Lessons to Learn

Sunday, October 30, AD 2011

As we observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is all too easy in studying battles, strategies, emancipation, political conflicts, etc., to lose sight of the fact that those going through this immense struggle were individuals like us.  The video above, with photos of Confederate soldiers, helps remind us of what just an immense tragedy the Civil War was for the loved ones of every soldier who fell in that war.  Virtually every soldier was loved by some one, and usually many people:  parents, siblings, friends, other relatives, and a wife or girlfriend.  It is fitting and proper that we study the war, but we must never lose sight of the human suffering behind what we study.  Many of the men in the photos in the video above doubtless died of illness or battlefield wounds far from family and loved ones.  It is for us to draw meaning from why they fought and what they died for.

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6 Responses to Lessons to Learn

  • You can’t say civilization don’t advance… in every war they kill you in a new way.
    Will Rogers

  • Well, Joe what I would say for the generation that fought the Civil War is that their conflict ended slavery and we haven’t had a civil war since nor had a serious secession movement since. Some lessons I think were learned from that conflict. Ironically European militiaries failed to learn fairly straight forward military lessons from the Civil War, including the impact of easy to load long range rifles on tactics, or the trench warfare of Petersburg, both of which presaged World War I.

  • Fifty years ago when I was ten years old, Irish-American relatives in Pennsylvania sent me a pack of facsimile documents relating to American history. Among these was Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I had of course heard of the battle and the American Civil War – thanks to Hollywood, English boys of my age knew more about this war than our own more remote fratricidal conflict. I was so impressed with the language and the sentiments expressed that I learned it off by heart.

    If the PrayTell blog is anything to go by, a large number of Catholics in the USA (and it seems in Ireland as well) are up in arms about the new translation of the Roman Missal, even going so far as to claim the language is not English, or if it is, it is not comprehensible to the man in the street. I know that most of the critics have other axes to grind, but I wonder what they think of Lincoln’s celebrated rhetoric? ” … we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground.” This sort of rhetorical flourish occurs in the Latin of the Roman Canon, and is now rendered into English; “… these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices …” and “… this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim …” to give two examples. What is it about this that makes liberals foam at the mouth? And what would Lincoln’s address sound like if it were written by Obama or his speechwriters?

  • John I truly believe that the current translation we are working under had to be banal by intent, since I do not think it possible that it could have been rendered so painfully prosaic, and at the same time inaccurate, by accident! Liberals within the Church, at least most of them, often have a vampire-cross reaction to anything that in any way, shape or form departs from what was given birth to in the immediate wake of Vatican II. History of the Church starts for them in 1965 and ends around 1975.

    Note that Lincoln could write so beautifully and yet with such concision. Today most politicians use endless words with no grace, usually to conceal rather than to illuminate.

  • Don, had the Founders true foresight they would have picked their own cotton and never imported any slaves. Both races would have been better off.

  • Slavery existed Joe for over 150 years in the North American colonies before 1776. It was a well-established institution. The big cotton plantations were in the future Joe in 1776, thanks to the cotton gin and new lands, with fresh soil, opening up in the Southwest, which gave new life to what seemed to be an institution on its way out, North and South, during the Revolutionary era.

8 Responses to Nothing New Under the Sun

  • The girl ate hamburg meat with her hands in a restaurant with utensils, because Rockford held his hamburger in the traditional manner?
    The guy didn’t even scratch his name off the list when he was informed and laughing along, just checked for safety in numbers of names?
    Well, what’s new is the display of support by admin. for OWS. That’s good, no question there.

  • Ecclesiastes Chap 1: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. […] And, behold all is vanity, and vexation of spirit. The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite.”

  • Been there.

    Back in the early 1990s, a girlfriend got into the Amnesty International movement and asked me to help with the letter writing campaign. Every month, a newsletter would come with lists of political prisoners and contact information for the persecuting country’s offices in the US. You write a little letter, along the lines of the recommended text, stamp it, and send it.

    I probably sent fifty letters that year with no more information about the victims than their name, date of incarceration, and country. Then the annual booklet came in the mail.

    This was a sort of master list with all of their long-term prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. It was arragned by country and I was surprised to see a section for the US. Therein was Mumia Abdul Jamal – the notorious cop killer.

    I realized that, if Mumia is on their list, there were certainly many other people on their list are actually justly incarcerated. Mumia is no more a political prisoner than Manson. I had been ridiculously petitioning other governments to release prisoners that I knew almost nothing about.

    I never wrote another letter for Amnesty. Fool me once…

  • Some pretty girls G-Veg can get guys involved in some pretty dumb causes!

  • Re: Amnesty International, the corruption of human rights organizations has been an unhappy fact of the age, though I am surprised that Amnesty was so blatant that many years ago.

  • For more informtion visit the Dihydrogen Monoxide website.

6 Responses to Shenandoah

I Am Shocked! Shocked!!!

Friday, October 28, AD 2011

Hattip to Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.  I know that this will come as a vast surprise, but apparently there are grifters and con artists among the Occupy Wall Street minions:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.

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18 Responses to I Am Shocked! Shocked!!!

  • So Beret Barbie and Populist Ken don’t want to mingle with the genuinely marginalized. Well, you know how it is; the homeless might interfere with the Ipad signals.

  • “We need to limit the amount of food we’re putting out” to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer.

    Many of those being fed “are professional homeless people. They know what they’re doing,” said the guard at the food-storage area.

    “Professional” homeless people? WTH????

    I am not surprised by any of this because I realized long ago what the left is really made of, and of course there has been a fair amount of mocking of the OWS by average people due to their ignorance, hypocrisy, or lack of common sense….but some things are so crass and awful that they shock your sensibilities and challenge what hope you have for mankind.

  • These people just don’t get it?

    Their actions have consequences and they refuse to see reality for what it is.

    If Obama loses, I won’t be surprised if these Occupy Wall Streeters go all-Greek on the American People. . . barbecuing cars, breaking windows, and throwing Molotov cocktails at the police.

  • I’ve seen the encampments here at McPherson Square near the White House and also in downtown Baltimore. What’s striking – aside from their pathetically small size – is just how nice their tents are. Seriously, these people have some fine camping gear. Which makes them all even a bit more repulsive as they dwell in comfort while the truly needy continue to sleep outside and get sneered at by these phonies.

  • from the Post story:
    “A team of 10 security volunteers moved in to the trouble-prone southwest section of Zuccotti Park in a show of force to confront them.

    “We’re not going to let some members of this community destroy the whole movement,” a volunteer said.

    Some arguments broke out as the security team searched tents — but no violence erupted.”

    Gee, warrantless searches by self-appointed vigilantes, where’s the ACLU?

    Btw, here is OSW’s Forum discussion of the issue:

  • The problem is right-wing infiltrators and tea party sabateurs giving a bad name to altruistic anarchists and caring college kids . . .

    All in all, I fell better! I only (nine hours not 18 hours a day!) have to work from January through May to provide for profesional hiomeless people, ex-cons and politicians.

  • ok – sometimes it is easy to define something in the early stages by something it is not…

    Are we suggesting here that that the wall street movement is trying to be a new government … should they feed people who need feeding… should they provide education ….. should they be providing healthcare ….. is this what they are trying to do?
    .. develop systems where the government is failing to provide?

    I don’t think this is the direction they are trying to head …. maybe I have got it all wrong…..

  • Ya know, it probably won’t be long before the General Assembly establishes the Committee of Public Safety to deal with these enemies of the Revolution.

  • Super rich income gained 275% in past 3 decades.
    Little guy (99 percenters) gained 20% ” ” ” ”

    Despite the goons, the unwashed, the “professional” agitators, the commies, et al, cannot anyone on TAC doubt there are ordinary working people on there protesting the inequities spawned by American-style greed?


  • Joe, yes there are some. They’re called the Tea Party, and they don’t see unequal outcomes as inequity, but they don’t think their tax monies should be used to bail out CEOs, financiers, and over-extended families while they delay gratification, live within their means and play by the rules. To the extent they and the Occupiers see some of the same inequities, their remedy differs: the Occupiers want the bailouts to be extended to them; whereas the Tea Partiers want to stop the bailouts altogether.

    Finally, while there is no doubt plenty of greed today, I doubt folks were less greedy in the past. I suspect the subtextual concern most animating the Occupier movement is the dearth of well-paying jobs in occupations that many terribly indebted college graduates are interested in. Note two phenom here: first, many of these people want employment in occupations that they would find interesting and rewarding, and are not really interested in learning a craft or skill in an area they would find unfulfilling; and they are saddled with enormous debt due to the high cost of college education, which ironically was driven by government guaranteed loans. I strongly suspect that without our generous government guaranteed loan system the cost of higher education today would be substantially less than one-half what it is.

  • We’ve got the Occupy bunch over here too – in Auckland its Aotea Square, and in Dunedin its the Octogon. But most of the tents are empty at night – the “occupiers” go home at night and return early in the morning – there are only a few that stay overnight, and they’re a relatively small rag-tag group anyway. Druggies (the scent of Mary Jane is quite propnounced) professional homeless and generally jobless losers.

