Hero of the Maine

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

Monsignor Chidwick

 The Maine

Night, February 15, 1898, the American battleship USS Maine lay at anchor in the harbor of Havana.  Although tensions were running high between the US government and Spain, the colonial power occupying Cuba, the night was calm.  Suddenly, at 9:40 PM,  a huge explosion devastated the forward section of the Maine, an external explosion setting off the powder in the magazines of the Maine.  Into this vision of hell on Earth strode the Catholic Chaplain of the Maine, John P. Chidwick.

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5 Responses to Hero of the Maine

Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

In light of Zach’s stellar posting which generated over 240 comments ranging from anarchism to Oscar Romero and which inspired a posting by Michael Denton.  These comments, although informative to a certain extent, may have detracted from the original intent of the posting.  Henceforth in regards to said activities being done on Zach’s posting concerning Representative Chris Smith, I am starting a new tradition here at American Catholic, the open thread.

So feel free to comment to your hearts delight that isn’t related to any other postings on this website.

The comments policy is still in place so don’t forget to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Enjoy.

Marxist Health Care

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12 Responses to Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

  • I do not oppose a health care bill that extends coverage beyond the narrow concerns protected under Medicaid, Medicare, and SSI. I object to bloated bills that have not been read. I object to rushing to publish a bill, any bill, for purely political reasons. I object to “stealth” measures to hide within larger bills truly controversial legislation like FOCA. I object to the blackmail that this process creates, diminishing debate and deliberation to little more than key points, without the detail necessary to analyze the effects. Most of all, I object to a President, ANY President, telling the legislature what kind of legislation to pass, what it should do and say, and when it shall be completed. This is bullying and strikes as the core of the Separation of Powers.

    In the instant debate, I am THRILLED to see this rush to cobble together a bill delayed. Now, maybe, we can come up with something that specifically addresses the issues as hand without delving into issues that should be addressed as separate bills.

  • G-Veg,

    I agree to most of your points except the need for government run health care. Which both violates subsidiarity and distributism.

  • I forget who pointed out. Appropos of your cartoon, it appears the right has an unhealthy obsession with anal penetration, specifically anal rape.

  • M.Z.,

    What gnostic class can I take to follow your line of thinking?

  • Tito,

    I love you, man, but you are better than a post with that cartoon as its header.

  • Frankly, the cartoon was a lot more innocuous than M.Z.’s rather inflammatory response to it.

  • Why does it violate subsidiarity?

  • The principle of subsidiarity is that matters should be handled at the most local level as possible and if it cannot adequately at that level be taken care of, it can move up to the next point. The problem is, I think most Democrats will argue, is that the states do not have the resources to address the matter sufficiently because it is fixing a regional problem within a intricately more complicated problem. So, I don’t think one can simply say it violates subsidiarity as if that is some obvious objective fact that cannot, rightly or wrongly, be disputed.

    All Democratic proposals aside. I have read criticism after criticism, but I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem. I have seen what I think are credible starting-points amending parts of the system, but nothing comprehensively to address the whole of health care in America, while restraining the government. If this were really a serious problem, I’d almost expect a solution. The closest thing I’ve seen is the Patients Choice Act which has earned about every stripe of Republican criticism and has incorporated by and large waves of Democratic ideas.

    I think the *structure* of the health care markets is deeply flawed and I don’t see them re-structuring unless it is via the legislative process. I’m sure we won’t agree on details. But it seems opposition to Democratic health care proposals almost always opposition (indirectly) to reform, which ends up not happening — to the total chagrin of the people who need it the most.

  • Eric,

    Were the Federal Government to provide a straightforward and unrestricted subsidy to state, county, and municipal government determined according to a formula taking into account population and per capita income, the principal structural impediment to state authorities acting as medical insurers would be removed. Why not leave general income redistribution, macroeconomic stabilization (e.g. unemployment compensation), and public works implicated in moving people and goods across state lines to the center and other services to the periphery?

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  • Eric,
    I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem.

    have you checked out the Republican proposals? John McCain’s policy is a great starting point. I believe it’s the brainchild of an actual physician.

    Here’s the key points without getting into the nitty gritty:

    1. Tort Reform – liability insurance and payouts for exorbitant claims account for 20% of healthcare costs.

    2. Equal Access – eliminate preferential tax treatment of employer sponsored plans vs. private plans. Accomplished by eliminating the employer’s deduction, and giving a tax credit to all Americans with which to purchase health care as they see fit.

    3. Open Market – allow individuals and employers to purchase any plan authorized by any state.

    4. Encourage Health savings and catastrophic INSURANCE coverage instead of pre-paid health care.

    These actions will drive down the cost of health care while maintaining the motivators for continued advancement and excellence.

    Now, you can never again say haven’t heard any alternatives.

Non-Binary Thinking on Healthcare Please

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

There’s a conversational dynamic which I’m already getting tired of, though I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks and months, and it goes basically like this:

A: “I see the following problems with Obama’s health care proposal…”
B: “Don’t you understand the Church teaches health care is a right? Do you want there to be 47 million uninsured? How can you stand in the way of the one chance to do this? Do you think the current system is just fine?”

Clearly, just because the Democrats in Congress are patching together a 1000+ page bill which has specific characteristic and goes under the title of “healthcare reform” do not mean that this is the only way in which one might seek to reform healthcare. And although this may be the primary alternative to the status quo available at this moment in time, even someone who considers the status quo to be far from perfect might well consider the proposal currently coming together to be worse than the status quo.

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30 Responses to Non-Binary Thinking on Healthcare Please

  • FINALLY!

    Somebody who understands the “Either/Or” fallacy!

    Of course, it just happened to be DarwinCatholic.

    This guy truly has the makings of a barrister!

    DC should consider a career in law with such a keen eye for fallacies as flagrant as the one currently featured at Washington!

  • Darwin’s too smart to waste his life on the Law!

  • Donald et al.,

    This is off tangent, but while I was checking into WordPress your most recent comment is the American Catholic’s 14,000 comment!

    Congratulations!

    I present you with the White Elephant Award.

  • I will use it wisely Tito!

  • I’ve heard that Obama voted against the 2 Republican health-care reform proposals which were presented during his tenure. One was to allow individuals who aren’t provided health insurance by employers to deduct the cost on their taxes (an evil idea, good thing it was shot down!!!), and the other was a bill to allow small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance for their workers (nasty business, must oppress them).

    Bottom line is there are much better ideas out there that will make it possible for more people to secure coverage at a lower cost and less disruption.

    Note also that we are talking about INSURANCE. Americans are not typically denied health care even if they are not insured. The converse is not always true of countries with government health insurance, I assure you.

  • I think half those comments came in the “Kudos to Rep Smith” thread.

  • e.

    Just to finish hijacking my own thread…

    Whenever I hear the word “barrister” I recall the Dorothy Parker quip when she heard that a prominent divorcee had broken her leg, “How terrible. She must have done it sliding down a barrister.”

    Still, I like to think that we also serve who gather data and tell the more fluffy marketers that their schemes won’t work.

  • Donald,

    Mighty glad to know though that, at the very least, there remains those Catholics in that now abominable profession (which is why I can’t really fault Erasmus for himself having such a low opinion thereof), such as your own distinguished person, who ever strive still to practice in accordance to the Faith, after the image of the illustrious Sir Thomas More himself!

    (BTW, what the heck is a “white elephant award”???)

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Apologies for both the seeming hijack and, admittedly, the unnecessary emote.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

  • Michael Denton,

    That’s not far from the truth.

    But I need some evidence before I can agree with you on that.

  • e.,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_elephant

    Hopefully that’ll satisfy your thirst for meaningless knowledge.

    Michael Denton,

    Is that an example of evidence?

  • e.,

    Just curious, are you a guy or a girl?

  • Tito:

    Look, I trust the word of my Salvadorean friends. If I could transport them with a translator into your living room, I would.

    😉

  • Tito:

    No. My Salvadorean friends tell me that the white elephants were Marxists and hid guns in their trunks, so I don’t think that the process of making them into an award will go anywhere

    😉

  • Michael Denton,

    Naus hasn’t told me anything resembling that Karlsonian tome.

  • “(BTW, what the heck is a “white elephant award”???)”

    I’m not quite sure, but right now my albino squirrel assassins are playing with it!

  • I take it walnut rations had been restored.

  • The squirrels are “playing?” How dare they, the little slackers, when the enemies of the Church abound! Why, right next door to me live two vile heretic cats and there’s a bulldog down the block I suspect has been exposed to Jack Chick tracts. He used to like me but today he growled when he saw me. Hence my desperate need for albino squirrel assasins. Traducers of the faith are everywhere up here – and down in Illinois, the squirrels play! Grrrr,…,

  • Er, since they are Illinois squirrels, maybe offering a little something extra on the side, like a couple of bags of cashews, may induce them to come north and take care of business. Nobody has to know, I’ll just leave the cashews in a P.O. box in Chicago. Call it a gift, boys.:-)

  • I am sure Donna that they would walk through Gehenna itself for cashews!

  • Having played a major role in hijacking this thread, I now declare the hijack over! All future comments should be directed towards Darwin’s post please.

  • Re the healthcare being a “right” talk, I wonder if some of these folks have ever given this any thought beyond the most superficial and simplistic kneejerk reactions. As one blogger put it:

    The constant improvement in health care gives another good example of why the “right” to health care makes little sense. Did you have a right to chemotherapy in 1600 AD? You could have protested to Parliament all you wanted, but chemo just didn’t exist. Then, did you have a right to it the moment some genius invented it? You did not pay for the research. You did not make the breakthrough. Where do you get the right? How did it come into existence for you the moment somebody else created these things? I’m pretty sure you cannot have rights to material goods that don’t exist, and I am pretty certain that the moment some genius (or business, or even government) brings them into the world your “rights” do not improve. But strangely, many disagree.

    Conundrums are easy to create. If a cure for all disease is discovered but it costs the GDP of Europe for each treatment, do we all have a right to it? Of course not. We can say we do, but it does not matter. We cannot have it.

  • Jabez,

    that’s an interesting point. To my mind, rights are not “entitlements” so much as that they are things that ought not be unjustly denied. You don’t have a right to do nothing and then have food put in your mouth. You should be able to work and secure food for yourself, and your family, your rights are denied if someone prevents you from doing that. The same would go to health care. Of course one has to consider that while access to food may be a right, access to steak is not, the same must be the case for health care.

    If we consider rights to be “entitlements”, then the question is who is violating your rights by not providing for you, and then should the government punish these transgressors and coerce them into providing for those needs? Or should just be able to sue in civil courts? Will damages be involved? Wow, another great opportunity for the lawyers to make a 30% commission.

  • I apologize for my levity: I find it hard to resist the squirrel jokes.

    On to the topic of this thread, the bottom line is that in order to provide coverage for all, many will have to be denied testing and treatments they would get under private plans. (Not our Congresscritters, I know, but after all they are superior beings exempt from the rules that guide mere mortals.)

    Now, I work in a hospital and I know full well that often people do demand unnecessary tests. They come into the ER with a scratch and write angry letters to the admin rep later on wanting to know why Dr. Z did not send them to get a MRI. And sometimes Dr. Z does, just to cover his butt because he fears a malpractice suit. (And, while everyone loves to hate the insurance companies, I don’t see much coverage of what part huge malpractice settlements have played in raising medical costs. 10 years ago, the OB’s at my hospital – a Catholic institution with an excellent Labor and Delivery unit – took pride in the fact that our C-section rate was below the national average. Not any more, it isn’t, thanks to John Edwards and other ambulance chasers. Now OB’s are so afraid that something will go awry that they perform C-sections as soon as the mother starts having any difficulties.)

    The problem with offering a nationalized system is that it will seize the bull by the horns and turn it very sharply in the opposite direction. Care will be rationed.There will be waiting lists. There will be no way to provide the level of care Americans are accustomed to now. And, as the boomers age, the crunch will only get worse.

    The thing I fear most is that when you combine nationalized (and rationed) health care with a culture that is already on shaky grounds re: life issues, you are going to end up with the same situation you have in the Netherlands. Old people actually fear going into the hospitals there because they get pressured (subtly and not so subtly) to opt for a “final exit.” After all, you’re elderly, you’ve lived your life, you’re using up precious resources that younger, healthier people should be getting – time for you to go gramps, and if you say “no” you’re being “selfish.” (Just as people who choose to have more than 2.1 children are deemed “selfish” by the pro-death enthusaists among us.)

    I have no good answers to this. I talk to people who are smarter and better informed than I am about this issue all the time and they have no good answers either. But I feel pretty sure that turning the whole shebang over to the government is not the way to go.

  • No apologies needed Donna. This is one blog where good natured levity is always welcome!

  • Tito:

    Are you a guy, a girl or simply ambiguous?

    Also, thanks for the info; however, it’s not so much to satisfy my supposed thirst for meaningless knowledge, but that it seems you yourself seem rather to not only glory in it but, indeed, even enjoy flaunting it, my friend.

    Better to reserve your needless wont to reward your fellow man with your meaningless white elephant trophies and dedicate such ardor to more weighty issues, such as the one DarwinCatholic addresses in his above post.

  • This coming from the man who feels harangued at even the slightest suggestion of calumny made by certain interlocutors (from both amicable & hostile sections in the audience) in previous threads?

    You need a vacation.

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Ecumenism! Ecumenism!

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this posting]

Ecumenism today is in a sorry state.  Most Protestant denominations have splintered off to the point that dialogue has become pointless.  Only the Orthodox offer any hope of reunion with us, but that is a distant land where we are struggling to navigate towards.

In the meantime too many well-intentioned Catholics yell Ecumenism! Ecumenism!” yet they know not what they say nor do.  Heck, they can’t even explain it themselves.

For example I’ve stopped attending Taizé services because the only people that attend them are other Catholics.  If it was intended to bring our separated brothers in Christ together then I failed to see a single one of them attend in the three years that I have been going.

Ecumenism, whatever that means anymore, is a dead cat.  It’s going nowhere because it has no idea what it is.  Hence the forty years of fruitless labor has produced nothing to celebrate.

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62 Responses to Ecumenism! Ecumenism!

  • Tito,

    Are you familiar with the significant advancements in the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue– on the question of salvation through faith and/or works?

  • Ecumenism is far longer than forty years; but you know, I can imagine Tito in the 4th century decry the decision at Nicea because, “Those darn Arians are still staying, and it looks like nothing will stop them.”

  • Mark,

    Yes, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod have agreed to some of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) but not all. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has agreed to almost all of the JDDJ.

    The World Lutheran Federation (WLF) has agreed on some aspects, but in the end, if the WLF agrees to all of the JDDJ, it is then up to individual regional and national Lutheran conferences to agree, and then it drops down to the local church level where they be disagreements. So it is a fractured lot to say the least.

