Monthly Archives: February 2009

Pope Leo XIII On America and George Washington

 pope-leo-xiiigeorge-washingonHattip to commenter Blackadder who brought this to my attention in a post on Vox Nova last year.  On the 277th birthday of George Washington, it is appropriate to recall these words of Pope Leo in regard to the Father of our Country:

“Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.”

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Pope Benedict, the SSPX, and the dispute over Religious Freedom and Church-State Relations

Last year, commenting on Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to the United States, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, remarked:

And now, we have a perfectly liberal Pope, my very dear brothers. As he goes to this country [the United States] which is founded upon Masonic principles, that is, of a revolution, of a rebellion against God. And, well, he expressed his admiration, his fascination before this country which has decided to grant liberty to all religions. He goes so far as to condemn the confessional State. And he is called traditional! And this is true, this is true: he is perfectly liberal, perfectly contradictory. He has some good sides, the sides which we hail, for which we rejoice, such as what he has done for the Traditional liturgy.

What a mystery, my very dear brothers, what a mystery!

As Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (What Does The Prayer Really Say?) noted at the time, Fellay’s remarks are indicative of a point he has maintained time and again: the greater dispute between the SSPX and Rome is not so much over questions involving liturgical reform (and the ‘reform of the reform’) — on which there is a great deal of room for agreement — or even the matter of the excommunications; rather, the chief problem hinges on the Society’s objections to Vatican II’s articulation of the principle of “religious liberty” and the relationship of civil and religious authority.

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Illinois Deserves a Medal!

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These are grim economic times.  With the federal government spending money like a charter member of shoppers anonymous it is a safe bet that times will be getting grimmer yet.  In these days it is important that the people have something to smile about, rather as the Three Stooges  brought laughter during the Great Depression.

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Pensées 905

The easiest conditions to live in according to the world are the most difficult to live in according to God, and vice versa. Nothing is so difficult according to the world as the religious life; nothing is easier than to live it according to God. Nothing is easier, according to the world, than to live in high office and great wealth; nothing is more difficult than to live in them according to God, and without acquiring an interest in them and a liking for them.

A New "Fill in Blank"

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Something for the weekend:  A New Argentina by the original Broadway cast of Evita Patti Lupone in the title role is the essence of explosive energy.  I have always loved this musical.  It is a superb cautionary tale about what can happen to a nation when an economically illiterate leader is elected on a popular frenzy of adulation.  Peronism has been a plague on the politics of Argentina ever since.  Perhaps too high a price to pay for a nation to provide fodder for a musical.

Luke Live, Days Three and Four

I continue once again with my shameless promotion of Paulist Father James DiLuzio and his Luke Live performace, part 3, covering Luke chapters 17-24.

Over the last two days, the conversation we had (Father DiLuzio continually encouraged us to have a dialogue on the text, to reach deeper meanings) focused on two fairly notorious characters: Judas Iscariot, and Pontius Pilate.  Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.  Judas, the betrayer, has classically been believed to be in Hell, and every week we recite in our creed:  He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

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Praying for a Miracle

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Hattip to Jeff Miller at The Curt Jester.  In purely human terms this is a waste of time.  Obama is a hard core pro-abort.  The idea that he will change his mind and open his heart to the unborn is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as the idea that a movement begun 2000 years ago by a group of peasants in a backwater of the Roman Empire could now command the allegiance of a third of humanity.  Hmmm, I’d better start praying!

Econ 101

While most of our recent public debates have centered around topics on which economist’s disagree, Harvard Economist Greg Mankiw recently posted a list of fourteen propositions that most economists accept, which is an excerpt from his popular macroeconomics textbook. I thought it might be of interest to some of our readers, as discussions of the common good and public policy often touch on these subjects:

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Most People Are Not Like You

Almost no matter who you are, the above is almost certainly true. Yet it’s a fact that few people seem to readily grasp.

