American Catholic progressivism: An “exhausted project”?

Monday, April 16, AD 2012

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the good news is that things may be looking up for the U.S. Catholic Church.

Despite all of the bad press it has endured in recent decades, the number of vocations to the priesthood—the all male, celibate priesthood—is up.  Perhaps the Vatican’s incessant calls for priestly celibacy and its denunciation of  women’s ordination have struck a resonant chord among some young U.S. Catholic males.

According to the article, these candidates for the priesthood

…are attracted to the philosophy, the art, the literature and the  theology that make Catholicism countercultural. They are drawn to the beauty of  the liturgy and the church’s commitment to the dignity of the individual. They  want to be contributors to that commitment—alongside faithful and courageous  bishops who ask them to make sacrifices.

To wit:

  • A new seminary is in the planning stages near Charlotte, NC.
  • The Archdiocese of  Washington, DC, has expanded its seminary facilities to accommodate the increase in number of candidates.
  • In 2003, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston was advised to close the seminary. But there are now 70 candidates.  More surprisingly, the seminary has had to turn away candidates due to a lack of  space.
  • In 2011, there were 467 new priests ordained in  the U.S. last year, up from 442  in 2001. Eighteen priests were ordained for Washington in 2011 and 26 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.  Astoundingly, the Diocese of Lincoln (NE)—where Catholics are 16% of the population, ordained 10 priests in 2011.

Of course the critics will say, “There’s nothing like an economic downturn to stimulate vocations.”  And, The Motley Monk would note that there is historical precedent to support that assessment.  However, the much-touted end of the celibate male priesthood and glorious future of the U.S. Catholic Church featuring the ordination of women seems to be a Siren song that’s falling on deaf ears.

Beneath the radar, the winds of change—perhaps the authentic “signs of the times”—seem to be empowering the long-dormant turbines of seminaries.  Popular books like “Full Pews and Empty Altars” and “The Death of Priesthood” may end up being the stuff of pulp fiction.

The Wall Street Journal is researching what may be transpiring beneath the radar.  The article notes:

Our preliminary research on the  correlates of priestly ordinations reveals that the dioceses with the largest  numbers of new priests are led by courageous bishops with faithful and  inspirational vocations offices.

Uh, oh!  Success correlates with “intolerant” and “conservative” bishops, like the Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE.

Of course, many who populate the Catholic left don’t much like this trend and believe these young Catholic men who are being attracted to the priesthood by these conservative bishops have been characterized, shall The Motley Monk say, as being “somewhat unusual.”

It’s all been said before.

They are “conservative, even traditionalists” who “cling to extrinsics” to reinforce an immature self-image shaped by a domineering father, and are “pastorally insensitive.”  Worse yet, these “John Paul II priests” don’t challenge Church teaching but dogmatically preach it.  They view the Church as a hierarchy, not as a Quaker Meeting.  And, worst of all, they are misogynists if not homophobes or potential pedophiles.  In short, they will be the death of the U.S. Catholic Church.

“Just you wait and see, Motley Monk.  You’ll be sorry.”


While many “Baby Boomer” priests and theologians continue to preach about the Holy Grail of the “unfulfilled promise” of Vatican II, these aging progressives and their Siren song criticizing the Church’s teachings about so-called “reproductive “rights,” homosexual marriage, and women’s ordination aren’t resonating with some young people in this generation.

The Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, may have inserted his finger directly into the wound when he delivered a homily in which he pronounced liberal Catholicism “an  exhausted project…parasitical on a substance that no longer exists.”

The truth is that the Church is countercultural, challenging American Catholics in this generation to turn way from the ideologies of secularism, materialism, and consumerism.  Perhaps these so-called “John Paul II” and “Benedict XVI” priests will be well-equipped to evangelize the lapsed Catholic faithful and non-faithful alike.  After all, these men grew up hearing nothing but the Siren song and looked beyond American Catholic progressives to the Roman Catholic Church for leadership and guidance.

But, as with all things of this world, The Motley Monk would note, “time will tell.” Ultimately, Divine Providence always will achieve its end, which is always nothing other than the good.



To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:

Continue reading...

14 Responses to American Catholic progressivism: An “exhausted project”?

  • Praise be to God! This is good news. Unfortunately, it may take years to undo the damage the left has done to the Church and our Country. We have our Lord’s promise that the gates of Hell will never prevail against his Church, but what about America?