  • Tito Taco,

    Are you familiar with the notion that today’s ecumenical catholicism is just as groovy and authentic as Nicaea’s or even Sir/St. Thomas More’s?

    Too bad that it just ain’t (not to mention, anachronistic and remarkably compromised). Seriously.

  • Are you guys still talking about JDDJ?

    Don’t you guys know that even the Lutherans themselves scoff at it (as should Catholics, too)?

    I mean, seriously; it really is as empty and meaningless as ecumenism itself, as even the average Lutheran rightly concludes.

  • Tito,

    Surely in your individual life you do not take an “all or nothing” approach to conflict and disagreement?!!

  • “Those darn Arians are still staying, and it looks like nothing will stop them.”

    I doubt that Tito would have said that since the Council anathematized the Arians.

    “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (??????????), not made, being of one substance (?????????, consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (?? ???? ??? ??? ??), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.”
    As Saint Athanasius could attest the Arians remained a deadly danger for the Catholic Church after the Council, but the ruling of the Council clearly indicated that there would be no “ecumenical” relations between the Catholic Church and those who followed the teachings of Arius.

  • Mark,

    Excellent point.

    But after forty years, what have we shown for it?

    As for me, my time is limited, so dropping Taize was a prudent move on my part. Though it may prove fruitful for others, I just don’t have the charism for that particular path.

  • Vatican II proclaimed ecumenism; but here we have Tito repudiating it. But this brings us back to the 4th century; the confusion then was far greater than anything today; what was or was not authoritative and an ecumenical council had not been established, and there were rival councils coming up all the time. Tito would have been able to say how Nicea “added words from heretics” like “homoousios,” and that, forty years after, solved nothing, so it was a failure and Nicene faith was dead.

  • Tito’s posts (and those defending him) prove he hasn’t follow the Church and ignores it when it suits his purpose; this is again demonstration of someone who is full of themselves, so full, they can’t listen to others, and thinks the Church should be in his image. This is Satanic pride at its height.

  • Henry K.,

    Can you find for me a clear and concise definition or road map of how to pursue ecumenism?

    Even Pope John Paul II conceded that Ecumenism was a Protestant invention that was difficult to define in Ut Unum Sint.

  • Mark D.,

    while it is well and good that some organizations of which may or may not be relevant to Lutheran’s and their congregations are compromising on theological points (possible that we may be as well…despite Pius XII cautions), there’s no evidence that progress on them rejecting their founder and embracing the One True Church is actually being made. None. In fact, like other mainstream protestant denominations, in practice they are farther from Catholicism than they EVER have been.

  • Henry K.,

    Now, now.

    There’s no need for that.

    There is room for disagreement and amicable debate.

    I think ecumenism can be productive, if it is clearly defined with goals placed.

    Not when it’s dressed in flowery and ambiguous language where you can read into it a Gilgamesh story or a Chupacabra attack.

  • “This is Satanic pride at its height.”

    Rubbish. What it means is that Tito is merely stating the obvious: ecumenicalism since Vatican II is a radical departure from prior Church practice, and that from a Catholic perspective the good that the change has produced is rather difficult to discern. Having married a Protestant, who converted a few years after our marriage, a father who was Protestant until the day he died, and most of my relatives being Protestant, I am all for good relations among Christians of all stripes, but attempting to water down the differences is not the way to go about it.

  • There are many different kinds of dialogues:

    a) The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighbourly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations.

    b) The dialogue of action, in which Christians and others collaborate for the integral development and liberation of people.

    c) The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other’s spiritual values.

    d) The dialogue of religious experiencee, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches, for instance with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith and ways of searching for God or the Absolute.

    In this way, there are many different kinds of ecumenical activities. Working with Protestants to stop abortion, for example, is ecumenism. Working with Protestants to feed the poor is ecumenism. There is plenty of such activity going on and in the increase; it’s not dead, but alive, and that should be well noted.

    But when discussing the road map for dialogue about doctrine, the issue is not “one,” but multi-faceted. It is for this reason that dialogues tend to be bi-lateral, where the needs, requirements, expectations differ. But working together, praying together (if we can), listening to each other, learning how the other things instead of telling them (and getting it wrong) is a start. The fact that you don’t want to do that, but always make things up, intra-Catholic, shows the problem.

    Now John Paul II did not concede that Ecumenism was a Protestant invention; you read a text out of context for your ideological pretext. If you want to find a new story about ecumenism, look to the history of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s call for Christian Unity.

  • Henry K.,

    You are being intellectually dishonest; as if the way ecumenical had been applied previously is in every sense the same as it is employed today.

    That’s like saying the same scholastic terms Spinoza himself used were in the very same sense that the scholastics themselves meant.

    You should know better.

  • “Rubbish. What it means is that Tito is merely stating the obvious: ecumenicalism since Vatican II is a radical departure from prior Church practice, and that from a Catholic perspective the good that the change has produced is rather difficult to discern”

    All those who find themselves more Catholic than the Pope throughout history have always made this charge, from Novatius to Donatus to the Greeks (filioque) to the Husites, to the Lutherans, et. al. I would recommend reading some of the ecclesial documents of Nicholas of Cusa if you want to see how far and proper this line of reasoning is thrashed by Catholic tradition itself.

  • “Rubbish. What it means is that Tito is merely stating the obvious: ecumenicalism since Vatican II is a radical departure from prior Church practice, and that from a Catholic perspective the good that the change has produced is rather difficult to discern. Having married a Protestant, who converted a few years after our marriage, a father who was Protestant until the day he died, and most of my relatives being Protestant, I am all for good relations among Christians of all stripes, but attempting to water down the differences is not the way to go about it.”

    Is McClarey the only Catholic on this site?

    Very comforting to see one Catholic still genuinely so!

  • Here, I will help people; here’s a start:

    Perhaps you will say: today’s Church does not walk in the rite of communion as in former times, when most holy men affirmed both by word and deed that the sacrament under both species, by the force of Christ’s precept, was necessary. Could the Church have been in error at that time? Certainly not! If not, how is what was then universally affirmed not true today, since this Church is the same as that one? Certainly it should not disturb you that the rite of sacrifices – and even of the sacraments – is found to be different at different times, while the truth stands fast. The Scriptures are both adapted to the times and understood in various ways, so that they are set forth at one time according to the current universal rite, but when that rite changes, opinions about it change again. Christ, to whom the Father handed over the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms, ruling by means of a wondrous order of angels and men, dispenses mysteries according to the changing of the times; and He supplies what fits particular times by hidden inspiration or evident demonstration. This is the view of the doctors [of the Church]: Ambrose in his twelfth letter to Irenaeus, and Augustine [in his letter] to Deogratias, in the second question on the alteration of sacrifices.

    […] Hence, even if today there is an interpretation by the Church of the same Gospel commanding differing from that of former times, nevertheless, the understanding now currently in use for the rule of the Church was inspired as befitting the times and should be accepted as the way of salvation.

    –Nicholas of Cusa, “To the Bohemians: On the Use of Communion,” pgs. 2 – 85 in Nihcolas of Cusa: Writings on Church and Reform. Trans. Thomas M. Izbicki (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 21- 23.

  • The Church prior to Vatican II was never shy about casting out heretics. Those who think otherwise are merely deluding themselves.

  • The Church before Vatican II called the Lutherans to Trent!

  • Yes, and condemned Lutheranism root and branch!

  • Henry K.,

    make things up

    I don’t understand what you mean by that. Especially after I produced documents such as Mortalium Animos, or is it in your nature to ignore everything up until Vatican II?

    And Pope John Paul II did concede that Ecumenism was a Protestant invention.

    Read Ut Unum Sint.

  • But it called them for dialogue. As the Church always does.

  • Tito

    Actually, JPII said ecumenism goes back to Christ and the call “that they may be one.”

  • Henry K.,

    Cite me an ex cathedra statement that we should make up stuff to get along with Protestants?

    I doubt you will find one, that’s assuming that your sources are not gnostic.

  • Hk,

    it called them to receive instruction on the Truth in charity.

  • Henry K.,

    I can’t find the word ‘ecumenism’ in the Holy Bible.

    But if you would have read my posting citing Pope Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos 5, His Holiness addressed that very same verse stating that it is a merely expressed a desire and prayer, not fulfillment of unity.

  • Tito

    There you go — you dissent from the church! And your argument is “if it isn’t ex cathedra, hell no!” Sorry, that’s not how Catholicism works. But you have now proven the cafeteria qualities I’ve pointed to many times — and your quotes, out of context, such as your quote from Cardinal Kasper, have been answered before, but you keep rehashing it like a Protestant with one verse of Scripture. Sad. But thank you. You have proven my point.

  • Henry K,

    For a person who wrote a series on lying, you are demonstrating yourself a liar on this very thread.

    I would’ve thought you to be a better man than this!

    For a student of church history, you either seem to have known very little, understood very little of it, or purposely misrepresent the facts in order to prop your argument against Taco.

  • “I can’t find the word ‘ecumenism’ in the Holy Bible.”

    I can’t find “homoousios” in the Bible. See, I called him on it. Thank you. Goodbye.

  • Henry Karlson,

    If you continue with your calumnies without evidence you will be placed on moderation.

    Typical liberal, when they can’t debate the points they devolve into name-calling.

  • The Fathers of Trent called them only for submission. Melanchthon and others who thought the Catholic Church would alter the Faith to suit them were only fooling themselves. The Protestants had no right to vote and they realized this was a waste of their time from their standpoint. I believe it is also clear that in any case the invitation was given to the Protestants only due to strong pressure from Emperor Charles V.

  • For what it’s worth, Thomas Aquinas emphasized that Jews should not be persecuted for practicing Jewish traditions because the presence of those traditions helped Christians in there own understanding.

    Mind you, he also thought unrepentant heretics should be burned at the stake, but I think you can see in Thomas’s opinion towards the Jews the roots of ecumenism. So let’s be careful about relegating ecumenism to the past forty years (Not saying tito is, but in general that seems to be a temptation in some of the comments here)

  • The Jews were a special case and Pope after Pope extended protection to them. As to Christian heretics however, one can scan the history of the Church with a microscope prior to 1965 and find precious little that would bear any relationship to what we now call ecumenicalism.

  • Henry K. left in a puff when he realized people were reading through his dishonesty.

    I’ve done what I am capable of with Taize. The same can’t be said for others who question my motives.

    I still pray for unity, but I question the tactics and the fruits of these tactics that have done nothing if harm the foundation of the Church by causing confusion in language and action.

  • Fruitful dialogue is when the two parties carefully explain themselves to each other, defining terms, clarifying distinctions, and so on, so that they can each come to an accurate understanding of what the other believes and the rational basis upon which those beliefs rest.

    Fruitful dialogue pares away areas where misunderstanding of terms, superficial differences in behavior or in practice, etc. makes the two believe they have differences where they really are not.

    Fruitful dialogue identifies real differences. It pinpoints the areas where the two really do have to say, “Ah, I see. That’s something you assert which I deny.” Or: “Hey, my belief on that issue, though I phrase it in different words, is not really so very different from yours.”

    Because to clearly identify the exact points of difference is to understand how far apart you are. And when two bodies have clearly delineated the exact points of difference — which they do through fruitful dialogue — it is a help to individuals who may be wondering if they belong not there, but here. It is a challenge to individuals within those two bodies to decide which of the two is more true.

    That is why dialogue can be fruitful, even if it does not seek to “convert,” but only to teach and to learn. To teach the truth as we know it, to learn exactly where the other does not align with that truth.

  • bearing,

    there is a place for dialogue as you state, but it is not going to result in unity on a broad scale as is dreamed by the “ecumenism” movements of the last 40 years.

  • Bearing,

    Thank you for that explanation.

    I think that’s nice and dandy.

    I just wish I can see unity organically come from it, which is difficult to see when the Lutherans themselves (as examples) continue to splinter each year. Not to mention the Anglicans, ie, Traditional Anglican Communion.

    In the end, let’s assume positive results, as an example, the World Lutheran Federation finally wants to unite with us.

    It’ll be a few aging scholars and hopefully their kids that will be left of the ‘WFL’.

    But I see what you mean about fruitful dialogue.

  • Fruitful dialogue does not and, indeed, cannot entail blatant compromise!

    Indeed, if anything, this is not fruitful dialogue but a pitiful engagement in the modernist enterprise of nihilistic emancipation from both Tradition and Our Lord Himself, which inevitably makes us not Catholics but rather sorry Modernists in the most fiendish of disguise; that is, nothing more than heretics in the making!

  • I’m sorry, what’s the point exactly of talking about dialogue and ecumenism when one side is constantly shifting its beliefs according to the latest moral trends?

    Heck, is there really ecumenism when one-half of the conversation exists on a razor’s edge of even being called “Christian”?

    The Church should always have an arm outstretched to all peoples, and with communities that share fundamental similarities with us— perhaps we can do more.

    I agree with Tito’s placement in hope with the Orthodox over that of Protestants. Catholic and Orthodox have at least had better luck in preserving their fundamental positions and identities. Protestantism seems to keep fracturing at a rate of change matching the latest best-selling self-help books!

  • Anthony,

    I believe the crucial test is how will Partriarch Kirill deal with his hostile curia (towards Rome) in dealing with us.

    As Henry Karlson & JohnH stated on another thread, there has been rumblings of detente.

    But from Moscow the optimism has been muted.

    Thankfully though they appointed Hilarion as the External Relations head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Which was Kirill’s previous post, so we may be seeing some movement during Kirill’s patriarchate and Benedict’s pontificate.

  • Fruitful dialogue cannot result in unity on a broad scale unless the differences between the two bodies are either (a) merely superficial differences regarding essential truths, e.g., apparent differences that come from the use of different terminology for the same thing, or (b) differences that both sides can agree are inessential.

    In the case of (a), the two bodies can work together to craft new ways of phrasing the essential truths, phrasing upon which both can agree.

    In the case of (b), the two bodies can make clear to their members that it is acceptable to hold different beliefs in the inessential areas, and thus people in different “camps” can yet exist in the same body.

    Fruitful dialogue is necessary even to determine whether the apparent differences between two groups fall into categories (a) or (b).

    Anyone who’s ever had a hearty, in-depth, lengthy discussion with someone of a different faith, and came away with both of you knowing more about the other person and why they believe what they believe, even if neither of you is at all any more interested in conversion from one to the other, knows what fruitful dialogue can mean. It’s not useless, and it does not necessarily entail compromise. It entails listening, learning the other’s reasoning behind their beliefs, learning “what exactly do you mean when you say…?” and getting the chance to explain yourself in kind. It’s reciprocal apologetics, is what it is.

