Monthly Archives: March 2010

Our German Shepherd Under Attack

The mainstream media and even some conservative sites such as Lucianne are spreading defamatory statements that are misleading and false about Pope Benedict XVI.

What started this brouhaha?

Richard Owen of the newspaper site called the Times of London.

The headline reads “Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry“.

The article then states otherwise, but if Richard Owen didn’t write the headline to his story, he should request it to be changed immediately.  It is apparent that someone at the Times hates the Church and is pushing their anti-Catholic agenda with this misleading headline.

It doesn’t help that a self-identified expert on Catholicism, blogger Ruth Gledhill, adds insult to injury with an off-base column blasting of the hierarchy and structure of Holy Mother Church:

The Pope is pretty unassailable. He is not elected, he is a monarch, and the centralisation that has taken place under the last two Popes has cemented that power. Pope Benedict XVI has also indicated in his three encyclicals the depths of his own integrity and intellectual rigour.

How much knowledge on the Catholic Church does one need to be called an “expert” on it?  How to spell ‘Catholic’?

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Of Christians, Catholics, and Tea Parties (Part I)

In my previous post, I argued at length against both traditionalist Catholic and left-Catholic critiques of American history, and Catholicism’s place within it. Now I believe it is time to shift from the historical to the contemporary. A recent article in Politico by Ben Smith, “Tea parties stir evangelicals’ fears” (which might have been better titled, “Ben Smith seeks to stir evangelicals’ fears”), makes what I consider to be a rather weak attempt to stir the pot and inflame tensions between libertarians and evangelical Christians. You know he’s reaching when he’s hunting down “Christian conservatives” whose primary concern with the tea party is that it is unduly harsh on the noble personal character of President Obama, who, according to one of these evangelical leaders, “provides a tremendously positive role model for tens of millions of African-American men.”

My eyes were rolling so hard I could practically hear them squishing around in their sockets.

The more substantive claim worth addressing is that there is a secular libertarian streak in the tea party movement that is partially or wholly incompatible with the conservative Christian social agenda, which one of the evangelical critics claims has “a politics that’s irreligious”. When Smith was schooled by an article covering a poll that broke down, and dispelled some of the more ridiculous myths about the tea party movement, he continued to maintain that the tensions he pointed out could become problems in the future. So they may.

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From Sweat-shop Workers to Business Owners

The Oregonian features an article on how Chinese workers who spent years working in factories for American brands like Nike and Columbia Sportswear have become a major source of business startups and wealth in China’s rural interior.

WUHU, China — Years after activists accused Nike and other Western brands of running Third World sweatshops, the issue has taken a surprising turn.

The path of discovery winds from coastal factory floors far into China’s interior, past women knee-deep in streams pounding laundry. It continues down a dusty village lane to a startling sight: arrays of gleaming three-story houses with balconies, balustrades and even Greek columns rising from rice paddies.

It turns out that factory workers — not the activists labeled “preachy” by one expert, and not the Nike executives so wounded by criticism — get the last laugh. Villagers who “went out,” as Chinese say, for what critics described as dead-end manufacturing jobs are sending money back and returning with savings, building houses and starting businesses.

Workers who stitched shoes for Nike Inc. and apparel for Columbia Sportswear Co., both based near Beaverton, are fueling a wave of prosperity in rural China. The boom has a solid feel, with villagers paying cash for houses.

“No one would take out a mortgage to build a house,” said Wang Jianguo, 37, who returned after a factory injury in a distant province to the area near Wuhu, west of Shanghai. “You wouldn’t feel secure living in a house you didn’t own.”
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Bart Stupak Challenged From The Left

The latest buzz in the political world is that a pro-choice Democratic woman (to the delight of EMILY’s List most certainly) will challenge pro-life Catholic Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak in the Democratic primary this August. This is most certainly not good news. Typically, a pro-life Democrat can oust a Republican in a general election with less trouble than their pro-choice counterparts. Pro-life Democrats, unfortunately, are particularly vulnerable in Democratic primaries and one can anticipate massive funding from Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List, NARAL, the national Democratic party, and other “pro-choice” pseudofeminist liberals who will certainly blame Stupak for the fate of health care, even if it passes in a “watered down” fashion. Bart Stupak will obviously need pro-life support and it is unconscionable for the pro-life movement to not support his re-election bid for his continued principled stand against health care reform with abortion funding. If you can make a contribution to his campaign, I strongly recommend it.