    They’ve made their point, but now don’t know what to do next. We have national elections here in 4 weeks, and the lefty politicians who intially vocalised support for them are now backing away from them.

    Should do what the Aussies did in Sydney – gave them an ultimatum, and then moved them out.
    Just a pack of bludgers.

  • Don the Kiwi,

    Congrats on the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup! It was aired on US TV Sunday afternoon.

    Tough match! Those men had to be ringers, not real French . . .

    Hello, Joe! Keep the faith, sir.

    I know a lot of ordinary working stiffs. Most are either working or looking for work, and have no time for tantrums.

    The media has been libeling/slandering the Tea Party since day-one.

    Tea Party protests: 989 days
    OWS protests: 40 days

    Tea Party arrests: 0
    OWS arrests: 2,511

    Tea Party Rapes: 0
    OWS Rapes: Four

    Tea Party: Bathers
    OWS: Stink

    Is the product of 70 years of unionized, public education proles taught what to think, not how to think?

    There could have been a ton more OWS whiners if their hippy parents weren’t heavy into abortion, birth control and weed.

  • Joe-
    here is the study, which is of households. our very own Darwin did a post on the topic; if you’d like, here is a page that has household income by number both of members and of earners. All except the “seven or more members” folks have risen significantly. If you’d like to look at individuals, there are tables here.

    Short version, there’s a HUGE difference between a population where almost nobody moves out to live alone, where most families are two-parent, where sports and movies don’t make enough to pay out the kind of money we see these days, where it’s still fairly normal for grandparents to live with their kids and even have jobs above the table vs today. (My aunt was a single mother about that time– she lived with her parents. Not sure how common that was in big towns, though.)

    (I wish I could say I am just so dang good that I had this stuff at my fingertips… but in a conversation with an #OWS supporter I had reason to look it all up. At which point I was informed that any source that had the word “Catholic” involved was a “church blog” and thus hypocritical, gossiping, based on ad homen and clearly a Pharisee. No, the person didn’t know what all those words they were using meant.)

  • I seem to remember that there was a much better take-down of the claim lately, but blast me if I can find it. >.<

  • It would be interesting to learn where there average American or OWS protester would rank in terms of income compared to the rest of the world. OWS seems to have a lot of union support, I would imagine that they’re at least in the top 10% compared to the 90% of the world. I suspect it would have probably been higher a few decades ago before the various parts of the Second and Third World starting experiencing sound economic growth.

    Of course there are no complaints being tweeted from OWS that it is unfair that some people have can afford an iphone and the related service charges from expendable while others have a hard time finding a grub in the soil to eat.

  • I swear I’ve gone full blown dyslexic or something with all the dropped or extra words. Maybe I’m just a moron…

  • Oh, that 1%.
    We, the 99%, are expected to share our good food donations from somewhere and nice tent squatter accomodations with those no count %’s. They probably don’t even have loans to boot. They don’t even have tents. What is this outrage in our midst?

    When we get what we want, we won’t have any part of those no count %’s. Let us eat cake like the 1% – oh, their greed and good stuff we wouldn’t be so inclined to share with no count %’s or those losers who just earn what money they can for food and shelter doing available lowdown jobs they don’t even like because they have no idea what is fair.

    Bail outs, that’s the ticket. We’ll by cake and more. Oh, those no count %’s better not ruin things with hunger and need for community. This worthwhile 99% is not like them.

So Why Go There?

Thursday, October 27, AD 2011

Here’s an issue near and dear to my heart as an alum of CUA:

The Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights confirmed that it is investigating allegations that Catholic University violated the human rights of Muslim students by not allowing them to form a Muslim student group and by not providing them rooms without Christian symbols for their daily prayers.

The investigation alleges that Muslim students “must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate.”

As one of the commenters at the news source said, isn’t this like going to a strip club and being offended by the nudity?  These students didn’t enroll at a Catholic university, they enrolled at The Catholic University of America.  Pretty hard to miss that in the title of the institution, don’t you think?   Fr. Z puts it this way:

Lemme get this straight. They enroll in a Catholic University… and it isn’t a surprise that it is “Catholic” given that it is called “Catholic University of America”. Then they complain that there are Catholic symbols everywhere!

When I was a grad student there I knew a good number of law students.  This was during the time when Doug Kmiec was Dean of the law school and still cared about his faith.  He had instituted a mandatory course requirement that, if I recall correctly, was called Catholic Legal Ethics.  It may had a slightly different name, but it was something along those lines.  My non-Catholic friends complained about the course and being forced to take it.  My response: you’re attending the Catholic University of America law school.  Did you miss  that name when you applied?

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9 Responses to So Why Go There?

  • Not allowing the Muslims to form a student group, if true, is disappointing. As for the other issue, there are probably plenty of rooms at CUA that could fulfill the requirements of Muslims wanting to pray, so I’m surprised this is an issue at all.

  • And this is a surprise? Unexpected?

  • I don’t see why they should allow muslims groups at all on rational…not legal grounds. The Koran explicitly condemns the idea of a Trinity and the idea that God has a Son. So you are providing facilities for a group that explicitly opposes your theology. Of course it doesn’t help their legal case that they’ve had three “lavender graduations” for the campus gay/bi/transgendered group there….despite Romans chapter one. So a judge might rule that the University opposes itself….so why not have other opposers of yourself on campus opposing you.

  • There just aren’t enough bullets.

  • All of this is typical Muslim behavior. There is no rationale not because they are not trying to be reasonable, they are trying to intimidate. Are they really offended? Maybe, but maybe not. “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘War is deceit.'” Qur’an 4:142. If *one* symbol is removed in the name of Christian charity, that is seen as victory by them. Then they will battle on a new front.

    This behavior which is typical of Muslims must be exposed whether or not they are allowed to form some kind of group.

  • I must apologize. CUA does not have Lavender graduations….that is Georgetown that has them. Sorry….it just hit me minutes ago. Sorry CUA alums.

  • “Banzhaf sent a letter to the editor of the school’s newspaper soliciting complainants on September 22, yet readily admits that none have signed on to his case against the school.”

    So in answer to Pauli’s question, it appears that the Muslim students are NOT really offended at all. This is just one sue-happy attorney peddling a “solution” in search of a problem.

  • Pauli owes someone an apology.

Gutless Wonders, Petty Tyrants and Chancery Dwellers.

Thursday, October 27, AD 2011

For years I have read daily Ten Reasons, a blog run by Rich Leonardi.  Orthodox and well written, Ten Reasons was always illuminating and well worth reading.  Now Rich has shut down his blog.  The reason why he did so has me so angry that I am afraid that I cannot do a post on the subject using only language fit for a family blog.  Instead, here is what the ever eloquent Dale Price had to say about this at Dyspeptic Mutterings:

Gutless wonders, petty tyrants and chancery dwellers.

But I repeat myself. Yes, I know there are good folks laboring in the bureaucratic halls of the Church–this isn’t directed at you. As for the rest of you…

The rector of the Cincinnati seminary managed to successfully retaliate against Rich Leonardi, long-time Catholic blogger extraordinaire and pointed, but usually civil, critic of the manifold problems of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Rich was booted off the Son Rise Morning Show in retaliation for his criticism.

Here’s the message he sent me in response to a query on Facebook:

To net it out, the seminary rector reached out to the head of the Son Rise Morning Show to have me thrown off the program. I called him out on it, and a pissing contest ensued. I shut down my site and intend to withdraw from public Catholic life.

In the meantime, Ken Overberg will continue to deny the Atonement from the pulpit, and Paul Knitter will air his doubts about the salvific significance of Christ and the historicity of the Resurrection, both undisturbed in the sanctuary of Xavier University. Because doing something about *them* would take a set of clockweights, the willingness to endure media hostility and the turning of a deaf ear to the squalling of local progressives.

Squashing a layman who criticizes the local leadership? You can do that in a snap and still have plenty of time to enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with lunch. To applause from “the right people,” to boot.


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25 Responses to Gutless Wonders, Petty Tyrants and Chancery Dwellers.

  • I was at Rich’s site yesterday morning, before the uproar — I’m glad I got in one last visit before he took it down. Here is his comment that was, apparently, the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that Cincinnati just won’t stand for:

    “He (Archbishop Schnurr) deserves our respect — and prayers — by virtue of his office. But respect does not mean unthinking obeisance. His Excellency seems to be under the impression that he was elevated to Seminary Rector-in-Chief. Very few aspects of archdiocesan life away from Beechmont Avenue get his attention, and he appears content to let his cabal of inherited malcontents in the chancery set policy.”

    Simply beyond the pale! Using words like “cabal” and “malcontents”, and careless tossing out phrases such as, “He deserves our respect — and prayers — by virtue of his office.” Heaven forbid the faithful should be misled by that sentiment.

    We’ll miss your eloquent, incisive, and forceful commentary, Rich. I hope you’ll be blogging again soon.

  • Yeah, I think I got one of the final comments in before Rich had to shut it down. Absolutely infuriating that Rich is kicked off the air while nothing happens to these malcontents.