  • You can tell which way the wind is blowing by the frequently bitter combox comments at venues of the Catholic Left like Commonweal, America and Vox Nova. A typical recent example:

    This is a true gem comment:

    “We should thank the editors of Commonweal for standing up to the bishops. The bishops’ position appears to be that of partisan Republicans, and dare I say, perhaps, racist. Sadly, the bishops refuse to recognize that the Church is all of us—the community of believers. Instead they prefer to dictate to the laity, and never listen to the laity. I have seen nothing anti-Catholic, or even anti-religion, in the Obama Administration’s policies. Most Catholic women ignore the bishops heavy-handed posturing on abortion and contraceptives. Why don’t the bishops speak out against unnecessary, unjust wars, the torture of prisoners, , income inequality, the erosion of our rights as U.S. citizens under the so-called “Patriot Act”, and the need for a nuclear weapons-free world?”

    For many of these folks they are Leftists first and Catholics, maybe fifth or sixth, if that.

  • “The Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, may have inserted his finger directly into the wound when he delivered a homily in which he pronounced liberal Catholicism “an exhausted project…parasitical on a substance that no longer exists.””

    Catholic Leftism tends to be a halfway house out of the doors of the Church. Catholic Leftists often leave the Church and if they don’t their kids usually don’t stick around.

  • One day I’ll be proud to tell my grandchildren that I grew up with JPII as my pope and Francis Cardinal George as my archbishop. Doesn’t get much better than that.

  • The situation is a bit more complex than is expressed in the above post. The Center for Applied Research, who the authors cited in the article, provided a response which gives a somewhat more nuanced view of the matter. It is worth a read:

  • Jason,

    The same Cardinal George that has refused to lead concerning the Fr. Pfleger scandal?

  • It’s certainly a black eye on his resume, but I maintain immense respect for him overall.

  • Jason,

    I understand.

    He’s a paradox.

    I’ve heard of some things that he does behind closed doors, but you don’t hear about them much.

  • Mark me down as a young Catholic male who has totally rejected progressivism, egalitarianism, and white leftist guilt, and who takes being called a “medievalist” as one of the highest possible compliments that can be paid to him.

  • I’m right in there with our excellent Bonchamp; except I’m old.

  • But young in heart and spirit, eh T.Shaw? 🙂

  • I’m a youth (posting from my iPhone) and I am witness to how this generation is kicking hippie @$$ thanks to the beautiful truth of church teaching; e.g.; theology of the body vs what society presents as love, media not reporting on stuff that we personally witness, government trying to shove lies down our throat… Thx current administration and lamestream media! You have opened our eyes to the truth… A good blog that I recently found is bad catholic over at patheos that shows how pumped the youth is to live in the truth. The truth is the truth is the truth, and that’s what we will teach our (many) children and thx to Internet and globalization we will live it more intensely. The last generation didn’t really have Internet to validate the crazy ol truth that grandparents espoused, but this generation—whatch out! Gramps and grand kids united in the truth!!!

  • Motley Monk, I don’t think that the progressives/liberals in the Church particularly
    care if their movement is an exhausted project. In fact, they seem to take a
    perverse pride in the sight of all those bare, ruined choirs. Their experiments with
    the liturgy, with catechesis, with priestly formation, with religious life– none of these
    were experiments in the literal sense of the word because their outcomes were never
    examined or their effects questioned. The progressives are wedded to the ideology of their experiments, not to producing results that we would consider
    good for the Church.

    Say a congregation of sisters implodes and disappears after progressives persuaded
    them to abandon their habits, to drop reciting their Office together, to abandon their
    convent in favor of many apartments scattered across the city. In the mindset of the
    liberals, the sisters’ story is positive, for they had the right ideology. The operation
    was a success, even though the patient died. That is why one will hear progressives
    pitch all sorts of snake oil, even when experience has shown it is destructive to the
    Church. The only change you won’t hear one promote is the re-introduction of
    traditional Catholic practices. It might be good for the Church, but it’d be bad for the
    ideology, and we can’t have that…

    Progressives are uninterested in statistics about the number of seminarians in Lincoln.
    They are not concerned about indications that their ideology has produced failure.
    Cardinal George could state the obvious truth that theirs is an exhausted project until
    the cows come home– progressives don’t care. They remind me of the ‘cashmere
    communists’ one sees in academia. If you point out that communism has, for the last
    century, only resulted in suffering and failure, they reply that it just hasn’t yet been
    implemented properly. Birds of a feather.

Electoral Map 2012

Monday, April 16, AD 2012

Now that the Weathervane is going to be the nominee it is time to start looking at the electoral map for the fall.  Go here to view an interactive electoral map with my prediction of the outcome in November.

Actually, that is my cautious prediction based upon current conditions:  Romney 291-Obama 247.  I think it possible, perhaps probable, that either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania will also go Republican in the Presidential contest.  With Pennsylvania the final tally would be Romney 311-Obama 227.  With Wisconsin it is Romney 301-Obama 237.  With both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania it is an electoral landslide of Romney 321-Obama 217.

Continue reading...

