9 Responses to Economics Rap Battle

Biden: Don't You Want To Follow In My Footsteps Son?

Tuesday, January 26, AD 2010

On Sunday Harry Thermal of Delaware Online ran a story that said he had the following conversation with the Veep:

Now, one year later, he is dismayed by what has happened to the Senate, and he is trying to convince a reluctant son to run for his former seat.

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7 Responses to Biden: Don't You Want To Follow In My Footsteps Son?

  • Evidently he was a prosecutor for nine years and his first run for public office was at the age of 37. Perhaps he wants to be a working lawyer, or something proximate to it.

  • I’m sort of astonished at the lack of respect and concern this father shows for his son. But I guess this sort of thing happens in many professions/vocations/trades.

  • Interestingly, Castle is pro-choice (although he voted in favor of Stupak). Kaufman was one of 7 Dem senators to vote for the Stupak language.

  • Maybe Beau Biden took his cue from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan? The parallels are kind of interesting:

    Lisa Madigan was at one time considered an odds-on favorite to run for Obama’s former Senate seat, and (if I remember correctly) even Obama himself tried to persuade her to run for it; but she said no, she was sticking with the job she had.

    Like Beau, she is married and has two young children, as well as a powerful and well-known father, Ill. House Speaker Mike Madigan. However, Mike Madigan, unlike Joe Biden, rarely says anything foolish because he rarely says anything at all, least of all concerning his daughter’s political future.

    Finally, her decision not to run for the Senate made a Republican, Congressman Mark Kirk, pretty much the frontrunner for that seat. Kirk is a RINO on most issues, but, like all the GOP congressmen, he did vote for Stupak (as Castle did despite being pro-choice).

    It’s deja vu all over again for the Dems!

  • Some years back, Rudolph Giuliani said something to the effect that once you had been involved in producing ‘output’ in an executive position, a seat in a legislature is not so attractive. Consider the possibility that not only does the general public look upon Congress and state legislatures as the dregs, so do other politicians.

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If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters)

Monday, January 25, AD 2010

There is a undercurrent in American society that somehow believes that if the mafia ran things, the country would be better off. There was one city (Newark, New Jersey) where the mafia once controlled much of the city. When their grip on power was done, the city was in tatters. The same could be said for liberals running religion.

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40 Responses to If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters)

Forgiveness, Mercy, and Charity for New York City Saint James Parish

Monday, January 25, AD 2010

[Updates at the bottom of this posting; latest update on 1-26-2010 at 12:24pm CST]

The Catholic blogosphere is currently in an uproar over an event that occurred at Saint James Church on Friday, January 15, 2010 A.D. when a Christian youth group requested and organized an event to draw more young adults into the Catholic Church.  This seemed as an innocuous request since the parish in the past held a classical piano concert in honor of the church’s founder Father Felix Valera.

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42 Responses to Forgiveness, Mercy, and Charity for New York City Saint James Parish

  • Why should there be any “events” at all in a Church? Did anyone bother to ask what the “event” – a word that can signify any number of things – would be?

    Did they know “music” was going to be performed?

    This is pathetic.

  • From the website evidence, the event was advertised weeks ahead of time.

    There was an advertised open bar for an hour and a half before the event, according to secular blogs written by people who were HAPPY about the event. That requires a liquor license, doesn’t it?

    The plywood stage that extended the sanctuary area was clearly pre-built for the event.

    The music was clearly not a piano concert.

    Even if, for the sake of charity, we grant that the fools who played made innocent mistakes concerning using the altar as a table, even if we grant that any kind of secular event (like a piano concert) is acceptable in a church, how did the parish staff and the pastor NOT know this was going on?

    Parish staff were certainly there DURING the event, right?

    I’ve worked in several parishes around the country. In EVERY parish, NOBODY could hold an event in the church without a parish staff member being present to open and lock up, help get last minute items, etc.

    THERE IS NO WAY this happened without the connivance of at least some members of the parish staff.

    It isn’t possible.

    I’m all for granting Christian charity, but there are limits to credulity.

    Sacrilege is worse than pedophilia.

    Someone needs to be fired here.

  • I forgot to add, of course, the kicker to the whole thing.

    This happened in New York City, the town that’s famous for being trusting, leaving doors unlocked all hours of the night, the gracious elegance and piety of the inhabitants, etc.

    Christian charity, remember?

  • Steve,

    I share your concerns about the mismanagement of this by the parish.

    Just one small point, they held a classical piano recital/concert two years ago.

    You may be confusing the concert of this year with that of two years ago.

    Nonetheless there was no one from the parish supervising the concert. The parish priest, Fr. Walter, doesn’t even reside there, he lives in downtown.

    It doesn’t excuse the behavior, just clarifying some points you made.

    As far as the pre-fab stage, I’ll assume your correct.

    Outside of my interview with Father Walter, my only other information comes from your site, which by the way is awesome!

  • Steve,

    I’m with you on this. The whole thing stinks. And just like the other issues I’m complaining about these days, we’re supposed to accept some official explanation from the authorities, some rationalization for their gross incompetence and failure.

    We can’t just admit that these people might have a) deliberately done something bad and b) lied about it.

    And if they didn’t lie about it, the degree of ineptitude is so severe that yes, as you say, someone should be fired anyway.

  • Joe, Steve & et al,

    Who do you fire?

    The priest?


    Monitor this thread if you can, I have to leave for Bible study.

    Everyone’s fired up!

  • It’s George Bush’s fault.

  • Mack,

    Why is everything W’s fault?

    Call a spade a spade, it’s a Freemason conspiracy.


  • I realize the piano concert was a couple of years back, but apparently that is being used as some sort of comparison/excuse for this event.

    I don’t see how it matches, but I was willing to grant that there could be a comparison just for the sake of discussion.

    I just don’t believe that a priest in New York City would allow an unsupervised event to take place at his parish without any staff being present.

    If a priest in Podunk, Nebraska wouldn’t do it (and I’ve worked in everything from a parish in the sticks to a chancery office), I simply don’t believe a priest in NYC would do it. The “explanation” is not just absurd, it’s insulting.

    How stupid does this priest think we are, to try such an outrageous explanation as “Well, I was misled! And so were all of my staff!”

    How about he gives US a little charity and tells the truth for a change? Or maybe he could fire somebody? Or ask for a transfer to administrative work? Or have the archbishop remove him?

    But, in perfect charity, he can’t honestly expect anyone to believe neither he nor his staff are ultimately responsible for the objectively evil act of sacrilege that was committed.

  • A desecration took place at that church. Mass is not supposed to resume until it is reconsecrated. Any news on that?

  • FYI:
    Declaration on Concerts in Churches
    Vatican 1987

    8. The regulation of the use of churches is stipulated by canon 1210 of the Code of Canon Law:

    “In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place.”

    The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content. It is not legitimate to provide for the execution in the church of music which is not of religious inspiration and which was composed with a view to performance in a certain precise secular context, irrespective of whether the music would be judged classical or contemporary, of high quality or of a popular nature. On the one hand, such performances would not respect the sacred character of the church, and on the other, would result in the music being performed in an unfitting context.

    10. When the proposal is made that there should be a concert in a church, the Ordinary is to grant the permission per modum actus. These concerts should be occasional events. This excludes permission for a series of concerts, for example in the case of a festival or a cycle of concerts.

    When the Ordinary considers it to be necessary, he can, in the conditions foreseen in the Code of Canon Law (can. 1222, para. 2) designate a church that is no longer used for divine service, to be an “auditorium” for the performance of sacred or religious music, and also of music not specifically religious but in keeping with the character of the place.

    In this task the bishop should be assisted by the diocesan commission for Liturgy and sacred music.

    In order that the sacred character of a church be conserved in the matter of concerts, the Ordinary can specify that:

    a. Requests are to be made in writing, in good time, indicating the date and time of the proposed concert, the program, giving the works and the names of the composers.
    b. After having received the authorization of the Ordinary, the rectors and parish priests of the churches should arranged details with the choir and orchestra so that the requisite norms are observed.
    c. Entrance to the church must be without payment and open to all.
    d. The performers and the audience must be dressed in a manner which is fitting to the sacred character of the place.
    e. The musicians and the singers should not be placed in the sanctuary. The greatest respect is to be shown to the altar, the president’s chair and the ambo.
    f. The Blessed Sacrament should be, as far as possible, reserved in a side chapel or in another safe and suitably adorned place (Cf. C.I.C., can 928, par. 4).
    g. The concert should be presented or introduced not only with historical or technical details, but also in a way that fosters a deeper understanding and an interior participation on the part of the listeners.
    h. The organizer of the concert will declare in writing that he accepts legal responsibilities for expenses involved, for leaving the church in order and for any possible damage incurred.

    11. The above practical directives should be of assistance to the bishops and rectors of churches in their pastoral responsibility to maintain the sacred character of their churches, designed for sacred celebrations, prayer and silence.

    Such indications should not be interpreted as a lack of interest in the art of music.

    The treasury of sacred music is a witness to the way in which the Christian faith promotes culture.

    By underlining the true value of sacred or religious music, Christian musicians and members of scholae cantorum should feel that they are being encouraged to continue this tradition and to keep it alive for the service of the faith, as expressed by the Second Vatican Council in its message to artists:

    “Do not hesitate to put your talent at the service of the Divine Truth. The world in which we live has need of beauty in order not to lose hope. Beauty, like truth, fills the heart with joy. And this, thanks to your hands” (Cf. Second Vatican Council, Message to Artists, December 8, 1965).

    Rome, November 5, 1987
    Paul Augustine Card. Mayer, O.S.B.
    Virgilio NoĂŤ
    Tit. Archbishop of Voncaria

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  • Contact the Thomas More Society (www.thomasmoresociety.org) and urge them to get involved. Contact the Archdiocese and St. James and urge them to contact the Thomas More Society. This group led by Panero needs to be brought up on charges and sued.

  • The indie groupies and fans who attended the event began predicting a huge lawsuit against Panero, the guy who organized the event, yesterday evening.

    Today, Catholics on the net are talking lawsuit.

    Videos of the event are quietly being removed from the internet in the hopes of destroying the evidence.

    The priest in question violated canon law by scheduling the event in the first place, just as he had violated it with the piano concert a couple of years ago. The difference here is that this violation is egregious, whereas the previous one was “in good taste” and therefore ignored.

    There’s only a difference in degree here, not in kind. This is what happens when pastors ignore or remain ignorant of canon law. The law exists for a reason. You break it, you own it.

    I’m sure the priest is quite repentant, I’m sure he’ll make a good confession over it. I certainly hope he and the archdiocese are successful in any lawsuits against the organizers.

    But there are temporal consequences to sin that has been forgiven. That’s the nature of sin.

    This kind of event has taken place far too often in far too many churches around the country. It needs to stop.

  • There seems to be no Podunk Nebraska. If there were, it is doubtful that such a “concert” would have proceeded under the watchful eye of Bishop Bruskewitz. They could happen only in hick places like Noo Yawk.

    Year ago Ned Rorem asked why churches would expect young people to come to mediocre concerts when they had good concerts of their own.

  • “Podunk” is a Midwestern technical term for “an extremely rural area.” I won’t name the exact town in Nebraska because it would identify the parish, and that’s not on point.

    As someone who worked in a parish that was under Archbishop Curtiss’ authority, let me assure you that this kind of event could only happen with the pastor’s approval. There’s no way it could take place unless the pastor or one of his staff were supervising the event.