    Oh, and by the way, having had plenty such dialogue with my good friend who is a member of LCMS — any time you are talking about ecumenism it is completely worthless to speak only of “Lutherans.” There are several different groups and they have had different ecumenical contact with Catholics, with some groups repudiating the actions of other groups.

  • p.s. I think there’s great hope with a large bloc of conservative Anglicans. Their church body may not join with ours, but there may be a mass defection, and we should be ready to talk to these people and listen to their stories.

  • Bearing,

    In one of my earlier comments I touched on the difficulties of dialoguing with “Lutherans”.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/23/ecumenism-ecumenism/#comment-17297

  • Yeah, I saw it and I also noticed that many commenters after your comment were still talking about “Lutherans.” Wanted to reinforce the point.

    I suspect, actually, that individual dialogue — the “reciprocal apologetics” I spoke of in an earlier comment — is much more powerful than institutional dialogue. Here a soul meets a soul, in some human bond of amity or collegiality, and sincere interest in each other as human beings sparks a meeting of minds. In the end, it’s not “institutions” we hope to win over to conversion, but individuals.

  • Whether ecumenism has “failed” depends on how you define it. If you mean it only in the strict theological sense — getting the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies to agree on doctrinal matters like justification by faith or the primacy of the pope — then Tito is right; it’s made very little if any progress. I would agree that prospects for doctrinal ecumenism and ultimate reunion are far better with regard to the Orthodox churches — who still have a valid priesthood, apostolic succession, and valid sacraments from a Catholic point of view.

    However, if “ecumenism” means Catholics and other Christians being able to get along better at the personal and social level, and being able to work together on efforts such as promoting the culture of life and traditional marriage, then I’d say it’s succeeded way better than many people could have imagined 50 or 60 years ago. The days when “mixed marriages” could only be performed in the rectory, when Catholics were discouraged from visiting the YMCA or giving to the Salvation Army, when Catholics were forbidden to attend Protestant services or Protestant church functions unless there was a grave reason to do so — those days are long gone.

  • I addressed this before and I think there are a lot of attitudes in regard to ecumenism that was discussed in one way or another.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/09/the-petrine-ministry-and-christian-ecumenism/#more-10266

    I’m not saying this movement does not have any faults or failures. But to say no to it altogether is something entirely different.

    “Thus, it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of “appendix” which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does…”(Ut Unum Sint)

    Pope John Paul II connected ecumenism with evangelization and to divorce the two is inherently problematic.

    But if we’re going to just say they’re heretics and let that be the end of it, is that really the Christian thing to do?

    If there is something wrong, join in the debate, but don’t end it.

  • Elaine

    Right, it is a part of the nature of the Church, and any evangelical activity will either be inter-religious or ecumenical in nature (St Paul, for example, engaged inter-religious dialogue at Mars Hill). People confuse the activity with syncretism or giving up one’s beliefs; I’ve pointed out this is a strawman. And as I pointed out, there are four kinds of dialogues – the types dealing with life and work are quite important, and as you have said, they have gone a long way.

  • I do not want to stop ecumenism at all.

    I just want to reassess what works and what doesn’t.

    There are valid points from all across the spectrum here from Eric to Henry, most of which is right on in my opinion.

    I want a more clear and concise road map to follow, which the Vatican is known for.

  • Henry,

    Author: Henry Karlson
    Comment:
    Elaine

    Right, it is a part of the nature of the Church, and any evangelical activity will either be inter-religious or ecumenical in nature (St Paul, for example, engaged inter-religious dialogue at Mars Hill). People confuse the activity with syncretism or giving up one’s beliefs; I’ve pointed out this is a strawman. And as I pointed out, there are four kinds of dialogues – the types dealing with life and work are quite important, and as you have said, they have gone a long way.

    No, it’s not a strawman, since the current implementations of “ecumenism” and “inter-religious dialogue” are actively engaged in abandoning our faith. True ecumenism IS evangelism, sharing our faith with others, not taking on other’s false religious practices.

  • “No, it’s not a strawman, since the current implementations of ‘ecumenism’ and ‘inter-religious dialogue’ are actively engaged in abandoning our faith.”

    It is indeed a stramwan; this claim is made by those who don’t engage the dialogue, have not studied the dialogue, and want an excuse to reject it. However, they offer no evidence of this; show it from the official work of the Church. You can’t.

  • Henry Karlson,

    It was bad enough that you continued to engage in the remarkably deplorable pursuit of false equivalence; but to go to the extent of employing such condescending tone so as to ridicule so as to imply your interlocutor, Elaine, here as nothing more than a simpleton who’s not even “engage[d] the dialogue, have not studied the dialogue, want an excuse to reject it” is nothing more than a viscious ad hominem.

    You’ve written a series on “Lying”, which ironically you have demonstrated yourself expert on not only in theory but, rather magnificently, in practice too.

    You should do well to commit yourself to a study of flagrant fallacies, such as the blatant petitio principii you continue to employ in your above comments — as if merely relying on “dialogue” automatically renders your arguments wholly won.

  • “It was bad enough that you continued to engage in the remarkably deplorable pursuit of false equivalence; but to go to the extent of employing such condescending tone so as to ridicule so as to imply your interlocutor, Elaine, here as nothing more than a simpleton who’s not even “engage[d] the dialogue, have not studied the dialogue, want an excuse to reject it” is nothing more than a viscious ad hominem.”

    I will let people read above and see I said nothing of the sort to Elaine. More importantly, it is quite clear that e. does not know what an ad hominem is — because, of course, it is not an ad hominem to say “you don’t know because you have not studied it” to someone who has not!

    The fact of the matter is, the ones making the charge against ecumenism have to prove their position. That hasn’t been done. Instead, if they read the materials, they would see how silly this charge actually is. But, you know, I think it is because of another kind of ecumenism, they make this charge: for it is the same kind of claptrap one hears from fundies about ecumenism.

  • It pains God that the very body which is to be the sacrament of the unity that he intends for all humankind is so rife with internal division. Any and all efforts that are made even to just increase charity amongst us and our separated brethren are to be commended.

    Love and truth , not power, are the only effective means for a future reunification under Peter.

  • As if by chance, I have begun rereading Christopher Dawson’s THE DIVIDING OF CHRISTENDOM. Its underlying theme is ecumenism, or perhaps rather say, horror and sadness at the division of Christendom.

    Interestingly he indicates that, while it is a religious problem, it is not a theological problem. Rather it is a social and cultural problem.

  • “Typical liberal, when they can’t debate the points they devolve into name-calling.”

    You really should stop using the term “liberal” as a catchall phrase to encompass all those who disagree with you. For the record, of all the people I know, Henry is the one least tainted by Enlightment-era liberalism. Ask him about tsar martyr Nicholas II! He’s also too humble to say this, but inter-religious dialogue is actually his academic field. In other words, we all should listen to what he has to say.

  • It occurred to me today at Mass as we sang a hymn written by Isaac Watt, that that is possibly a good way to nourish ecumenism: swipe the good hymns from the Protestants and send the bad modern catholic jesuit hymns to the Episcopalians.

  • I do not want to stop ecumenism at all.

    Why not? Ecumenism isn’t in the Holy Bible, is it?

  • Michael I.,

    I’ve done my part, my charisms are in others areas. If you want to forward ecumenism you should read Thomas A Kempis’ the “Imitation of Christ”, begin behaving and acting as a Christian in order to bring unity to the Body of Christ, instead of running away to a foreign country and insulting people who truly love the Lord.

  • Tito,

    I commend you for attempts in matters ecumenical.

  • “I, on the other hand, condemn you in matters Romero, you anti-Catholic punk you!”

    (Iafrate)

Clout and Catholic Education

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

Too often, Catholic education, particularly at the high school level, seems to be valued not so much for its moral and religious content as for its prestige in the community, or for its ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on.

In my experience, Catholic high schools tend to be known in their communities as 1) schools rich kids attend, 2) a way to escape poor-quality public schools, 3) athletic powerhouses, or 4) institutions whose graduates enjoy disproportionate wealth and influence — the quality Chicagoans famously call “clout.”

Just today, in fact, I heard someone refer to alumni of a local Catholic high school as a “Catholic mafia” that allegedly dominates local business and politics. Although this characterization is probably not entirely justified, many alums of this particular school do seem to end up in positions of influence in the community.

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19 Responses to Clout and Catholic Education

  • I wonder if it’s also because so many Illinois politicians exercising their clout are Catholic (Quinn, Durbin, Madigan, Daley, Emil Jones, the Strogers, etc.) so their social network, including the people they exercise influence on behalf of, is made up disproportionately of well-to-do Catholics. My downstate, public high school had 1 person, while the local Catholic school also had one.

  • I serve on the board of two Catholic high schools — my alma mater in Chicago (a south side school not mentioned in any of the Trib articles that I read) and my children’s alma mater in Atlanta. For the most part I agree with Elaine’s observations. That said, I would mention that in my experien the board leaders tend to be very serious about the school’s Catholicity and spiritual environment. Parents, however, are a mixed bag, and it is true that many have misplaced priorities (like most Americans). These schools operate in very competitive environments and must compete for students and teachers, and these constituencies often have imperfect priorities as well. The Chicago school is all boys and could not recruit students successfully without emphasizing athletics. Period. Just a fact of Chicago’s south side. The school’s president and the board view this emphasis as a tactic to attract boys so that we have an opportunity to educate and mold them into genuinely Catholic young gentlemen. The broader community may see us as athletics focused, but the board fully understands the distinction between means and ends. The co-ed school in Atlanta does not need to emphasize athletics quite as much, but does have to spend inordinately on unnecessary resources (in my view) in order to attract students and teachers. Private high schools in Atlanta (mostly non-Catholic) are much better endowed than us and have more attractive facilities. Both schools struggle mightily with keeping tuition as low as possible while balancing difficult budgets. Both schools are aware that a good percentage of students come from Catholic in name only families who are attracted to the educational value (good education at a bargain price compared to competitors). Overall, they do a pretty good job of imparting the faith in what is virtually a quasi-evangelical environment. I serve on many non-profit boards (Salvation Army, United Way, etc), but none are more challenged than the Catholic high schools.

    Finally, I am not as offended at “clout” as some others. I am more offended at the faith-oriented shortcomings of Catholic schools. I’m happy if Catholic kids get to attend U of I, even if assisted by a call or two. I just want them to have a sufficiently well-formed faith that they won’t lose as soon as they leave home.

  • ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on

    You speak as if this is a bad thing. It’s as bad as holding a dance and asking if a church should have offered a Bible study instead. If the schools are deficient in morality training or religious education, it is fine to complain. To act as if they are values opposed to achievement in industry after graduation or the school’s prestige is just wrong.

  • Might the “clout” list include a lot of higher-income schools and Catholic schools because they have a better education results, and it’s unlikely that folks on those lists just suddenly got backing now, and have instead had backing to get into the “good” schools the entire time?

  • M.Z., I never said it was inherently “bad” for Catholic school graduates to get into good colleges or get good jobs. My concern is that when Catholic schools come to be known ONLY or primarily for those things, they may lose some of their potential to be “salt and light” to a fallen world. Just as there’s nothing wrong with a church sponsoring dances, bingo, or other social events, but when that’s ALL a church is known for doing, maybe they need to reexamine their priorities.

    Also, I’m not complaining about the quality of Catholic education so much as the perception that Catholic schools are only for the wealthy and powerful, or are dependent upon them for their survival. Any religious institution that depends upon the wealthy and powerful to survive has to take extra care not to lose sight of its mission.

  • Fox, I’m sure that kids from higher income schools (private or public) have always had a certain amount of “clout” or “pull” in the college admissions process. In the case of the U of I, however, it appears to have become much more blatant in the last few years. Plus since U of I admission has become highly competitive, anyone who gets in based on clout is more likely to deprive an equally or more qualified middle- or working-class student of admission.

  • M.Z.,

    I didn’t really understand Elaine as suggesting that worldly achievement or its facilitation is inimical to Catholic values, but that it should be subordinated to faith formation in terms of prioritization. I agree with her that many Catholic families are attracted to Catholic schools for the wrong reasons, and Catholic schools are often tempted to reorient their priorities accordingly. When that happens, “morality training or religious education” suffers. A number of years ago there was quite a public kerfuffle at a very affluent Catholic school when parents accused the school of being “too Catholic,” because the school administration was trying to beef up its religion courses and requirements. Eventually, many of these parents left when as a consequence. The irony is that the high school now sends an inordinate number of grads to Ivy League and other prestigious schools due to the efficacy of its “classical” education.

    The bottom line is that most graduates of Catholic schools are terribly catechized, and that is partly the result of the schools’ understanding that such catechises is not a primary value of most parents. The schools feel pressure to respond to the marketplace by replacing Catholicism with something called “in the Catholic tradition.”

    Finally, I do sense things are getting better. The schools that I serve are very conscious of their Catholic identity, and it is not watered down, even though I suspect (just suspect) that catechesis could be more rigorous. That said, I think high schools struggle with catechesis in part because most Catholic grade schools send students who are largely uncatechized. Most cannot name the seven sacraments or the ten commandments; and very few can explain the types or meanings of grace.

  • Elaine-
    I’m suggesting that the high school selections are part of the same process as the college, not that the selections themselves are “good.”

    If the kids got into “good” high schools in the same way as colleges, the same objections would exist– moreso for public schools than private, but it’d exist.

  • MZ — no one said, as far as I can tell, that morality is opposed to achievement. The post was about people who prioritize achievement (and not even real achievement but positions purchased by clout) over moral training. Do you have anything to say about that?

  • First, you are not going to find too many poor minority schools on the “clout list” because they have their own form of “clout list”, i.e. affirmative action, but it is too un-PC to mention in the public debate on this matter. I see these two forms of clout balancing each other out. As always it is the great majority of Americans in the middle that get s****ed.

    Of course, private universities have their own clout lists. When my daughter was accepted at Notre Dame they made it quite clear that she was admitted during the early admissions process because I was an alumni (she had a near perfect SAT and a 4.0 GPA but alot of ND applicants do). Should public universities be more egalitarian and fair in their admissions process because they are public . . . dream on.

    Secondly, I totally agree that Catholic Schools K-12 & universities have totally lost their initial mission, i.e., to educate Catholic children while keeping them strong in the faith. That is why I have never wasted my money on Catholic Schools for my kids (including my daughter who eventually accepted a full ride academic scholarship to a state school and got nothing from ND). It is also why my parents never spent a dime on Catholic education except my sisters and me except for CCD and when the nuns stopped teaching that in the late 1960’s they even stopped sending us to CCD. [We were poor enough where they didn’t have to pay for me to go to ND – I lived at home, worked and got enough in state scholarship funds to cover the rest.]