38 Responses to Electoral Map 2012

  • I hope you are right, but once the Obama campaign gets up to full speed, and the establishment media gives Obama the benefit of the doubt and Romney the burden of doubt, I believe Obama will win a VERY narrow victory in November.

    Of the 70 million who voted for Obama in 2008, at least 20 to 30 million do not want to vote for him again. But Romney is now such a damaged candidate that most of them will very, very, very reluctantly, if they vote in 2012, return to vote for Obama. The only hope for Romney is low Democratic turnout, but the media will incessantly hammer Romney, stimulating enough turnout for Obama to win.

    This is the 2012 electoral college scenario:

    Obama wins every state east and north of Pennsylvania/Maryland. On the presidential level, the Northeast is now solidly Democratic. Romney wins Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina . . . all states that Obama won in 2008. Obama narrowly retains Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. This leaves the remaining contested states of Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada . . . all of which Obama narrowly wins again. The Latino vote in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada will be determinative in those states. So the final electoral college tally is Obama 272 and Romney 266.

    This is the truly sad part: the damage that has been done during the Republican primary process to “the Weathervane,” by conservatives and fellow Republicans, and, frankly, also by the candidate himself, is now, I believe, irreparable. Also significantly, Obama’s second term will be much more unfettered, with no need for re-election considerations. The use of Executive Orders by Obama in a second term will be unprecedented in American history. Those contentious issues, that he has held back on for future electoral reasons, will no longer be so constrained.

    Republicans and conservatives, through our own petty infighting, and our inability to construct a clear, positive vision for the future, will have once again, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Dullard Flip Rino will lose. Bank on it.

    Obama will win Ohio. Virginia will be close, but Romney will probably narrowly edge Obama there. North Carolina will be a toss-up, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a narrow Obama win there.

  • “On the presidential level, the Northeast is now solidly Democratic.”

    Not New Hampshire.

    “This leaves the remaining contested states of Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada . . . all of which Obama narrowly wins again.”

    Iowa went Republican in a big way in 2010. I do not expect that to change. Nevada has a huge Mormon population and elected a Republican governor in 2010 and I expect Romney to win comfortably there. New Mexico is going Obama unless Romney puts the female Hispanic GOP governor elected in 2010 on the ticket. Colorado will be tough but I believe Romney will pull it out.

  • “North Carolina will be a toss-up, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a narrow Obama win there.”

    I would since it went for Obama by a literal handful of votes in 2008 and had a massive swing to the GOP in 2010.

    “Obama will win Ohio. ”

    I very much doubt that, but in my cautious view of the outcome, even if Obama took Ohio Romney would win.

  • Donald, you are right,”solidly” is too strong a word for New Hampshire, the one exception to the “solid” Democratic Northeast, but Obama will still narrowly win in New Hampshire in 2012.

    While on the state level it is politically more complicated, on the presidential level, I believe that both Iowa and Nevada will narrowly go for Obama. But Iowa and Nevada may end up being the decisive states if Romney has any chance of winning in 2012. A poor showing with Latinos in Colorado and New Mexico will be decisive for Obama there.

    And I desperately hope that I am wrong.

  • I don’t believe Rubio is the Best choice…. just a feeling from watching and listening… he is Upward bound to be sure– but what is his ground?
    a “Catholic turned Mormon turned Catholic again who goes to a Baptist Church” I think the VP selection is very very important– need to seriously look around

  • The only hope for Romney is low Democratic turnout,

    Dullard Flip Rino will lose. Bank on it.

    He is not a dullard, the ‘RINO’ discourse cannot withstand five minutes of serious thought, and no incumbent as damaged as the current one is has been returned to office in the last eighty years. Mr. Romney is just a disappointing political opportunist. Neither the Republican Party nor the electorate at large have a severe allergy to such types.

  • “a “Catholic turned Mormon turned Catholic again who goes to a Baptist Church””

    Rubio, Analyze, had nothing to do with his family’s sojourn among the Mormons, as he was all of 12 after his family returned to the Faith. As for the Baptist Church, his wife is a devout Protestant, so it doesn’t surprise me that he makes time to attend her church as well as his own.

    “Ever since he came onto the nation scene, there’s been intense speculation about Rubio’s religious affiliation. He says he’s a Catholic, but he also attends an Evangelical mega-Church. I have a source – a very good one – who says that Rubio is in fact a devout Catholic but his wife is also a devout Protestant. Rubio attends his church in the morning and hers a little later so that the family can stay together. There’s certainly no sin in that.”

  • Donald, I agree that Romney’s VP choice will be very important. Rubio would be excellent, especially as an out-reach to Latinos. You are also right, that the Catholic, Mormon, Catholic “sojourn” was not his, but his family’s during his youth. No fair-minded person would hold that against him. And I also agree that his wife’s strong Protestantism, and his willingness to worship with her while retaining his own Catholicism, could end up being an electoral strength for the Republicans with open-minded independents and especially with women. It is admirable.