God Bless America?

If were to ask you what some Catholic traditionalists and some radical leftists had in common, you might be left scratching your head for a few moments. On most matters you wouldn’t expect them to agree on much of anything. But there’s one issue they do tend to converge upon, and that is their take on American history.

When I read some Catholic trad descriptions of American history and Catholicism’s place in it, I find myself wondering if I’d accidentally picked up and began reading something by Charles Beard or Howard Zinn. I’m not associating these tendencies in order to delegitimize the Catholic trad critique – which contains, as do most critiques which catch on with at least some people, elements of truth. But the trad critique, in its shrillness and its refusal to engage historical facts that may falsify or at least cast reasonable doubt upon its substantive claims, deserves to be set alongside the vulgar leftist critique of American history. And bear in mind, I say this as a Catholic trad myself, albeit one who is more of a romanticist than a true reactionary.

I also say it as someone who once bought into this whole idea. As a young man emerging from a long and involved commitment to Marxism, both academic and political, into Catholicism, a religion I had little to do with since the age of 13, I had sort of stumbled upon this narrative on my own. There was still something romantic and alluring about rejecting “Americanism”, now from a Catholic perspective.

After all, the two critiques often make use of a lot of the same themes – a rejection of individualism, of bourgeois Protestant values, a savage critique of the Enlightenment, invocations of slavery and other manifestations of racism and inequality, and perhaps more specific to the Catholic angle, reminders of Freemasonry and the Illuminati (though to be fair, Mozart was a Freemason too, back in the days when it wasn’t yet forbidden by the Church. I don’t think that’s ever stopped a trad from enjoying his Requiem, but I digress).

Now, given the popularity of this critique, not only among trads, but also among the Catholic left, the “peace and justice” crowd – of course, for much different reasons and to much different ends – one would surely expect to find a solid foundation or at least an implied resonance within Church history, tradition, and teaching.

If you hold that expectation, prepare to be utterly disappointed. Or delighted, as the case may be.

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Eucharistic Adoration at Angelicvm

The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, commonly known as the Angelicum, is the Dominican university of Rome and one of the major pontifical universities of the City. Staffed and administered by members of the Order of Preachers, it serves as a focus for the Dominican theological and philosophical tradition among the Roman pontifical universities [1].

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Video courtesy Rome Reports.

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[1] Courtesy Wikipedia.

A Video of Padre Pio Celebrating Mass

One of my most favorite saints, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, or simply Padre Pio, is in this YouTube video I found where he is consecrating the Host.

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Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968), also known as Padre Pio, was a Capuchin priest from Italy. He was born Francesco Forgione, and given the name Pius when he joined the Capuchins, shortened to Pio; he was popularly known as Padre Pio after his ordination to the priesthood.

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Biretta tip to Taylor Marshall of Canterbury Tales.

The State of American Catholicism

A traditional Anglican priest-theologian observing the internal life of the American Catholic Church from the outside commented that American Catholicism is becoming increasingly just another form of Protestant Christianity. This suggestion gave me pause and in fact, for quite some time, this observation has remained in the forefront of my thoughts.

The Anglican clergyman in question observed that the America, as far as he could ascertain, really had no cultural identity. What does it mean to be an American? What exactly are “American values?” There probably are as many answers to this question as there are American people. “We the people…” have never been monolithic in our way of life.

The American political experiment and social ethos is by and large a Protestant experiment. There was never a point where Protestant Christianity had to establish itself against innumerable generations of Catholic intellectual, spiritual, and moral heritage as was the case in Europe. This is a characteristic that is very unique to America, both for good and for ill. Protestant Christians share with Roman Catholics a great deal, but certain Protestant tendencies, for the lack of a better term, such as an emphasis on freedom, individual conscience, self-determination (versus self-discovery), etc, which sets itself against, historically speaking, the authority of the Church with a sola scriptura mentality has imprinted a certain social individualist ethos on the American experiment. This, of course, inevitably affects Catholics living within the United States.