  • Thanks for passing along the information. Not knowing exactly what transpired in the pissing contest, I will reserve judgment to some extent, but I will drop Rich a note to let him know that I will miss his blog. It has always been for me an important source of news from my hometown diocese.

  • It’s times like this that I have to remind myself that the ONLY reason I’m here is to receive my Lord – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. And to do that, in most instances, DESPITE the cabal of bozos, wimps, bureaucrats, charlatans, dissenters, hypocrites, and pederasts (and a good many truly holy people, as well) the Lord in His infinite wisdom has entrusted to provide me that opportunity.

  • …anybody have Rich’s email address?

  • I think I just invoked Anderson’s Law (inspired my Rich’s blog, by the way), but what the hell.

  • I’ve got Rich’s email. If you want to drop me a line, I’ll send it to you. A link to my email is in the right-hand sidebar on my blog.

  • Wait, does this mean he stops blogging about music, too?

    Post-punk Cincinnati, we hardly knew ye.

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  • I’ll be e-mailing The SonRise Morning Show this morning, along with our local Catholic radio station, to let them know they’ve lost me as a listener. I’ll also mention that this Sunday I’ll be mentioning this in the announcements in my two parishes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  • First rate Father Frank!

    Mrs. D I envy your talent for ironic acerbic observation!

    Paul, when it comes to many of the powers that be in regard to the Church in America those who reveal the abuses are the problem and not those who commit the abuses.

    Bearing, that is one reason why I enjoyed Rich’s blog because it was a very interesting up close look at one diocese by someone who had developed an immense knowledge of it over the years.

    Jay, we will out last them and so will the Church.

    HA, a tragedy on many levels!

  • What is most distressing about this is that Rich has long been quite spirited. Must keep him and his family in mind.

  • Very sad. I wish he would fight back. By the way, I doubt that the chancery types drink Cabernet. I suspect it’s more like Chardonnay.

  • How long will it take, how often must it be said, that our bishops have succumbed to the Arian heresy? Jesus is a nice guy but not God. One can compromise nicely [I have still not figured out how one can compromise on abortion]; we should all make nice; there is no evil in the world; there is no hell afterwards; confession is not necessary; and so on.

    There is the core of the problem. Perhaps while welcoming the Anglicans and Episcopalians who wish to join the Church, we can invite so many of our bishops and their cohorts to join the Episcopalians with their gay and female bishops.

    Paul VI was not making a poetic statement when he observed that the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.

  • In Duluth, Bishop Schnurr was admired for his rectitude and orthodoxy. What happened? Has he been contaminated in Cincinnati by his predecessor? What say you who live in Cinci?

  • William, while Bishop Schnurr has made some progress (and I do not live in the Diocese of Cincinnati), it may be too much to ask to have everything made “right” ASAP. However, if vocations are growing there, he may be taking a closer look at the seminarians and their development, which may prove to be fruitful in the long run.

  • No Scott Cabernet would be accurate.

  • Ding dong the rich is done, the mean old rich the wicked rich ding dong the wicked rich is done. The hard working faith filled chancery staff can continue their faithful work for their shepherd without misinformed criticism

  • Well, it’s certainly nice to know the maturity level of Rich’s critics…

  • I would have responded to Gabriel sooner Darwin, but I assumed that he was trying to do a parody of the people who would rejoice in what happened to Rich. If his comment was meant seriously, then it is merely a sad commentary on Gabriel.

  • “Faithful work for their shepherd?” Like luncheons with Hamas-link groups?

    You’ve got to read the Bible. Hint: TRUTH wins in the end!

  • Starve the beast. If those in the pews each week or even daily simply stop giving funds until this type of problem stops, the leadership will be forced to clean out the diocese office of those with solid ties to the party of death using social justice issues as a ploy to keep abortion alive. Stop giving unless a specific need is identified in the parish school or church and then make sure it can only be used for that purpose whatever that takes. While those who seldom attend mass each week seem to be pacified in this diocese, the faithful who truly support the Church are being used a suckers. Starve the beast if you want change. I know because I have tried everything under the sun for most of my 77 years in this diocese from the time of Bernardin. But the suckers keep giving and they keep supporting all dissent. You have to make them squeal.

    As to Rich, he should get up off his but and go to work to fight this effort by Satan to shut him up. In fact, he should redouble his efforts.

    As to the sunrise show and the local radio station, I have stopped giving and let them know why. I thought that this was a good bet for donations, but now I see the evil tenacles wrapped around their neck.

  • man with black hat: Another Day at Tyburn Tree

    “The real losers in this affair are the faithful of the Archdiocese. They have the right under canon law — indeed, the duty — ‘to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.’ (212 §3) It will not be enough to act within the bounds of prudence and charity. Those who intimidated Rich into being ostracized now have a new weapon. They are not afraid to use it …”

    (Note to William: Cincinnati is not Duluth.)

  • As to Rich, he should get up off his but

    He has six kids and a job that requires he travel hither thither and yon. His efforts are strictly and properly at his discretion.

  • I too will miss greatly the musings of Rich both in Cincinnati and Rochester. Bishops make mediocre friends and fearsome enemies. Their staffs have long memories and public humiliation is largely the norm. Most professional “Catholics” are tied to the Chancery and lack all objectivity; running for cover at the first whiff of episcopal objection. Too bad, on the whole, Rich was one of the more balanced and astute commentators out there.

October 27, 1964: A Time For Choosing

Thursday, October 27, AD 2011

Ronald Reagan launched his political career with this speech 47 years ago on behalf of Republican Presidential Nominee Barry Goldwater.  Goldwater went on to be clobbered in November by Lyndon Johnson, but the reaction to Reagan’s speech by conservatives was overwhelmingly positive.  In 1966 Reagan ran for and won the Governorship of California.  14 years later he was elected President of the United States.  Reagan had a relatively brief political career, and it all started with The Speech as this address has gone down in history.  Here is the text of the speech:

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Help for Expectant Mothers

Thursday, October 27, AD 2011

So often we hear stories about how expectant mothers abort children with diagnosed birth defects.   As awful as abortion is in its own right, it’s terrifying to think that it is being used for eugenic purposes, whether people realize it or not.  Yet, we can’t fully blame parents who believe they have no other recourse.

There are outlets available for parents in such difficult situations, and I just learned of one yesterday.  Isaiah’s Promise, as stated on its webpage, provides “support for parents continuing their pregnancy after a poor or fatal diagnosis.” It is a support place to ontact for guidance through the hard decisions about what to do with a poor diagnosis.

They have very limited resources, as their rather bone-thin website indicates.  So please take a look at the site and see if there’s any help you can provide, either with manpower or with financial donations. Or, if nothing else, if you know of someone in this situation let them know about this resource.

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2 Responses to Help for Expectant Mothers

BOMFOG & Towards Reforming the International Financial & Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority

Thursday, October 27, AD 2011

Well, I have had an opportunity to review the latest musings of the pontifical counsel for justice and peace.  My overall reaction is the same as the famous comment that a Professor once put on a term paper.  “This paper is good and original.  Unfortunately where it is good it is not original, and where it is original it isn’t good.”  On to the fisk!

“The world situation requires the concerted effort of everyone, a thorough examination of every facet of the problem – social, economic, cultural and spiritual. The Church, which has long experience in human affairs and has no desire to be involved in the political activities of any nation, ‘seeks but one goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth; to save, not to judge; to serve, not to be served.’”

So far so good.
With these words, in the prophetic and always relevant Encyclical Populorum Progressio of 1967, Paul VI outlined in a clear way “the trajectories” of the Church’s close relation with the world. These trajectories intersect in the profound value of human dignity and the quest for the common good, which make people responsible and free to act according to their highest aspirations.

The last sentence reminds me of a phrase that Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches:  “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!”  His aides used to refer to it as BOMFOG.  The more high-falutin the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within.




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25 Responses to BOMFOG & Towards Reforming the International Financial & Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority

  • We have better economics experts chanting in Belgium. There are 15 Trappist monks at Rochefort brewery located inside the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy, near the town of Rochefort, a brewery brewing beer since 1595. They charge over $6 a bottle….a bottle!
    I bought two by mistake. I can only say this…before I drank a bottle, I could not play the Conga drum…and now I can…and Santana’s people want to talk to my people about an upcoming concert.
    These monks will brew and make rediculous margins for another 400 years God willing. Let them write about economics. They give excess profits to charities while many monasteries are charities. Let THEM write about financial matters. St. Benedict’s rule said that abbots must listen to the least brethern because God sometimes chooses to speak through the least brethern as his messengers. Let the 15 smiling monks from Belgium speaketh on finance. Margins north of 1500% cannot speaketh wrongly.

  • “Good and Original.” I think I literally laughed out loud at that. Kudos! Best analysis I’ve read so far and I’ve read a ton of ’em (including Shea.)

  • Than you Paul and Brian.

    Bill, brew master monks could hardly do worse as economic analysts.