    I also would love to see Chris Christie as a potential running mate, although he has repeatedly said he is not interested. He would perform very well in debate and dismantle Biden if it came to that. I’d love to see him on the ticket.

    A well-run campaign with either Rubio or Christie on the ticket might tip the balance to a close Romney victory. We can hope!!

  • Donald, I agree that Romney’s VP choice will be very important.

    Why? Vice Presidents are window dressing. They rarely have any real input in an administration, and when they do – Gore and Cheney – it’s because they’re ideologically compatible with the President. However, when there are differences of opinion – as there were in the latter years of Cheney and Bush – it’s the President whose opinion matters.

    I also would love to see Chris Christie as a potential running mate,

    You and Ann Coulter both, but I think the interest in Chris Christie is pretty minimal after that.

    He would perform very well in debate and dismantle Biden if it came to that.

    I think Newt Gingrich has amply demonstrated why this is an over-rated consideration.

  • Paul, you ask, “Why?” Because this will be a VERY close election, with a potential electoral college margin of victory of under 30 to 40 votes. In close background states, especially those with a higher Latino vote, and with Rubio on the ticket, he could be the difference.

    And Christie is a very effective and knowledgeable speaker with a razor wit. He does not alienate independents, as Gingrich does. Christie would be an excellent addition to the ticket and his presence during the campaign would probably help make Romney a better candidate.

    This will not be a typical election . . . the electoral college margin of victory will likely be small . . . and the VP candidate COULD be the difference. That was my main point.

  • Paul, you ask, “Why?” Because this will be a VERY close election, with a potential electoral college margin of victory of under 30 to 40 votes. In close background states, especially those with a higher Latino vote, and with Rubio on the ticket, he could be the difference.

    I guess I phrased my question inartfully. What I’m really asking is why we should care who the veep selection is for our own purposes. I’m not interested in the political calculus – just curious why we make a big deal over what has been one of the most inconsequential positions ever devised by man.

  • Let me preface this by admitting that I am a very ashamed Penguins Fan. For any of you who follow the NHL, Sunday’s game against the Flyers is the reason.

    The fact is we don’t know how any of this will turn out, not just yet. Obumbler will get a free pass from the press, but let us remember what Obumbler will not get.

    Obumbler will not get is John McCain as an opponent. There are things I don’t like about Mitt Romney, but he is a better candidate than McCain. Romeny has a better organization and better financing.

    Obumbler will not lock up the youth vote like he did in 2008. Countless of those college students who voted for Obumbler in 2008 are unemployed or underemployed and will have learned a lesson.

    Romneycare notwithstanding, Obamacare is a dead albatross hanging from Obumbler’s neck.

    Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida will NOT reelect Obumbler. Romney has a shot at winning Michigan. If the Philly suburbs (Philly is a dirty word to me right now) go for Romney Pennsylvania will go for Romney. Net Hampshire will vote Romney.

  • I used to be in the “Romney will lose” camp, but that’s changed over the past ten days, for two reasons:

    First, he’s raising funds at a rate comparable to Obama–the GOP won’t be crushed by the Three Quarters Of A Billion Dollar Man in this cycle.

    Second, Obama has decided not to target Romney’s Achilles Heel. Instead of attacking him as an opportunistic flip-flopper, he’s attacking Mitt as a conservative extremist.

    Oy. That is a colossal blunder, and quite probably fatal if the economy keeps sputtering like it is.

  • Donald, the link to your map isn’t working. It just goes to the home page of the site. Can you update with the share link?

  • Dale,
    See that is the problem. There are lots of 10 days between now and November, and we’re likely to see some fairly dramatic swings in momentum and data as a result of all kinds of stuff. What the current polls prove is that there is simply no reasonable basis for believing that Romney cannot win the election, and that will be true even if in another 10 days it looks like 10 days ago.

  • Penguins Fan, I feel your pain, as a fellow Penguin’s fan now living in Michigan.

    It was obvious, from the middle of the regular season on, that Fleury was the weak link on the team. Among goaltenders with the most regular season minutes, his goals against average and save percentage were among the worst in the NHL. What I have never understood is his consistent poor play in the playoffs at home . . . his performance in Philadelphia on Sunday notwithstanding, he seems to save his worst games for the playoffs at home.

    The off season had better see some major changes at goal for the Penguins, both with Fleury and the acquisition of a better back-up goaltender.

  • Donald, I agree that Romney’s VP choice will be very important.

    William Schneider would beg to differ. He offered a number of years ago that the research he had examined indicated that a good prospective estimate would be that the vice presidential selection would net the candidate 2% of the vote in the v.p. candidate’s home state, and that the object should be to avoid distractions.