    Pastors do not give out keys to the church to any Tom, Dick or Harry who wanders in off the street.

    The pastor, I am sure, is very remorseful, primarily because the video hit Youtube. If know one knew about it, and no one complained about it, he wouldn’t give a fig. The rule, whether in the parish or the diocese is “If no one complains, you have nothing to fear.”

  • I don’t get the problem. I mean, I do, but was this different from ‘Teen Life’?

  • I’m no lawyer, but it’s hard for me to imagine a lawsuit against the promoter having any success. Exactly what is the pastor supposed to in testimony? That he’s a chump who neglected even the most elementary standards of due diligence? Does the law indemnify for that? Can he make the court believe it?

    I appreciate the pastor’s remorse and his call for prayers of reparation, but face it: if you were Archbishop of New York, would you trust this man with the keys to one of your churches? If you do, Archbishop Dolan, can we expect the next underground concert to take place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral?

    So far as I can tell, there’s no accountability at any level of the American clergy. Apparently the only way to get fired is for a bishop to point out that he and not the USCCB is the Ordinary of his see.

  • Yeah, LifeTeen has it’s own problems. The founder is not only no longer a priest, he’s no longer a practicing Catholic. I’ve seen rock bands during Mass – a clear and damnable violation of the rubrics, but neither priest nor bishop were opposed to it, so it happened.

    This is really just a logical extension of LifeTeen.

    And, I agree with Romulus. It’s going to be darned hard for the diocese to prosecute this because the pastor gave permission for an event. The best they would probably be able to do is recover physical damages (cost of cleanup), if any.

    I keep running through all the salient facts, because I really don’t want to be uncharitable, but every time I run through the facts, I get the same conclusion.

    I don’t see how – when all the facts are considered – this priest deserves anything but the firestorm he has gotten. If this had happened in the sticks, in a rural parish somewhere, then you could argue the priest was naive – but it happened in Manhattan.

    You could say kids just got out of control – but where was the supervision? Where was the pastor? Where were the cops?

    You can say the pastor got misled – but who gave out the keys that allowed them into the church to begin with, who cleaned up and locked up that night?

    The pastor’s story just doesn’t make any sense, no matter his contrition level.

  • I am a 63-year-old conservative Cathoilc Christian. Like most of us, I’ve done my share of really stupid things. Only by the Grace of God have I gotten beyond some of my past errors and sins.
    Since I was not present when all this happened, I can’t say this pastor was any more wrong in what he did than some things I’ve done in the past. Mistakes have been made, it’s time to forgive and get over it. If Archbishop Dolan is satisfied, so should we all be.
    However, considering the “kumbayah” hootenanny music from the 70’s so prevalent in Catholic services these days, It’s just a natural evolution of the current music styles we see every week. What’s wrong with a little Rock & Roll on a Friday night if we allow such trash on Sunday mornings?

  • “What’s wrong with a little Rock & Roll on a Friday night if we allow such trash on Sunday mornings?”

    Both should be driven out of the house of God with the same fury with which Christ cleared the Temple of money-changers.

  • Tito you write “Nonetheless there was no one from the parish supervising the concert. The parish priest, Fr. Walter, doesn’t even reside there, he lives in downtown.” Surely you know the church IS downtown and the priest lives DOWN THE BLOCK!!!

  • My point is why would you take the liberty of making that statement if you dont know the facts. And I would like to know did the priest just hand over the keys to the church to this band and tell them lock up when they were finished??? Its a small community tito i am sure someone was there and knew what was going on.

  • Grace,

    I do know the facts and reported what was necessary.

    Fr. Walter told me he lives downtown and is a pastor in another church.

    What is the point of your comment?

    The pastor recognized the problem and has dealt with it accordingly.

    Your comment makes almost no sense.

  • He is tha pastor of St. Joseph down the block which merged with St. James last year… I think my comment makes sense and you are not getting all the facts. And what does your reported “what was necessary mean”?
    Tito the pastor made a big mistake..

  • I know that and most importantly the pastor knows that.

    Again, what is the point of your comment?

    I understand your frustration and displeasure, but now is the time to pray for him and the parish in order for them to move on and not allow this to happen again.

    Believe me most of us are not at all happy about what has occurred. But now is not the time to continue to vent.

    If he ignored and refused to acknowledge what happened, then you have a point about being upset and reminding everyone what has happened.

    But he has acknowledged it and is rectifying the situation.

  • So the fact the he knew what really was going on, said he didn’t live in the area and was not the pastor of the church is all rectified by him saying a mass. Okay Tito guess you did get all the facts. thanks for staightening that out for me…

  • Grace,

    He did not know what was going on.

    But if you want to believe that he did know, then that is between you and God.

  • and if the priest wants to believe what he told you thats between him and God…

    Thanks for your time Tito.

  • Grace,

    You are now antagonizing and unconstructive.

    Be careful what you post next or you’ll be placed on moderation.

  • Sorry if I offended anyone I did not mean to be antagonizing i was just stating a fact. I do apologize.

  • Grace,

    No worries.

    Have a great hump day!

  • Will this church be reconsecrated or not?

  • Even though the concert was wrong, it wasn’t enough that the sanctuary needs to be reconsecrated.

  • I think the short answer is “no.”

  • Steve,

    Why not paste a cool Catholic pic as your avatar?

    Makes this website look spiffier!

  • What’s wrong with that nice geometric Muslim design?

  • Steve,

    It’s actually a mudejar design, but I’m not really interested in inter-religious exchange when it comes to icons.

    Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, and gothic come to mind as superior replacements!


  • I am saddened of the individuals who believe it is ok to desecrate a church and take advantage of our Parish Priest. It is easy for anyone, believing that this is supposed to be a Christian rock concert to fall for such a lie. I forgive my Parish priest, for anyone can be innocent to fall for such a lie. It would have been a great thing if our Parish had had a Christian Rock concert performed by Kutless to bring our youth to its feet. Seeing the amounts of youngsters in the Parish, I believe, we would have benefited. God states we must forgive, we are human and we are bound to make mistakes, no matter what title we have. This is a wakeup call that we are humans and that we must stay vigilant.

  • Anyone who believes that what happened at St James was caused by a deliberate disregard for the sanctity of the church is making a terrible mistake. I have known Fr. Walter, personally, for over 30 years and he has done all manner of good for countless people every day of his life — but no one blogs about that.

    The parishes he pastors are not cathedrals with big resources and a “grand staff”. The “grand staff” is a few good hearted local people and volunteers who try their best. St James and St Joseph are two, poor, tiny parishes on the lower east side of Manhattan. They serve four culturally diverse communities; a Chinese community, dwindling Italian and English communities, and a Hispanic community. This is the reality of Manhattan. Parish announcements have to written in English, Fujianese, and Spanish. Organizing a simple parish function can range from difficult to nearly impossible due to language and cultural disparity.

    Let’s recap: four different communities, two different facilities — and how many resident priests to serve them?— ONE — Fr Walter. CEO’s of major corporations don’t work that hard. How long can anyone work 24/7 under these conditions without making a single slip in judgement? A week? A month? As far as I know, Fr Walter hasn’t been declared a saint, so I guess bilocation is out of the question. He can’t be everywhere at the same time and has to trust people at some point. Probably the only misstep he took — yes that’s right ONLY misstep — was to trust someone under these circumstances who, unfortunately, failed him. Why has the Archdiocese abandoned St James and placed the burden on one man? After all, St James is a diocesan parish.

    Ok, so let’s witch hunt, without knowing the priest or the parish or “the staff” or how it happened. Let’s gaze into our crystal balls and tell everyone the priest is lying, “the staff” is lying, and someone should be fired. — THAT is egregious; THAT is a lie; and THAT is unkind. We follow the letter of the law and somehow manage to violate the heart of it.

    NO ONE likes what happened at St James. Fr Walter certainly doesn’t, I don’t, and neither does “the staff”.

  • I apologize for bringing this topic back up again, but I just found out what happened in my old parish and would like to add my comment.

    “Why has the Archdiocese abandoned St James and placed the burden on one man?” Fr.Corniel was a one man show in St. James Church prior to St. Joseph’s taking it over. Given the little resources that he had, he did an excellent job of keeping the parish running and the feeling of community within the parish. The Archdiocese should have left him there. I’m not sure how priests are relocated nor who decides, but why doesn’t the Archdiocese equally divide the number of priests amongst the parishes?

    Also, what some people above may or may not know is that St. James has a church hall. Why didn’t Fr. Walter rent that space out instead of the church? When I was an active parishioner in St. James, the church hall was rented out with rules and regulations. During the event, either the pastor would stop by to check how things were going, or he would send an active parishioner.

    With events of such grave severity, there’s always a lot of should have, could have, would have, what’s done is done, and it can’t be undone. Now is the time to rebuild the St. James parish and pray that we can all move on and get past this.

Pio Nono, the Washington Monument and the Purloined Block of Marble

Monday, January 25, AD 2010

Well it took long enough.  George Washington had been dead for more than three decades before a society was founded to build a monument to his honor in the city which bore his name.  In 1832, the centenary of the birth of Washington, the Washington National Monument Society was founded.  The Society began raising funds and in 1836 announced a competition for the design of the monument.  The winning design by Robert Mills envisioned an obelisk arising from a circular colonnade.  The price tag was an astronomical, for the time, one million dollars.  Work on the obelisk finally began in 1848.  Nations around the world were invited to contribute blocks of marble for the monument.

On December 24, 1851, the American Charge d’ Affairs in Rome, Lewis Cass, Jr., wrote to the Society,  “I have the honor to inform you that I have been apprized by His Holiness the Pope. . . of his intention to contribute a block of marble toward the erection of the national monument to the memory of Washington. The block was taken from the ruins of the ancient Temple of Peace, adjoining the palace of the Caesars, and is to receive the inscription of ‘Rome to America.”  No doubt Pope Pius IX recalled that George Washington had ever been a friend to Catholics.

On October 20, 1853, the marble block from the Pope arrived in Washington.

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7 Responses to Pio Nono, the Washington Monument and the Purloined Block of Marble

Follow Me, Top Baseball Prospect Leaves For Higher League

Sunday, January 24, AD 2010

Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men. (cf. Holy Gospel of Saint Mark 1:17)

Grant Desme, a highly touted baseball prospect for the Oakland Athletics organization, decided that he could not fight his calling anymore and answered God by retiring from baseball and to begin seminary training immediately.

A terrific article by Jane Lee of MLB.com.

My emphases and comments:

“Last year before the season started, I really had a strong feeling of a calling and a real strong desire to follow it,” the 23-year-old said. “I just fought it.”

“As the year went on,” he said, “God blessed me. I had a better year than I could have imagined, but that reconfirmed my desire because I wasn’t at peace with where I was at. I love the game, but I aspire to higher things.

“I thought, I’m doing well in baseball, but I really had to get down to the bottom of things — what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. And I felt that while baseball is a good thing and I love playing, I thought it was selfish of me to be doing that when I really felt that God was calling me more [Sounds like the Church has gained a mature and strong man for God!], which took me awhile in my life to really trust and open up to it and aim full steam toward Him .”

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5 Responses to Follow Me, Top Baseball Prospect Leaves For Higher League

Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

Sunday, January 24, AD 2010

In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.

“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.

“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.”

Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent:  “the sentence ‘The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.”