    Thank you Tim for the link to Mark Shea. As always, Mark’s comments were colorful and interesting, although I sometimes suspect that if the Vatican issued an edict that all Catholics were to paint their bottoms yellow, Mark’s response would be to ask what shade.

  • I’m not sure it’s beneficial to fisk this document. I think its value is found in its broad policy approaches, not in each individual sentence or paragraph. I have my problems understanding this document, particularly in the first section, but I don’t think your approach is the right way to work though it. It tends to make each sentence a point of contention.

    I think they’re supporting something more organic than a new supranational authority. Individual sentences emphasize that to varying degrees. I think they could have calmed some people’s nerves by talking more about the trade agreements that have been developed in recent years than by citing the UN model.

  • “It might have been a good idea here to explain why an organ of the Church has any competence to give advice on “reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority”.  When I wish to read a good examination of the dogma of the Assumption I normally do not turn to bankers, economists or politicians.”

    So for a competent response we turn to a… lawyer? 😉

    Kidding aside, Don, I value statements like this — even when I disagree with aspects of them, as I do in this case — because they demonstrate that the principles we hold to as Catholics have ramifications in *every* aspect and dimension of human life and activity. They show that Catholicism extends beyond Sunday mornings into all that we are and do, and I’ll take that, even if it means that aspects of the text may not always be on target. If nothing else, this document might prompt a conversation about what a thoroughly Catholic financial & monetary system might look like. Unfortunately, the bulk of the responses aren’t engaging in that sort of response, but given that the document is less than a week old, I guess that’s to be expected.

  • “what a thoroughly Catholic financial & monetary system might look like. ”

    I suspect Chris that this document is much more beholden to ideas commonly found in the ditzier extreme ends of European socialism than it is from ideas that have deep roots in Catholicism. I think documents like this that attempt to rebrand such ideas with a Catholic stamp of approval are simply wrongheaded. When Vatican bureaucrats venture into realms where they obviously lack any expertise at all, their proposals are subject to the give and take of normal debate that proposals from a secular source would receive, and I am glad that thus far this vapid document is receiving the rugged reception it so richly deserves.

  • A couple thoughts, Don:

    1. Cardinal Turkson is African, not European, and as far as I know, he’s not a socialist of any stripe.

    2. I have no problem with a give & take over this document, and I bet Turkson doesn’t either; my point as noted above is that most of the responses thus far focus more on fisking than on the heavy lifting of setting forth an alternative vision.

  • I doubt if Turkson wrote a word of the document Chris, other than the intro, although if he wishes to claim pride, if I may use that term in connection with this document, of authorship for other sections I will stand corrected. I believe that one of the major authors was probably Professor Leonardo Becchetti. Father Z has all the gory details about this gentleman who is definitely a European and most definitely a socialist:



    The alternative vision is capitalism Chris, and no world financial authority and no world government. However that is not really a competing vision but simply reality. This document on the other hand will never get past the com box analysis state, although if I could observe it from a safe distance, say in another solar system, I wouldn’t mind seeing what would happen if an attempt were made to implement it.

  • We have this world God gave us.

    And, it’s the peace and justice department’s job to make this one world we have from God the best they can make it.

    And, it’s not enough that each day we work and do the worldly things to fund the government and its dependents; and they are so liberal as to allow us use the gleanings to provide for our families and keep body and soul together . . .

  • “The alternative vision is capitalism Chris, and no world financial authority and no world government. However that is not really a competing vision but simply reality.”

    The following might be the basis for a forthcoming post on this, but I as I was thinking more about this, Don, I was reminded of Alan Greenspan, who spent his career trying to implement a Randian/libertarian/laissez-faire approach to regulation, i.e. as little as possible, only — after the collapse of ’08 — to startlingly assert that he was wrong.

    We’re fallen beings, and as such, no system is or can be perfect, and hence some checks & balances are necessary. [Yes, regulation can go overboard, but I’m not worried about my fellow TAC’ers advocating over-regulation. :-)] But laissez-faire is exactly what we have now at the global level, isn’t it? How are we going to regulate, then? That’s not a rhetorical question… a wild-west approach elsewhere in the world can have significant repercussions elsewhere, including here. So how do we check & balance things as is?

  • “But laissez-faire is exactly what we have now at the global level, isn’t it?”

    No. Governmental interventions wreak havoc with markets and the free flow of goods and services continually. We are indeed fallen beings living in a fallen world, and that is precisely why allowing government to exercise control and regulation of business is a very bad idea. Government officials are just as fallen, some would say usually somewhat more fallen 🙂 , as the rest of us and putting too much power in the hands of one group usually ends in disaster. Just as I want government to keep its hands of religion, I also want government to almost always keep its hands off business.

  • Why do you trust big business more than big government, Don? I’m just as suspicious of the one as of the other.

    Am I to take it that you disagree with Greenspan’s change of heart, and that he was right before?

  • I trust neither big government nor big business Chris, and I must say I have been vastly disappointed over the years by various big Churchmen also. Since I have a fair amount of distrust of humans in general when given large amounts of power, I think it is a very bad idea to allow one group to exercise too much power and that is precisely what happens when we look to government to regulate and supervise business. I trust them no more to do that then I would trust them to regulate and supervise religion.

    In regard to Alan Greenspan whose opinions tend to be all over the lot these days, if he thinks that more regulation of business by government would be helpful to the economy than I do disagree with him.

  • I’m glad we both agree that big is never good, Don, but how do you envision we “check” business’s inexorable desire to acquire more power? Teddy Roosevelt comes to mind as someone unafraid to do just that.

    As to Greenspan, he’s certainly more competent than you or I when it comes to economic matters, and he said that deregulation was partly to blame for the ’08 collapse, in particular deregulation of the financial markets.

    Google [alan greenspan I was wrong] for the October ’08 congressional hearing in which he distressingly acknowledges that fact. Some quotes from the hearing:

    “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”

    In response to this question, “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?” he said, “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

    I’m repeating myself now, and I also know I’m not telling you anything you, TAC’s resident historian, don’t already know when I point out that one of the geniuses of our political system is the numerous checks & balances which (ought to) prevent any branch or faction from gaining undue power. Things aren’t any different in economics than in politics.

  • The facts are opposite of the above comment: “Alan Greenspan, who spent his career trying to implement a Randian/libertarian/laissez-faire approach . . . ”

    I know basically nothing about philosophy or theology.

    The committee for peace and justice know that much about banking and finance.

    The economic collapse precipitated by the 1990’s to 2000’s real estate boom/bust could not have occurred without government (the Fed monkeying with rates and money supply, FDIC insurance providing for unlimited funds, the Long Term Credit Management bail-out precedent, HUD, FNMA, FHLMC, CRA, etc.) interference and misallocating financial resources.

    Point of information: As Fed Res. Bd. of Governors Chairman, Alan Greenspan used open market operations (the Fed buying or selling huge amounts of US Treasury securities to keep market interest rate in the desired range)and kept rates too low too long so as to keep the DJIA and stock indexes up and foster economic activity. In the 1980’s Greenspan was a “hired gun”, er, expert witness before Congress for the S&L industry. He was equally on the wrong side of that massive fuster cluck, which also could not have occurred without government.

  • T.,

    Greenspan was a devotee of Rand’s philosophy; I agree that his policy decisions impacted the market by keeping rates too low and hence paving the way for a bubble (at least), but that doesn’t change the fact that when it came to the regulation of the financial markets, he was a strong advocate of deregulation. And one of the major factors which led to the ’08 collapse was the derivatives markets, which were largely unregulated, and Greenspan explicitly preferred it that way.

    By the way, how do you know what the PCPJ does or doesn’t know about banking & finance? Why is there this presumption that they know any less about it that all the fiskers out there, most of whom have no professional background in these industries either? George Weigel, for instance, has no formal expertise on many of the matters he writes on, yet many people — myself included — value his input all the same. I take the same approach with those individuals entrusted by a figure such as Pope Benedict with their respective responsibilities.

  • if he thinks that more regulation of business by government would be helpful to the economy than I do disagree with him.

    The question is ‘what are you regulating?’ and ‘where?’. Superintending common property resources and allocating costs from externalities are public functions. How intelligently it is done is on a spectrum. Intellectual property registration is likewise a public function. The absence of perfect information among consumers, the presence of externalities, and tilted playing fields and information deficits in workplaces make some sort of health and safety regulation advisable; the question that arises is how to get the most bang for the buck among the variety of instrument which promote health and safety.

    You had several wretched problems in the fall of 2008: institutions erected to rapidly resolve bank failures were either ill-equipped (or lacked any legal authority) to tackle the sort of institutions which were failing; the bloody credit default swaps made the boundaries around institutional failure even more uncertain than is usually the case with financial firms; disjunctions between the practice of bankruptcy law in the U.S. and Europe impeded the settlement of Lehman Bros. It seems not quite right to speak of ‘more’ or ‘less’ regulation, rather than regulation insufficiently current to address financial innovations.

  • “It seems not quite right to speak of ‘more’ or ‘less’ regulation, rather than regulation insufficiently current to address financial innovations.”