    They rarely have any real input in an administration, and when they do – Gore and Cheney – it’s because they’re ideologically compatible with the President.

    For the last 70-odd years, they have generally been ideologically compatible. George Bush the Elder and Walter Mondale might be regarded as partial exceptions and Nelson Rockefeller as an exception without qualification. Rockefeller, however, was assigned to supervise the domestic policy staff at the White House, so did have real input.

    just curious why we make a big deal over what has been one of the most inconsequential positions ever devised by man.

    Because there is a twenty percent shot the President dies in office or resigns.

  • “Can you update with the share link?”


  • “He offered a number of years ago that the research he had examined indicated that a good prospective estimate would be that the vice presidential selection would net the candidate 2% of the vote in the v.p. candidate’s home state, and that the object should be to avoid distractions.”

    I guess he wasn’t paying much attention in the 60 race when Kennedy would not have stood a chance in Texas without Johnson on the ticket.

    In 2008 Palin solidified the conservative base behind McCain, gave him the only week when he was ahead of Obama, after he named her, and provided the only interest in his otherwise corpselike campaign to get the good loser award from the mainstream media.

  • “First, he’s raising funds at a rate comparable to Obama–the GOP won’t be crushed by the Three Quarters Of A Billion Dollar Man in this cycle.

    Second, Obama has decided not to target Romney’s Achilles Heel. Instead of attacking him as an opportunistic flip-flopper, he’s attacking Mitt as a conservative extremist.

    Oy. That is a colossal blunder, and quite probably fatal if the economy keeps sputtering like it is.”

    Bingo Dale. Being attacked as a right wing wacko by Obama will help Romney greatly in solidifying conservative support. As for independents, the idea that white bread Romney, the lost Osmond child, is in any way threatening or extreme will simply seem laughable.

  • “but he is a better candidate than McCain.”

    That is a low bar Penguin Fan, but a correct observation. Romney at least seems like he desperately wants to win. In the general election in 2008 McCain always seemed pathetically eager for any excuse to suspend his campaign. After the economy melted down in September he was only going through the motions. He also had the most incompetent, backbiting and disloyal staff I have ever seen in any presidential campaign.

  • I guess he wasn’t paying much attention in the 60 race when Kennedy would not have stood a chance in Texas without Johnson on the ticket.

    Kennedy won 51% of the vote in Texas. The result is congruent with his thesis.

  • Don

    If has been an analytical common place that for the last 20 years in generic mation wid election each party starts at 45%. I sure hope he loses but even the Palin/McCain did better than 45% (But I thin a McCain anybody else might have been the first to in less that 45%)

    But maybe your right and President Obama is bad enough.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • Rubbish Art. Johnson stole Texas for Kennedy. Some counties had more votes cast for Kennedy than they had registered voters. When the Republicans demanded a recount they were told that the Board of Elections, all Democrats by coincidence, had already certified Kennedy the winner. Of course this type of election fraud was typical for Landslide Lyndon who stole his Senate seat in 1948 and earned his nickname while doing so. Absent the fraud and Johnson’s machine behind him Kennedy would have been creamed.

  • See that is the problem. There are lots of 10 days between now and November, and we’re likely to see some fairly dramatic swings in momentum and data as a result of all kinds of stuff. What the current polls prove is that there is simply no reasonable basis for believing that Romney cannot win the election, and that will be true even if in another 10 days it looks like 10 days ago.


    Given that our elections tend to be decided by people politically unmoored enough to actually be up for grabs between the two parties, it’s hard to say where things will be in November, but the last week does at least seem to show that a majority of voters are willing to vote for Romney if the stars are aligned right in election week and the Obama campaign is stupid enough to commit unforced errors like attacking Mitt’s wife for being a mom.

  • Brilliant video Hank! I always suspected Bullwinkle of being a trilateralist in league with the cattle mutilating Elvis impersonators!

  • “If has been an analytical common place that for the last 20 years in generic mation wid election each party starts at 45%”.

    Bush senior in 92 got 37% in a three way contest and Clinton got 43%. I think each party starts with a hard core of around 40%. Only Goldwater has gotten below that, 38%, in a two way contest for President.

  • Rubbish Art. Johnson stole Texas for Kennedy.

    We have been over this issue before. It is your blog and you can make any sort of unsupported assertion you care to.

  • Facts and unsupported assertions are two different things Art. That Texas was stolen by Johnson in 1960 for Kennedy is a historical fact.

  • Voter fraud in Texas was massive. This is not in dispute. Was it enough to have stolen the state for Kennedy? That may not be as clear, but I know of no serious study that dismisses it. Art if you think otherwise, then it runs counter to several serious studies I’ve read over the years.