I was struck by this as I continued to read the exchange between Ross Douthat and Will Wilkinson over whether secular libertarian intellectuals should all pack up and join the Democrats. Will predicts:

…I think intellectual capital flight from the right really does threaten the GOPs future success. If Republicans keep bleeding young intellectual talent because increasingly socially liberal twenty-somethings simply can’t stand hanging around a bunch of superstitious fag-bashers, then the GOP powers-that-be might start to panic and realize that, once the last cohort of John Birchers die, they’ve got no choice but to move libertarian on social issues. Maybe. I like to imagine.

This reads like it comes from some alternate universe, to me,

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Pope Denies Worthless Political Hack Photo-Op

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Hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia.  The Pope reminded Speaker Pelosi in their meeting of the Church teaching on life.

“The Vatican released the pope’s remarks to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church’s teaching “on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.” That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.”

The 15 minute meeting was closed to reporters and photographers.

“The Vatican said it was not issuing a photo of the meeting — as it usually does when the pope meets world leaders — saying the encounter was private. The statement said the pope “briefly greeted” Pelosi and did not mention any other subject they may have discussed.”

I wonder if Pelosi is bright enough to realize the snub that the Pope just gave to her pro-abort self?

Update I: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reminds us of why the Pope felt it necessary to repeat Church teaching on abortion to Speaker Pelosi since,  judging from her own words, she is woefully ignorant of it.

Update II: The ever perceptive George Weigel wonders if the Pope and the clueless Speaker were at the same meeting.

Luke Live, Day Two

I continue now with my shameless promotion of Father DiLuzio’s Luke Live performance.  Again, we were treated to a wonderful exchange of ideas, marked by a charismatic leader who helped enliven St. Luke’s Gospel and knit the narrative together.  Father DiLuzio offered us to begin with the choice of hearing entire chapters at once, or breaking it down into slightly smaller pieces.  Having seen yesterday the amazing continunity of a text that, for many of us, originally seemed a disjointed collection of brief non-sequitors, we voted roughly 55-45 to continue being inundated by large chunks of text.  And so he began his recitation starting from chapter 18, and the parable of the persistent widow.

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George Weigel on Narratives & 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'

In an essay entitled A Campaign of Narratives in the March issue of First Things (currently behind a firewall for non-subscribers), George Weigel writes:

Yet it is also true that the 2008 campaign, which actually began in the late fall of 2006, was a disturbing one—not because it coincided with what is usually described in the hyperbole of our day as “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” but because of how it revealed some serious flaws in our political culture. Prominent among those flaws is our seeming inability to discuss, publicly, the transformation of American liberalism into an amalgam of lifestyle libertinism, moral relativism, and soft multilateralism, all flavored by the identity politics of race and gender. Why can’t we talk sensibly about these things? For the past eight years, no small part of the reason why had to do with what my friend Charles Krauthammer, in a nod to his former incarnation as a psychiatrist, famously dubbed “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Raising this point is not a matter of electoral sour grapes. Given an unpopular war that had been misreported from the beginning, plus President Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq, plus conservative aggravation over a spendthrift Republican Congress and administration, plus that administration’s failure to enforce discipline on its putative congressional allies, plus public exhaustion with a familiar cast of characters after seven years in office, plus an economic meltdown—well, given all that, it seems unlikely that any Republican candidate could have beaten any Democrat in 2008. Indeed, the surprise at the presidential level may have been that Obama didn’t enjoy a success of the magnitude of Eisenhower’s in 1952, Johnson’s in 1964, Nixon’s in 1972, or Reagan’s in 1984.

Still, I would argue that the basic dynamics of the 2008 campaign, evident in the passions that drove Obama supporters to seize control of the Democratic party and then of the presidency, were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome, which emerged as a powerful force in American public life on December 12, 2000: the day American liberalism’s preferred instrument of social and political change, the Supreme Court, determined that George W. Bush (the candidate with fewer popular votes nationally) had, in fact, won Florida and with it a narrow majority in the Electoral College. Here was the cup dashed from the lips—and by a court assumed to be primed to deliver the expected and desired liberal result yet again. Here was the beginning of a new, millennial politics of emotivism (displayed in an astonishing degree of publicly manifested loathing for a sitting president) and hysteria (fed by the new demands of a 24/7 news cycle).

[Emphasis Mine]

I think this analysis gets things exactly backwards.

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