    Catholicism as taught in Catholic High Schools consists of call men with Roman collars “Father” and work in soup kitchens on weekends. I’d be shocked to learn of a current Catholic high school graduate who could define “transubstantiation” or discuss the notion of “baptismal regeneration” or list the 7 sacraments. This is why Cathoic Home schooling is growing in some communities – a notion unheard of 40 years ago except in communities without Catholic schools.

    Finally, a couple of years ago Bishop D’Arcy of the South Bend/Fort Wayne, IN Diocese ordered the dismissal of a popular teacher and coach at St. Joseph High School in South Bend because he had married a divorcee and had left the Church to become a Baptist. Parents and staff and faculty members of course were outraged. So, I also agree that Catholic High Schools are just supplying what the public wants – a good secular education with a thin religous veneer. Of course, the religous attitudes of most of these parents have also been shaped by the piss poor religous teaching that they have received from Catholic Schools and Cathoic pulpits during the past 40 years.

  • I think that Ms. Krewer’s argument is poorly drawn. Her concern is on a. perception of the school by outsiders and b. the desire of parents at a few Catholic schools to get their children into a good college. I don’t see anything about the students themselves!

    The schools can talk about a need for “public relations” work, but the reality is that the school has very little ability to change a perception that “its a sports school” or “its a rich kids’ school.” Such statements, in my experience, are always made by people with no real world exposure to the school, so how much credibility or concern can you put on such statements?

    Whether the parents want their children to go to a good college doesn’t seem to really be connected with whether the high school is a good Catholic school or not. I just don’t see the connection in her argument.

    That’s not to say that every Catholic high school is successful, either academically or spiritually. All Catholic high schools (that existed before Vatican II) were built around a clerical teaching staff. The decline in vocations has resulted in a largely lay teaching staff today. Does that make them less Catholic? Maybe, maybe not, depending on who got hired to replace those priests, nuns and brothers. I am a proud alum of a Catholic high school, which my children also attended. It was also all boys in my day and almost all clerical teachers. Now it’s co-ed and has only a handful of clergy. In my opinion, it is a much better school today, spiritually, academically and socially. This is a school where a survey found that seniors are more likely to attend Mass on Sunday than freshmen. The students have a choice on Friday between getting a jump on homework so they won’t have to do it on the weekend or going to Mass. Over two-thirds of the students choose Mass, including many of the people of other faiths.
    In my book, that’s a school that is religiously successful. But it has a reputation in the community as being only for athletes and only for rich kids.

    I would like to hear discussion about people of other faiths attending “Catholic” schools. Should “non-Catholics” be allowed to attend? How large a portion of the student body should be Catholic? Perhaps one can think about what the mission of the school is. Is it to teach Catholic kids so they will continue as Catholics? Is it to help raise the future of the students who otherwise face a bleak future, regardless of their religious faith? I’d point to the parallel of Catholic hospitals. Are they Catholic enough? How do you decide what ‘Catholic enough’ means?

  • If opposition between secular achievement and religious instruction was not being attempted, the comparison shouldn’t have been made. I remember talking to a Jewish graduate of Marquette High School. He felt he understood the Catholic faith adequately. He went to that school in part because of the hockey program. Was this a bad thing?

    I have nothing against trying to improve religious education. Serving on two school boards, Mr. Petrik is probably well aware that the parents that send their children to these schools for prestige and/or academics are the same parents that write large checks. These parents are given the deference they are given, because politicians (and the best pastors are good politicians) are willing to work with what they have in order to improve rather than tear what’s working down and create unnecessary animus. As seen from the Notre Dame saga, the one thing you couldn’t say about Notre Dame was that it was a pauper. (Yes, I know blessed are the poor, and I’ve embraced that more than I cared to have.) There have been more than a few start ups that have attempted to embrace the faith alone and ignore things like achievement or money only to find themselves tits up.

    Finally, I agree with Mr. Petrik that things are improving at a lot of schools. Certainly there is nothing wrong with encouraging that improvement.

  • would like to hear discussion about people of other faiths attending “Catholic” schools. Should “non-Catholics” be allowed to attend?

    I rather like the idea of non-Catholics in Catholic schools– partly because of the witnessing opportunity, partly because I have seen what it results in– a lady friend who recently passed went to a Catholic school when she was a kid, because it was the “best” school and that’s all her parents cared about. Sixty years later, though still a (highly irascible) vague Christian, she would jump down the throat of anyone who tried to spread the usual “Catholics worship Mary” type BS. She was better at defending the Church than most Catholics I know!

    I’d point to the parallel of Catholic hospitals. Are they Catholic enough? How do you decide what ‘Catholic enough’ means?

    My book? They follow Catholic teachings as related to their work, and allow or support the action on those teachings that aren’t related to their work. (don’t want to get mission bloat, it would make them not as good as hospitals)

  • I have no problem at all with non-Catholics attending Catholic schools, but would not want any Catholic kids displaced by non-Catholics without good reason. In general, a Catholic school’s primary mission is to serve the Catholic community by educating its children in a manner that is consonant with our faith.

    To MZ’s earlier point, quite frankly some of the most ardent Catholic parents are also the most generous, though that certainly is not always the case. The idea that somehow the financially successful are not as good Catholics as those of more modest means (which is not at all what MZ said) is just a silly conceit. I have observed little correlation. Many of our wealthier families are quite devout, and also quite generous, but certainly not all.

  • If opposition between secular achievement and religious instruction was not being attempted, the comparison shouldn’t have been made.

    You certainly have a point . . . CS Lewis notes somewhere, maybe in a letter, that readers are often like witless sheep who will take the first detour possible, even if it wasn’t intended.

  • I too have no problem with non-Catholics attending Catholic schools; in fact some of the first Catholic schools were set up in predominantly non-Christian areas as “mission schools”.

    To some extent a Catholic school cannot fully control how OTHERS in the community, who aren’t associated with the school, perceive it. But I’m sure there are other times when taking a look at oneself “from the outside” is helpful and a needed corrective.

    A big part of the problem with Catholic education as it exists today is that very few if any schools can survive on tuition alone — charging every parent the full cost of their child’s education would put it out of reach of all but the most wealthy — so a lot of time and effort has to be spent on fundraising and on extracurricular activities such as sports that make money for the school. Which usually translates into 1) hitting up wealthy alumni and business people for donations, 2) holding a lot of fundraising events (bingo, carnivals, auctions, dinner/dances, etc.), and 3) recruiting the best athletes.

    Now again, these things are not inherently evil or wrong in themselves, but they CAN become a diversion from the schools main mission if its administration isn’t careful. What to do about that?

    Perhaps the most radical approach has been taken by the Diocese of Wichita, Kans., where ALL Catholic schools are funded completely by tithing and NO tuition is charged to any Catholic student. This is done through a comprehensive stewardship program that emphasizes giving of “time, talent, and treasure” as a way of life. As a result, its schools are thriving (as are its priestly vocations) and other dioceses have taken interest in this approach. Whether it can be successfully transplanted to large urban dioceses, particularly those with large numbers of recent immigrants, remains to be seen; but I think it is worth looking at.

  • Elaine, I like the comments about funding. My pastor is the oldest of five boys in the family. His parents moved to a house down the street from the Catholic church. His non-Catholic parents went there and asked how much it would cost to send their children there. The answer was $500 a year (This would be back in the ’50s) if they were not Catholic and free if they were Catholic. “So we became Catholic!”
    Parishes in our archdiocese are limited to a certain percentage of their budget that can be devoted to the parish school (if any.) The rest of the cost has to come from the parents. I think there are good arguments for at least some funding to come from parents. First, you do not value anything that is free. You have no “skin in the game.” Second, parents have to be responsible for their children and that includes their education. The entire parish should not have to pay the family’s expenses. I’m sensitive to those parishioners who do not have children in the parish school. I guess the parallel is public education, where the general public pays the whole bill and they do so in a grudging fashion.

    There are also Catholic schools that would not exist if tuition were the only source of their income. I am familiar with a “Nativity” middle school locally, that only admits children whose families can’t pay (although they do charge $20 a month, for the first reason I mentioned above.) Their student body are from low income homes, almost all minority, almost all not Catholic, some are immigrants. They typically come to 6th grade with reading and math skills at the 2nd or 3rd grade level.

    My point is that there simply isn’t enough money to have a school like that if you only look at the neighborhood community. Their ability to raise funds from the Catholic community in our city is all that stands between these children and life on the streets. So does it make a difference if most of the students are Catholic?

    You posit that fund raising should not be a diversion from the school’s main mission. On the face of it, I agree. I just have a hard time analyzing how I would know, at a specific school, if it is a diversion.

    There is a Catholic high school in our city that puts the students to work to pay for the cost of running the school. The students have jobs in the community, one day a week, that covers their tuition. As I understand it, they have classroom work four days a week and they work the fifth. These students and their families do not have the economic means to pay tuition on their own. The kicker is that the work part makes their classroom work meaningful. “I need to learn how to write better because that’s what it takes at work.” (And that lack of understanding of why studying is meaningful is one of the biggest problems in public education, in my opinion, as a former school board member.) So you can paint their school as exploiting the students or you can paint it as giving them a meaningful education that they couldn’t otherwise obtain.

  • Any funding mechanism, within reason and morality, that keeps Catholic schools from becoming accessible only to the wealthy, or dependent entirely or almost entirely on wealthy people to keep them running, is OK by me. Charging a small or sliding amount of tuition to insure that families have “skin in the game” is fine, but again, the idea should always be to insure that Catholic education is accessible to all income levels.

    The Catholic high school you mention that has students work to earn their tuition one day a week — that sounds like a great idea to me, because it enables the students to gain real life job experience. I wouldn’t consider it “exploiting” them at all, unless the jobs in question were exceptionally dangerous or exhausting.

    Should parishioners who don’t have children be responsible for supporting a parish or diocesan school? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Is the school an integral part of the Church’s mission to which ALL Catholics have some obligation to contribute (in line with the Fifth Precept of the Church)? Or, is it a purely voluntary/optional service which only those who participate in it are obligated to support, like a sodality or men’s/women’s club?

    When does fundraising become a diversion for the school’s main mission? I would say the line is crossed if the school comes under pressure to compromise or downplay Catholic teachings or other practices (e.g. dress codes, rules against teachers being married or cohabiting outside the Church), or to look the other way at obviously immoral or egregious practices of a major donor, in order to avoid losing the funds upon which it is dependent for its survival.

    I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this matter, and hopefully it will get everyone thinking about how best to support Catholic education. I didn’t mean to be excessively hard on Catholic schools but simply to point out a potential stumbling block to their mission.

  • Eric called my attention to this entry last week, shortly after it had been posted, and in the chaos that was last week as one of my best friends got married, I left this open on my computer all week, not getting to it until this evening. I know the discussion has died down days ago, but if others are still interested in continuing the discussion, I find the Wichita approach very interesting. In response to the statement that what is free is not valued as much, I would like to call the attention back to the priest whose parents converted for the free education–their son had a vocation! That priest valued what he received so much that he ended up giving his life to God to continue to serve the same cause!

    I live in Houston, which is a large city with a number of immigrants (many of whom are Catholic), as well as many other “higher end” Catholics. It is interested that some parishes tend to serve either one end of the spectrum or another, based on location or other factors, but there are also parishes that are more “mixed”. I can’t speak for all parishes, but of these latter, I have seen a dichotomy within the parishes, where some kids can afford to go to the parochial school and others, no matter how devout of a home they come from, simply cannot afford it. They are then put through the public school system supplemented by a sub-standard Sunday catechesis, and we wonder why we have so many teens having pre-marital sex and a breakdown in families, especially in this lower-end demographic.

    It is because we have not taken it on as our responsibility as the Church to provide for the needs of our young people, all of them! One of the saddest things that has happened in the past half a century or so, at least in my opinion (which I believe can also contain an objective moral point), is the loss of the importance of the parochial school. I have been reading the history of a Franciscan religious order, which simultaneously tells the story of the development of Catholic schools in America. They were founded to further instill morals and an understanding of the Church teachings in all young people-immigrants, orphans, the poor, and yes, non-Catholics.

    Of course, the schools were easier to fund when they were run mostly by nuns. We didn’t have to pay competitive wages to lay men and women who have to take care of their families, and since we do rely on these people, we cannot cease to pay them now. But we can’t lose the mission to educate just because someone can’t afford the price tag of a solid Catholic education.

    In Wichita, I am sure that for this to function, many parents are aware of the cost of their child’s education, even if they aren’t the ones paying it in full. And if this is indeed working successfully, I am sure that there are parents who can afford it that write rather large checks as part of the lifestyle of stewardship. But to answer the question above, I do think that it is also appropriate that others who do not currently have children in the parochial school (or may never have children in it) to support it in some way or another. It is a vital ministry that ensures the future of the Church as it provides a place of the seeds of vocations to be nourished.

    I am curious if anyone knows more about other dioceses that are looking into this Wichita method and any studies being done, especially concerning the more urban areas.

14 Responses to Summer Vacation and Abraham Lincoln

  • This sounds great, Donald. This might be motivation enough to get out to Illinois one day.

  • If Lincoln won’t get you to Illinois Paul, nothing will! There are a wealth of Lincoln activities around central Illinois during the summer, and they are a true treasure for anyone interested in Lincoln or the Civil War.

  • I will use this thread as an excuse to post this clip from Abraham Lincoln in Illinois (1940).

  • Do you go to New Salem as well? I loved it when we went there when I was young, and I went back in High School and was not let down, which is always a plus. Lincoln’s house, tomb, and law offices, as well as the old and new state capitols, were the other highlights of our visit to Springfield.

    What other Central Illinois highlights do you recommend? Starved Rock and the Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria are two I remember fondly. Are there any impressive Catholic churches worth going out of one’s way to see?

  • I’ve been to New Salem Zak and it is well worth seeing.

    The Saint John’s Chapel at the U of I in Urbana is a fine example of Church renovation done properly, the cathedral in Peoria is magnificent, and St. Mary’s in Paris, Illinois, my hometown as a boy, is a fine example of late nineteenth century neo-Gothic.

    Here is a link to historic sites across Illinois.

    http://www.state.il.us/hpa/hs/sites.htm

    In addition, most counties in Illinois have Civil War musterings each summer with reenactors performing drills and mock battles. Illinois in the summer is heaven for people interested in the Civil War.

  • Thanks for the link! A number of those bring back fond memories – Bishop Hill (4th grade field trip), the Wild Bill Hickok memorial (I made my parents stop there on a drive to Chicago), Black Hawk (site of countless picnics and scout trips) and quite a few others. I’ve moved away now, and there are some like Fort Kaskaskia that I regret never seeing.

    I meant to go to St. John’s chapel last time I was in Champaign but didn’t make it there.

  • Glad you came Don!

    By next year the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield will be open again, and it should be well worth seeing. (God willing we’ll also have a good, new bishop by then; as some of you probably have heard, our former Bishop George Lucas was just installed in Omaha yesterday.)