    I’d agree with that, Art. Greenspan didn’t though, as his opposition to “modernizing” regulations for the new derivatives market made clear.

  • “I’m glad we both agree that big is never good, Don, but how do you envision we “check” business’s inexorable desire to acquire more power? ”

    By keeping business from controlling government which is a far easier task than keeping government from controlling business. I might also note that the more government meddles with the economy, the more incentive there is for businesses to seek to have a voice in government. The higher the regulation of business, the greater the involvement of government officials and business men and women conspiring together as a result. Imagine the lobbyists that the Church would be paying for if each year the Church had to fear some new legislation that would impact its operations in this country. (However, come to think of it, that is precisely what the Obama administration is seeking to do now in regard to forcing Church affiliated groups to pay for contraceptive coverage. The movement in several states, including Illinois, to mandage that any groups involved in adoptions not “discriminate” against homosexual parents is effectively driving Catholic Charities out of helping to facilitate adoptions. A government big enough to seek to minutely regulate business will always be overstepping its bounds.)

  • “It seems not quite right to speak of ‘more’ or ‘less’ regulation, rather than regulation insufficiently current to address financial innovations.”

    I am not a libertarian Art and some regulation of business will always be needed, but regulations often stay forever whether they make sense or not. A prime current example is the mandating that all health insurance policies provide certain types of coverage. Traditionally this type of regulation has been done by state government. Lately this type of regulation has grown so onerous in some states that insurance companies have simply pulled out of the states.
    The best regulation of any business enterprise is to simply allow it to succeed or fail in the market. Today government regulation is an impediment to new businesses entering the fray while favored enterprises, those “too large to fail”, experience government as a deus ex machina to bail them out. Both these developments constitute a severe drag on the economy.

  • C. B.,

    As I said, I don’t know zilch about Rand. I thought if Greenspan was a l-f, libertarian he would want to shut down the Fed.

    OTOH, I have been highly involved in analyzing US banking institutions and markets on high levels for over 34 years.

    Here are my recommendations for your catholic banking system.

    Day one, Big Brother declares that FDIC-insured depositors are the only persons who will ever again see one penny of taxpayer “bail-out” money.

    It’s the Board of Directors. They need to set and enforce the control environment (see Treadway Commission of Sponsoring Organizations internal control concepts). E.G., compensation programs must not foster high risk acts, as we saw in the housing bubble – this has been around since the 1980’s. The US 1993 FDIC Improvement Act and the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley made it law/regulation. Boards must force operating management to each day act in total consideration of the Two Great Commandments. Do not lie, cheat or steal; and don’t associate with anyone that does. Act like the money you invest, lend, manage is your own money. Act only after analyzing all the risks/rewards, and discount all so-called “paradigm changes” like: “the business cycle has been repealed”, “real estate prices never decline.” Collateral protection is but one of the five requisites that must be resolved in lending decisions: collateral values “go away” when they are most needed, as we see today.

    I don’t know zilch about theology. Where in the Gospels does Christ say He came to bring peace and justice here on earth?

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Standing for everything will get you nowhere fast…

Wednesday, October 26, AD 2011


G.K Chesterton is reputed once to have opined: “It’s not the man who stands for something who scares me.  It’s the man who stands for everything.”

Sadly, it appears the same is true when it comes to peoples’ religious affiliations.

Remember when the United States was considered the dominion of the White-Anglo/Saxon-Protestant (WASP) man?

Well, it seems that the once-powerful Episcopalian denomination in the United States which once stood for something and now stands for everything has come upon very tough times.  It now counts less than 2M as members.  In fact, a statistical report produced by the denomination notes that its member rolls have shrunk by 40% between 1965 and 2010 even as the U.S. population has increased by more than 50%.

Consider some of the grim statistics:

  • In 1965, there were more than 3.5M+ U.S. Episcopalians.  In 2010, there were 1,951,907 members.
  • The denomination’s 10-year change in active  membership (2000-2010) dropped 16% while attendance decreased by 23% to 657,831 in 2010.
  • Parishes are closing.  In 2010, 100 parishes closed.
These statistics certainly don’t bode well for the future of the Episcopalian denomination in the United States.  As the remaining Episcopalian congregations increasingly age, they will become increasingly disconnected from Episcopalian youth.
Is there a causal relationship between being “progressive”—all of that diversity and inclusion stuff—and the death of once-powerful Christian denominations?  Perhaps “yes” in the sense that the more traditional wing of the Anglican Church is growing.  Perhaps “no” in the sense that membership in mainline Protestant denominations is declining across the board which could have much to do with a culture whose members are charmed by secularism, materialism, and consumerism.
But, one thing is for sure.  The statistics suggest that short of divine intervention, Protestant denominations which stand for everything are going to have a very difficult time surviving into the next generation.
To read the 2010 statistical summary of the  Episcopal denomination, click on the following link:
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7 Responses to Standing for everything will get you nowhere fast…

  • It’s not progressiveism per se, but the inherent dynamic of all Anglican-inspired ecclesiologies, which can be summed thus: neither standing for something nor everything, but, sadly, nothing. This is what you get when you wed reformed theology to high ecclesiology: nonsense on stilts. It was odd in the 16th century, and it’s odd today. The only thing that’s changed is the manifestation that the oddness takes–so the progressiveism you note.

  • I think there may be some interesting parallels between the attitudes of the leadership
    of the Episcopal denomination and many of the leaders of congregations of Catholic
    women religious. Both groups have been willing to fall into the embrace of the “Spirit
    of the Times”. Neither group sees much worth in the traditions entrusted to them by
    previous generations. And neither group looks upon the ruination they have brought
    upon their organizations with much concern– actually, there seems to be a quiet satis-

  • I think WJ has a good point, but I’d tweak it a little bit: Anglicanism’s fatal flaw is to try to paper over irreconcilable differences. As historians have noted, it is a political settlement of a religious dispute, pretending that diversity of belief was instead merely diversity of practice. And nearly five hundred years later, the problems with such have become insurmountable.

    If nothing else, the nasty exercises of power by the petty, shallow woman in charge of the American branch have proven to be very clarifying in this regard.

  • I note with fascination the lavender and pink colors everywhere in the two photos that accompany this blog post.

  • The problem with this traditionalist Catholic meme is that it never cites the numbers for the Catholic Church. I can’t remember the exact stat but worldwide, the Catholic Church is in worse shape than the Anglican Communion in relative terms. Without immigrants, those numbers for Episcopalians seem like they can apply to American Catholics.

    Sure conservative circles are thriving but “progressive” Christianity had a great run. It was only fairly recently that progressives lost religion, leaving only the conservatives behind. Also, if you go to these thriving conservative Evangelical churches, they’re conservative at the core but they’re the opposite of traditionalist. Forget guitars, they have rock bands. Forget altargirls, they have female pastors. If anything the lesson seems to be “guard the basic tenets but modernize everything else.”

  • Well, the Episcopalian Church might seem like it’s shrinking, but when that next generation comes along…oh, that’s right, never mind.

10 Responses to Notes on the Vatican Statement on Global Financial Reform

  • Ecclesiastics playing at being economic analysts is as hilarious as economic analysts attempting to play at being ecclestiatics. With good reason Christ, when asked whether it was lawful to pay tax to Caesar, simply replied: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things which are God’s.” Although I do think the entertainment value when this admonition has been ignored by either Caesar or the Church would be truly priceless if the results throughout history had not been so deeply tragic on so many occasions.

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  • They should concentrate on saving souls, even if it renders them “irrelevant” to the NYT/CNN crowd, and quit concocting schemes to wreck national economies.

    I apologize in advance.

    It’s infallible ignorance.

    Seems they think the Great Recession was created by free markets. Nothing could be more dangerously far from the Truth. The unemployment, the foreclosures, the crashing housing prices, the soaring food/fuel prices, the unemployment/underemployment could not have occurred without Washington (70% of offending mortgage derivatives were securitized and guarantied by FNMA or FHLMC; the Fed and governments keeping rates too low and bailing out LTCM, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch; etc.) and over-weaning government interference.

    So, how does a One World Central Bank solve the multi-crises? We see, on a smaller scale, that that works oh sooooo swell in the Eurozone.

    Seems this malarkey represents the fruits reading the NYT and watching the idiot reds on Commie News Network.

  • Well, FWIW, this particular document seems to place a lot of the blame for the recession on the easy money and easy credit — thus essentially on the Fed. This is what a lot of Austrian economists would do, including those who go so far as to support returning to the gold standard. Krugman and the NY Times folks would hate that.

    Not that I think a World Central Bank is a good solution to that (or that I necessarily agree fully with the Austrian diagnosis in this case) but just to be clear.

  • Father Sirico, in today’s WSJ Op/Ed page makes similar arguments.

    I think the CNN/NYT/collective control/central planning/”one bank to rule them all” factions fear and loathe the gold standard because it removed their “policy genius” from the monetary “equation.”

    Abandoning the gold standard was true “deregulation.” It removed market forces from monetary economics and replaced with political forces.