The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

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26 Responses to Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

  • A few weeks ago, Father Wade asked us to offer an extra prayer or do some more spiritual reading during Ordinary Time. For some time, I had been feeling urges to pray the Leonine Prayers and Father’s request sealed the deal. I pray them now every day sometimes more than once a day. I think we need them.

  • It is a common prayer in my house, too.

    My boy loves to say it in Latin, loves the sound of it – he says it has sounds to scare the devil.

    God bless PBXVI and God prosper the reform of the reform!

    ex oribus infantium…

  • I’ve said the prayer at the Traditional Latin Mass, but I didn’t know the background of it. Fascinating.

  • I was taught:
    St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
    Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray and thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan, all the other evil spirits; who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
    Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.(3times)

    I have said it every morning for years, with the ending of the regular Mass, as per V2, a lot of things was omitted that should have stayed.

    That doesn’t stop us from saying this prayer daily I sometimes think its the one prayer that keeps chaos from overtaking the world.

  • Yes, this is a great story. And a good soundtrack.

    If you want to see Pope Leo XIII in a video as well, there is a great one from 1896:

    By the way, in 1994 Pope John Paul II recommended to pray this prayer to St Michael the Archangel from Pope Leo XIII: “Though this prayer is no longer prayed at the end of the eucharistic celebration, I invite you all to not forget it, and to pray it, to obtain help in the bttle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of the world.”

    Of course the prayer is always included after all Masses in Latin.

  • God used Pope Leo to make true the prophecy of St.Michael in Daniel and Revelation.

    C calling
    A all
    T to
    H holy
    O obedient
    L life
    I in

  • Why was this prayer removed? Was it the influence of Satan?

  • Huh.

    So not every parish does this at the end of Mass every Sunday? (Or at least most Sundays?)

    I have limited experience with different parishes, but the parish where I attend in the Atlanta area does this prayer after nearly every Mass. (I say nearly every because I think I remember a couple of occasions when the prayer was not included. But my memory is vague on it; it may have been when we were between pastors, and therefore had a lot of Masses being done by visiting celebrants.)

  • After each mass I attend, I pray the “Prayers after low mass” (Three hail Marys, the Hail Holy Queen, O God our refuge…, the St. Michael Prayer, and Most Sacred heart of Jesus… Just because it’s not required doesn’t mean we can no longer use it. I encourage everyone to take two-and-a-half minutes and say these prayers privately for the return of reverence to our Church, and the conversion of Russia.

  • Our parish is publicly praying the St. Michael Prayer at the end of our daily Masses for the Protection and Defense of the Unborn. Any parish can pray the St. Michael publicly at the end of daily Mass for any intention all you need to do is ask your pastor for permission to do it. He can not lead it but a parishioner can lead the prayer at the end of the closing song at daily mass pray.

  • Karen:

    Whoa! The pastor “may not lead it?”

    Now that I think of it, it’s always the deacon who leads off whenever it’s done at my parish. I guess that’s why.

    I wonder why it’s okay for the deacon, not the priest?

  • Practic in the Diocese of Orange (Calif,) varies from parish to parish. Some say the St. Michael prayer after most masses, usually led by the presider; some do not.
    If the Mass includes congregational singing (most Sunday & Holy Day masses), the St. Michael prayer does not get said by the congregation (although nothing prevents individuals from praying it.)

  • Karen,

    The Mass ends with “Ita Missa est”. Therefore, the priest can lead the prayers, for Mass is over. In fact, in my parish, daily Mass ends with the priest and congregation reciting the prayer together, facing the altar.

    I just visited a parish that did the same thing after a Sunday Mass.

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  • Pope Leo XIII carried a flask on his person containing Vin Mariani, a wine that was 10 percent alcohol and laced with 8.5 percent cocaine. In fact, Pope Leo XIII enjoyed the wine so much that he awarded a gold medal to Mariani for being a “benefactor of humanity.” Cocaine is known to induce terrifying hallucinations. Just sayin’.

  • I go to a Latin Mass parish run by the Fraternity of St. Peter and the prayer is said after each Mass with the exception of a High Mass.

    RE: Moe, that is an odd “fact” I’ve never heard before.

  • Moe, where did you get this information? I just love how people make accusations out of the blue with no reference to where they dug them up.

  • At the request of several parishioners, we began, on the First Sunday of Advent 2008, reciting the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel after the close of every Mass. I usually start the prayer after I kiss the altar at the conclusion of daily Mass and after the last note of the recessional hymn at the end of Sunday Mass. Presently, during the Year for Priests, we have in the pews 2-by-3-inch sheets of paper with a prayer for priests (prayed before the conclusion of the General Intercessions) on one side and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel on the other side. We plan to have nice lamented cards of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel in place for post-Year for Priests use.

  • That should LAMINATED cards. The cards, with the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, should not be LAMENTED. LOL

  • Allan and Susanne,
    Apparently, His Holiness didn’t get a kick from champagne, and mere alcohol didn’t thrill him at all, but a little Charlie in his Vin Mariani did the trick! Seriously, my previous post was ill-advised, so please accept my apologies. It really wasn’t my intention to malign Pope Leo XIII. I recite Prayer to St. Michael every morning before I enter the battleground.

  • i try to say this prayer every day. never have we needed it so much. people should also look up the chaplet of saint michael the archangel. our church is being truly rocked by scandal. in my church it’s not said i will make an effort to say it myself after each mass from now on.

  • I also say this prayer to Saint Michael.
    It is also a prayer in my rosary leaflet as one of the optional prayers to say after the Holy Rosary. The other optional prayer is;

    ‘The Memorare’
    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was is known thay any one who fled to Thy protection,
    implored Thy help or sort Thy intercession, was left unaided.
    Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
    to Thee do we come, before Thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
    O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen’

  • ‘The Memorare’
    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to Thy protection,
    implored Thy help or sort Thy intercession, was left unaided.
    Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
    to Thee do we come, before Thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
    O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen’

    (amended version as some spelling error)

  • As a fellow Catholic, I must ask all of you whether you agree with this observation: According to those things defined as “sin” by Church doctrine, are we not in a time where the occassion of sin attacks each of us ceaselessly? Television, radio, internet and print vomit out images and sounds of sexual immorality, violence, hatred, drug abuse, abusive language, and most offensively to me, the cursing of the name of God. In our schools, people are using science to destroy the faith of children…do you remember what the gospels say about making a little one lose faith? We are in more need than at any other time in our history for intercessory relief from the Sainted Archangel Michael. Please, please remember to beg Jesus for absolution and mercy, but also please pray to the Heart of Divine Mercy for expiation of souls in purgatory for a few minutes at 3 p.m. to commemorate the scarifice made for our sins by our most loving father, Jesus Christ.

  • I just wanted to comment on my ealier post that a Pastor can not lead the St. Michael Prayer at the end of Mass. I said that because my Pastor said that his understanding of the rubrics is that he can not lead it and so has a parishioner do it.

    Maybe it is because he remains by the Presidental chair after the dismissal for the congregation to recite the prayer and then at the end of prayer he steps down to process out of the church during the closing song.

    I will let him know that he can lead it after the dismissal.

  • MOE: I clicked on the ural you posted to support your charge that the late Pope Leo XIII was an addict of Vin Mariani ( the purpose I guess was to suggest his
    vision of the deporable state of the future Church was hallucinatory) and was amazed at what you consider evidence….This was nothing but a chronology of sorts of advertisements of said product! Since when does the world of advertising present credible evidence of Truth? It is an area where the work of the Father of Lies is rampant….Your attempt to discredit the Pope along with this most efficacious prayer fall flat and are ludicrous. For evidence of the
    truthfulness of this vision one has only to look at the current state of affairs our Church is in….the horrific state of affairs brought about since the cessation of this powerful prayer at the end of all masses….a vision also shared by the prophet Ezekiel ( 10,11) before the destruction of the Temple (586 BC) when
    the glory of God physically left the Temple to settle on Mt of Olives ( see Matthew ).

11 Responses to A Good Republican

  • Indeed, he is foremost a good Catholic.

  • Wow. That is an absolutely outstanding speech.

  • Oh, I should add btw, I’m not implying that voting for the health care reform bill is what makes Cao a ‘good’ Republican. I just thought the speech was remarkable for a Congressperson.

    At the same time, his vote on health care reform was an interesting, principled, and risky stand to take. It seems to me that as a strategic matter, it’s smart for a committed pro-lifer (as Cao appears to be) to offer his vote for health care reform in exchange for the Stupak language that appeared in the House bill. After all, it appeared the bill was going to pass either way; a substantial pro-life change like the Stupak amendment was a real achievement. I’d say Cao deserves a lot of support from the pro-life movement, particularly if he ends up facing a challenge in the primaries. It’s great to see people like him and Stupak working together across the aisle to protect human rights.

  • I would vote for Representative Cao because I think he is a remarkable Catholic attentive to the common good. He, in fact, went to Mass before the vote and prayed for God’s guidance.

  • So how do we get him in the Oval Office?

  • With friends like this who needs enemies.

    Why do we have such faithful, pro-life advocates who don’t have the foresight to realize that socialized medicine in the United States would, with near certainty, lead to an increase in the # of abortions as well as to a blatant disregard for the conscience of Catholic healthcare professionals?

    He may be a Mother Theresa at heart but his head is stuck in the clouds.

  • That is not the case by necessity, particularly with language barring that from happening by the letter of the law…

  • Certainly it is not by necessity, on that we can all agree.

    On the other hand, it is not by necessity that the Democratic Party is the “party of death” either but history has taught us that it is so.

    I only wish that the good Congressman’s exemplary moral courage wouldn’t outpace his prudence.

  • “I only wish that the good Congressman’s exemplary moral courage wouldn’t outpace his prudence.”

    Congressman Cao’s district is 67 percent balck and very DEM

    He has that tough road of representing his District and then deciding what core belief of his will he fall on his sword before.

    Plus it was not helping that Obama adminsitration seemed to be holding crucial projects hostage in New Orleans

  • Eric Brown-
    given the record of any law restricting abortions in most any form, it’s a good bet that any baby-protecting language would be shot, gutted and hung up to cure before benefits even became available. (depressingly….)

  • While I applaud his convictions, the problem with any piece of legislation (and law in general) is that it is never static. A future amendment, when Cao has moved on or is even further outnumbered, can undo everything that has been done. Once the beast gets in place, it can always be tweeked to meet the goals of those who hold the reigns.

In The Face of the Evidence

Friday, January 22, AD 2010

On a day when it is particularly appropriate to reflect on the slaughter of the innocents in our country over the last 37 years, this article in the upcoming Weekly Standard (about how the direct visual evidence of what abortion is affects those working at abortion clinics and has been responsible for a number of defections to the pro-life cause) is worth reading as a sober reminder that under the statistic of tens of millions of abortions over the last four decades lie the human story of ten of millions of deaths.

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One Response to In The Face of the Evidence

  • I read the article – good points to keep in mind when discussing the issue with pro “choice” adherents – they are often negatively affected by the procedure if they have experienced it themselves – this is their humanity kicking in and it is a good thing – a good goad if you will – most have hearts and it is their hearts we must speak to – sometimes we forget that in our passion to protect the unborn – the love of Christ can reach them if we remain conscious of how much He loves them as well as the innocent unborn….

"a sad infidelity to America's highest ideals"

Friday, January 22, AD 2010

[N]o one in the world who prizes liberty and human rights can feel anything but a strong kinship with America. Yours is the one great nation in all of history that was founded on the precept of equal rights and respect for all humankind, for the poorest and weakest of us as well as the richest and strongest.