    A must-visit for all bibliophiles who come to Springfield is Prairie Archives, a wonderfully rambling used bookshop located on the south side of the Old State Capitol Plaza. For all stuff Catholic check out The Marian Center on Monroe Street, just 3-4 blocks east of the current Capitol. It’s chock full of just about every statue, prayer card, and devotional or other book imaginable. I guarantee any AC bloggers who visit either of these places will find something they like!

    Other neat but sometimes overlooked central Illinois sites include:

    — The Illinois State Museum, located south of the Capitol; admission is free and there’s great exhibits on Illinois natural and cultural history there.

    — The David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, home of one of Lincoln’s best friends, who helped make him president. Great Victorian home.

    — The Wheels O’ Time Museum in Peoria — if you love going through your grandma’s attic or looking at classic/antique vehicles this is the place for you.

    — Lakeview Museum in Peoria, which recently restored and upgraded its planetarium. Nice stop for space/astronomy buffs.

    — The Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site near Charleston, where Abe’s father and stepmother settled in the 1830s. Their farm and that of a neighbor are recreated here because they show the contrasting lifestyles of Upland Southerners like the Lincolns versus that of New Englanders like their neighbor.

  • I am looking forward to seeing the catheral next year Elaine. This was the first time that I went to the Prairie Archives and I agree with you that it is a superb bookstore.

  • Springfield, IL is on my list of “must” places to visit! Sounds really worthwhile. I’ve been to Gettysburg and Antietam, and Washington DC a couple of times, and Springfield would be the icing on the cake. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences.

  • Thank you Patricia. I envy you seeing Gettysburg and Antietam as I have not yet had the opportunity to do so.

  • I’ve always meant to get down to Springfield, but somehow I never make it past Chicagoland. I would be very interested in seeing the sites connected to Honest Abe.

    Gettysburg is awe-inspiring. Because of Shelby Foote, I would like to see Shiloh also, if I ever get down that way. Foote recommended seeing it in the early spring, at the same time of year the battle occurred, to really get a sense of the place.

  • Interesting historic coinkydink: the Lincoln Museum was dedicated on April 19, 2005, the same day Benedict XVI was elected pope. President Bush spoke at the noontime dedication ceremony, so in all probability, he was right here in Springfield when he was informed of the new pope’s election!

  • Speaking of must-see churches: St. Mark’s Parish in Peoria (adjacent to the Bradley University campus) is adorned with gorgeous Renaissance-style murals inside, many of them copies of works by Blessed Fra Angelico. In fact the church itself was designated by Bishop Jenky as a shrine to Fra Angelico. You can check out the artwork at http://www.muralsbyjericho.com/murals/murals.htm

    Some of the murals have the faces of actual living or deceased parishioners painted into them — which was a common practice in the Renaissance era as well. For example, the mural of Christ being placed in the tomb by Nicodemus shows Nicodemus with the face of the parish’s first permanent deacon, now deceased.

  • Your site is certainly full of remarkable facts and information and likewise is in fact extremely enjoyable to learn through.Properly completed:)

Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-23-2009

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. I want to welcome Blackadder to American Catholic.  Yes, it’s belated, but needed nonetheless.  He has been an excellent addition to our fledgling website.  He’s written many exceptional posts over at Vox Nova and we are glad to have him here with us.  He also writes at the fine political group blog, Southern Appeal.

2. Meaningless word of the day, Ecumenism.

A close second, Interreligious Dialogue.

…which dovetails very well into my third pick…

Continue reading...

85 Responses to Res et Explicatio for A.D. 7-23-2009

  • “Ecumenism” is a meaningless word? Tell that to the Vatican.

    “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.”

    “Today, in many parts of the world, under the inspiring grace of the Holy Spirit, many efforts are being made in prayer, word and action to attain that fullness of unity which Jesus Christ desires. The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.”

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

    “In the same way, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” recently published (1992), includes the ecumenical dimension as part of the basic teaching for all the faithful of the Church.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/general-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19930325_directory_en.html

    This post is another fine representation of cafeteria Catholicism.

  • ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
    TO THE MEMBERS OF THE FOUNDATION
    FOR INTERRELIGIOUS AND INTERCULTURAL
    RESEARCH AND DIALOGUE

    Thursday, 1 February 2007

    Dear Friends,

    It is a joy for me, having been one of the founding members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, to meet you again and to welcome you today at the Vatican. I greet in particular His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan whom I have the pleasure to meet on this occasion.

    I thank H.E. Metropolitan Damaskinos of Andrianoupolis, your President, who has presented to me the first result of your work: a joint edition of the three Sacred Books of the three monotheistic religions in their original language and in chronological order. Indeed, this was the very first project we conceived of in creating the Foundation together, so as to “make a specific and positive contribution to the dialogue between cultures and religions”.

    As I have said on several occasions, in continuation with the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate and with my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, we, Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to develop the bonds that unite us.

    Indeed, it was this idea that led us to create this Foundation which aims to seek “the most essential and authentic message that the three monotheistic religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can address to the world of the 21st century”, to give a new impetus to interreligious and intercultural dialogue by means of our common research and by highlighting and disseminating everything in our respective spiritual heritages that helps to strengthen fraternal ties between our communities of believers.

    Consequently, the Foundation had to work out an instrument of reference that would help us overcome misunderstandings and prejudices and offer a common platform for future work. Thus, you have produced this beautiful edition of the three books which are the source of our religious beliefs, creators of culture, that have made a deep mark on peoples and to which we are indebted today.

    The reinterpretation, and for some people, the discovery of the texts that so many people across the world venerate as sacred, demands mutual respect in trusting dialogue. Our contemporaries expect of us a message of harmony and peace and the practical expression of our common willingness to help them achieve their legitimate aspiration to live in justice and peace.

    They are entitled to expect of us a strong sign of renewed understanding and reinforced cooperation in accordance with the actual objective of the Foundation, which proposes to offer “to the world in this way a sign of hope and the promise of divine Blessings that always accompanies charitable action”.

    The Foundation’s work will contribute to a growing awareness of everything in the different cultures of our time which is in conformity with divine wisdom and serves human dignity, the better to discern and reject everything that usurps God’s name and deforms man’s humanity.

    Thus, we are invited to engage in a common task of reflection. This is a labour of reason for which I wholeheartedly appeal, with you, to be able to examine God’s mystery in the light of our respective religious traditions and wisdom so as to discern the values likely to illumine the men and women of all the peoples on earth, whatever their culture and religion.

    For this reason it is henceforth invaluable to have at our disposal a common reference point, thanks to the work you have done. Thus, we will be able to make headway in interreligious and intercultural dialogue which today is more necessary than ever: a true dialogue, respectful of differences, courageous, patient and persevering, which finds its strength in prayer and is nourished by the hope that dwells in all who believe in God and put their trust in him.

    Our respective religious traditions all insist on the sacred character of the life and dignity of the human person. We believe that God will bless our initiatives if they converge for the good of all his children and enable them to respect each other in brotherhood world-wide.

    Together with all people of good will, we aspire to peace. That is why I insist once again: interreligious and intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need for our time.

    May the Almighty bless your work and grant an abundance of his Blessings to you and to your loved ones!

  • Ecumenism is meaningless? Caritas in Veritate is poorly written?

    What the heck?

  • “What the heck?”

    ditto, and I rather liked Ut Unum Sint.

  • Ecumenism is meaningless in the sense that the neo-modernists and the left have misappropriated the term to mean the Catholic Church abandoning the principles upon which she was founded, in favor of a more generic and FALSE Christianity in order to appease the separated brethren sufficiently to establish some sort of loose affiliation which they would consider “unity”. That is FALSE ecumenism, with true ecumenism being the goal of restoring those separated brethren to the One True Church by abandoning their erroneous doctrines and invalid hierarchies.

    Tito did not say the latest encyclical is “poorly written” he acknowledged that some critics have said so. It clearly is more of a committee document than Benedict’s prior encyclicals.

    Ut Unam Sint? Good heavens, that is by far the worst encyclical since the 2nd Vatican Council, or perhaps EVER. There’s a reason that our current Holy Father as head of the Holy Office, issued a major clarification to restore proper understanding of the mission of the Church and the true meaning of Ecumenism.

  • If a text leads to a clarification later, that doesn’t mean the text itself is written badly (otherwise, we must all consider the Bible one of the worst books ever written). Theology is always engaged with this kind of work; compare St Cyril of Alexandria vs Pope St Leo; I wouldn’t call Cyril a bad writer because he doesn’t use the advanced terminology of Leo, because, well, he didn’t have use of it in his time!

  • “Neo-modernists”? Who are these people in the Church who have with their practice so destroyed the meaning of ecumenism? Are they Church officials? Bishops’ conferences? Renegade theologians? General ill-willers?

  • Henry & Alan,

    Could you find for me in Ut Unum Sint what the definition of “ecumenism” is?

    I doubt you can find it.

  • Tito

    Can you find in the Bible a definition of the Trinity? Does it make the Trinity not in the Bible? Documents are after written with the presupposition that the basic terms within it don’t need to be defined.

  • Henry Karlson,

    Even the text of infallible proclamations/documents does not necessarily make them impeccable.

    Your point concerning thus seems to make the case that such documents are indeed so.

    If that is the case, your contention is as remarkably risible as Tito’s TACO is as derisive.

  • Henry K.,

    I didn’t say Bible, I said Ut Unum Sint.

    Again, you can’t find it because Pope John Paul II never defined “ecumenism”.

    Ecumenism is a protestant invented word. Nowhere is it defined.

    It is so ambiguous it could mean anything, ipso facto, it can be meaningless.

  • Ecumenism is a protestant invented word.

    I think if we wanted to start digging into the origins of much of the vocabulary commonly utilized in Catholic theology, the origins will not be majority Catholic.

  • “Ecumenism is a protestant invented word. Nowhere is it defined.”

    A couple things, you are arguing a Latin document to define words in English? Again this is rather weird. Second, the source of the word is Greek, and nowhere I see is the word “invented by Protestantism.” You will find ecumenism engaged long before Protestants.

    While the word itself is not defined in the document, the activity which the Church supports is given throughout. More importantly, just because a document doesn’t define the meaning for you, doesn’t make it meaningless, just as the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but not meaningless. Again, this is basic — the arguments you make remind me of Protestants as they argue definitions “via the Bible.” They don’t understand definitions are presupposed if a word is used, and the Bible doesn’t define words, just as a Papal Encyclical doesn’t have to define every word it uses to make the word meaningful.

    As for a fine example of dissident Catholicism, just remember who it is pointing at the Church and telling it that its declarations are in error! You are telling the Church it is calling us to something meaningless, not I. This is the example of your clear Cafeteria style Catholicism. It is quite apparent you don’t listen to the Church, you only take things out of context for your non-Catholic political ideology, and if the Church says different, you begin to mock the Church.

  • HK,

    issued a major clarification to restore proper understanding of the mission of the Church

    First let me correct the record, the clarification was issued after the ascension of Benedict XVI to the papacy, and so was under the prefect Cdl. Levada technically (though clearly it was written by and/or closely supervised by Benedict XVI).

    Secondly, this clarification after only 12 years is in no way related to re-examinations of the early fathers work 100’s of years later. They’re just not the same thing. The document in question is not simply an analysis, it is corrective. The corrective was necessary because the neo-modernists and leftists began taking advantage of the difficulties in Ut Unum Sint to further their destructive efforts, completely ignoring 2000 years of doctrine. The same occurred after the documents of the 2nd Vatican Council.

  • Michael

    It is true that the origin of the word is not important (most words can probably be traced back to pagans), but in this case, he is also in error. The word is derived from Greek – and is cognate with “economy.” Ecumenism isn’t a modern phenomena – again, as I have said, all one has to do is look back in time, and one will find Florence, which was 15th century ecumenism.

  • Matt

    You really should look into the time between Ephesus and Chalcedon, and also, the reaction of those who opposed Chalcedon. You will find that clarification was indeed needed, soon after Ephesus, but that does not dismiss the value of Ephesus itself. This is the same thing. The Church is always engaging, going deeper, bringing up something new.

  • Tito,

    Ut Unum Sint is built on top of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, which notes the following:

    “The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity.”

    I would recommend a careful reading of Unitatis Redintegratio to frame Ut Unum Sint. Having read some responses to Ut Unum Sint, primarily on the part of some Orthodox, it’s impact is important. To pass it off as some sort of Protestant invention is, in my opinion, silly.

  • HK,

    So because you can’t find the definition you begin your ad hominem attacks on me.

    Typical Vox Nova poster.

  • Tito

    No, I didn’t make any ad hominems — heck, there is a post on VN you need to read, now that you make that claim.

  • Alan Phipps,

    you should also review Unam Sanctum, Redemptoris Missio to properly understand the Church’s teaching on how unity is to be restored and maintained. Where Peter is there is the Church, he is the earthly sign of unity.

  • Tito, I think you’re being willfully obtuse on this.

  • Matt,

    I’m only helping to frame Ut Unum Sint. I don’t dispute that “ecumenism” has been hijacked by some groups to mean something it does not. I don’t think your beef is really with me.

  • Henry K.,

    “the ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Reform”.
    –Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II

    Ut Unum Sint is not ex cathedra.

    Pope Pius XI condemned any attempts at ecumenism in Mortalium Animos.

    Pope Pius XII made a prediction concerning the problems of ecumenism, being of Protestant orgigen:

    “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul… I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.”

  • Ecumenism is but a vile virus that has become an apparent plague on Rome, which will ultimately lead to its very undoing.

    You need only take notice of purported Catholics who are nothing but Gnostics in disguise, succumbing to various heresies and cultish folk practices given to the provocation of the spirits.

  • Tito, it’s interesting that you dismiss one encyclical by citing another, and bolster it with a purported quote from Pope Pius XII that only appears as a “so-and-so said he heard that the Pope said” kind of quote on far-right Traditionalist websites. It would appear that cherry-picking isn’t only a left-wing activity.

  • e.,

    Well I wouldn’t go that far.

    “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
    – – Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 16:18

    Ecumenism may have harmed the Church but it won’t be it’s ruin.

  • JohnH,

    I am not dismissing Ut Unum Sint, I am just pointing out that it isn’t ex cathedra and there still needs to be a better clarification on the subject of ecumenism.

    40 years of “ecumenism” has produced zero, “0”, results.

    Outside of cut-off chicken heads at Fatima and heathens desecrating the churches of Assissi, it has been fruitless.

  • JohnH,

    And no, I didn’t pick the quote from “traditionalist” websites, I got it from the Vatican website. Unless of course you are accusing the Vatican of being traditionalist.

    Take a chill pill dude.