  • I certainly don’t think there is “any sin in that” either– I was wondering about where he is grounded now– neither he nor I chose how we were reared– but I wonder what his take-away from all that is– our upbringing certainly has its effect…even if it is shifting sand… Where does he stand now..? I don’t know –I am willing to look more into it… and also at others. As I said, that the question of the VP is such an important question that it bears really looking around at the potential field.

  • That Texas was stolen by Johnson in 1960 for Kennedy is a historical fact.

    It is no such thing.

  • I stand in awe of such a searing refutation grouchy penguin.

    “As examples of ballot box stuffing: In Texas’s Angelina County, in one precinct, only 86 people voted yet the final tally was 147 for Kennedy, 24 for Nixon; in Fannin County the 4895 registered voters cast 6138 votes (75% for Kennedy). Discarded spoiled ballots were to be placed by Texas law in “ballot box 4″ for later re-examination, but many counties (e.g. Fort Bend County, which had a huge 16% spoilage rate, topping even the worst Florida 2000 County) just discarded them, and did not store them, making any biased discarding decisions uncorrectable and unprovable. The 100%-Democrat Texas Election Board refused to conduct a recount, so game over.”

  • Rubio has stuff in his past that will not go unnoticed in a general campaign. I think a much better option would be Susana Martinez from New Mexico. War on women Ms vice president? Nah… Hate Hispanics Ms Martinez? Nah… A Female Catholic Conservative that’s Hispanic? Heavens yeah!!!

  • Mr. McClarey, you are quite welcome to rummage through the principal indexing services for scholarly treatments of 20th century American history. (That would be America: History and Life, JSTOR, and Academic Search Premier). You will find very little in academic journals on electoral fraud during the 1960 presidential election and nearly all of it concerns Cook County, Illinois. As noted the last time we discussed this subject, Johnson’s organization would have had to steal 46,000 votes in Texas to have turned the state for Kennedy, nearly 5x the size of the task Mayor Daley would have had in Illinois but without the concentrated and well-structured organization to do it. As for the 1948 Texas Democratic primary, as far as I am aware (and in spite of his general contentions as to the dimensions of the fraud), Robert Caro was able to verify only that Johnson’s henchmen had stolen some 202 votes in Jim Welles County. (Caro has claimed, implausibly, that Coke Stevenson’s organization lacked the know-how to steal votes). Now, Caro has a new book coming out in just two weeks, so you may find your argument there. (The advance reviews reveal nothing so explosive, however).

  • Just in; Marco Rubio is apparently working on an immigrant legislation piece that would be huge for Hispanics, so a strong VP case could be made for him.

Priests of the Titanic

Sunday, April 15, AD 2012

One hundred years ago Father Thomas Byles was journeying to New York City aboard the RMS Titanic to say the Mass at his brother William’s wedding.

Born on February 26, 1870, he was the eldest of seven children of a Congregationalist minister.  While attending Oxford, from which he graduated in 1894, he converted to Catholicism.  Ordained a priest in 1902, he was assigned to be the parish priest at Saint Helen’s in Ongar, Essex in 1905.  The parish was poor and had few parishioners, but Father Byles was devoted to them and labored mightily for them until 1912 when he left to answer the call of his brother to celebrate his marriage.

Father Byles did not view his trip on the Titanic as a vacation from his priestly duties.  He spent Saturday April 13, hearing confessions, and on Sunday April 14, he said two masses for the second and third class passengers.

Continue reading...

17 Responses to Priests of the Titanic

  • Thank God for priests. Generosity and charity perfected.

  • Amen! Thank you for posting this. Truly inspiring.
    Thank God for all of our heroic priests who, like these three, serve God and His people in their moment, with what they have, where they are.

    I’m thinking our “ship of state” is now in a bit of trouble–
    I don’t think the sinking of America is a foregone conclusion– but let’s imitate the holy example of these good priests–not rearrange the deck chairs- but do what we can with the gifts we have, where we are

  • “As the ship was sinking he said the rosary and heard confessions. Near the end he gave absolution to more than a hundred passengers trapped on the stern of the ship after all the lifeboats had been launched.”

    Would he, then, probably be the priest portrayed in this scene from “Titanic” (excuse the poor quality, it was obviously recorded off a TV screen):

    The scene from 1:15 to 1:30 where he recites the words from Revelation, “And there shall be no more death, neither shall there be sorrow or crying, nor shall there be any more pain; for the former world has passed away,” was probably a case of dramatic license, but powerful nonetheless.

  • Yep Elaine, that is James Lancaster portraying Father Byles.