As your Declaration of Independence put it, in words that have never lost their power to stir the heart: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” A nation founded on these principles holds a sacred trust: to stand as an example to the rest of the world, to climb ever higher in its practical realization of the ideals of human dignity, brotherhood, and mutual respect. Your constant efforts in fulfillment of that mission, far more that your size or your wealth or your military might, have made America an inspiration to all mankind.

It must be recognized that your model was never one of realized perfection, but of ceaseless aspiration. From the outset, for example, America denied the African slave his freedom and human dignity. But in time you righted that wrong, albeit at an incalculable cost in human suffering and loss of life.

Your impetus has almost always been toward a fuller, more all embracing conception and assurance of the rights that your founding fathers recognized as inherent and God-given.
Yours has ever been an inclusive, not an exclusive, society. And your steps, though they may have paused or faltered now and then, have been pointed in the right direction and have trod the right path. The task has not always been an easy one, and each new generation has faced its own challenges and temptations. But in a uniquely courageous and inspiring way, America has
kept faith.

Yet there has been one infinitely tragic and destructive departure from those American ideals in recent memory.

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Separating the wheat from the chaff in the Great Torture Debate …

Friday, January 22, AD 2010

There’s a new blog in town — “The Coalition for Clarity” — founded by Red Cardigan (And Sometimes Tea), with inspiration from Mark Shea; you can review their founding principles here.

Who could be a part of the Coalition for Clarity? — That’s a good question, particularly when reviewing various attempts at “clarity” from the vast array of prominent Catholics who have weighed in on the subject.

Consider the following candidates …

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29 Responses to Separating the wheat from the chaff in the Great Torture Debate …

  • Personally, I have always favored translating all the torture debates held on Saint Blog’s into Arabic. You then have them voice read, with different voice actors and actresses for all the different contributors and commenters over the years, and recordings made. Then, whenever a terrorist comes into the hands of the authorities, you have this piped into their cells non-stop. After a few days of hearing this, I suspect all but the most hardened terrorists would be begging to talk!

  • Good to hear. While I wish that we were all opposed to torture (and abortion, etc.), I am glad that at least we’re willing to have debates about the moral legitimacy of torture. It’s not a practice that we’ve yet happily embraced as a society, so I hope that, in time, we may, as a society, come to a clear vision of it.

  • If I’m not mistaken, veterans of WWII have said many times that they were told in no uncertain terms NEVER to torture Nazi POWs, and that in their experience, torture didn’t work anyway in terms of gathering actionable intelligence. I also remember reading somewhere (pardon the vagueness of this recollection) that the most effective Nazi interrogator of all never used torture or physical pain of any kind — his tactic was to appear friendly and sympathetic.

    I take it that the notion of justifying, or looking the other way at, torture of terrorist suspects, didn’t come from within the U.S. military — this was NOT something soldiers were begging to be allowed to do because it was going to “help” them out in the field — just the opposite.

    It seems to me that things which are sinful but touted as the only “solutions” to desperate, intractable problems (e.g. abortion, contraception, euthanasia, torture) almost always end up not “solving” the problem they were supposed to solve, or creating new, even worse problems. Sin not only makes you stupid and puts you in danger of damnation, it isn’t even practical in the long run!

  • I’m against torture, and I tend to see waterboarding as torture. *But*… if any debate about torture is going to go anywhere, it *has* to include discussion on the nature of torture… what the essence of torture is. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many other opponents of torture are opposed to having that discussion, as Christopher alludes to at the end of the post.

  • Chris

    The problem is simple: definitions are never all-inclusive, and people who want a “definition” do so for the sake of finding a way to use the letter as against the spirit. I have no problem with people trying to make working definitions, when people know that is what is going on — but the people who insist on a “real definition” do so ignoring the limitations of definitions. The question of definition ends up being a way to side-swipe the whole issue and to divert attention away from practical issues and solutions.

    To confirm this, look to the way people try to play fast and loose with definitions in other issues, like religion!

  • Chris to further point out what I mean, consider the issues people rightfully have with those who think the Christian faith is merely what can be discerned and put down in propositions. Think about the attempt to classify Christ in propositions and to think that is the end of theological knowledge. They are wrong — and what is useful in one day ends up being incomplete and imperfect. Propositions in the end never truly hit the mark — they might aim for it, but never actually get it complete. We have seen this in Christology– look to St Cyril of Alexandria’s Christological propositions and how some people assumed they were “definitive definitions.” What happened? They opposed Chalcedon and therefore showed they didn’t understand the limits of definitions and propositions.

    So again, while I think one can make working, practical definitions, one must always do so with the addition of: this is imperfect and incomplete, and we must work with the spirit behind the proposition itself, not just rely upon the dead letter (for as St Paul says, it is the letter which kills).

  • Henry,

    While someone may focus on definitions in order to divert attention, it’s also possible that they are serious about attempting a thorough moral analysis of a particular human act. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we ought to presume the latter.

    We use precise definitions in numerous other instances of intrinsic evil… abortion, adultery, etc. I see no reason why we can’t have the same degree of clarity on this issue.

    I agree that we need to start with a working definition… we need to start somewhere, after all. But we can proceed to refine that definition as our analysis unfolds.

  • Chris

    We have evidence – Mark Shea and others have given working definitions. Kyle Cupp on Vox Nova has done so as well. Indeed, I have seen many people give them — all to have people use it to say “so, waterboarding doesn’t count because of X.” So indeed, for some at least, it is a way to try to trap people into accepting something like waterboarding.

    But I think we both agree; a working definition is fine — so long as all the caveats are put in place. And with it, all definitions, even improvements, would be seen as working definitions. If we follow with that light, they can help, but again, I have seen people already give such — which is why the “they don’t give a definition” statement isn’t true. People do give it, but what is wanted is “the” definition.

  • In a post like this, why are you putting together American Catholic thinkers and American neocons? Catholicism has utterly nothing in common with this modern neocon tradition, which instead invokes the pagan ethic of might-makes-right.

    You know, efforts to claim certain forms of torture are not really torture are very similar to efforts claiming that abortion is not murder – it’s all about trying to draw an arbitrary line where you cease to respect human life and dignity. It’s the right wing equivalent of Catholic for a Free Choice, and is similarly corrupted by the evils of consequentialism.

    As for the argumenst above, Harrison’s is incredibly weak. And Akin is invokling a purely consequentialist argument – torture is OK in particular circumstances (ticking bomb scenario) when the very definition of an instrinsically evil act precludes such recourse to circumstances.

    Instead of this legion of neocons and their Catholic fellow travelers, why do you not simply report what the Church says about torture? See the article in the recent America magazine by Stephen Colecchi. See the Catechism, the Compendium on Social Doctrine, Gaudium Et Spes, Veritatis Spledour, the USCCB document, and the statements of Pope Benedict (that torture cannot be considered under any circumstances) on this issue. It’s not that complicated.

  • I think Michael’s definition which Mark offers is a great working definition, actually.

  • Elaine, in regard to World War II, the Americans and the Brits would usually give captured enemy agents the option of revealing everything they knew and cooperating with them or of being summarily executed since enemy agents were not covered by the Geneva Convention. Most of the captured agents chose to cooperate.

  • In a post like this, why are you putting together American Catholic thinkers and American neocons?

    Huh? What’s your objection to mentioning “neocons” who oppose torture? Given how readily you make common cause with, and defend, all sorts of political causes that you supposedly DISagree with, you can hardly fail to understand why it is that people who really do agree with each other (on opposing torture) would work together in that cause.

  • in regard to World War II, the Americans and the Brits would usually give captured enemy agents the option of revealing everything they knew and cooperating with them or of being summarily executed since enemy agents were not covered by the Geneva Convention.

    It may be well past time to shut down Guantanemo type programs and return to that approach.

  • [Morning’s Minion]: “In a post like this, why are you putting together American Catholic thinkers and American neocons? Catholicism has utterly nothing in common with this modern neocon tradition, which instead invokes the pagan ethic of might-makes-right.”

    Well, I suppose it might be to have readers compare and contrast the statements on the subject made by one set of speaker and the other. (I believe it well within your capability to do that).

    [Morning’s Minion]: “Instead of this legion of neocons…”

    That some sources might fall within your derogatory category of ‘neocons’ (which seems to be written with just as much a derisive sneer as you adopt when referring to ‘Calvinists’) certainly wouldn’t preclude my respect when they take a stance against torture.

    (Thank you for your reference to the America article by Stephen Colecchi. I’ve an interest in reading it — unfortunately, I’m not a subscriber).

    Chris [Burgwald] — I think that Michael’s definition is a useful working definition as well. I do take issue with those who define torture so as to wholly exclude mental coercion and/or confine it only to that which would result in bodily harm. On the other hand, there are those who would say that coercion itself is gravely immoral, which would certainly call into question those who constantly lobby on behalf of the Army Field Manual. (Kyle Kupp — I appreciate your discussion of “coercion” here).

    As for the Coalition of Clarity, I think that any attempt at arriving at clarify would necessarily involve some reflection and discussion on the identification of what constitutes torture. Definitions being the basic tools of thought.

    Readers of my prior posts on this subject know that one concern of mine would be that there has been a tendency from some bloggers to readily apply the brand of ‘Rubber Hose Right’ — and a range of other euphamisms — with wild abandon to practically anybody who questions their reasoning or methodology or approach to the topic. Strangely enough, in lashing out at conservatives he has applied these labels specifically to some of the ‘neocons’ cited above who have taken a stance against torture.

    Also, Mark’s post to which Henry drew attention flatly and vigorously denies Fr. Richard Neuhaus’ conviction that “as bright a line as possible between such coercion and torture, and to forbid the latter absolutely”:

    It is the common notion that there is some bright line difference between torture and techniques that are “not quite” torture and that the job of the morally serious person is to find it.

    This is simply an illusion. There is no bright line between torture and not-quite-torture.

    I think this kind of attitude from a leading Catholic apologist would be an impediment to the seeking of “clarity” on the subject.

  • The point of Mark’s comment, and in which he is quite correct, is that positivistic propositionalism tries to establish this idea that “torture is easy to define, so it is easy to make a line which separate the two.” But as was commented upon in this thread, this is false, and indeed, is the kind of reasoning which is used to support abortion, trying to tell pro-lifers to offer a consistent definition of a person(something which is just as difficult to define as torture!)

  • I really don’t see why this is so difficult. A few years ago this question came up in my Ethics class and not so surprisingly, I suppose, most people were in favor of waterboarding except for people, who by their comments in class participation, were unmistakably liberal. But from the language in the class “managing sleep”, “intense interrogation”, “mere drowning simulations” rather than what I’d call sleep deprivation, torture, and waterboarding respectively, seriously wrung a bell — “death with dignity”, “mercy killing”, “the right to die.” Or why not, “pregnancy termination”, “reproductive rights”, and other such euphemisms – even if you don’t find torture to be intrinsically evil or waterboarding to be torture – it should, at the very least, give you pause at the way these euphemistic marketing slogans are used to sell such things without the slightest moral examination.

    So, in one sense, I’m glad there can be a discussion. On the other hand, I am not even sure why – it seems so obvious to me.

  • If you can’t figure out what is torture and what is not, then that leaves you without any ability to make a counterargument when someone says, “Practice X is in a gray area, but doesn’t fall on the ‘torture’ side of the line.”