  • Darwin is right. The document is being misinterpreted in many quarters, in some cases perhaps deliberately. That said, I really am uncomfortable with the Church giving counsel on matters that really do not pertain to the mission Christ delegated to Her. No matter how well-intended, such counsel will inevitably err in embarrassing ways, and thereby give ammunition to Her enemies.

  • Again, there’s probably material here to make just about everyone at least a bit uncomfortable. I’m willing to bet that the author considers at least some of what I would consider sensible market-drive ideas to be “utilitarian” or examples of “individualism” — though I would disagree.

    I felt quite comfortable myself, but anyhow, the distinction you make here between judging an ideology as bad and judging whether an idea falls under that ideology is an important one. The Church can be right that Ideology X is bad while being wrong about what ideas fall under Ideology X.

  • I seem to recall you saying, Kyle, that you yourself were a bit uncomfortable with some of the sections on a world Authority — being a bit of an anti-authority guy yourself. But that’s besides the point.

    I agree that there’s an important distinction to be made between judging that an ideology is incorrect and judging that a particular idea or policy much necessarily be an endorsement of that ideology. Of course, speaking of lack of comfort, this argument was perhaps made most eloquently in the Catholic context by the (heretical) Jansenists — who responded to condemnations of their writings by saying that they agreed with the Church authorities that the ideas being condemned were wrong, but disagreed that those ideas appeared in their writings.

  • My comfort was with the quoted paragraph to which you were responding in the section I quoted. Regarding the document as a whole, and specifically the notion of a global authority, yes, I am apprehensive.

  • Thank you Darwin, for a careful and thoughtful piece. More of this and less of Reese and Peters would help us all.

Father Z on the Latest Folly From Justice and Peace

Wednesday, October 26, AD 2011


My co-blogger Christopher Blosser has done his usual yeoman work in pulling together reactions from around the Catholic blogosphere to “TOWARDS REFORMING THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AND MONETARY SYSTEMS IN THE CONTEXT OF GLOBAL PUBLIC AUTHORITY” from the pontifical counsel on justice and peace.  One of my favorite blog authors Father Z, who I have designated Master of the Fisk, has some memorable comments on it:


I have a few things to digest yet, and it takes me a while, since this isn’t exactly my bailiwick.  However, I can say this: thanks be to God this “white paper” doesn’t form part of the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium.

Every once in a while the Holy See’s smaller offices, Pontifical Councils and so forth, have to put out a paper to justify their budgets and remind everyone that they take up valuable space.  These documents, which do not form part of the Holy Father’s Magisterium, can deal with critical issues like how to be a safe driver.  The dicasteries keep busy by hosting seminars on how to play sport and so forth.

Some of my favorite points in the new “white paper” include the suggestion that there should be global monetary management and a “central world bank” to regulate it and that the United Nations should be involved.  National banks have, after all, done such a good job that we should now make the effort transnational!  And is this the same UN that had nations such as Saudi Arabia and, till recently, Libya on the their human rights commission?  Wasn’t there a UN financial corruption investigation still going on?  Is this the same UN that is pushing contraception pretty much in every poor country on earth?  Was that a different UN?

Another high point in the new “white paper”: “These measures ought to be conceived of as some of the first steps in view of a public Authority with universal jurisdiction; as a first stage in a longer effort by the global community to steer its institutions towards achieving the common good.”

Uh huh.

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2 Responses to Father Z on the Latest Folly From Justice and Peace

  • So, this is part of what Benedict XVI says in Caritas in Veritate:

    To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago.

    What is so different between this and the “white paper” derided by Fr. Z and others? I understand that the white paper specifies the kind of political authority beyond that proffered in CIV, but does this make Benedict’s proposal any less daft on Fr. Z’s reading? Note that to say that not everything in a social encyclical is binding is not to say that you are free to consider it stupid, worthless, and unworthy of consideration. So what’s the difference between the proposal of this document–with which I don’t agree, by the way–and CIV?

  • “The Church does not have technical solutions to offer[10] and does not claim “to interfere in any way in the politics of States.” is perhaps the most pertinent quote in this area from Caritas in Veritate WJ.

    In regard to the call for a world authority, the Pope hedged it in with certain requirements that I doubt will ever be achieved:

    “Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights[148]. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization[149]. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations. ”

    I think the Pope here was writing of something ideal, since I honestly do not see anyway these requirements could ever be met in the world we inhabit. On the other hand I could imagine too easily grifter politicians setting up a transnational monetary authority of some sort, and attempting to fund it from taxes on financial transactions. The World Bank and the World Monetary Fund have been baby steps in that direction.

Big Bird Exposed!

Wednesday, October 26, AD 2011

Well done Klavan on the Culture!  Back in the halcyon days of my youth we could get in three television stations, one of them fairly fuzzy, and radio consisted of about 10 stations that we could get clearly.  Why in an age of hundreds of tv channels and thousands of radio stations, internet access to endless sources of educational and entertainment videos, and internet radio does one thin dime go to National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting system?  Politics.  Democrats know that NPR and PBS lean heavily to the left and find them useful auxiliaries.

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“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” – a roundup of reactions

Wednesday, October 26, AD 2011

On Monday, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace published a statement on the global economic crisis: “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” [click link for full text]

Suffice to say, reactions were spirited (and in many cases, predictable), reflecting “a tired pattern”, to quote Zach (Civics Geeks)

Everyone once and a while there is a news story about “the Vatican”. “The Vatican” issues a document of some sort. The document says something about current affairs. Immediately there are two very predictable reactions, depending on whether the person is inclined to agree with the Church or not.

  1. “Look! The Church teaches that Catholics have to think like I think! My opinions have acquired divine authority. The world would be a better place, and the Church would be a better Church, if every Catholic just obeyed Church teaching like I do.”
  2. “I don’t have to obey the Church – I can think for myself. It’s fine if some old white men in Rome think that, but I don’t have to and I am still a good Catholic.”

These are, of course, caricatures, but I think they express two attitudes that are quite common. They are alike in that they are both dogmatic and reactionary.

What follows then are some mostly thoughtful responses — fodder for a discussion here at American Catholic).

  • “The Pope, Chaplain to OWS? Rubbish!” – George Weigel in a characteristic clarification from National Review‘s The Corner, on those who would imbue the document with too much authority:

    The truth of the matter is that “the Vatican” — whether that phrase is intended to mean the Pope, the Holy See, the Church’s teaching authority, or the Church’s central structures of governance — called for precisely nothing in this document. The document is a “Note” from a rather small office in the Roman Curia. The document’s specific recommendations do not necessarily reflect the settled views of the senior authorities of the Holy See; indeed, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the press spokesman for the Vatican, was noticeably circumspect in his comments on the document and its weight. As indeed he ought to have been. The document doesn’t speak for the Pope, it doesn’t speak for “the Vatican,” and it doesn’t speak for the Catholic Church.

  • Pope Benedict Calls For “Central World Bank” … Only He Didn’t. Here’s Why – Thomas Peters (American Papist) counters the spin of Fr. Tom Reese, who “seems perfectly happy to help the mainstream media fundamentally misunderstand the authority of teaching this document enjoys, [claiming] that the pope has “more in common with the people at occupy wallstreet” than the tea party.”
  • “while economists are learning from the Vatican, perhaps the Vatican might learn a few lessons from economic analysts” muses Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture): “If you want to promote Catholic social teaching, don’t wander beyond your expertise. Stick to moral principles, and leave economic analysis to the economists.”
  • Also weighing in from “The Corner”, Dr. Samuel Gregg with Catholics, Finance, and the Perils of Conventional Wisdom:

    Plenty of other critiques could — and no doubt will — be made of some of the economic claims advanced in this PCJP document. As if in anticipation of this criticism, the document states, “We should not be afraid to propose new ideas.” That is most certainly true. Unfortunately, many of its authors’ ideas reflect an uncritical assimilation of the views of many of the very same individuals and institutions that helped generate the world’s most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. For a church with a long tradition of thinking seriously about finance centuries before anyone had ever heard of John Maynard Keynes or Friedrich Hayek, we can surely do better.

    (Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty: A Treatise on the Free Society, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future).

  • Mark Brumley, President and CEO of Ignatius Press, on “Going the way of World Government” (Catholic World Report):

    If the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is trying to make the Catholic Church sound as if she’s living in a fantasy world or trying to portray Catholic social teaching as completely irrelevant to real world problems, I’d say, “Mission accomplished.” If, on the other hand, the council wants people seriously to think about the problems of globalization, it’s going to have to demonstrate a much better grasp of political and economic practicalities, as well as the limits and dangers of international solutions. At the risk of sounding like an End of the World visionary, I suggest we should temper our enthusiasm for world-authority solutions by re-reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 675-677, and by consulting the Book of Revelation, chapter 13.

    By all means, let’s discuss global problems and possible solutions. Let’s recognize the dangers of nationalism and the imbalances that exist between rich and poor nations. Let’s not overlook the weakness of international capitalism or pretend the free market has all the solutions. Let’s have a good philosophical discussion about world government, and its long-term prospects, if the world endures for a few more centuries. But let’s remember that, historically speaking, those who have tried to act on their talk about a world political order have wound up being tyrants.

  • Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of the Mises Institute, author of Sing Like a Catholic (2009) and Bourbon for Breakfast
    (2010), and (familiar to many readers) as a daily contributor to The New Liturgical Movement“Right Diagnosis, Deadly Cure”:

    … the document’s identification of loose credit with market liberty is the beginning of the end of the good sense here. From this point, we plunge straight away into a full endorsement of a world central bank, a world political authority, taxes on financial trading, and heavy regulations. The document doesn’t actually call for an end to the free market. On the contrary, it imagines that enlightened world planners will protect, guard, and even “create” what it calls “free and stable markets.”

    This is beyond naive. It seems to illustrate a near total absence of clear thinking. Centralization of money and credit caused this problem. Centralization of political authority caused this problem. Why would anyone imagine that more centralization is therefore the answer? This approach takes a terrible situation and makes it much worse.

  • Over at Commonweal, “unagidon” asks “do we need a Global Public Authority to fix the economy?” — and answers in the negative.
  • “The Vatican Renders Unto Caesar”, by Nicholas G. Hahn III (Real Clear Religion) 10/25/11:

    Any sane person can recognize that the notion of another global civil authority flies in the face of subsidiarity. Simply because the Council says subsidiarity should regulate the relationships of authority, doesn’t mean it actually will.

    In fact, global institutions do not often respect autonomy or individual freedom of their memberships. Perhaps even Pius XI, for all his griping against the “greed” of financial systems, might consider the creation of a new “supranational Institution” a “grave evil and disturbance of right order.”

    And so, a question that must be asked is: does Rome want a king?

    Dr. Robert Moynihan (editor, Inside the Vatican):

    The positive thing: this document, in keeping with all of the Church’s social teaching, wishes to defend honesty, transparency, truthfulness and justice in financial dealings over against dishonesty, opacity false representations and injustice.

    In this, the document is to be praised, and praised highly. We need honesty and truth-telling in a global economy that is seemingly careening toward a train wreck which will inevitably hurt the poor and weak most of all.

    The negative thing: the global economy, and especially the global derivatives market, is big, enormous, in fact, so big, so opaque, so complex, that literally no one knows what the situation really is, or what measures to take to undo the financial detonator that seems ready soon to go off.

    In this sense, the Vatican office’s policy recommendations are inevitably insufficient.

  • John Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter), counters the critics by calling attention to “a southern consensus”:

    Focusing on how much papal muscle the note can flex, however, risks ignoring what is at least an equally revealing question: Whatever you make of it, does the note seem to reflect important currents in Catholic social and political thought anywhere in the world?

    The answer is yes, and it happens to be where two-thirds of the Catholics on the planet today live: the southern hemisphere, also known as the developing world.

    It’s fitting that the Vatican official responsible for the document is an African, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, because it articulates key elements of what almost might be called a “southern consensus.” One way of sizing up the note’s significance, therefore, is as an indication that the demographic transition long under way in Catholicism, with the center of gravity shifting from north to south, is being felt in Rome.

  • Disputations reflects on lessons of the Tower of Babel in the concluding paragraphs of the document:

    … the story of Babel not only warns us that we are bound to lack concord if we don’t speak the same language, but — reading it in parallel with the story of Pentecost — that the concord upon which any global authority must be founded to thrive in virtue is nothing less than the peace of Jesus Christ.

    As a practical matter, the world is some way away from establishing that foundation. Whether Christians possess the peace of Jesus Christ in sufficient fullness to serve as the cement which, when mixed with the world’s crushed stone, can form a concrete of sufficient strength to bear the weight of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s proposals is, I suppose, open to question.

  • Notes on the Vatican Statement on Global Financial Reform – solid, section-by-section analysis by DarwinCatholic (American Catholic 10/26/11), revealing points that are congenial to both ends of the political spectrum (“There’s much in here that American conservatives and libertarians are not going to like, but there’s just as much that leftist Catholics (particularly populist ones) aren’t going to like either (if they read it.)”).

See additional responses from Rick Garnett @ Mirror of Justice (“many are (perhaps strategically and tactically) mis- and over-reading the Note in order to overstate the consonance between its vision and the current policies of the Democratic Party in the United States and its special-interest constituencies”); Michael Brendan Dougherty @ Business Insider (“WHOOPS! Vatican Lets Slip Plans For One World Government”); Fr. John Zuhlsdorf; Sean P. Daily of Gilbert magazine (“if there is one institution that could unite us, even if it unites [distributists and followers of the ‘Austrian’ school] only in opposition, it is the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace”) — and, now blogging for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher hosts a vigorous discussion on his blog here; here; here and here.

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16 Responses to “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” – a roundup of reactions

  • I’d like to suggest, in addition, that we notice the results of this sort of thing.

  • “This is beyond naive. It seems to illustrate a near total absence of clear thinking. Centralization of money and credit caused this problem. Centralization of political authority caused this problem. Why would anyone imagine that more centralization is therefore the answer? This approach takes a terrible situation and makes it much worse.”

    This basically sums up my view, along with the assumption that it has as much chance of being carried out as does Michael Moore of making a truthful movie. My other reactions are that Vatican bureaucrats have way too much time on their hands obviously if they can waste it putting together such Cloud Kukooland proposals, and “My Peter’s Pence collection money helped pay for this drivel?”. The saving grace for me is remembering other initiatives throughout history that have emananted from Vatican bureaucrats and which are now, mercifully, forgotten except for people like me of an antiquarian bent.

  • From Phil Lawler’s comment on this dog’s breakfast of a proposal:

    “However, while economists are learning from the Vatican, perhaps the Vatican might learn a few lessons from economic analysts. Just for instance:
    •that government does not create anything, and therefore does not have funds unless it obtains those funds from ordinary people: taxpayers;
    •that the world’s financial system is currently endangered because of the soaring level of government debt;
    •that regulatory agencies have an abysmal record of failure in protecting the public from market fluctuations, speculative bubbles, and even outright fraud—and it is only reasonable to expect that a worldwide authority would reproduce those failures on a global scale;
    •that government interventions in the markets invariably produce unintended consequences, many of them deleterious;
    •that government regulation invariably furnishes opportunities for powerful corporations to manipulate the market for their own purposes, to the detriment of the general welfare.

    Those are the economic lessons. There are some political realities that the Vatican might eventually recognize, too. Say:
    •that the UN, the World Bank, the European Union, and other international organizations are not friends of the Catholic Church, and probably never will be;
    •that any international agency empowered to regulate financial markets will—following a pattern that is now well established—be exploited by social engineers to promote contraception, legal abortion, and legal recognition of same-sex marriage;
    •that liberal politicians will gladly accept and exploit the Vatican’s statements on economic affairs, while continuing to work assiduously to promote the culture of death;

    Oh, yes, and most important of all:
    •When an obscure Vatican agency issues a statement that contains 50% solid Catholic social teaching, and 50% flaky leftist theory, the world’s media will ignore the distinctively Catholic content—what the Church should say, what the world should learn—and concentrate exclusively on the leftist theory. So for the great mass of ordinary readers, who will never read the full document, but only scan the headlines, the important message will be lost. What will register, instead, is that the Vatican has not learned its lessons about economic affairs and political realities.”


  • The document is worth a read. Section 1 is a largely unobjectionable historical summary. Section 2 is good teaching if you get past the politically-charged terminology. Section 3 is the most important IMO. It’s orthodox teaching often ignored by the hyper-subsidiarists. Centralization need not violate subsidiarity! Section 4 contains the controversial prescriptions, namely a central monetary and financial authority.

    Given that centralization doesn’t necessarily violate subsidiarity, is there is a need for an international monetary and/or financial authority?

    We had a voluntary international monetary convention in the Bretton Woods system. I’m no expert but from a distance, a global monetary authority seems like a good idea. Specifically, a global reserve currency like the IMF’s SDRs. Countries wouldn’t have to abandon their own currencies.

    The global financial authority envisioned in the document is more problematic. There are three suggestions mentioned: (1) A Tobin tax, (2) a bank bailout fund, and (3) Glass-Steagall. Sweden had to abandon its Tobin tax. If you want to raise revenue, there are better ways. I was going to dismiss the other two points but remembered the whole reason the document is addressing this subject in the first place, i.e., to promote the common good. Imagine a poor farmer in a nation with a weak government. He’s drawn in by a bank’s promises. How do we protect him from getting screwed? I don’t know if bailout funds and bank regulations are the answer but they do speak to a real problem that probably requires a global authority. My preliminary thoughts are some kind of minimal financial standards backed up by trade sanctions against offending nations. Like a Universal Declaration of Human Rights for economic rights.

  • I am preparing a fisk on the entire document RR, so our faithful readers will get an opportunity to review the entire thing with my color commentary.

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  • Oh yes! Donald is going to fisk the Vatican! Look out world, here Donald lays out all the trumps!

  • And I assure you Karlson that each and every contribution that you wish to make on my fisk will be allowed to go through by me on that thread. I look forward to it!