  • anzlyne: Your analogy to the “ship of state” is timely. Obama’s ship of state is sinking. (Don’t let Hillary Clinton steal the White House china this time) Our holy priests are leading and pasturing the souls of the people. The magnificence of our Catholic Church and God’s generosity is astounding and at the same time uplifting. Blessed be God
    Elaine Krewer: I would not have watched nor have I seen this part of the movie, until now.

  • Don,
    Your abitlty to discover for us these gems of Faith amaze me.
    Just as well your business is flourishing under Obama 😉 otherwise you may not have the time to provide them for us.
    God bless you, mate.

  • Thank you Don. In a variant on Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the history books!

  • Pingback: titanic obama susan g komen planned parenthood abortion |
  • @ Mary De Voe

    Your first comment was good, the second shouldn’t have been posted. Calumny and detraction are sins, you know. We can oppose other people’s political beliefs without repeating false accusations against them. Repeating false accusations made eleven years ago suggests that you have rancor festering in your soul.

    Making such comments on an internet forum which is open to all is not at all helpful to the Holy Catholic Church or to God. Negative perceptions of Catholics would be reinforced by your second comment above if a non-Catholic read it. As a Catholic, I’m always embarrassed when I read this sort of a post from another Catholic, especially one who is a regular poster at a Catholic site.

    It’s also troubling that you said “Obama’s ship of state is sinking” because there are a lot of us on that ship, praying he doesn’t sink it before his term ends. Will there be enough “lifeboats” if the country goes under? His term may not end next January, either. This is a very dangerous time for the country. Pray for the USA.

  • Alright, that will be enough commenter to commenter sniping. This post is about three heroic priests. Please keep comments focused upon them.

  • This was a very interesting article. It’s a shame that the story of the three priests who went down with the Titanic doesn’t seem to have been told very often. I’m 65 and never heard it before. I will tell others. Do you happen to know if any other clergymen went down with the ship? I’m sure I’ll be asked. I know a lot of brave gentlemen stayed onboard.

    My godmother was born that week so she felt very connected to the Titanic. I’m sure she would have told me about the priests if she’d known about them. She was very devout and was raised in a strong ethnic Catholic community in New England, the sort of place where everyone would have talked about the three priests.

  • I thought this was a very nice article and I posted it to my Facebook page. There has been and continues to be great, holy and honorable priests in our midst. Kind of like when an airplane crashes, out of the thousands of flights that take off each day, the only ones noted are the ones that crash. We must pray for our priests at all times. Many of your articles and responses have to do with “scandals”and many have to do with the “progressive” arms that have infiltrated Holy Mother Church in the last 50 years. Do they not go hand in hand? We need the stories of true and faithful leaders such as these young priests. Thank You!

  • Do you happen to know if any other clergymen went down with the ship? I’m sure I’ll be asked.

    If I can take the liberty of answering… There’s a great website out there call the Encyclopedia Titanica which has biographies of all the passengers and crew. Taking a look, there were five Protestant clergy on board, in addition to the three Catholic priests, all of whom went down with the ship:

    Each has a brief bio on the site.

  • “We need the stories of true and faithful leaders such as these young priests. Thank You!”

    Thank you for your kind words Jeanne. Priests, by definition, do not blow their own trumpets, so I do it for them!

  • Katheryn van N.:Thank God for generous and holy Catholic priests. As Fathers Joseph Benedikt Peruschitz, Father Juozas Montvila, and Father Thomas Byles blessed the iceberg strewn waters of the North Atlantic turning the sea into a giant baptismal font, those who went down faced hell and rose again and ascended into heaven. The Catholic Sacrament of Baptism releases man’s soul from each and every sin. I must confess I felt envy for those people in the stern of the Titanic who received absolution and faced their imminent death knowing that God loved them through His holy priests Fathers Joseph Benedikt Peruschitz, Father Juozas Montvila, and Father Thomas Byles who dispensed the grace of the Sacraments. In the not so long ago, passengers in ships, planes, trains and other conveyances were numbered by their soul. There were 2,200 souls aboard the Titanic. 1500 souls were absolved and saved. 707 souls were brought to shore. This is the first time I have heard good news about the Titanic. No wonder the British are taking a poll on how good George Washington was.

  • Thank you Mr. McClarey for your inspiring article! More people should know about these three really heroic priests.
    The story of Father Thomas Byles inspired a young, Catholic, brother and sister team to create Titanic Heroes. Cady (14) and Benjamin (12) Crosby researched the story of Father Byles and wrote a book about him and his heroism on Titanic. They are dedicated to telling his story at
    Cady and Benjamin donated a wreath to Father Byles for the Coast Guard’s annual memorial drop over the site of the sinking

  • There’s yet one historical inaccuracy regarding Fr Montvila. Fr Juozas came from a Lithuanian speaking family from a borderland between what are contemporary Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. His first pastorate was in village Lipki near Awgustow, a Belarusian speaking parish consisting predominantly of the former Byzantine Catholic Belarusians forced into Orthodox Russian church after 1875. After being forced into exile, Fr Juozas intended to work as a Roman rite priest in American serving Lithuanian speaking faithful.