  • Zippy would have been a great candidate for the Coalition. I sure miss him!

  • While I think there are inherent risks, I’ve always thought it was important to define the terms of the debate for two reasons:

    1) This is an area where we need to make concrete, practical decisions as a matter of public policy, such as “X is permitted, for so long, and at such intensity.” “Y is not permitted”. If torture opponents refuse to provide clear definitions or make arguments about specific practices, that cedes the ground to torture supporters to define the terms of the debate.

    2) If you want to be taken seriously, there isn’t that much value in condemnations at a high level of abstraction on this issue. In my experience, many of the people who say ‘we can’t define it,’ often appear to be more interested in self-affirmation and blanket condemnations, than actually engaging in the difficult task of debating an issue in a way that might affect public policy. Debate requires making distinctions and arguments in an effort to convince opponents or the undecided; that takes effort. True, it’s much easier to pound the table louder and refuse to respond to requests for clarification on the premise that it won’t do any good anyway. But that’s hardly the way to win over anyone who is undecided or conflicted on this issue. Defining the terms may be a risk, but I think it’s a risk worth taking.

  • JH

    Once again, Mark and other HAVE gone in to discuss and make definitions. The fault is the accusation that they and others against torture have not. what has happened, however, is the sophistry which comes in response, which does as I said happens– legalistic attempts to find a loophole out of calling a preferred practice of the day as not torture. That is the problem: it would be fine if there WERE an honest interest in creating a working definition of torture; it is another when it is all about finding a way to excuse things recognized as torture to no longer be torture! And that is why people, in the end say, we have debated the definition enough — because people are not interested in the spirit but the letter, and are incapable of understanding the problem of positivistic definitions. As I said — think this through with the attempt to define “person” historically and how no working definition has ever been satisfactory. Pro-abortion supporters jump up and down with all the loopholes caused by this in the exact same manner. Both pro-aborts and pro-torturers are looking for loopholes via definition to ignore the path of virtue.

  • One source that is frequently cited by opponents of torture is the Army Field Manual. While this has eliminated waterboarding, it does nonetheless seem to pose problems for those who propose it as a model of interrogation. For example, reading the manual it allows that a prisoner should receive a minimum of 4 hours of sleep a day during interrogation. But the ability to reduce sleep to this minimum is sleep deprivation. It also talks about preventing excesses of heat and cold in cells. But banning an excess allows for some manipulation of the environment. Holding that sleep deprivation and manipulation of the physical environment of the prisoner’s cell is considered torture by many. Yet from the same Field Manual that is cited as definitive by these same people allows for these techniques.



  • Truth-in-advertising would demand that they name it Coalition for Calumny because that is precisely what Shea-inspired anti-torture polemics amount to.

  • While I oppose torture, as a Catholic, I find some of the protestations here of the Vox Nova quartet (where are M.Z. and Michael on this?) to be a bit overstated.

    I have a big problem equivocating torture and abortion. While I wouldn’t place the quantitative aspect of these problems at the highest level of consideration, it is worth remembering that torture (lets narrow it down to people in U.S. detention centers) affects a few hundred people, while millions upon millions of innocent children are destroyed every year by abortion.

    That isn’t irrelevant.

    By the way, I searched for the phrase “positivistic propositionalism” and couldn’t find it anywhere. What does it mean? I’m not being snarky; I would really like to know.

  • I am always fascinated by these discussions. It always seems that we end up with two opposing camps pointing fingers at each other with shouts of “Heretic!”; having carried a weapon for our country, I see these things a little differently.

    In the original post, reference was made to a 2004 article by Father Richard John Neuhaus (may he rest in peace), in which he stated, “The uncompromisable principle is that it is always wrong to do evil in order that good may result.” Sounds good. But it needs qualification. Really, Deacon? Well, yes! Let me explain.

    Killing another human being is always *objectively* evil. Thus, one may adopt, as a religious principle, an absolute refusal to either kill, or to facilitate killing in any way (military conscientious objection takes this form).

    But, in reality (crudely stated), “some people just need killin’.” And we all know that. As bad as it sounds, there are certain circumstances in which even innocent people might have to die in order to prevent a greater evil (e.g., shooting down a hijacked airliner to prevent it being crashed into a populated area). Certainly, a police officer using deadly force in the performance of his duty would be exempted from the the prohibition against killing.

    And who gets to decide? Who has to make the judgment as to whether a particular person or group of people “needs killin'”? The person charged by civil authority with making that determination does! And no matter how we bloviate, pontificate, and Monday-morning-quarterback, that judgment still has to be made on case-by-case basis, in the moment, by an individual.

    I believe it’s the same with “torture. While we can objectively define it, there is always going to be an area of subjective judgment that will have to be exercised in the moment. There are certain absolutes: one cannot push one prisoner out of a helicopter aloft, for example, and then turn to the remaining prisoners and tell them that they have to talk, or they’ll be next. One cannot do that; murder is evil no matter what (that is what makes it murder, see?). But that is clearly different from putting someone under duress (through their environment, or by depriving them of sleep, or even by creating a sensation of drowning). All of these things can be, just as clearly, distinguished from cutting off fingers or toes, applying live electrodes to genitalia, or suspending someone over a pit of sharpened stakes.

    So…it’s fine to theoretically discuss the virtues of various courses and choices; but at the end of the day, we have to do a good job of teaching people in positions of authority sound principles of morality. Absolutes too narrowly described are almost dangerous, because they either leave people optionless, or they cause these moral actors to just reject the total package of rules we impose because they don’t meet the “reality check” or the “common sense” test. And I wonder if that wouldn’t be the worst of all possible outcomes…

  • *sings* Same song, seven hundred and fifty-three thousandth verse– little bit louder and a little bit worse.

    I gave up trying to have any sort of discussion when it became clear that Mr. Karlson’s mode of persuasive arguing– ie, reading my mind and informing me of why I believe something– was about all I could hope for.

    Amusingly, they’re the exact same tactics that get used against me when I argue against abortion….

    Side note– the torture in the pictured woodcut isn’t waterboarding; it’s probably the water cure or the tormento de toca (both popularly misidentified as the simulated drowning of water boarding– even if one agrees that water boarding is torture, these are three different forms that all happen to involve water)

  • Morning’s Minion said: Catholicism has utterly nothing in common with this modern neocon tradition, which instead invokes the pagan ethic of might-makes-right.

    Really? “Utterly nothing in common”? Vatican II teaches that Catholicism has things in common even with Hindu idolatry — but neoconservative political philosophy and Catholicism haven’t a single thing in common?

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Something Big Is On The Move At The Houston Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

Friday, January 22, AD 2010

[Updates at the bottom of this article]

Parishioners and friends are helping history arrive at the Galveston-Houston Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The arrival of the long awaited Pasi Organ Builders Opus 19 organ marks the commencement of its installation.

This past Monday morning, the first of two large moving trucks rode into downtown Houston and pulled onto the driveway of the Co-Cathedral. Soon thereafter, members of the parish and friends began offloading thousands of pounds of handmade organ components into the magnificent Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston.

Since its consecration and Mass of Dedication on April 2, 2008, the Co-Cathedral community has been worshiping accompanied by a digital organ, piano and other instruments. Beginning in the Fall of 2010, the Co-Cathedral will begin offering and expressing praise, thanks, contrition, and petition to God with this magnificent new organ.

Martin Pasi and his team at Pasi Organ Builders of Roy, Washington, have been constructing this grand organ since Fall 2006. Thousands of custom, hand-made wood and metal parts will be installed and tuned over the next nine months for an estimated in-service date of mid October 2010.

With one of two trucks unloaded, the Parish celebrated the regular daily mass at 12:10, offered by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Rector of the Cathedral, The Very Reverend Lawrence Jozwiak. After Mass, the Cardinal officiated at a special blessing ceremony for the organ pipes and their installers.

The Pasi installers will have the important job of installing 5499 hand made pipes, 25,000 linear feet of lumber and 11 tons of tin, lead, pipeworks and mechanical action within two 45 foot tall cabinets aside the grand Resurrection Window in the Choir Loft.

The complete specifications for this grand organ list 75 different stops, 4 manuals or keyboards, and 104 different sets of pipes or ranks, varying in size from as small as ½ inch and as long as 32 feet. A rarity today, the Opus 19 Organ also features a free reed stop Clarinette.

The second truck was unloaded Tuesday.

Story written by Greg Haas, Mosaicist & Founder, Studio D’Oro LLC, Houston.


For more information visit www.studiodoro.com

Cross-posted over at CVSTOS FIDEI.

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4 Responses to Something Big Is On The Move At The Houston Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

  • Totally cool – can’t wait to hear it played. Hopefully it will be ready in time for the Red Mass.

  • C Matt,

    That would be a treat for everyone.

    Just got back from an activity at St. Vincent De Paul and the statue of Jesus in the narthex still cracks me up.

  • Just think of all the people, children, families you could help to live in a home. God would rather all the money you spent on that fancy cathedral and organ help children have home and food. When are we going to realize that we are building these things for ourselves not God. He knows it, and we had better learn to stop waisting all that money for show. God is just as happy with a modest church that spends its money building a parish center for the people to gather in for community and to help others. When will we learn…

  • Karen,
    Christ left us two commandments, not one. And they are in the order he preferred. The notion that we satisfy the first by fulfilling the second is not a Catholic notion.

35 Responses to Are "Lost" Fans Annoying?

  • Confession: I have never seen a single episode of this show.

  • Yeah they will be more annoying and thats what I told that guy who I knocked over in walmart to get the last copy of the final season of Battlestar Galactica.

  • Never watched it. What’s it about?

  • Donald, when I posted on Lost a couple weeks ago, I was positive that a sci-fi guy like you must be a fan… whoops. 🙂

    1. Lost
    2. BSG (reimagined)
    3. X-Files
    4. ST:TNG

    That’s my ranking. ST:TOS is too far behind to make the list. 🙂

  • I actually like Lost though I usually don’t have time to watch. So I have to wait until it comes out on DVD and rent. Then watch over several weekends. Builds patience waiting for the DVD.

  • My list Chis:

    1. Star Trek original series

    2. Star Trek Enterprise

    3. Babylon 5

    4. Star Gate

    5. Star Gate Atlantis

    6. Star Trek Voyager

    7. Battle Star Galactica (new)

    8. Star Trek Deep Space Nine

    9. Eureka

    10. Wild Wild West (The show was steampunk 20 years before the genre.)

    I’ve never seen Lost, so I do not have an opinion on the show.

  • I find Lost is like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I haven’t an IQ high enough to figure what is going on.

  • Go easy on yourself Art Deco. If you followed Lost from the beginning you would have soon realized that even the writers had no idea what was going on. 😉

  • Donald,

    ST:TNG didn’t even make your Top Ten? I’m a bit surprised!

    I see you have both Stargates ahead of BSG (new)… can I ask why? Just curious… we don’t have cable, and it was only when a friend very generously got us a year’s subscription to Netflix for our anniversary last summer that I checked out BSG on dvd, and I absolutely loved it (and so did the wife). As my list indicates, it knocked X-Files out of my #2 spot, and did so quite handily.

  • Rick, Rick, Rick… ye of little faith. 🙂

    Darlton have promised us that when the finale airs in May, we’ll see how the mythology was basically mapped out from the beginning.

    Everyone — including them — agrees that things got a bit wobbly in S2 and the start of S3, but that’s because there was no end date, and it’s hard to write a story that is meant to move along every episode when you don’t know how many eps you have left. Once the end date was set, it was full-speed ahead.

  • The Next Generation was a bit PC and preachy for my tastes, although I liked the Q episodes.

    I have greatly enjoyed Stargate and Stargate Atlantis. Great characters, good plots and a fine mixture of dramatic and comedic elements.

  • I’ve never seen one single episode of Lost.

    One of my friends tried to justify watching it by saying that you need to be pretty intelligent to watch Lost.

    This is the same guy who attends an independent chapel only recognized by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and is a pre-Tridentine Catholic.

    Stargate Atlantis has been surprisingly good, BSG (new) was awesome except for the flimsy whimpering out in the final six months. Angels that have sex? No explanation of why cyclons are monotheistic?

    Star Trek Enterprise is the best of the bunch after the original Star Trek.

    ST:TNG is like living in Saul Aulinsky’s mind, simply unsustainable and false.

    But I have to agree with Don, Q was the only thing worth watching. And I am still surprised that they never made a movie with his character, a la Khan and Start Trek II. I think it would have saved the movie franchise for TNG, but oh well.

  • Sci-Fi shows?

    1) Doctor Who (will always be #1)
    2) Babylon 5
    3) Prisoner
    4) Blake’s 7
    5) Deep Space 9
    6) Star Trek: TOS
    7) Firefly
    8) Star Trek: TNG
    9) Red Dwarf
    10) though not really Sci-Fi and just something to round out the ten, Angel.

  • Or I would include Wild Wild West as 10. Tie with Angel. Donald is right, great show — the movie just failed in every way possible.

  • Henry K.,


    Forgot about those guys. Great series and even better movie.

    Unfortunately I don’t think there are anymore in the works for the future.

  • Would that be the real Doctor Who or the new one? Or both?

  • Darwin:

    They are one and the same; it is the same series, but one which has always been capable of great change through the years. I do find RTD’s era to be mixed, but so have the eras of other producers. He gave some good stories and some poor stories of his own, but we also got some great tales by other authors (Moffat, Cornell and Shearman esp). I do have problems with his sexual mores and how boldly he put them into the show; but the show as a whole is still my favorite of all time (and I include the Big Finish audios with Davison, Baker, McCoy and McGann in the mix; I’m hoping with the rebranding udner Moffat, they will be allowed to do Tennant audios, since I expect he would do them — he was doing audios before he was the Doctor).

    To show how much of a geek I am: as a junior in high school in 1991, I dressed up as McCoy at a local convention, and the year after, started to make a Tom Baker scarf (it was completed by my mother). I’ve been to four conventions (1991 and 1992 in Indy, 1992 and 1993 in Chicago), and met most of the old crew that way (1993 for the 30th anniversary was a big convention). I still am a fan and partake of Doctor Who boards, though I don’t go to conventions anymore.

  • Tito

    While you are probably right about Firefly, I would say he should push on for a sequel. It sounds like Whedon is about to have a series on FX. I don’t see why he can’t make a series continuing after Serenity, using new characters and those who would like to return in it. It could be set several years after the events of Serenity.

  • Henry,

    I know there is a large fan and active fan base and Whedon hasn’t ruled it out, though he hasn’t been pushing for it as far as I can tell.

    Though I may sound like it won’t happen, like you, I still hold out hope for it to continue in whatever manifestation, ie, a movie, or a new series on FX/SyFy/etc.

    It’s a good show with a well-thought out universe.

    Chinese and English being the lingua franca and vestiges of religion still proselytizing the world combined with great scifi effects and a solid story line got me hooked.

    But I started backwards. I saw the movie and then rented the series (free on Hulu.com for a time).

    Well worth the viewing!

  • It seems to me like there was enough of a reload on the character and backstory of the Doctor that you kind of have to think of them as two different shows.

    Still, I’m clearly less dedicated, and I could never really get into the new show. Some of the classic Doctors (Pertwee, Tom Baker, and McCoy) I really enjoyed, though obviously with a near thirty year run the show had its low stretches as well.

    I don’t know if I’d try to compare it to other SF shows, in that Doctor Who was always a bit of weird creature, all its own. (Among other things, it didn’t generally even try to do any coherant world building.)

    For best SF show, I’d clearly have to list Babylon 5 — though it got gradually weaker in the last season. And it rang true in human terms in a way that Trek shows seldom did.

    But then, a lot of the shows listed above (Enterprise, Firefly, Battle Star Galactica, X-Files, Stargate) I never even saw.

  • Darwin,

    Firefly and Battle Star (new) are highly recommended. It grabs your attention from the get-go and highly entertaining!

  • Darwin

    You might not have seen this:

    While there were changes, the show has had a history of them (the first regeneration; the revelation of the Time Lords; the Doctor’s stay on Earth; the Time Lord society as it emerged in Deadly Assassin; the McCoy “Dark Doctor” era; etc); the show is always capable of changing and having all kinds of recon work happening throughout all its years. But there were also true connections between the show (Sarah Jane– Davros even remembering her from when he created the Daleks, etc). It’s the same show, but like the Doctor, always mutating.

  • Finally, some common ground with American Catholic 🙂

    I love Lost. I can spend hours poring over the most arcane and complicated theories (then again, I spent much of my teenage years on elvish genealogy!). But I have no clue what is going on!

    I also love BSG and Firefly/ Serenity. More recently, and to a lesser extent, I enjoy Heroes, Flash Forward, Fringe, and V (basically, sci-fi is all I really watch anymore).

    I used to be a big Star Trek fan. Enjoyed TNR at the time, and especially liked DS9. Pretty much gave up on Voyager and never gave Enterprise much of a chance.

  • Yes indeed, some common ground with MM!

  • MM:

    Enterprise is worth a shot, especially the third and fourth seasons. It had just worked up a head of steam and was cancelled. A lot of very well-done nods to the original series. Fair warning: the series finale was truly bad and a sour note.

    Also, since you are a BSG fan, don’t forget Caprica the Series starts tonight at 9. Almost no advertising for it, so it went under my radar until yesterday.

    I’ll have to give V another shot. I liked the first episode, but couldn’t quite get into it. Hopefully the planned hiatus helps. That, and another time slot.

  • When I made out my list I forgot about Firefly. I love the show, especially Adam Baldwin as Jane, a truly brilliant comedic turn! Much of it is in questionable morality, but I love the post-Civil War West translated into Space theme. It would have been at the third position on my list.

  • Some of the classic Doctors (Pertwee, Tom Baker, and McCoy) I really enjoyed, though obviously with a near thirty year run the show had its low stretches as well.

    The writers during the Sylvester McCoy era were doing a wretched job. Its cancellation in 1989 was a mercy killing.

    The best of the Doctors was Patrick Troughton, followed by Tom Baker and Peter Davison. Nicola Bryant was the most engaging companion.

  • To my mind, the writing had gone pretty seriously down hill by the latter half of the Peter Davison period, and was generally wretched under Colin Baker. I felt like under McCoy things improved again — though it was spotty and in some ways I thought they were trying to take the series in directions it wasn’t good at going.

    Looking at the episode list, though, it looks like I only saw two episodes out of McCoy’s first season (both pretty poor), saw all of his second (which was mostly pretty good, though at times very weird) and one episode out of the third, which was okay but not great. (I was watching them as they came out in Britain, and the only way we got copies was through a fan friend who had a Brit format VCR who would make grainy copies of tapes mailed to her by a friend in the UK.)

    I think my personal favorite was actually Pertwee, though Tom Baker was also incredibly good. I’m not sure I ever managed to see any episodes with the first two doctors.

  • Colin Baker got to travel the universe with Nicola Bryant. What do you mean the writing was ‘wretched’? His version of the Doctor had attitude.

  • The Pertwee years were dominated by the presence of Jo Grant, surely the most annoying companion to date.

  • I’ve always been a Roger Delgado fan myself.

  • Hmmm. I don’t remember finding Jo all that annoying, though she was definitely a screamer. But Pertwee has such style, and he spent the first half of his career paired with The Brigadier, who was just awesome.

    Our PBS station only ever showed the Trail of a Time Lord season of Colin Baker, which was one of the few story lines that I disliked so much I would just not watch after the first time through. Though to be fair, my prime Dr Who watching period was aged 10-18, so my judgment may not have been perfect. Of the ones I saw, Colin Baker was my least favorite.

  • Also, since you are a BSG fan, don’t forget Caprica the Series starts tonight at 9. Almost no advertising for it, so it went under my radar until yesterday.

    I totally forgot about this. Thanks for the heads up.

  • We’re in the midst of watching the Firefly series… I love Fillion (we’re big Castle fans) and Baldwin (now on Chuck).

The Contradiction of Religious Freedom

Wednesday, January 20, AD 2010

Perhaps one of the most cherished freedoms of liberal democracy (in the sense of classical liberalism, not modern progressivism) is the freedom of religion. Much though I admire many elements of Western Civilization prior to the modern era, I cannot help thinking that the end of the formal confessional state has generally been a good thing not only for the state, but even more so for the Church. It has given the Church, no longer tied down by the need to support explicitly Catholic regimes, the freedom to speak more openly and forcefully on the demands that Christ’s message puts upon us in the public and economic realms.

That said, it seems to me that there is a built in contradiction in the place of religious freedom in classical liberalism: While religious freedom is a central element of classical liberalism, the ability of a state to function as a liberal democracy will collapse if a large majority of the population do not share a common basic moral and philosophical (and thus by implication theological) worldview. Thus, while religious freedom is a foundational element of classical liberalism, only a certain degree of religious conformity makes it possible.

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30 Responses to The Contradiction of Religious Freedom

  • If, however, there is fundamental disagreement among the populace about basic issues of right and wrong and what the purpose of the human person is, the victory of the other side will increasingly look to the defeated like an unacceptable tyranny, and the state will risk coming apart at the seams.

    I think this an interesting point. As people’s views change as permitted in an environment of religious liberty, it’s possible that they will diverge to the extent that the commitment to religious liberty and other unifying ideals will erode. Hobbes, for instance, thought this threat was an excellent reason for the state to abolish religious freedom altogether. In this scenario, religion would be yet another tool of good governance.

    Another possibility, of course, is that views will diverge to the extent that there are competing views of what religious freedom should mean and how it should be embodied in law, but that the underlying commitment to religious freedom will remain intact. I would say in broad terms that this is where we are today, and actually also where we were at the time of the Founding. There have been developments since then, of course (most notably the dramatic expansion of the state, which creates many more potential areas for conflict), but I think this tension will probably appear in any pluralistic democracy.

  • this tension will probably appear in any pluralistic democracy.

    Agreed. Which leads to the question, can a pluralistic democracy survive itself? Or is the non-confessional state doomed to eventually fracture in the face of worldviews within the citizenry which overly diverge?

  • Which leads to the question, can a pluralistic democracy survive itself? Or is the non-confessional state doomed to eventually fracture in the face of worldviews within the citizenry which overly diverge?

    I would answer in the affirmative. However, I think it essentially applies to confessional states too. it’s not like being a confessional state automatically excludes critical differences. In fact, if we look at the Protestant rebellion (“Reformation”) you can see how the idea of a confessional state actually facilitated such factors. No state has ever lasted forever in form or appearance and I don’t expect it to ever happen.

  • Interesting commentary. One would think that the post-modern cult of relativism, which is on the rise in western society, would even further complicate things. No longer is the issue simply what is right and what is wrong, but whether or not right or wrong even exist objectively.

  • No inherent contradiction is presented if “freedom” is rightly understood. Freedom does not correspond with the absolute individual authority to will as one pleases. “Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values” (Par. 3, VERITATIS SPLENDOR, 1993). The very basis for “religious freedom” is grounded in the protection of conscience, thereby preserving the integrity and dignity of the human person, i.e., his very nature (see, e.g., Par. 2, DIGNITATIS HUMANAE, 1965). Freedom, in this sense, might be better understood in terms of freedom from coercion, a type of negative right. Consequently, we lawyers sometimes refer to such negative rights and the rules for preserving such rights as “prophylactic” remedies, something to protect against an evil. It would be improper to invoke “religious freedom” as a means to usurp the very good it is intended to achieve in the first place. Therefore, it would not be the legitimate exercise of freedom to achieve some of the results suggested, e.g., to modify the meaning of the human person is such manner as to remove the protection afforded in the first place – that of sanctity of conscience. Such an exercise of will would be an abuse of freedom, and not the legitimate use of freedom. Do such abuses occur in American politics? Yes, but I would argue it is grounded in an erroneous understanding of “freedom.”

  • Jon, I agree with your central point (the proper meaning of freedom), but the problem remains, in that the meaning of freedom as it is used in the First Amendment is not self-evidently the proper one. In fact, it seems likely that it is rather the *improper* one.

  • I think the extent of the requisite religious conformity is the sticking point. I do not think that people need to have the same religion, nor does it need to be eastern or western, but simply that they be in some sense a spiritual people, i.e. concerned with spiritual things. Morality is more or less the same in all religions.

    I think our problem is that we are not a moral or a spiritual people. We are hedonist, apathetic and lazy. I don’t think the problem is necessarily with liberal democracy (except for how it may have facilitated this growth). The problem is that no society, however organized, can survive a people so devoid of a sense of purpose, morality and passion.

  • Chris, perhaps there are some contemporaries who argue the “improper” grounding of freedom based on the omission of certain language; however, I believe an honest examination of the historical context and the debate surrounding the inclusion of the Bill Rights (incl. 1st Amd) bear out that the understanding of the founders regarding “religious freedom” is at least the one grounded in natural law principles, e.g., as expressed in the Decl. of Indep. (Archbishop Chaput advances a similar position in his “Render unto Ceasar.”)

    A basic principle of legal interpretation involves, among other things, appealing to the records of debate that resulted in the enacted language along with attendant circumstances. How could the formation document (Constitution) of the federation be interpreted apart from the dissolution document (Decl. of Indep)? I submit that it can’t, at least honestly.

  • I think Zach makes a good point that the issue is in part “how pluralistic”. It’s tempting to argue that the US used to have a much more united vision of morality, the human person, and the state — though clearly slavery was a recognized problem from the beginning, which did indeed cause the country to break apart. But I think that some degree of diversity is certainly sustainable, so long as there is agreement on a sufficient number of base principles. I think you could certainly have a stable state with a mix of Protestants and Catholics and non-Christians and non-believers — so long as (whether out of habit or shared philosophy) the vast majority had sufficient agreement about basic moral and philosophical standards.

    I’d have to think about it more, but what I think I’d want to argue is that liberal democracy is generally the best (or least bad, if one wants to be Churchillian) form of government, but that in order to have any sort of stable state it’s necessary for the state to be of such a size and composition that there is already sufficient agreement for people to agree to be governed by the same laws. The problem is, of course, that societies change over time, and so a region which was at one point united can splinter over time. I’m not sure, however, that there’s much that the state itself can do to prevent this kind of splintering from happening — that’s the job of the wider culture, and an example of how the apparatus of the state is (or certainly should be, at any rate) subordinate to the culture, not the other way around.

  • Jon, I agree that the Constitution needs to be read with the Declaration in mind, but I don’t think it matters: I number myself among those who see the Founders as heirs of the Enlightenment more than as heirs of a robust Christian tradition with a strong natural law component. And as such, I think their conception of freedom is not as intrinsically ordered towards the good as is ours, but — as primarily a negative sense — tends towards an understanding of freedom as license. I see today’s emphasis on “choice” (whether it’s the NRA or Planned Parenthood) as in keeping with the underlying philosophy of our founding, not in opposition to it.

  • DC, I agree with your points in both ‘graphs… some diversity is sustainable, and societal cohesion can really only be maintained by the culture itself… the state seems powerless to do so while remaining a democracy.

  • Chris, I’m not sure the Founders’ view of liberty as “license” applies as strongly in the context of religious liberty, as it does for perhaps other liberties or rights (“license” in its ordinary sense of being free from all constraint). For example, I don’t believe the Founders’ would protect the right to practice a religion involving human sacrifice.

    Even if the Founders’ formulation of the “good” was hampered by their ideological perspective, given than the right of “religious liberty” is not absolute (as noted above), I’ll restate my thesis: that their approach vis-a-vis religious liberty would at a minimum fall short of redefining the human person so as to extinguish those very same rights. Note that I’m addressing the narrow case of religious liberty here as it corresponds to the original post.

    As I discussed above, negative rights under the law function as prophylactics, and I believe it achieves its purpose here. That freedom when improperly understood may foster a propensity to license is, as noted by other commentators, a cultural problem, and the gov’t is ill equipped to promote true virtue in a plural society, as recognized even by St. Augustine in his time, so I won’t conflate that issue in this discussion.

  • “It has given the Church, no longer tied down by the need to support explicitly Catholic regimes, the freedom to speak more openly and forcefully on the demands that Christ’s message puts upon us in the public and economic realms.”

    I’ve said something similar in the past, but now I question this. First, this kind of comment risks treating freedom as coming from the state or the social structure rather than the Gospel.

    Second, the Church hierarchy is now perhaps just as committed to defending non-confessional regimes and the liberal democratic order.

    Third, the Church hierarchy doesn’t seem very outspoken in an age of democratic freedoms. Except for the pro-life issue, the Church at present seems mostly incapable of leading. Her shepherds fear alienating the laity, the mainstream media, and the political parties.

    However, the general topic of the original post is sound.

    Boiled down, someone with political authority has to define “religion” and “freedom,” and in our state those definitions will be skewed and/or severely contested.

    I’ve long pondered Federalist 2’s comments about how Providence “has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion…”

    That “same religion” line probably meant Protestant Christianity, not the “Judeo-Christian” compromise preached in the US decades ago, and certainly not the diversity-celebrating ethos of contemporary elitism.

    When the composition of the people has changed, how can the constitution of the government (its best parts at least) remain unchanged?

  • Assuming you’re correct, perhaps the increase of pluralism in our society and around the globe will give rise to rethinking of the state itself. I wonder which of the two, in time, will prove the stronger. Will our pluralism fundamentally restructure our society or will the structure of the state put a halt to our pluralism? Or will we not reach that point, but remain in permanent tension?

  • In the piece you state that “the ability of a state to function as a liberal democracy will collapse if a large majority of the population do not share a common basic moral and philosophical (and thus by implication theological) worldview…” as though this idea is axiomatic. It is anything but axiomatic. Morality does not, as you suggest, derive from religion. Consider the recently exposed attempts, now well-documented, by the Catholic church to conceal the rampant sexual exploitation of children by its clergy. Insofar as the sexual exploitation of children might be considered as perhaps the one area in which moral condemnation might be considered as both universal and absolute among religious and non-religious alike, I think we can safely conclude that morality is separate from religion and can not be derived from it. Moreover, insofar as religion (in this case the Catholic church) has shown itself to be uniquely delinquent on this issue, we can further conclude that the Catholic church, if not necessarily religion generally, is not only amoral, but immoral. QED

  • Morality of course derives from religion as a historical fact. Without a religious sanction you do not have a binding morality but mere opinion about morality. As for people who are religious engaging in sin, that will only shock people who mistake men for angels. If men were sinless there would be no need for the ten commandments and other religion based codes of morality. That men violate such codes says nothing about the validity of the codes and everything about the capacity of humans to commit evil. As for your attempt to claim that sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy is “uniquely delinquent”, I assume you said that with tongue in cheek. Grave crimes against children are committed by adults in every calling known to man. Judging from media accounts, public school teachers seem to be especially culpable in this area.

  • @ D. McClarey – Respectfully, your statement that “[m]orality of course derives from religion as a historical fact” is merely a conclusory restatement of the original proposition and is patently absurd on its face for the same reasons I’ve stated. Of course, the is no “of course” about it…and that is my point. As for my characterization of the Catholic church’s response to the the sex abuse scandal as “uniquely delinquent”, I do not mean to say that no other entity as ever committed a similar offense against morality as that too would be absurd. I do, however, think that the Catholic church’s response has been and is “uniquely delinquent” as to the degree to which they permitted, and then by failing to adequately address the issue enabled, the abuse. By ignoring the problem and reassigning offending priests to other parishes rather than turning those priests over to authorities for prosecution or at least ensuring that those priests would be assigned to duties that would avoid contact with children transformed what were the individual transgressions of a few into a systemic transgression. Hence, by any measure, the Catholic church committed immoral acts or what you would no doubt term, “sins”. The church must accept responsibility for its actions and, by so doing, acknowledge that it has no direct moral authority. If it has any moral authority at all it is, at best, derivative. If moral authority is, arguendo, vested derivatively in the church then it is only one of many sources of such authority and therefore is subject to your criticism that such authority is subjective and relative.

  • Karl,

    You don’t even have to accept that religiously derived moral norms are correct to see the truth of my statement (though your illogic that follows is pretty impressive, and all the more ironic by your summing up with the scholastic QED.)

    If a society is made up of multiple factions with radically differing ideas of what is right and wrong, and each group tries (as is natural) to enforce their notions of right and wrong through the mechanism of the law, strife will inevitably result.

    We saw this in our own history with the issue of slavery. One section of the country believed that slavery was a profound moral evil — another believed it was natural and perhaps even beneficial to the enslaved. Prohibitionists saw it as evil not to outlaw slavery, slavery supporters saw it as an unacceptable abbridgement of their freedom to hold private property.

    The result was the bloodiest war in our history. For my point to hold, it’s not even necessary to rule on which side was right, or if there even is such a thing as right and wrong. So long as the two groups believed that there was such a thing as right and wrong, and had different beliefs about it, strife was the inevitable result.

  • Hence, by any measure, the Catholic church committed immoral acts or what you would no doubt term, “sins”. The church must accept responsibility for its actions and, by so doing, acknowledge that it has no direct moral authority. If it has any moral authority at all it is, at best, derivative.


    If it turns out that a drug enforcement unit has been trafficing in drugs illegally, does that mean that there are in fact no laws against narcotics? No.

    If you think that Catholics believe that things are right or wrong only to the extent that the Church practices morality, that the Church is the source of morality by examplar, that would at least explain your confusion. But otherwise this line of argument simply makes no sense.

    The Church claims that it has correctly relayed through its teachings the moral laws (both revealed and natural) which God created humanity to live in conformity to. Whether individual Catholics or even large groups of Catholics successfully live according to those laws would seem to have no relation to whether those laws are indeed true.

    The sins of priests and bishops are no more a disproof of Catholic theology than a physicist having a car accident is a disproof of the laws of motion. Failure to conform to a law does not disprove its existence.

  • No, my statement that all morality derives from religion is historical fact is not conclusory but simply a statement of fact. The morality of all civilizations derives from religious teaching. You can deny this, but it places you squarely in the category of people who deny that fire burns and water is wet. Your idea that sins committed by clerics deprives the Church of moral authority is risible. The moral authority of the Church comes from God. That authority remains if every pope going back to Peter were a vile fiend. The sinful clerics are condemned by the teachings of the Church that they failed to follow. Their sins no more undermined the authority of the Church than Peter’s denial of Christ before the crucifixion or the betrayal of Christ by Judas undermined the authority of the Church. 2000 years of sins and human folly have not undermined that authority.

  • @ DarwinCatholic – “If a society is made up of multiple factions with radically differing ideas of what is right and wrong, and each group tries (as is natural) to enforce their notions of right and wrong through the mechanism of the law, strife will inevitably result.”

    Naturally. Strife is the essence of democracy, and our laws are the product of compromise and adaptation which seeks a balance between individual freedom and the order that must prevail in a society in order to maximize the individual freedom of all.

    “Failure to conform to a law does not disprove its existence.”

    True, but the church failed to enforce the law within its own ranks, holding itself above the law. Do you not see the contradiction that impends here?

  • @ McClarrey –

    “No, my statement that all morality derives from religion is historical fact is not conclusory but simply a statement of fact.”

    This sir, is a conclusory statement. If the things explained as the numerator and the things needed to be assumed in order for the statement to be true as the denominator results in a value < 1, you have made a conclusory statement. If you're at all confused about this, you might want to consult a Jesuit (or a rabbi).

  • No it is a statement of historical fact. All civilizations have based their morality on religious teaching. Once again, you can deny this, but you are simply wrong as a factual matter.

  • Karl,

    I agree that discussion and compromise between opposing view points is the essence of democracy — however I think it’s pretty self evidence that the disagreements one can successfully compromise between have to be within a certain minimum range in order for the process to work. If disagreements are too extreme, the basis for democracy breaks down because any possible compromise will be seen as utterly unacceptable by some portion of the population.

    Imagine that 40% of our population demanded the right to stone women who got pregnant out of wedlock. Meanwhile, 55% believes this would be murder. Some 5% is for some reason able to hold themselves above teh debate.

    If the 40% is truly set on enforcing their beliefs about stoning, indeed believes it will destroy their way of life and make life not worth living if they’re not allowed to stone women who get pregnant out of wedlock, what you’re going to have is a breakdown in civil order and a lot of violence. There’s simply not a way to address that kind of disagreement via the sort of compromise and give-and-take which we use to settle disputes like whether we should subsidize corn production, or whether we should have government health care.

    That’s what I’m talking about here.

    True, but the church failed to enforce the law within its own ranks, holding itself above the law. Do you not see the contradiction that impends here?

    Um, no.

    You’re consistently missing two key points:

    1) The Church does not claim that it sets morality arbitrarily the way that a legislature passes regulations. Rather, it claims to have received from God and passed on to humanity a set of immutable laws formed by God. This isn’t a common law situation where one can claim that failure to enforce is a ceding of control.

    2) You’re also not clearly accounting for what happened here. If the Church had been going around preaching, “Bugging little boys is absolutely wrong. However, if a priest does it, it should not be treated as a crime and he should be allowed to continue,” you would at least have a point that Church teaching was incoherant. Rather, you had the Church clearing teaching that something was wrong, but in some dioceses the bishops were ignoring claims that some of their priests were committing acts which were both crimes and grave sins. It is, unfortunately, all too common that those who are in some form of authority misuse it to their advantage. For instance, I know several police officers who completely ignore speed limits in their personal driving, and then routinely get off when pulled over by flashing their badges. Nonetheless, the fact that cops rarely write other cops tickets does not mean that the speed limits don’t exist. It just means that people in authority often abuse it.

    Indeed, in the case of the scandals, one might actually take the opposite lesson: the fact that a coverup occurred underlines that the Church is correct in stating that the moral law against molestation is a “natural law”, one written in the hearts of man and understandable even without revelation.

  • I think Mr. Wulff is obviously confused about a number of things, but I am not sure you’re quite right, Donald, that all civilizations have based their morality on religious teaching. I’m trying to remember where I encountered the argument (C.S. Lewis, I think), but there are writers who believe that one of the crowning achievements of Judaism and Christianity is the integration of morality and the experience of the numinous.

    To cite one example, the gods of Ancient Greece or Rome were hardly moral exemplars, and the philosophers rather than the priests devoted themselves to exploring moral philosophy. Of course, I think in the end, that explorations of morality and experiences of the numinous eventually have to cross paths, but I’m not sure that’s always how it’s worked historically.

  • All civilizations John Henry base their morality on religious teaching. In regard to the Greeks for example I refer you to Hesiod’s Works and Days from circa 700 BC:

    “Muses of Pieria who give glory through song, come hither, tell of Zeus your father and chant his praise. Through him mortal men are famed or un-famed, sung or unsung alike, as great Zeus wills. For easily he makes strong, and easily he brings the strong man low; easily he humbles the proud and raises the obscure, and easily he straightens the crooked and blasts the proud, — Zeus who thunders aloft and has his dwelling most high.”


    Hesiod put into writing the religious traditions of the Greeks that attributed all morality as a gift from the Gods. It is certainly true that later philosophers were troubled by Gods in some of the Greek fables who acted in an immoral fashion, but that did not negate the Greek belief that the Gods had granted to man morality, and that the Gods punished mortals who failed to observe the laws of morality.

  • Religious freedom is inherent in revealed religion, especially the Catholic faith. God reveals and we respond. How we respond is what defines our life. All morality is religious – it can’t be anything else. A philosophical morality is devoid of the transcendent and will collapse because it becomes a human construct and this world is passing away.

    Sure, humans can discern the natural law; but, what inspires that desire? The natural human inclination is to dominate and destroy. Rare is the man who searched for truth before Truth entered space-time. Look at Confucius (Kung Fu Tze), Aristotle or Lao Tzu, they were on to something but like all human efforts it cannot be fulfilled.

    The state’s responsibility is to act negatively, as lucidly pointed out above. Government is not supposed to provide health care, housing, sex-change operations or even food. Government, properly designed, is to curtail the will to power of any group, faction or individual including the state itself. This effort will ultimately always fail because we cannot be perfected in this world.

    Religious freedom is the fundamental freedom – all others, including the right to life are based on the free choice of humans to respond to God. The real question isn’t should the state protect religious freedom – that is self-evident, it must. The real question is what is religion? Without the answer to what religion is, then we cannot expect the state to protect our free choice as regards ‘religion’.

    Religion, properly defined, is the justice we owe to God. Only the Catholic faith has a claim to the fullness of truth. Of course, as Catholics we are free to obey God or rebel. We just must be aware that there are consequences. Those consequences are ours to chose and not for the state to determine. Yet the state must provide the environment of choice, which requires adherence to the truth. Our freedom is not license it is the freedom from coercion save when we seek to coerce another. We are free to do what we ought, not what we want.

    The ultimate penalty for abuse of the freedom of religion is imprisonment for eternity – a dark self-imposed isolation. The good news is Jesus came to set the captives free.

    America has her Masonic/Jacobin/Enlightenment stain and a rich, vibrant Christian tradition. Does she need to be Catholic? No. But America must be Christian. She has to be Christian to be America even if no Christians live here. No other religion, no other philosophy or ethos can promote authentic human freedom.

    Our free, Christian nation has her best days ahead of her, we just have to overcome this relativist chaos right now and then again and again and again until we ultimately fail – and then we win.

    Our Lady of America, ora pro nobis.

  • Gentlemen,

    Thank you for an enjoyable debate. I think the comments and the tone have been respectful and important, valid points raised on all sides. This experience has reaffirmed my faith that people of different points of view, even on those subjects held most dear, can be exchanged in a civil, respectful manner.

    Be well.

Scott Brown: Good News for Obama 2012?

Wednesday, January 20, AD 2010

At first glance, it would appear that Scott Brown’s unlikely victory is bad news for President Obama’s long-term political future. Senator-elect Brown explicitly ran against the current health care reform bill, favoring federalist experimentation rather than a one-size-fits-all national approach. As health care reform was the central focus of President Obama’s first year in office, and Massachusettes is one of the most liberal states in the country, Brown’s victory there is a clear repudiation of the leadership of President Obama and Congressional Democrats during the past year. Nevertheless, I think a case could be made that Scott Brown’s victory will help the President in the long run. There are three main reasons:

1) Brown’s victory was too stunning to ignore. No one would have predicted it even a month ago, and I was still skeptical yesterday that Massachusetts was going to elect a Republican senator for the first time since 1972 – and to replace Ted Kennedy, of all people. Congressional Democratic leadership and the Administration will no longer be able to convince Blue Dog Democrats they know best and that Obama will be able to leverage his popularity to preserve their seats. That card has been played – not only in Massachusetts, but also in Virginia and New Jersey – and it wasn’t  a winner. This means that the Administration and the Congressional leadership will have to adjust their strategy, and pay more attention to voter sentiment. It’s probably too late at this point for this to help the Democrats much in November; they will take a well-deserved beating in this election. Nevertheless, it’s a lesson the Obama Administration will keep in mind going forward, just as the Clinton Administration pivoted after the Hillarycare debacle. President Obama will be forced to govern more like the moderate, fiscally responsible Democrat he campaigned as. And that is likely to increase his odds of re-election.

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8 Responses to Scott Brown: Good News for Obama 2012?

  • I think you may have a good point here. I don’t really see the GOP putting up a strong candidates in 2012 at this point, and as we saw with Clinton in the 90s, while partisans may not like it, the electorate seems to be quite happy with a president whose personality they’re fond of and a congress of the opposite party. Indeed, many Democrats now take a fair amount of pride in the fairly moderate legislation which made its way through in 94-00.

  • Well we shall see. I sort of disagree with Darwin that the GOP recruiting class of 2012 is not strong. I seem to be hearing different.

    In fact when we look at the last three elections NJ, VA, and now MASS it appears the canidiates have been very very strong. The VA Governors race was very very disciplined.

    THe questions as you point out is What will Obama do. Can he do a Clinton? I am not sure. One thing about the Obama adminsitration that has shocked me is how he acted as n EXECUTIVE. He basically made Reid and Pelosi co- Prime Ministers. Further Clinton had the experience of being chastized early on by the voters in Arkasnas. A lesson he learned from . Does Obama have that experience.

    We shall see

  • Let me just clarify: I think we may very well see strong GOP candidates for the house and senate in 2010 and 2012, I just don’t see a strong presidential candidate to unseat Obama.

  • Oh Ok. Well you might be right. Again 2012 is so far away anything can happen.

    Though I am gaining interest in this Governor from Indiana. I hear he is good and might sort of be the new fresh face.

  • Scott Brown for president 2012? Who could have predicted his win yesterday?

  • “I am gaining interest in this Governor from Indiana”

    You mean Mitch Daniels, who is creating quite a buzz. He seems to have done pretty well as far as keeping his state solvent despite the recession. A lot of Illinois residents wouldn’t mind borrowing him 🙂

    Don’t forget Tim Pawlenty or Bobby Jindal either.

    It seems as if ALL the strongest potential GOP contenders for 2012 are governors – can’t think of any Senators or Congressmen who stand out. Has that ever happened before?

  • The only difference between Scott Brown and Obama is the letter behind the name. They are both liberals.

7 Responses to Hitler Reacts to the Massachusetts Election