Monthly Archives: March 2010
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.
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 .
 Courtesy Wikipedia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.
In response to co-blogger Joshua B’s observations and queries at my other blog, Evangelical Catholicism.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[4 updates at the bottom of this post as of 8:08am CST]
If ObamaCare somehow passes through Congress and signed by President Obama, what can Americans look forward to?
Well the Republican Party’s very own potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney did just that as governor of Massachusetts, passing universal health coverage for the entire state.
The results are mixed at best, and scary at worst.
Here are some highlights from the op-ed titled Romneycare model a dud in the Boston Herald by Michael Graham where Massachusetts is “already glowing in the radioactive haze of Romneycare, aka “ObamaCare: The Beta Version.” [emphases mine]:
Shouldn’t Obama have been bragging yesterday about bringing the benefits of Bay State reform to all of America?
As we prepare to wander into this coming nuclear winter of hyper-partisan politics – one in which we’re almost certain to see widespread political fatalities among congressional Democrats – I have to ask: If bringing Massachusetts-style “universal coverage” to America is worth this terrible price, why doesn’t Obama at least mention us once in awhile?
Maybe he thinks of us as the Manhattan Project of medical insurance reform. Too top secret to discuss. More likely, it has something to do with the nightmare results of this government-run debacle. Here are a few “highlights” of the current status of the Obamacare experiment in Massachusetts:
It’s exploding the budget: Our “universal” health insurance scheme is already $47 million over budget [imagine it in trillions for American tax-payers] for 2010. Romneycare will cost taxpayers more than $900 million next year alone.
It is always nice to see one’s perspectives confirmed by events. In the past I have strongly argued that science and politics are not autonomous or independent from one another. I have always believed that while scientific methods cannot be subject to political control, scientific presentations that do not take political moods into account are as arrogant as they are irrational. The arrogance stems from scientism – the belief that only scientific methodology reveals truth.
What political science – or perhaps, more accurately, political philosophy – teaches is that, following the wisdom of Hobbes, on any matter that touches human interests, there will be political disputes, especially over how data and findings are to be interpreted. Not even physics has been exempt, when we look at the degree to which it was politicized in the USSR and the battle between the “Copenhagen” interpretation of quantum physics and those interpretations preferred by Marxist materialists. And the further one descends from theoretical physics to say, biology, the greater and more politicized the controversies are likely to become.
But there is a vast difference between political control from above, as was exercised by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and political pressure from below, such as that which has been exerted upon the climate scientists of the IPCC. While they, and their most rabid defenders, first reacted to the Climategate scandal with utter contempt for the “denying” or “skeptical” masses, they have now actually admitted that they are culpable for the disaster and are in a far more conciliatory mood – indeed, what else can they do in the wake of scandal after scandal after scandal?
Breaking news as the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America has formally requested to enter the Catholic Church. All 99 parishes and cathedrals!
Here is the complete text [emphases mine]:
Orlando, FL – 1 pm EST – Bp. George Langberg
Released by the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, Traditional Anglican Communion 3 March 2010
We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the “Anglican Use” Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.
At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Reverend Mark Siegel, the Dean of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Orlando, Florida, expressed his desire and excitement in this historic move by a large Anglican body in more or less the following words.
‘I can’t say anything more than what the ACA announcement says, but we are all excited with this first step.’
Biretta tip: Notes on the Culture Wars.
The following is a column posted by Brad Miner of The Catholic Thing on Monday, March 1, 2010 A.D.:
John Timothy McNicholas, Cincinnati’s archbishop from 1925 until 1950, went to a New York convention in 1933 and heard the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Amleto Cicognani (future Vatican Secretary of State), rail against Hollywood’s “massacre” of American moral innocence and call for the “purification of cinema.” McNicholas took the message to heart and founded the Catholic Legion of Decency (CLOD). As TIME magazine reported in 1934, the organization’s mission was simple: the faithful should stay “away from all motion pictures except those which do not offend decency and Christian morality.” So popular did the Legion’s campaign become that Jews and Protestants joined the crusade, and the organization was quickly rechristened the National Legion of Decency.
The Legion’s descriptions of films were exclusively condemnatory; calling only for protests about and boycotts of films deemed impure. And some of the films CLOD listed have been subsequently delisted by its successor, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting. For instance, “Finishing School,” a Thirties production starring Billie Burke, Ginger Rogers, and the too-often ignored Frances Dee, was condemned by CLOD as portraying an “attempted seduction and an accomplished seduction. . . . Protest. . . . Protest. . .” Today, the USCCB rating of the film is A-III, in essence: It’s a quality movie. Go ahead and watch it – you’re grown-ups.
Fr. Augustus Tolton, a man born into slavery who became the first American diocesan priest of African descent, is now being considered for canonization. Cardinal Francis George announced on Monday that the nineteenth century priest’s cause for sainthood has been introduced in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“Many Catholics might not ever have heard of Fr. Augustus Tolton; but black Catholics most probably have,” the Archbishop of Chicago wrote.
Born in Missouri on April 1, 1854, John Augustine Tolton fled slavery with his mother and two siblings in 1862 by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.
“John, boy, you’re free. Never forget the goodness of the Lord,” Tolton’s mother told him after the crossing, according to the website of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Chicago.
The young Tolton entered St. Peter’s Catholic School with the help of the school’s pastor, Fr. Peter McGirr. Fr. McGirr would later baptize him and instruct him for his first Holy Communion. Tolton was serving as an altar boy by the next summer.
The priest asked Tolton if he would like to become a priest, saying it would take twelve years of hard study.
The excited boy then said they should go to church and pray for his success.