  • Alan Phipps,

    I’m only helping to frame Ut Unum Sint. I don’t dispute that “ecumenism” has been hijacked by some groups to mean something it does not. I don’t think your beef is really with me.

    there’s no beef really, I just want to point out that one can’t properly understand Ut Unam Sint by reading it and Unitatis Redentigratio (UR). One must also read older documents, and the correctives from Redemptoris Missio, Dominus Iesus and the doctrinal note which followed from UR.

    Speaking of which, after further research, Dominus Iesus was in fact issued under Cdl. Ratzinger as a corrective for UUS and only 5 years after it’s issue, subsequently another corrective was issued under Cdl. Levada.

    e.,

    Ecumenism is but a vile virus that has become an apparent plague on Rome, which will ultimately lead to its very undoing.

    I don’t think it’s possible for Rome to be “ultimately” undone, pretty sure Christ assured us of that. Clearly the false understanding of ecumenism has been a vile virus which harms the Body of Christ but can not destroy it.

  • “Neo-modernists”? Who are these people in the Church who have with their practice so destroyed the meaning of ecumenism? Are they Church officials? Bishops’ conferences? Renegade theologians? General ill-willers?

    Christopher Ferrara in his critique of ecumenism places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the most recently deceased pontiff. The Latin Mass has an occasional feature on the problems which ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have presented and Ferrara and Woods write at length on the subject in The Great Facade.

  • Tito, you need to know how to read things in context; Pope John Paul II, in saying, “the ecumenical movement really began within the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Reform,” is of course talking about the modern ecumenical movement in the 20th century. However it is not the foundation of ecumenism, which is something else.

  • And no, I didn’t pick the quote from “traditionalist” websites, I got it from the Vatican website. Unless of course you are accusing the Vatican of being traditionalist.

    OK, please show me where that quote shows up on the Vatican website. The one that begins with “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima.” I can only find it though sedevacantist / SSPX websites.

  • Henry K.,

    I agree with you on that point.

    Like you, I want all Christians united.

    I just wished that Pope John Paul II would have used more concise language than the ambiguities that are infested in Ut Unum Sint.

    I doubt Ut Unum Sint will ever be as relevant as when it was first issued. Like Vatican II, it will be our children who will see what is effective and what is not effective.

    You and I are on the same side, we want to evangelize the world.

  • “Dominus Iesu” was actually not written as a corrective to UUS, but to deal with some Catholic theologians engaging a broad form of pluralism which rendered Jesus insignificant. It was an internal theological document, not a document which was at all written in response to ecumenism.

  • “Outside of cut-off chicken heads at Fatima and heathens desecrating the churches of Assissi, it has been fruitless.”

    I think that such a conclusion is short sighted. There has been great strides in our ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Orthodox, and hopefully with the TAC. Did you read Unitatis Redintegratio? Just because it doesn’t move according to your schedule or expectations doesn’t make it fruitless. Nor is it rendered irrelevant when other groups reduce enumenism to indifferentism, which the church has also condemned.

  • JohnH.,

    I was referring to Mortalium Animos.

    Please, where is the evidence of any ecumenical success?

  • ““I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to little Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul… I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past.””

    Speaks nothing of ecumenism. As the Church makes clear, even in UUS, ecumenism is not about the alteration of Church teaching; it is not a syncretism.

  • Matt,
    Cardinal Levada’s document was in response to misinterpretations of and questions about Dominus Iesus, which was issued by the CDF under Joseph Ratzinger.

  • Sorry, Matt, I missed where you noted the correct timeline. Shouldn’t have skimmed through the subsequent responses.

  • Matt McDonald:

    Agreed; however, it has most assuredly not only harmed the Body of Christ, but it has done so to such remarkable extent so as to disfigure it almost rendering it to where you can hardly see the Catholicism of today as actually being “Catholic”.

  • Henry Karlson,

    “Dominus Iesu” was actually not written as a corrective to UUS, but to deal with some Catholic theologians engaging a broad form of pluralism which rendered Jesus insignificant. It was an internal theological document, not a document which was at all written in response to ecumenism.

    Unless you’re actually familiar with the “ecumenism movement” in which case you would know it has been drifting towards pluralism since the 70’s and recognize that this illicit movement had used UUS to further it’s cause, thus justifying it’s inclusion in the discussion.

    Alan,

    I think that such a conclusion is short sighted. There has been great strides in our ecumenical efforts with the Eastern Orthodox, and hopefully with the TAC. Did you read Unitatis Redintegratio? Just because it doesn’t move according to your schedule or expectations doesn’t make it fruitless. Nor is it rendered irrelevant when other groups reduce enumenism to indifferentism, which the church has also condemned.

    Tito forgot to mention the illicit inter-communion which the Canadian Bishops have all but publicly embraced… I don’t think Tito is objecting to the TRUE ecumenism which is going on with the Orthodox and TAC, he is rejecting false ecumenism (on that he ought to be more precise) as does the Church.

  • e., sounds like you’d agree with this fellow:

    Ecumenism — is one of the mechanisms by which this mixing is achieved in practice. It is a relatively recent satanic invention, which already proved to be a huge success. Under the guise of “super-Christian love” it attempts to blur and, eventually, destroy the boundaries of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, depriving the faithful of the Holy Mysteries and corrupting their souls.

    Except that he’s not Roman Catholic.

    http://ecumenizm.tripod.com/ECUMENIZM/index.html

    And Tito–if you want to find out what the fruits of ecumenism have been, why not ask some of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Rite priests who have been doing mission work in Russia? I’m sure if you look around, you could get a good perspective on it. The efforts have not been fruitless, especially in building trust within countries that traditionally have been fiercely anti-Rome.

  • So “ecumenism” means being “nice” to others?

    I thought charity fell under that category, but I guess ecumenism is the new “charity”.

    So ecumenism means being nice to others, but not necessary being one Church.

    See the confusion?

  • “Unless you’re actually familiar with the “ecumenism movement” in which case you would know it has been drifting towards pluralism since the 70’s and recognize that this illicit movement had used UUS to further it’s cause, thus justifying it’s inclusion in the discussion.”

    Not true at all; it is quite apparent you are the one who has not studied the movement, but rather, strawmen about the movement itself; indeed, as I pointed out, UUS has criticized this idea of ecumenism, so it can’t be seen as supporting this notion at all. More importantly, if you look at the bi-lateral dialogues between Catholicism and others, you will note doctrine is significant, and the Orthodox, who have always been with the WWC, have always put forward as the difference of doctrine is a fundamental issue and cannot be dismissed for some “super-church” which ignores the distinctions. Sergius Bulgakov consistently insisted the ecumenical movement address Mary, btw.

  • e. ,

    Agreed; however, it has most assuredly not only harmed the Body of Christ, but it has done so to such remarkable extent so as to disfigure it almost rendering it to where you can hardly see the Catholicism of today as actually being “Catholic”.

    not everywhere, but certainly in many places.

  • JohnH:

    Stuff it and quite putting words in my mouth; regardless of the fact that even previous popes themselves opposed ecumenism and for good reason, too!

    Truly, the Smoke of Satan has already infiltrated the Church, as had even been prophesied by a well-respected pope; one need only see the many modern-day ‘Catholic’ churches, which are more like pagan sacrificial worship sites or your local protestant gathering place, as well as attend any number of ‘services’ to see its dispicable fruits which, thus, evince an overwhelming evidence for the center of such villainy.

  • So “ecumenism” means being “nice” to others?

    No. I think you are confused, or possibly being obtuse again. The efforts at ecumenism in Russia and elsewhere have opened doors for Catholics working in these countries.

  • JohnH,

    Again with ‘obtuse’.

    Show me the evidence that Michael Denton so often begs for that we are making inroads in Russia.

    I have heard our Russian Orthodox brothers complain about this, yet I don’t see any evidence of this.

    As of today, Rome and Moscow have no plans to reunite.

    Shoot, they don’t want us to walk within a hundred miles of the Russian border.

  • e.: I’m pretty weary of the whole “I’m more Catholic than Rome” schtick.

  • Tito: you can talk with the priests from here:

    http://www.vladmission.org/

    next time they are in the US. I know Fr. Dan is back and forth quite a bit. Or you can e-mail them for a chat (though the internet there is wonky).

  • JohnH,

    Thanks!

    I sincerely appreciate this because I love conversion stories and I would like to know how the whole “conversion of Russia” scene is playing out.

    Saint Padre Pio once said that the Russians will convert to Catholicism before the Americans, and they will teach us how to convert.

    Yes, I am being sincere, thank you!

  • You are welcome.

  • Henry K.,

    I have read those in the past, but I mostly stick to InterFax and Patriarchia for my Russian Orthodox news, and they haven’t been as friendly nor as optimistic:

    http://www.interfax-religion.com/

    http://www.patriarchia.ru/

    (use a translator for the second link)

  • fruits of ecumenism:

    ?

    Not sure what that has to do with ecumenism.

  • Henry Karlson Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D.
    “Ecumenism” is a meaningless word? Tell that to the Vatican”.

    “This post is another fine representation of cafeteria Catholicism”.

    What is cafeteria-like about it is the avoidance of specifics. It is headline writing. All fog and fuss, no way to answer it.

  • e. Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D. at 10:55 am
    “Henry Karlson,
    Even the text of infallible proclamations/documents does not necessarily make them impeccable”.

    Surely there is some confusion here about the meaning of “impeccable”.

    [NB: “not necessarily” is a meaningless weasel phrase].

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Are you much a fool as you are incapable of discerning what “necessarily” actually construes? Or are you so devoid of philosophic/theologic training so as to be wholly incapable of noting what is necessary and what is sufficient?

    Furthermore, the fact of the matter remains that just because something is, in fact, infallible does not actually render it “impeccable”; if that were indeed the case, that one is saying that any such infallible decree has been rendered remarkably perfect.

    For your information, neither professional Catholic theologians and even then Cardinal Ratzinger think so.

  • I doubt anyone here had trouble understanding what e. means in using the word “impeccable” even if it was not perfectly applied (which I don’t concede).

  • You guys are hilarious.

    Here, for your edification:

    [I]nfallibility has never been said to entail impeccability, the fact that some bishops and popes have been quite peccable indeed is irrelevant as an objection to the doctrine that they are infallible under certain conditions. By the same token, infallibility is not a prerogative that men enjoy as men. Since only God is infallible by nature, infallibility is a divine gift to the Church that nobody deserves or can attain by their own efforts. Such a gift is also negative rather than positive: it does not entail that the irreformable pronouncements of the Magisterium are divinely inspired, or opportune, or even particularly well-formulated; it entails only that the Magisterium will never bind the Church definitively to a statement that is false.

    There, I’m done with informing the ignorant.

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  • e.,

    There, I’m done with informing the ignorant.

    I would advise you to not attend anymore Jesuit conferences if that is the case.

  • e. Says Thursday, July 23, 2009 A.D. at 2:41 pm
    “Gabriel Austin:
    Are you much a fool as you are incapable of discerning what “necessarily” actually construes? Or are you so devoid of philosophic/theologic training so as to be wholly incapable of noting what is necessary and what is sufficient?”

    I permit myself to reprove you with (Matthew 5:22) – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

    “Furthermore, the fact of the matter remains that just because something is, in fact, infallible does not actually render it “impeccable”; if that were indeed the case, that one is saying that any such infallible decree has been rendered remarkably perfect”.

    Does not change the fact that you seem to have confused infallible with impeccable [which was nowhere discussed].

    Why do you hide behind an initial? Just curious.

    Interesting that in your informing [instructing?] the ignorant, you give a quotation but not a reference. Please do continue not to instruct [inform?] us.

  • I’m the one who has infallible confused with impeccable?

    Thus, says the man whose comments seemed to imply that an infallibile decree is actually flawless [impeccable].

    Now, go find a box somewhere upon which to recover your poise as you certainly need it!

  • Tito’s anti-Catholic recklessness continues and his co-bloggers remain silent.

  • Even those bloggers here with whom I greatly disagree, I would not accuse of either recklessness or anti-Catholicism.

  • e. Says Friday, July 24, 2009 A.D. at 2:44 pm
    “I’m the one who has infallible confused with impeccable?”

    Yes.

    “Thus, says the man whose comments seemed to imply that an infallibile decree is actually flawless [impeccable]”.

    “Seem to imply”. More weasel words. Have you a citation?

    “Now, go find a box somewhere upon which to recover your poise as you certainly need it!”

    Is this meant to make sense? Or is it merely an attempt to be offensive? If the latter, you need more practice. Read some Jonathan Swift.

  • Foxfier – I’m not accusing “the bloggers” of anything in the abstract. I am accusing Tito of specific actions here that are reckless and anti-Catholic.

  • I’m not accusing “the bloggers” of anything in the abstract.

    Incorrect; you accused them of allowing and– by their silence– promoting anti-Catholicism.

    That is both abstract– lacking as it is specific examples of “anti-Catholicism”– and an accusation.

  • Gabriel Austin:

    Are you that deficient in cognitive abilities? My comments were in fact making a distinction between the two.

    Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything more especially from a pompous trogoldyte who hails from the lesser races and believes adverbs are anathema.

  • Tito’s hatred of the Church’s teaching on ecumenism and his hatred of Archbishop Oscar Romero are evidence of his anti-Catholicism.

  • And speaking of so-called “weasel words”:

    “Does not change the fact that you seem to have confused infallible with impeccable [which was nowhere discussed].”

    By the way, you’re the one who has completely conflated the two since you actually are of the opinion that just because something happens to be infallible, it is indeed impeccable [flawless], or else you wouldn’t have taken issue with it to begin with (unless, of course, that’s just your way of demonstrating how you take being an arse to an art form!).

    So, go take your faux Catholicism elsewhere and stick your arrogance to where the sun don’t shine; I’ve had it with not only your pernicious mischaracterizations and condescending pettiness but, more especially, your constant pharisaic delectations, which are nothing more than a devious disguise to hide a clearly hideously fiendish nature underneath all that supposedly Christian exterior!

  • The only time Tito has written about Archbishop Romero was when he complemented you for praying to an uncanonized saint, and added prayers to Fr. Kolbe.
    (do a google site search, if you doubt)

    You seem to have a bit of a problem with facts.

  • Foxfier – You must have missed our conversation the other day on this blog about Romero.

  • Iafrate:

    At worst, Tito may be classified as careless or even thoughtless in some respects; however, to actually label the man “anti-Catholic” would seem to me to be wholly unjustified.

  • Michael,

    Yes Tito expressed belief in the accounts given to him by several Salvadoran friends indicating that Archbishop Romero had been hiding guns to help the guerrillas in that insanely long comment thread last week. No, I do not think it likely that his friends were right to believe that — though given their personal sufferings at the hands of the communist revolutionaries there I can see why Tito would.