  • The word “moral” is mentioned five times in this short paper. My comment on that is here:


  • The re-presentation of Phil Lawler’s comments actually seem to demonstrate his lack of familiarity with the financial situations that put the economy in peril — at least with regard to the American economy.

    Primarily what jumps out of Lawler’s comments is regarding regulation. While a central regulatory agency might present problems of its own, the problem in American finance was due to a significant de-regulatory environment; namely, the creation of previously outlawed derivative instruments, primarily backed by toxic credit products, that created artificial capital assets in financial institutions.

    In the case of what spurred the American crisis, it was not the failure of regulatory agencies, but instead the deregulation by governmental/political forces that allowed the system to be put at risk. That risk became peril when a small sector of credit backing these derivatives folded, and the phony capital was lost … causing credit tightening, closing of business lines of credit, etc., which spiraled into the other areas of the economy.

    This type of behavior, and similar, by investment banks has led the SEC to fine several hundreds of millions of dollars each. But, no one’s put a stop to this type of behavior. Recently, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch moved huge amounts of toxic derivatives to its depository arm, so if they go belly up … Merrill Lynch is protected, while the FDIC will have to come to the rescue of depositors — in other words, another taxpayer bailout.

    But, that’s the financial side of this. To turn to the moral side … well, there is no morality and ethics in what the “free markets” are churning out these days. There’s no concern about what it means for growing global and national poverty. And I would hope that the PCJP would take on those types of issues, speaking to the duty businesses, markets, financial institutions, and society in general has to promoted, protect and defend the common good and general welfare of the poor, sick, elderly, young, and unemployed. It is in their failure to do that, that I think this document really fails the Church and all the aforementioned segments of our society.

  • Deregulation did not cause this mess Catholicsphere, but rather a willingness on the part of too many in government not to let businesses that made dumb decisions fail. Unlike the Pope, and bloggers (: , business men and women are not infallible and make dumb decisions every day and normally, in a free market, if enough dumb decisions are made, the enterprise fails. This is precisely what should have happened here.

    Politicians by and large are certainly not smarter or more honest than the average business man or woman, so the idea that regulatory regimes will save us is illusory. What will save us is a robust market where losers end up as vulture bait and winners thrive. So long as government bails out losers in the economy, we will not come out of the current recession/depression. There is no substitute for the free market if economic prosperity for the greatest number of people possible is the goal.

  • Donald–

    Isn’t the common good the goal? Not simply economic propserity?

    Has the market ever truly been free?

    And to everyone, shouldn’t we read what the Popes have actually said about a global authority and global relations in general before inserting our own interpretations about what an economist at the Vatican said?

  • Define common good for me Alex. It is a term that is often tossed around but it fails to recognize that goods often clash. In regard to economics I think economic prosperity for the greatest number is far preferable to equality in poverty.

    Market freedom has varied throughout history. As a rule, I believe there is a fairly high correlation between market freedom and economic prosperity.

    “And to everyone, shouldn’t we read what the Popes have actually said about a global authority and global relations in general before inserting our own interpretations about what an economist at the Vatican said?”

    I have done so.

  • Donald-
    an illustration of your point, perhaps; ask folks if it’s better if everyone is a two on a scale of one to five on wealth, or that the majority be a three or four and there be a few fives. You may or may not be surprised to see how many think the prior is superior to the latter….

  • Everyone is in favor of equality Foxfier until they need something done, and then everyone wants the best: lawyer, doctor, plumber, you name it. I think Americans are more tolerant than many other peoples of the idea that we all have different abilities and that some people are going to excel in some facets of life. In my experience most people are usually willing to pay a high price for good quality when it counts.

    In regard to economics and history I rather like this Robert Heinlein, perverse jerk though he could be at times, quote:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded – here and there, now and then – are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.””

  • A slight detour:
    this morning during my routine, I had a chance to marvel: really hot water in the shower, a cup of inexpensive but very drinkable coffee, two healthy little girls who either wouldn’t have survived birth a century back or I wouldn’t have survived the saving of them, in a house that’s just a bit chill for the first ten minutes out of thrift instead of picking ice out of the washbasin for the first hour, we’re all in really good health without serious risk of that changing and my husband works inside, being away from home for less than ten hours on a normal day, five days a week.

    This is what comes of people being able to strive to improve their lot. I like it. Disposable income means that you can help.
    Maybe the very richest back then could afford enough servants to live something like this– the bulk of my time is spent with correspondence or “managing” household affairs without a lot of work involved. (Yeah, laundry is a drag… unless you realize how hard it is to get baby poo out of cloth by hand.)

40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

In so many ways we moderns are pygmies who stand on the shoulders of giants.  One group of giants for all English-speaking Catholics is the 40 martyrs of England and Wales who were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 25, 1970.   They deserve to be remembered for their heroic deaths for Christ, and here are their names:

3 Carthusians:

  • Augustine Webster  d.1535
  • John Houghton  1486-1535
  • Robert Lawrence   d.1535

1 Augustinian friar:

  • John Stone  d. 1538

1 Brigittine:

  • Richard Reynolds  d. 1535

2 Franciscans:

  • John Jones   d. 1598 (Friar Observant – also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, or Godfrey Maurice)
  • John Wall   d. 1679 (Franciscan  – known at Douai and Rome as John Marsh, and by other aliases while on the mission in England)

3 Benedictines:

  • John Roberts   d. 1610
  • Ambrose Barlow  d. 1641
  • Alban Roe   d. 1642

10 Jesuits:

  • Alexander Briant   1556-81
  • Edmund Campion   1540-81
  • Robert Southwell   1561-95
  • Henry Walpole    1558-95
  • Nicholas Owen   1540-1606
  • Thomas Garnet    1575-1608
  • Edmund Arrowsmith  1585–1628
  • Henry Morse   1595-1644
  • Philip Evans   1645-79
  • David Lewis   1616-79

13 Priests of the Secular Clergy:

  • Cuthbert Mayne   1543–77
  • Ralph Sherwin    1558-81
  • Luke Kirby    1549-82
  • John Paine    d. 1582
  • John Almond    d. 1585
  • Polydore Plasden    d. 1591
  • Eustace White   1560-91
  • Edmund G(J)ennings   1567-91
  • John Boste    1544-94
  • John Southworth   1592-1654
  • John Kemble    1599-1679
  • John Lloyd     d. 1679
  • John Plessington   d. 1679

7 members of the laity

4 lay men:

  • Richard Gwyn  1537-84
  • Swithun Wells  1536-91
  • Philip Howard  1557-95
  • John Rigby  1570-1600   and

3 lay women, all of them mothers:

  • Margaret Clitherow  1586
  • Margaret Ward  1588
  • Anne Line  1601

They were torches that God sent to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.  They were representatives of hundreds of martyrs who died for the Faith in England and Wales in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.  With the Anglican Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict perhaps what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said in the Nineteenth Century will come true in the Twenty-First:

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5 Responses to 40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

  • Donald,

    I do not know much about history, but both sides – Protestant and Catholic – had shed more than its fair share of blood. Didn’t Mary I of England (a Catholic) burn at the stake 280 religious dissenters in what are called “The Marian Persecutions?”

    Every time I read little about this time in history, I shudder to think of the atrocities that both sides – Catholic and Protestant – committed against each other.


  • 284. An excellent recent study of the Marian Persecution was written by Eamon Duffy:


    The Tudors were all persecutors. Under Bad Queen Bess some 312 Irish and Catholic martyrs died, although, strangely enough, she has a reputation in history for tolerance, which would have been regarded as a bad joke by almost all of her Catholic subjects, probably the majority of her subjects until well into her reign.

    Saint Peter Canisius, who helped reverse the Reformation in Austria and southern Germany in the Sixteenth Century, regarded the persecutions of his day as against the example of Christ:

    “It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits. Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.

    Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling. Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.”

    It was an intolerant age, although what strikes me is how quickly it ended, when viewed through the prism of 2000 years of Christian history. By 1700 the bloodiest of religious persecutions were largely ended, only to be reawakend by the birth of totalitarianism with the French Revolution and the persecution of both Catholics and Protestants by worshipers of the power of the State. Fascism and Communism, when viewed by future historians, may be regarded as variants of the Emperor worship that confronted the earliest Christians.

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  • As an American of partial English descent (and last name Bryant, although no relation to the martyr Briant that I am aware of) I would like to know why this feast day doesn’t seem to be a priority on the U.S. calendar. We take a lot of our culture and obviously language from Britain, plus we are still living here the effects of the Reformation there. Obviously had Henry VIII not acted as he had the U.S. would be a predominantly Cathlic nation. Are we afraid of offending Protestants (or Latinos) ?

  • I doubt if it is concern for offending anyone since we sing Faith of Our Fathers regularly at Mass and that song, although doubtless most singers are unaware of it, directly refers to the persecution of Catholics by the English government. Additionally Irish Catholics, which make up a large proportion of the Church in America, are always ready to point out English persecutions. In England the feast day has been moved to May 4 and now includes an additional 85 martyrs: