the Fifth Commandment. “Torture…is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Torture is not SOMETIMES contrary to human dignity. Torture is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity, period. The government or any party may have a good intention, but the problem is that since some action is not in accord with the natural moral law; therefore, the deliberate employment of and support of torture, no matter how one tries to disguise it or make it seem not like torture, is an intrinsic moral evil, which translates in Catholic moral theology as a mortal sin.

    You are proof-texting the CCC. The full quote is:

    Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity

    So, the CCC does not say that torture used in the classical ticking time bomb scenario is contrary to the respect for the person and for human dignity, nor does it say that it is intrinsically evil.

    I’m sure this may seem like “liberal-fuzziness,” but I am taken by the Lord’s commandment to love thy enemies. I can agree that sometimes loving one’s enemies can involve an unfortunate resort to self-defense, remotely in the form of violence. But torture since it is intrinsically evil does not fit the criteria. St. Paul beautifully says in his letter to the Romans , “No ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

    You really need to read some more pre-Vatican II Church history, there’s 1960 years there, dig in. The Church does not instruct us to pacifism.

    In the spirit of Pope John Paul II to promote the intrinsic evil of torture and the scandal of capital punishment undermines credibility as well as spiritually and morally diminishes us and any attempt to truly build a Culture of Life.

    You need to not be so emotional in your arguments and stop talking past my actual statement, I’m sure Fr. Pilsner would not approve of such. I did NOT in any way shape or form, promote torture or capital punishment… you know this to be true. My point, which I was very precise about is that torture was permitted by the Church under certain circumstances, and now there is a move afoot to declare it intrinsically evil, thus changing the rightness of an action. Argue with the popes and St. Thomas if you like, but my statement is factual.

    I’m curious, how do you define torture? Is all means of inflicting pain mental or physical to be considered torture?

    Matt

  • Progressivism and conservatism have real meanings beyond the root of their name, just as the americanist heresy did. Calling all support of a change “progressive” and all opposition to change “conservative” makes those words really devoid of value in my opinion.

    I agree that the terms have real meanings beyond just “change” and “no-change” — to the extent that I think the “change” and “no-change” political philosophies are rooted in different understandings of human nature and the perfectability/maleability of society. However I think it’s important to try to understand the conservative and progressive approaches to society and politics outside of the specific topics in conflict now. Liberating the Russian serfs and American slaves was very much a progressive project, as was the push for civil rights and for women to vote. And yet eugenics, same sex marriage, abortion and a host of other wrongs (past and present) also spring from a progressive instinct. (And similarly, conservatives have at times clung to things that don’t deserve to be clung to — the conservative Southern Democrats of the 1950s and 60s spring to mind, as do the turn-of-the-century conservatives who strongly opposed votes for women.)

    I know some conservatives, on the far right who have a radical impulse for change (the Ron Paulites are typical of this), it’s perhaps only the moderates on either side who really have a smaller impulse for change.

    I agree that some on the far right seek very radical change in society, though I would tend to say that this makes them not truly conservative in their approaches. Reactionary, perhaps, but not conservative in a sense Burke would recognize.

    I would still like to hear a response to my proposal that “progressivism” allows for the movement of the definition of what is “right” to suit the common good.

    It happens, but I don’t think it’s conscious. Those who are strongly progressive believe that it’s possible to significantly remake society — moving it much closer to some sort of ideal. What that ideal is perceived to be, however, changes constantly, though often unconsciously. For instance, at some point feminists went from wanting women to be given voting and other key civil rights while retaining their traditional place within social and familiar structures to wanting women to be “equal” as in “the same as” men, and thus all sorts of demands centering around birth control and abortion became “feminist”. I don’t really think that was the result of a conscious, “We got the vote, now lets demand freedom from reproduction,” thought process, however, so much as that people in the movement gradually came to change their worldview in regards to what “justice” was.

    Take for example the progressivist view that torture is intrinsically evil. This is a change in what is right (at least according to the Church) which for hundreds of years considered that in the circumstances of the times torture was not intrinsically evil, and even carried it out to some extent.