    However, that in no way indicates “hatred” or anti-Catholicism, and while I won’t delete your original comment making that accusation (since it’s not my thread) I am going to stake out a line and tell you to stop it, or else I’ll delete any further comments from you along these lines.

    If you have something substantive to say, say it, but if you’re working on your extensive hate-list, we’re not interested.

  • Interesting to note that Iafrate is committing the very same kind of calumny that he was berating Tito for in a previous thread.

  • e. Says Monday, July 27, 2009 A.D. at 10:46 am

    [I must say I don’t know why I bother. Nonetheless to prevent the spread of error}.

    “you actually are of the opinion that just because something happens to be infallible, it is indeed impeccable [flawless]”.

    I would be curious for a citation citing my opinion on this confusion. The error is in the definition of impeccable as flawless. Perhaps in common usage. But in theology, impeccable means without sin.

    [Again, I ask myself why I bother].

  • And what, pray tell, was it in my comments that made you believe I was actually employing the term in its seeming officially accepted theological meaning?

    Especially since you yourself so much as admitted that its common usage (as well as according to Webster’s dic. and, not to mention, the fact that a certain Catholic Theologian himself also utilized the same term in the same sense I had applied thus in my own comments) is meant to contrue “flawless”, as I had indeed intended then.

    Regardless, that does not render (even slightly — and, if anything, your constant harangues only solifies support for my original position) my original statement wholly nugatory: the fact that just because something happens to be infallible, it doesn’t mean it’s actually impeccable!

    [Why do I even bother?]

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Fatal Error

Wednesday, July 22, AD 2009

An oldie but a goodie from the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Life without the Internet.  What would we do?  We might have to “gasp” talk to one another!  Bloggers would have to post their missives on their doors for passers-by to write comments!   What would we do with the several hours freed up each day from not browsing the internet?  The Horror, the Horror!

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4 Responses to Fatal Error

  • The teen section of my local newspaper just ran a story in which a high school couple tried to go two weeks (!) without communicating by cell phone or internet — no texting, Facebook, or e-mails. Apparently the notion of talking to one another via landline phone was kind of foreign to them. I wonder how many adults would do if they tried this kind of experiment?

    http://www.sj-r.com/features/x631636139/You-mean-we-have-to-like-talk

  • Without the Internet, I’d go stark raving mad at my cube-ville job. I wouldn’t be more productive, but I would be more irascible.

  • Elaine: How on earth did we ever make it to adulthood without Facebook? A friend told me she found her teenaged daughter sitting in the living room texting her best friend. Best friend lives across the street.

    Of course, I remember tying up the family phone (and we only had one line, for 6 people – imagine that nowadays) for hours when I was 16. I had to talk to my friends – and I had just seen them at school a few hours earlier. I can’t remember now exactly what was discussed. Hard to imagine now how the charms of 16 year old boys and the latest pop band could inspire hours of discussion.

  • I’m sure girls could find MANY things to talk about. The internet just enabled them to do so that’s all.

7 Responses to Changing the World

  • Excellent! I think Benedict has been developing the theme of the priority of the spiritual in his three encyclicals. This is not to deny the need for social action. Merely that spiritual rootedness must preceed any action.

  • Indeed.

    And regardless of the topic of one’s blogging, if one allows it to take a place in one’s life disproportionate to any other hobby, it’s probably a good idea to cut down. Real life beckons.

  • A welcome reminder to the Catholic blogosphere….

  • As I have stated many times over the years, I blog solely for amusement. If any good comes of it well and good, but if it ever ceases to be fun I will stop doing it. Having just put in 12 hours at the office and in court, how I wish I could do the same thing regarding the law!

  • Mr. McClarey,

    As “Amuse thyself” is your self-confessed guiding motto of all of your blogging activities, I must apologize for all of my complaints that assumed that truth and Christian charity were your guiding lights.

    Now I understand you better, I think.

  • Wrong as usual Mr. DeFrancisis, but feel free to try again.

  • I am new to this blog and welcome the possibility of constructive dialog regarding important issues that face our society and help us to continually form our souls so as to be pleasing in the eyes of our heavenly Father who loves all of us and only desires the best for us. I promise that I will always do my best to adhere to “The Code of Conduct” rules and I ask all of you to please remind or reprimand me if I disrespect any of you, my pride often times gets the better of me. From reading the above replies to the words of Pope Benedict regarding how important prayer is to sustain our faith, and how prayer gives our actions true merit, it is easy to see that we have all been given gifts from God(Our Father)that we can use to assist one another on our journeys of on-going spiritual formation. Your brother in Christ, Scott

Iran: Two Former Presidents Speak Out

Tuesday, July 21, AD 2009

Iran July 17, 2009

Many recent developments in Iran, all of them bad for the Iranian regime of Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader, with apologies to Fearless Leader of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Khamenei.  Huge demonstrations rocked Iran on Friday with crowd estimates ranging from 100,000 to over a million in Tehran.    Repression, brutal as it has been, is simply not stopping the Resistance from taking to the streets once a week.

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Let's Send Congress to the Moon

Monday, July 20, AD 2009

Hillarynaught.

 

In honor of America landing a man on the Moon forty years ago, the indispensable Iowahawk has a column here in which he suggests sending Congress to the Moon.  I’d like to be among the first to climb on board this rocketwagon.  I suspect we will never get our budgetary house in order until Congress is sent to the Moon, and I believe that most Americans have long thought that Congress and a full Moon go together.   However, as the above picture indicates, I can think of a few officials from the Executive Branch who should go along for the ride!

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2 Responses to Let's Send Congress to the Moon

  • Actually, I picture Ralph Kramden vowing to send Congress “to the moon, Alice!”

  • Iowahawk is on to something, although I would fear for the fate of the moon. A tax on green cheese would certainly be imposed immediately.

    However, you’d think that Rep. Kucinich, who once saw a UFO while visiting Shirley MacLaine’s house (after a bit of wine and reefer) would jump at the chance. He could certainly serve as translator if any aliens pop up. We’d just have to make sure that we send them up there with an ample supply of loco weed and Chardonnay.

Basing Victory on Failure

Monday, July 20, AD 2009

It is one of the interesting contradictions of politics that political factions sometimes rely on the problems they seek to eliminate for their existence. For instance, it has been widely noted that while it is generally part of the Democratic set of ideals to reduce economic disparity, while Republicans tend to be accepting of it, Democrats are most successfully elected in areas with high economic disparity and Republicans are most successfully elected in areas with economic homogeneity. One might imagine that this is because those who actually experience inequality see the folly of their actions and switch to become Democratic voters, and perhaps there’s some level of truth to this, but still it seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.

I was reminded of this reading an article this morning about a group of newly elected Democrats in the House who are from some of the nation’s wealthiest congressional districts. (Democrats now control 14 out of the 25 richest congressional districts in the country.) These congressmen are worried about a provision in the pending health care legislation which would fund much of the new spending with a tax increase of 1-5.4% on income groups making $350k/yr or more.

I don’t have an objection in principle to taxes that hit the rich harder than the poor. As was observed about the reasonableness of robbing banks (if one is going to be a robber): That’s where the money is.

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26 Responses to Basing Victory on Failure

  • “but still it seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.”

    About as odd, from another perspective, of doctors doing better when an epidemic breaks out.

  • It’s like the Republicans’ popularity rising whenever the U.S. gets struck by terrorism…even under the former’s watch.

  • My personal suspicion would be that the former is the explanation.

    Both.

  • But if the more doctors you got, the worse the epidemic became, might you after a while start to think that perhaps the doctors weren’t doing any good?

  • [I]t seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.

    I would tend to agree with Joe in not finding this quite so odd. MM pointed out a while back that Republicans tend to do better in states with higher rates of divorce, teen births, etc. I think you have the same phenomenon in both cases. Democrats say “elect me, and I’ll do something about the problem of economic inequality.” That’s likely to be an effective appeal if inequality seems like a problem to voters than if it doesn’t. Likewise, Republicans say “elect me, and I’ll do something about the decline in family values.” That appeal is more likely to resonate with voters if they think there has been such a decline and view it as a problem.

  • It’s like the Republicans’ popularity rising whenever the U.S. gets struck by terrorism…even under the former’s watch.

    Whenever? That would seem like a very small number of events to draw a trend from. Did Republicans gain support after the first World Trade Center bombing during the Clinton administration, or after the OKC bombing?

  • I’d certainly concede that to an extent, Joe & Blackadder. Though it seems to me that if one votes in Democratic local governments and representatives, and yet things still keep getting more and more unequal, one would have to start wondering after a while if the Democrats were actually good at reducing inequality or just good at appealing to both the rich and poor at the same time.

    It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans, but then, it may be that large cities in those regions are in bad shape for some unrelated reason.

    If it would help, I’ll consent to retract that side remark, since my main point was that funding all of Obama’s initiatives soley via taxes on the rich suggests both an intermittant revenue source and also a certain lack of faith on their part on the likelihood of their actually achieving greater income equality.

  • “Though it seems to me that if one votes in Democratic local governments and representatives, and yet things still keep getting more and more unequal, one would have to start wondering after a while if the Democrats were actually good at reducing inequality or just good at appealing to both the rich and poor at the same time.”

    Well, I am sympathetic to this point of view – Democrats have been, at least from the perspective of many leftists, been ‘moving to the right’ on economic issues for 30 years. The Bill Clinton years ushered in a “new” Democratic Party under the Democratic Leadership Council, and that is when much of this shift took place.

    Of course from a right-wing perspective, Democrats are still either socialists or close enough to. I think that’s a ridiculous assessment, having once belonged to a socialist organization myself – one that, like most other socialist groups, do nothing but complain about the Democrats (much in the same way, I might imagine, that people in the capital L Libertarian Party or Constitution Party complain about Republicans).

    “It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans, but then, it may be that large cities in those regions are in bad shape for some unrelated reason.”

    What did Democratic policies have to do without outsourcing, downsizing, ‘restructuring’ and all of the other processes that ushered in the disintegration of America’s manufacturing base that served as the economic backbone of these areas?

    Since I brought up socialism, I’ll paraphrase something Trotsky said about the Soviet economy – even good policies can’t turn manure into gold.

    “If it would help, I’ll consent to retract that side remark, since my main point was that funding all of Obama’s initiatives soley via taxes on the rich suggests both an intermittant revenue source and also a certain lack of faith on their part on the likelihood of their actually achieving greater income equality.”

    I also think this is a stretch, because few people narrow their vision of social equality to “income equality”. Wealth inequality or unequal living standards/conditions could be equalized – as they were in the past – by a transfer of wealth from the top to the bottom in the form of social programs without increasing anyone’s income.

    That said, I agree with you in substance – taxing the rich only isn’t a fair policy. Everyone needs to contribute to the common good. Those who have more, should contribute more and not complain about it. But even those who have less are obliged to contribute.

  • It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans,

    You can eliminate the “seem” when talking about New Orleans.

  • Oh, and there was not a complete collapse of our manufacturing base in those areas during this time…

  • “Democrats have been, at least from the perspective of many leftists, been ‘moving to the right’ on economic issues for 30 years.”

    That movement began to turn around with Howard Dean. With the ascent of Barack Obama, the far left of the party has the reigns.

    “What did Democratic policies have to do without outsourcing, downsizing, ‘restructuring’ and all of the other processes that ushered in the disintegration of America’s manufacturing base that served as the economic backbone of these areas?”

    These areas (DC, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans) were in rough shape before outsourcing etc. The recessions in the 70’s were brought on by a lack of competitiveness (as well as some oil shocks) from which certain economic sectors (automotive, to name one) still suffer. The policies you cite were reactions corporations took to deal with the situation, and which exacerbated the local economic impact. Perhaps the question should have been “what did unions and corporations have to do with the disintegration of the U.S. manufacturing base?”

    “Wealth inequality or unequal living standards/conditions could be equalized – as they were in the past – by a transfer of wealth from the top to the bottom in the form of social programs without increasing anyone’s income.”

    As the IRS will tell you, the receipt of goods or services in kind is an increase in income. (They get rather testy if you do not report such things.) If you are talking about public libraries, parks, etc. it is another matter.

    Re the topic of the post, it may be helpful to view the “greed” map at http://minoroutside.blogspot.com/2009/05/bible-belt-or-swath-of-sin.html and compare it to a electoral map (such as http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/map.html)

  • people go into business to make money not to take care of the so called “poor.” you take a large enough percentage of money from the rich business man and he will try to move his business elsewhere where he can make more money. you tie up his business so he can’t move it, he leaves it accepts the loss and takes whats left of his wealth elsewhere.

    and you’re suprised…

  • Oh, and there was not a complete collapse of our manufacturing base in those areas during this time…

    In some cases. I’m not sure DC every had much of a manufacturing base, did it?

    At the same time, one might ask: What exactly was it that caused those manufacturing base cities to double down on unionized manufacturing repeatedly, allowing cities further south like Atlanta, Nashville, and Houston to grab so much of the more diversified economic opportunities coming available?

    people go into business to make money not to take care of the so called “poor.” you take a large enough percentage of money from the rich business man and he will try to move his business elsewhere where he can make more money.

    I’m not sure if this is part of what you have in mind, but one of the things that will tend to drive people’s profit motive harder in a highly heterogeneous society is that people do not necessarily trust the political arbiters of the common good to dispose of their money as well as they would themselves. Someone who wants to hold onto his earnings is not necessarily planning to blow it all on lighting his Cuban cigars with $1000 bills. He may be wanting to use that money to start an additional business (which will provide jobs) or to fund some charitable cause, etc. A desire to control what happens with the money one earns is not necessarily “greed”.

  • “people go into business to make money not to take care of the so called “poor.””

    And people avoid libertarianism like the plague when those who identify with it speak this way. The “so-called poor” – as if they didn’t exist. “To make money” – as if that in itself were a worthy goal.

    Catholic social teaching may not presume to insist upon what economic policies must be in place, but it certainly can insist upon the values that are to guide individual behavior and attitudes.

    Yours are in need of a serious adjustment.

    For Darwin,

    “Someone who wants to hold onto his earnings is not necessarily planning to blow it all on lighting his Cuban cigars with $1000 bills.”

    No one said it is necessary. That it is even possible, however, while people are suffering is a sufficient reason for the community and for society, through its legitimate democratic institutions, to have some say over what happens to the wealth of society. No one’s “earnings” are entirely their own anyway – the production of all wealth is a social process, and in the final equation, all things belong to God.

  • That it is even possible, however, while people are suffering is a sufficient reason for the community and for society, through its legitimate democratic institutions, to have some say over what happens to the wealth of society.

    I’d agree that this is why it’s appropriate for the state to provide a certain minimum level of safety net. There are those out there who, left the opportunity to use their wealth for good, will do nothing. (On the bright side, when they go out and blow it on a $500k sports car instead, at least they end up providing employment to a bunch of people, though certainly not from the goodness of their hearts.)

    In this sense, I certainly wouldn’t support absolutism libertarianism. At the same time, though, I lean towards wanting to leave people as much room to do the right thing as possible. So I certainly wouldn’t support a leveling approach to taxation where one intentionally tries to take all the “extra” above a certain amount.

    For an analogy: Many parents do not perform their duties very well. I think it’s appropriate that the community have a means of stepping in which bad parenting hits catastrophic levels. But I don’t think it’s a good idea when the wider community tries to relieve parents of most of their responsibilities in order to assure that no bad parenting takes place.

    Now, I’d say that the right to private property is of lesser priority than the right of a parents to rear their own children, so I think there’s more latitude, but I do think that there’s a very big element of charity and humanity which is lost when people rely on the polis as the primary means of assuring that people help each other and refuse to leave anything to the true solidarity of human persons. Indeed, I worry that an excessive reliance on the state’s “safety net” can end up feeding into the cycle of individualism which weakens community ties.

  • “On the bright side, when they go out and blow it on a $500k sports car instead, at least they end up providing employment to a bunch of people”

    I don’t mean to be snotty with you, but I really dislike this point when it is made in the context of trying to justify freedom to the point of license (that isn’t what you did here but the logic is similar).

    Pimps provide jobs. Drug dealers provide jobs. The abortion industry employs thousands of people. So does the abortion lobby. Excessive consumption and a squandering of one’s personal wealth on obscene luxury items might be a degree below these evils, but only a degree. It is certainly not closer to the morally acceptable end of the spectrum.

    A lot of people who would draw the line at prostitution and drugs, or at abortion, wouldn’t draw it at the squandering of vast amounts of money on the production or purchase of goods and services that serve only the purpose of personal aggrandizement.

    That they would draw the line at all, however, means that they admit that not all job-creating activity is valid, that some of it is harmful to society, to the common good. If you accept it in one case, I don’t see why it can’t be accepted in another.

    I believe social harm is done when time, effort, natural resources and other vital commodities are used up in the pursuit not of happiness, but gluttony. It is an injustice to the people of the Earth who are struggling to get by, it makes a mockery of God through idolatry, it tramples over the Church’s understanding of the universal destination of goods.

    It weakens the bonds of solidarity, it creates envy in the lower classes and a sick desire to emulate greed and perversion at the lower levels of society, some of it understandable and all of it undesirable. That people wish to produce something, and others wish to buy it, cannot in themselves serve as justifications for the existence of certain goods and services. And everything the Church teaches about consumerism, the evils of excess and global imbalances, and the preferential option for the poor proclaims as much.

  • I don’t mean to be snotty with you, but I really dislike this point when it is made in the context of trying to justify freedom to the point of license (that isn’t what you did here but the logic is similar).

    Pimps provide jobs. Drug dealers provide jobs. The abortion industry employs thousands of people.

    While I don’t deny that greed and conspicuous consumption can be sins, I have a really hard time with the idea that simply producing a very high quality good, of the sort that could command a very high price, would be sinful.

    Is producing a Baldwin moral but doing so with a Steinway immoral? Is it moral to work for GM or Kia but immoral to work for Masarati or Bentley?

    The idea that it’s moral to do something like build a car, but immoral to do it really, really well just seems odd to me. And I suppose that I can’t necessarily see how it’s moral for GM workers to work on a couple dozen vehicles a day, but immoral for Lamborghini workers to spend months working on one vehicle. Does the world suffer for there being fewer vehicle that are well made instead of many cheap ones?

    Which is not to say that I’d ever feel right about spending $500k on a car. But it seems oddly utilitarian to condemn a mechanic or engineer to want to build the very best car possible, a true work of art. Heck, at that point would the Church’s critics be right to condemn it for having spent so much money on patronizing the arts over the centuries?

  • I think we’re getting some wires crossed here.

    There is no reason a worker can’t do the best job in the world on an affordable car.

    And I suppose it is true that a car can be a work of art.

    What makes today’s situation different than the era during which the Church heavily patronized the arts, however, is that we can, at least technically, come within striking distance of solving some of the worlds problems related to scarcity of necessities.

    In those days, it wouldn’t have been possible in spite of the best of intentions. And the Church had her priorities straight – she was, for over a thousand years, the chief support of the poor and the sick. Patronization of the arts never came at the expense of those social duties.

  • “It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans, but then, it may be that large cities in those regions are in bad shape for some unrelated reason.”

    What did Democratic policies have to do without outsourcing, downsizing, ‘restructuring’ and all of the other processes that ushered in the disintegration of America’s manufacturing base that served as the economic backbone of these areas?

    Speaking as a Louisiana Guy little of this had to do with the downfall of New Orleans that has been under Democratic rule since Reconstruction

  • “Why build a program on an income base you’re intent on destroying?”

    Politics. Democrats realize that imposing taxes on the middle class, as they used to do regularly prior to Reagan, would be political suicide. The problem with their current approach from a Democrat perspective is two fold however. First, a tax the rich strategy only simply doesn’t raise enough revenue from the uber rich. Second, more than a few of the uber rich are Democrats. Many of them are screaming mad now when they suddenly realize that Obama is targeting them. Nothing like a better than 50% effective tax rate to convert limousine liberals to taxophobic conservatives, or at least to ticked off liberals who aren’t going to dole out donations to the Democrats the next election cycle.

    The Washington Post has always been a faithful mirror of what most prosperous Democrats are thinking. This recent editorial describes their discontent well:

    “But there is no case to be made for the House Democratic majority’s proposal to fund health-care legislation through an ad hoc income tax surcharge for top-earning households. The new surtax would hit individual households earning $350,000 and above. It would start at 1 percent, bumping up to 1.5 percent at $500,000 in income and to 5.4 percent at $1 million. The new levy would begin in 2011 and is supposed to raise $540 billion over 10 years, about half the projected cost of health-care reform. The rest of the money would come from reduced spending on Medicare and Medicaid — though the surtax for the lower two categories would jump by a percentage point each in 2013 unless the Office of Management and Budget determines that the rest of the bill has saved more than $150 billion.

    The traditional argument against sharp increases in the marginal tax rates of a very narrow band of Americans is that it could distort their economic behavior — most likely by encouraging them to put more of their money into tax shelters as opposed to productive investments. This effect could be greatest in certain states, such as New York, where a higher federal rate would add to already substantial state income taxes. The deeper issue, though, is whether it is wise to pay for a far-reaching new federal social program by tapping a revenue source that would surely need to be tapped if and when Congress and the Obama administration get serious about the long-term federal deficit.

    That moment may be approaching faster than they would like. Even if Congress pulls off a budget-neutral expansion of health care, the gap between federal revenue and expenditures will reach 7 percent of gross domestic product in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And that’s assuming that the economy returns to full employment between now and then. The long-term deficit is driven by the aging of the population as well as by growing health-care costs, both contributing to Social Security and Medicare expenses. There is simply no way to close the gap by taxing a handful of high earners. The House actions echo President Obama’s unrealistic campaign promise that he can build a larger, more progressive government while raising taxes on only the wealthiest.”

    Translation from Post Speak: “Hey Obama, tax those blue collars and hicks in fly over country and leave us wealthly liberals alone!” Obama’s election and the Democrats’ complete control of Congress are going to shatter quite a few illusions on the Left in this country, and the old tax the rich mantra is merely one of many.

  • Donald: I find it amazing that Obama told people before the election that he would raise taxes on the rich and now the rich Democrats who voted for him are dismayed because – he intends to raise taxes on the rich. As Glenn Reynolds says, “Who are the rubes?”

    More Americans will join the chorus of dismay as the Dems continue to redefine the meaning of the word “rich.”

  • Lots of socially liberal people voted for Obama without paying much attention to his economic agenda. Now they are and the howls will only increase as the economy sinks and taxes increase. Your quote from Instapundit is dead on Donna.

  • “Lots of socially liberal people voted for Obama without paying much attention to his economic agenda.”

    This is true.

    But the right didn’t pay much attention either, since they were constantly referring to it as “socialism”.

  • Well, Joe, it’s things like this that make me suspect our President is a bit further to the left than he let on during the campaign. He has named Van Jones as his “Green Czar.” And who is Van Jones? A LAPD officer posting at NRO online lets us know:

    “Jones was a co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a San Francisco–area organization that once focused exclusively on so-called social-justice issues but now sees the pot of gold at the end of the green-jobs rainbow. In a 2007 entry on the Huffington Post, Jones marked the 15th anniversary of the riots that followed the acquittal of the four LAPD officers accused of beating Rodney King. Attached to the post is an essay he wrote in those heady days of 1992, which includes this account of the genesis of his revolutionary ardor:

    Our rallying cry was for justice; our demand was that the System be changed!

    Yes, the Great Revolutionary Moment had at long last come. And the time, clearly, was ours!

    So we stole stuff.

    Y’know, stole stuff. Radios, tennis shoes. Well, not everybody, of course.

    The vast majority (me included) just marched around and chanted slogans. But some set trash cans on fire. And smashed in car windows. And some kids stoned a few passing cars pretty good.

    And stole stuff, like I said.”

    Well, Abbie Hoffman did say “Property is theft,” a guy who sees nothing with stealing stuff will now be heading a government organization. At least, unlike most pols, he’ll be upfront about his thievery.

  • The “tax the rich to feed the poor” mantra is terribly defective from a pragmatic point of view.

    I know that many who post here prefer to speak from a philosophical or religious point of view, but it sometimes seems as though there is a disconnect between those points and the pragmatic. There simply MUST be a practical application to great thoughts or such sentiments, however valid, are impotent.

    The President says that we should levy taxes against the rich in order to force them to contribute to the greater good. However, America has tried to lean its social programs on the “rich” before and it has failed each time because wealth allows a person to “sit this one out.”

    Those of us earning more than the poverty guidelines and less than, to choose a number, $200,000/year are fully and directly engaged in the economy. We derive an income that leaves little left over after paying bills. We are on a treadmill and we cannot get off. Don’s point above gets to this reality – that we are “stable” tax payers because we will continue to earn and pay at a predictable rate.

    Those earning less than the poverty guidelines are far less “engaged” in the economy in the sense that their earnings often fluctuate wildly from year to year and are almost always entirely exempt direct taxation. Even if one WANTED to levy taxes on the poor, the only way to reach them is through taxes on the goods and services that they use. Joe’s point about “taxing those who have the money” fits their situation nicely.

    However, those earning over a certain amount – and it may well be $350,000 – enjoy a flexibility that the others do not. As has been noted above, they can manipulate their income and assets to avoid significant taxation. They NEED little that they purchase or use. Their interests more easily transcend borders.

    It is a mistake to think that one can tax the income of the wealthy and end up with anything close to the amount the government forecasts because, once one reaches the point of earning that much or acquiring that much in assets, tax avoidance becomes the consuming task rather than growing wealth. This means that they will, as they did on a large scale in the 1930s and the 1980s in the United States, shield their wealth while waiting out the Progressives.

    It is a simple calculation: If I am going to be taxed on income earned through investment, I will not invest. I don’t have to. They can’t reach my assets as easily as my income so I will “wait them out.” They will eventually be crying for me to invest again and will free me from those constraints.

    And so we have; each and every time.

    Simply stated, whether or not it is right or just to tax the high earners in order to provide social programs for the low earners is less significant a debate than the effect of doing so. It is THIS discussion that neither the Administration, nor the Legislature, is engaged in.

    How one can write legislation of so far reaching a consequence without analyzing its effects is beyond me.

  • “How one can write legislation of so far reaching a consequence without analyzing its effects is beyond me.”

    Because most politicians are far better at speaking than thinking, and once one removes the “tax the rich” panacea, hard and unpopular choices must be made by the same glib politicians.

Interview with Alphonse Creator Matthew Lickona

Monday, July 20, AD 2009

I posted a while back about the publication of Alphonse, a graphic novel written by Matthew Lickona and drawn by Chris Gugliotti. I’ve since had a chance to read Alphonse, Issue One and enjoyed it. It’s an off-beat and dark story, but a very evocative one. Alphonse’s mother is a serious druggie — long in denial about the fact she is pregnant. When she shows up at a women’s health clinic, 34 weeks pregnant, she insists that she can’t go through with the pregnancy, and a doctor agrees to provide an abortion and hysterectomy. However, Alphonse is not your ordinary, helpless child of 34 weeks gestation. He is, through fate or the harsh mix of chemicals his mother’s habits have exposed him to, aware of her thoughts and his danger, and also unusually coordinated for his size and age.

In the first issue we see his escape from the abortion clinic, and his rescue by a pro-life protester who takes him home and begins to nurse him through the withdrawal which removal from his mother’s chemical habits causes. A man of action despite standing under twenty inches tall, Alphonse seems poised to bring about changes in the intersecting lives of a number of characters.

Alphonse is not a political cartoon or simple message book. It is a gritty fantasy told in a macabrely inventive visual style — using a fantastic situation to explore a topic which is often considered radioactive in our society. Abortion is a topic which many seek to pigeonhole quietly by declaring a “tragedy”. Alphonse seeks to be the Macbeth to this tragedy — bloody, bold and resolute.

Author Matthew Lickona agreed to answer a set of questions for me in order to provide you with this interview.

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Old Glory on the Moon

Monday, July 20, AD 2009

Back on July 20, 1969 I remember staying up to watch this with my father.  Here is a NASA Contractor Report on the flag raising.  My father was not the most talkative man in the world, but I could tell he was quite proud when the flag was raised.  So was I.

The flag raising has been seized upon by conspiracy theorists who claim that the moon landings were government hoaxes.  How could a flag wave without an atmosphere?  This has been answered numerous times.

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One Response to Old Glory on the Moon

6 Responses to Prayers requested for Bowe R. Bergdahl

  • Dear Lord, may he be rescued and returned to safety.

  • We are praying for your safe return home. The divine spirit is with you at this time. You are loved, cared for, and will continued to be flooded with the divine intervention.

  • Prayers on the way.

  • Bowe, when you come home, know that you were prayed for by so many people. You are in my thoughts and prayers constantly and as an American who also loves this country i want nothing more than to see you safely back home. I have prayed to St. Joseph for the good Lord to give you peace of mind. I have also prayed that Jesus would soften these terrorists hearts so they will release you and let you go home. Know that the whole nation loves you and we are behind you. God Bless You!!!!

  • God please watch over Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl and protect him from harm. Please lay your hand upon him and bring him home to Idaho safely and whole in body and mind. Please help his family find courage through your word.

  • Our Father who art in heaven, I lift up Bowe to You. Bless him, Lord. Be with him. And, please, bring him home unharmed. I ask this in Your precious son’s name, Jesus.