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Married Priests From the First Centuries Practiced Celibacy

The practice of celibacy in the priesthood is apparent in the years following Jesus’ resurrection.  Single priests and priests who were married abstained from sex, of course with approval from their wives. Just as Jesus chose celibacy giving up a family in order to give himself to mankind, priests are called by God to imitate Jesus. In fact, the priest is able to better serve all people because he is more available.

Monsignor Angelo Amato of the Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints states:

“Jesus was chaste, virgin, celibate and he defended it. His virginity distanced him from others, but it’s what made him able to show, compassion and forgiveness to others.”

Thus priests are called by God to imitate Jesus in this discipline.

By the end of the fourth century Pope Saint Siricius pushed for a celibate priesthood in order to maintain continuity with earlier centuries.  Later this became a discipline* in order to carry out the tradition of celibacy, thus priests could not marry in the Catholic Church.

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Video courtesy Rome Reports.

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* The Eastern Orthodox still allow their priests to marry, but they must be so before entering the seminary and are not allowed to become bishops.

Obama Seems Unable to Face Up to Americas Problems

Simon Heffer of London’s Daily Telegraph wrote this timely piece on President Obama’s inability to govern America.  Here are some snippets [emphases mine]:

It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama’s regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president [We can only hope], has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.

“Obama’s big problem,” a senior Democrat told me, “is that four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN.” The Fox network is a remarkable cultural phenomenon which almost shocks those of us from a country where a technical rule of impartiality is applied in the broadcast media [Like the BBC is a bastion of impartiality my left foot]. With little rest, it pours out rage 24 hours a day: its message is of the construction of the socialist state, the hijacking of America by “progressives” who now dominate institutions, the indoctrination of children, the undermining of religion and the expropriation of public money for these nefarious projects. The public loves it, and it is manifestly stirring up political activism against Mr Obama, and also against those in the Republican Party who are not deemed conservatives. However, it is arguable whether the now-reorganising Right is half as effective in its assault on the President as some of Mr Obama’s own party are.

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An Exhibition for the Rebuilding of L’Aquila

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Here is a snippet: The age of these works of art, isn’t the reason they’re deteriorated. Even though they go back a couple centuries, until a year ago, they were still intact. But on April 6th 2009, the ground shook in the Italian city of L’Aquila.

This exhibition doesn’t aim to show the artistic value of the paintings or sculptures rather it’s a metaphor for the damaging consequences of the earthquake.

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Video courtesy of Rome Reports.

My Thoughts on the Guitar Mass

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I have still failed to find anything in the documents of the Second Vatican Council where it said to replace the organ with the guitar.

Its Official, CDF to Investigate Medjugorje

Pope Benedict has appointed Cardinal Ruini to head a commission of inquiry under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje.

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This has been a long time coming and should be comprehensive and decisive.

It has been said that the late Pope John Paul II wanted to believe in the Marian apparitions while Pope Benedict has withheld judgment with reservation. We know Pope Benedict has visited Medjugorje incognito in the past.

Medjugorje has been controversial from the very beginning and it will be interesting to see what the CDF has to say.

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Thank you Rome Reports for the video.

Traditionalism vs. Classical Liberalism on Liberties

One of the continuing trends of agrument, in the insular intellectual cage match which is the political Catholic blogsphere, is whether classical liberalism (of the sort seen in the Scottish Enlightenment and among the founders of the US) is an individualist ideology which is unacceptable from a Catholic point of view.

Something which it strikes me as reasonable to consider in this regard is that classical liberalism, with it’s definition of individual rights, was in many ways a reaction to new trends in Monarchy. The 1600s and 1700s had seen the restraints which tradition, the Church and simple lack of communication and resources had traditionally placed monarchies fade away. Through much of Europe, monarchies became more centralized and absolute, less traditional. In Britain, this (combined with economic and religious tensions) let to the English Civil War, and by the early 1700s English monarchy had been successfully limited and existed essentially at the sufference of Parliament and the liberties of the unwritten English constitution. On the continent, however, the drive towards absolutism continued.
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