    I don’t want to turn this into a torture debate thread, however I think this is a poor example. Asserting that torture is an “instrinsic evil” is not necessarily a strictly progressive view, and it’s an argument that gets into all sorts of definitional problems. Further, I think it’s a mistake to simply assume that because a practice was tolerated in the Church (and regulated and discussed by theologians) means that it was officially defended on grounds of moral theology.

    That St. Alphonsas Ligouri, to pull your example, described limited circumstances in which he thought torture might be used (clearly operating under the assumption that torture was a pretty standard method of judicial practice) does not mean that he was right — just as the fact that Paul gave advice to a slave owner on how to treat his slave kindly as a Christian does not mean that slavery is a good idea.

  • I would still like to hear a response to my proposal that “progressivism” allows for the movement of the definition of what is “right” to suit the common good.

    It happens, but I don’t think it’s conscious.

    I’m not so sure, while I think that many progressives are not actively aware of this, a glance at the ethics departments of most universities will find that there is an ongoing effort to redifine the “rightness” of an action to suit the progressive view of the common good.

    Take for example the progressivist view that torture is intrinsically evil. This is a change in what is right (at least according to the Church) which for hundreds of years considered that in the circumstances of the times torture was not intrinsically evil, and even carried it out to some extent.

    I don’t want to turn this into a torture debate thread, however I think this is a poor example. Asserting that torture is an “instrinsic evil” is not necessarily a strictly progressive view, and it’s an argument that gets into all sorts of definitional problems. Further, I think it’s a mistake to simply assume that because a practice was tolerated in the Church (and regulated and discussed by theologians) means that it was officially defended on grounds of moral theology.

    That St. Alphonsas Ligouri, to pull your example, described limited circumstances in which he thought torture might be used (clearly operating under the assumption that torture was a pretty standard method of judicial practice) does not mean that he was right — just as the fact that Paul gave advice to a slave owner on how to treat his slave kindly as a Christian does not mean that slavery is a good idea.

    It’s only a poor example because you’re not recognizing my point in using it. An act which is intrinsically evil could never have been justified under any context ever. It is evil by definition. The Church for nearly 2000 years did not define torture (or slavery) as intrinsically evil, but prescribed particular circumstances and limits to it’s use. Suggesting now that the Church was in error on a matter of faith and morals is certainly progressive. I’m not talking here about whether slavery or torture are “good ideas” but whether their very nature as viewed by the Church has changed, as opposed the context of their use, just as the circumstances of the times are suggested as making capital punisment all but unnecessary.

    My point here, and I am open to correction is that progressivism accepts as reasonable the changing of an act from evil, to not evil or vise versa, in order to make it permissible to effect a good result, or to eliminate a bad effect (as in the case of torture).

    Matt

  • Darwin,

    Sorry that this can’t be a rousing apologia for progressivism, but I thought I’d just throw in a few probably incoherent, and certainly fairly obvious, thoughts on finding a definition, from the point of view of someone who considers herself a political progressive.

    One is that “conservatism” and “progressivism” are highly context-sensitive. I say that I’m politically progressive, but I consider the pro-life movement progressive (and note that it’s adopted many of the smartest techniques of classic progressive civil rights action), as part and parcel of the defense of the dignity and civil rights of women, children, and the disabled (broadly construed here as those who are physically and mentally dependent and incapable of coming to their own defense–which must include the unborn). Further I see no necessary correlation between theological or liturgical “progressivism” and political progressivism, and in those areas am probably a (theological) “neo-cath” and a (liturgical) reactionary, chapel veil and all. In some areas, such as education, “progressivism” has come to mean a status quo in the theory American educational reform that is beginning to be attacked by many on the political left–E. D. Hirsch was the leader in this regard–as resulting in manifest social injustice, and so needing to be opposed vigorously by progressivists. And in some contexts, such as female suffrage (where the progressives decisively won the day) or eugenics of the last-century variety (where the conservatives won), there really is no “progressive” or “conservative” anymore as the field of battle has vanished.

    Another thought is that much of this discussion seems uniquely American. Europeans of my acquaintance laughed at the election-season discussion of whether Obama might count as a socialist or not; in many parts of the world, quite “conservative” people hold views far, far to the left of any serious American presidential candidate, and many “progressive” or “liberal” people hold views too far right for the American mainstream (I’ve heard comments about immigration from leftie Englishmen that would make your hair curl, Democrat or Republican). Try selling Chesterton’s British distributism to the American public, see which box it gets you put in.

    I’m not going to try to address the various points and challenges above, first because I’m clearly outnumbered and don’t even have the time to keep up my own blog, let alone defend the liberal cause here; and second because (as you know) even though I have fairly strong political views, discussing politics is one of my least favorite activities. Nothing against those who enjoy it, of course.

  • I say that I’m politically progressive, but I consider the pro-life movement progressive (and note that it’s adopted many of the smartest techniques of classic progressive civil rights action),

    This, I think, is a good point. It’s no coincidence that pro-life advocates frequently cite the campaigns against slavery and segregation for precedent. And it’s interesting how many of the “it would never work to restrict abortion” arguments one hear’s from pro-choice people are essentially of the “the side effects of trying to change society would be too dangerous” variety.

    Try selling Chesterton’s British distributism to the American public, see which box it gets you put in.

    Heh. Well, and that’s where you run into ideals versus context. Frankly I like a fair amount of what Chesterton has to say from my perspective as a conservative, but it strikes me that proposing to actually get there from here in any direct fashion would be highly un-conservative.

  • a glance at the ethics departments of most universities will find that there is an ongoing effort to redifine the “rightness” of an action to suit the progressive view of the common good.

    I guess I’d see the directionality differently. I’d say that both secular progressives and the secular inhabitants of ethics departments are both drinking the spirit of the age from the same well, to some extent, and so similar tendencies are not so much an attempt to revise “rightness” to match some existing progressive view, but rather everyone going with the flow.

    My point here, and I am open to correction is that progressivism accepts as reasonable the changing of an act from evil, to not evil or vise versa, in order to make it permissible to effect a good result, or to eliminate a bad effect (as in the case of torture).

    I don’t think that’s at all a necessary assumption of progressivism. It seems to me that progressivism has much more to do with the assumption that it’s possible to take direct action to reform society to make it closer to an ideal. It seems society and to an extent perhaps even human nature as mutable — but that doesn’t necessarily imply the ability to redefine what is good.

    Though I think that the “we’re making progress” mindset is probably more generally open to the idea that “we know better what is good now” than the conservative mindset is.

    On torture:

    It’s a long messy question, and I really don’t want to get into it here as I’m not convinced it’s relevant.

  • Eric Brown has got it exactly right. And in the correct manner, citing relevant passages from papal teachings and encyclicals [as the Catrechism does]. We cannot overcome such an evil as terrorism, for example, by bec oing ourselves terrorists.

    Is not such an act as that of torture more than equivalent to the bit if incense which our martyrs refused to burn for the idols of antiquity.

  • Gabriel Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est right?

    Wrong.

    Eric has not responded to Brian Harrison’s arguments, nor St. Ligouri’s, nor St. Thomas (pray for us), nor has anyone else.

    The argument has nothing to do with efficacy, or becoming terrorists ourselves, or that last bit of rambling you posted, so if you want to join the argument for real, by all means do so.

    I’m beginning to think that the mark of progressivism is the inability to respond substantially, instead just tossing out red herrings.

  • Matt,
    If you wish to continue a serious discussion, you should make a great effort to eschew efforts to be denigratory. [You must also be careul of using Latin if you are not good at it. Hint: I am not a woman].

    One of the marks of all the Church’s teachings is a painstaking examination in greatly tiresome detail. Yoiu cheerfully quote a bit from St. Alphonse Liguori and treat as Holy Writ. But St. Alphonse was never a pope, nor was St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Whether a papal doument is infallible or not, Newman writes that we must accept it obediently, perhaps until another pope does a further explication.

    In the papal documents, I believe that the popes are looking at the soul of the torturer.

  • Gabriel,

    If you wish to continue a serious discussion, you should make a great effort to eschew efforts to be denigratory. [You must also be careul of using Latin if you are not good at it. Hint: I am not a woman].

    my apologies, I was simply trying to draw you into a discussion rather than a pronouncement of Eric’s infallibility.


    One of the marks of all the Church’s teachings is a painstaking examination in greatly tiresome detail. Yoiu cheerfully quote a bit from St. Alphonse Liguori and treat as Holy Writ. But St. Alphonse was never a pope, nor was St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Yes, however, Thomas is a doctor of the Church, his teachings are the basis for the Council of Trent which is still in force. Nor do I treat their quotes as “Holy Writ” only arguments in favor of my premise, nowhere do I suggest they are definitive. Not all teachings of the Church are pronounced by Pope’s, in fact, that is not the norm. Nevertheless, if you’d care to refer to the link to Fr. Harrison’s essay he cites:

    Pope Innocent IV, Bull Ad Exstirpanda (May 15, 1252). This fateful document introduced confession-extorting torture into tribunals of the Inquisition. It had already been reinstated in secular processes over the previous hundred years, during which Roman Law was being vigorously revived. Innocent’s Bull prescribes that captured heretics, being “murderers of souls as well as robbers of God’s sacraments and of the Christian faith, . . . are to be coerced – as are thieves and bandits – into confessing their errors and accusing others, although one must stop short of danger to life or limb“.33

    Whether a papal doument is infallible or not, Newman writes that we must accept it obediently, perhaps until another pope does a further explication.

    In the papal documents, I believe that the popes are looking at the soul of the torturer

    Fair enough… but that’s not what the argument is about.

    I’ll ask it again…. Is all means of inflicting pain mental or physical to be considered torture? If torture is to be considered intrinsically evil, then we must know what it is.

  • I’m going to reply to you. I begin typing something, pressed back, loss the ordering, etc…so I’m waiting to re-collect.

    One thing to think about and is apart of my point — saints and Doctors of the Church do provide wisdom, but they do not share the charism of necessarily being a part of the college of bishops and/or being apart of the universal Magisterium.

    St. Thomas Aquinas explicitly argued against the Immaculate Conception and this was later declared by Pope Pius XII ex cathedra as a long-standing, irreversible dogma that is revealed in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. Aquinas as brilliant as a thinker as he was, is not infallible nor is any other such thinker. St. Thomas is the patron of my university and I am certainly a fan of Thomism; it is just remains that it is not a fact.

    Moreover, I’m going to address the ordinary versus the extraordinary magisterium. When Pope John Paul II declared that women cannot be priests, he did not do it ex cathedra, but this does not mean that his statement is not necessarily definitive.

    I will wait and address the matter at once. Just a heads up.

  • By “pressing back” I meant the browser button which in effect deleted everything I wrote…

  • I meant to say it “remains a fact that each of his conclusions are necessarily the explicit universal norm that is to be accepted by the whole church unless each of them — judged individually — is in accord with the eternal truths of God.”

    I hope that’s clear — and I’m not saying Thomas was a heretic.

    I really should login to edit my messages, but oh well.

  • Eric,

    I appreciate that Aquinas was not a bishop, but his status as a doctor of the church and his influence on the moral theology of the Church since his time lend significant weight to his teachings, especially in that area. His question about the Immaculate Conception was around the need to reconcile it with the dogma that Christ was the Redeemer of all, if Mary was conceived immaculately, she was not (he thought) in need of redemption. This dogma was at the time a very open question, and Thomas struggled with it, it is not at all apparent that he had concluded against it.

    We all accept that not every pronouncement from the pope is “ex cathedra” but yet it could be definitive… if it is definitive it has to be, well, definitive. The equivocation in GS and the CCC, and the very low degree of authority in a papal speech given to the Red Cross suggest that he did not intend to make an “ex cathedra” statement, together with the lack of a universal norm of the ordinary magisterium, and the historical context of a pope authorizing the use of torture suggest it is not “intrinsically evil”, at least not yet. I would accept with docility a declaration which the Church instructs as definitive.

    I’m curious though, if capital punishment is not intrinsically evil, how is it possible that a much less severe form of physical harm is?

    I still would like to know if every act which inflicts pain, physical or moral is to be considered torture? And if the Holy Father intended to teach definitively that torture is intrinsically evil, is it possible that he envisioned that he referred to at least a certain level of severity, beyond say, imprisonment, caning, flogging, paddling, spanking, or washing of the mouth with soap….

    That’s a little bit of a segue, my point remains that the move to declare torture intrinsically evil involves a change in the inherent rightness of an act as at least generally accepted, rather than an acknowledgment of that it is not suitable or necessary in our time, or a conclusion that it does more harm than good. This impulse, is one of progressivism in my estimation, and is very dangerous. I don’t think I’m out of line in suggesting that John Paul II had a progressivist instinct in some areas, as did many of the authors of Vatican II.

  • Matt,

    I’ll address all those in the coming days, hopefully. I’m a student, other things come first. Racism is a less severe evil, technically speaking, than murder; however, it is too intrinsically evil because there is no justification for racism in any circumstances. The nature of the action makes it unjustifiable not necessarily the severity of it.

  • Eric,

    I understand, I look forward to continuing the discussion. I would definitely agree with you on racism, although slavery is another matter (except when it is based on racism as in the American model).

    We have to be clear that not being intrinsically evil doesn’t mean that it is acceptable in general, but that it may be been under certain circumstances even if those circumstances are not even possible. It is possible that when the pope speaks of things which can not allowed he is referring to the context of our present day where the rule of law largely holds over chaos.

  • Not to make the order taller, but it strikes me that the phrase “intrinsically evil” itself is one that is used often but seldom defined, and that this is part of the problem.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    I quite agree:

    This should suffice?

    1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

    It seems to me that if pointing a gun at the head of man who may not be morally culpable for any of his actions and pulling the trigger is NOT intrinsically evil, I don’t see how torture in an of itself could be, unless you define torture to a level which makes it exclude any possible treatment that would possibly be morally acceptable (ie. maiming and mutilation). In that case, I think it’s fair to suggest that it would not be a changing of the morality of an action to define it as intrinsically evil, and not a progressivist notion.

  • Dear Matt,
    Thank you for baccking down a bit. Now we can get to the core of the discussion – the morality of torture. It is indeed a complex matter. And it is, I think, parallel to the question of the death penalty.
    Both are to be examined in the light of the effect on the torturer or the executioner. Pain and death are part of our world, of our existence. And so much so that Our Lord subjected Himself to both. By which He conquered both.
    For us, death is but the prelude to the next world. So much so that we are forbidden to kill ourselves. We must wait until God calls us.
    I am uncetain whether torture has been specifically forbidden by the Church. I fear that its worst effect is on the torurer, [Greatly mixed in with this is sadism].

  • Gabriel,

    agreed.

    am uncetain whether torture has been specifically forbidden by the Church. I fear that its worst effect is on the torurer,

    I am certain that one could quite reasonably conclude that it has been forbidden, i’m not sure I would be comfortable arguing against that. That’s does not of course necessarily make it “intrinsically” evil. It’s possible that at some point, the Church could ban capital punishment if the circumstances of the times, and, as you point out our understanding of the moral effect on the executioner and society is ever found to demonstrate circumstances where it doesn’t cause more harm than good no longer exist. I would argue against such an effort, but would give intellectual assent if it were decided.

  • the vatican has to be careful about wnat mr. obama is doing. too much government is not good. he o.k. the use of our money to be used for family planning and the hand out of codoms in the u.s. and around the world. the church could promote more morality and spirituality. God always provides. everything will fall in place. have faith in God. Catherine

Bag of Silver

Monday, January 26, AD 2009

bag-of-silver

Doug Kmiec, the subject of a few posts on this blog, here, here, here, here and here, has indicated , hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia, that he believes he is still in the running to be ambassador to the Vatican, presumably his reward for turning his back on the pro-life cause and shilling for Obama last year.  Professor Kmiec has also been apparently been glancing at some of the blogs that have taken him to task, hattip to Jeff Miller at Curt Jester.

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3 Responses to Bag of Silver

  • The one thing to watch out for is boredom. At this point, the only things that’s news about Kmiec is that he’s a sell out whose arguments are fallacious, and that’s a story which can only remain interesting for so long.

    Which is all the more reason to hope that he now fades into well deserved obscurity.

  • Bigger issue triggered by the bigger mouth of Nancy Pelosi. On ABC yesterday, said increased birth control programs would be nice to assist the economy. Not quite sure what she meant. Let her explain after extracting her Jimmy Choo from her pie hole.

  • I saw that! I love how it’s masked as “family planning services.”

One Response to Silly Inspiration, Real Inspiration