Dominus Est!

Saturday, April 14, AD 2012

We occasionally hold a reading group at our home in which someone brings a selection, and we read aloud.  This past Thursday, we read through a short book (and essay, really) that I obtained back in 2009.  It prompted me to dig up the review I wrote.  Enjoy!


“It is true that if it is possible to receive on the tongue, one can also receive on the hand, both being bodily organs of equal dignity…. Yet, whatever the reasons put forth to sustain this practice, we cannot ignore what happens at the practical level when this method is used. This practice contributes to a gradual, growing weakening of the attitude of reverence toward the Scared Eucharistic Species. The earlier practice, on the other hand, better safeguards the sense of reverence. Instead, an alarming lack of recollection and an overall spirit of carelessness have entered into liturgical celebrations.”

The above words were written by the Most Reverend Malcom Ranjith, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in the Preface of a timely and concise book called Dominus Est!- It is the Lord! by the Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider. Archbishop Ranjith concludes his Preface, “I think it is now time to evaluate carefully the practice of Communion-in-the-hand and, if necessary, to abandon what was actually never called for in the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium nor by the Council Fathers but was, in fact, “accepted” after it was introduced as an abuse in some countries.”

This brief 33 page work by Bishop Schneider comes at a time when many in the Church are discussing postures during the Holy Mass. In fact, the publisher of the book muses that one cannot help but wonder whether the text itself had a role to play in the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to return to the traditional mode of distributing Communion at his Masses, on the tongue to kneeling communicants.

In order to answer this question of the correct posture for reception of the Most Holy Eucharist, we must divide the inquiry itself into two more refined questions. The first is, what is the most appropriate bodily response to the reality present in the Sacred Eucharistic Species? The second is, what are the practical implications of the suggested postures in forming our attitudes towards the God of the Universe who is fully present in the Sacrament? As noted in the previous post the fundamental principle of sacramentality is that the sacrament effects what it signifies. Therefore, not only must the postures with which we approach the Eucharist as well as our mode of reception conform to the dignity of the Sacrament itself, but also that same posture and mode of reception will affect the attitudes we form in regards to the Eucharist. In other words, our actions are not only indicative of our person, but also our person is formed by our actions.

Regarding the first question, the most appropriate bodily response to the reality present in the Sacred Eucharist Species, Bishop Schneider takes the reader through a vast array of evidence from the testimony of the Fathers of the Church, the Early Church, the Magisterium, the Liturgical Rites themselves, Holy Scripture, and finally the Eastern Churches and even the Protestant Communities. The tradition of the Church is unanimous in the insistence that the only proper response to an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ is to fall down on one’s knees.

It is interesting to note that the liturgical norms of the Church require a separate act of reverence and adoration if one receives standing, typically a bow. However, if one receives kneeling, no such gesture is required since kneeling is already a gesture of reverence and adoration. It is true that in the United States, as elsewhere in the world, when a dignitary enters the room, the people give their sign of respect by standing up. However, Jesus Christ is no mere dignitary. The fact that we stand for important persons necessitates that we have a separate, even more dignifying response to the God of the universe.

Regarding reception on the tongue, we begin with the principle that “the attitude of a child is the truest and most profound attitude of a Christian before his Savior, who nourishes him with his Body and Blood” (Schneider, 29). We can then see that,

“The word of Christ, which invites us to receive the Kingdom of God like a child (see Luke 18:17), can find its illustration in that very beautiful and impressive manner of receiving the Eucharistic Bread directly into one’s mouth and on one’s knees. This ritual manifests in an opportune and felicitous way the interior attitude of a child who allows himself to be fed, united to the gesture of the centurion’s humility and to the gesture of ‘wonder and adoration’” (Schneider, 29).

While issues regarding the proper posture of the individual due to the sacredness of the Sacrament, the very practical implication should not go overlooked. That is, it is in receiving on the tongue that we can best minimize the risks of losing even the tiniest particle of the Sacred Host. Quoting St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop Schneider exhorts us to “take care to lose no part of It [the Body of the Lord]. Such a loss would be the mutilation of your own body. Why, if you had been given gold-dust, would you not take the utmost care to hold it fast, not letting a grain slip through your fingers, lest you be so much the poorer? How much more carefully, then, will you guard against losing so much as a crumb of that which is more precious than gold or precious stones?” (34). (St. Cyril lived in the fourth century.)

Regarding the second question, the practical implications of the suggested postures in forming our attitudes towards the God of the Universe who is fully present in the Sacrament, it is time, roughly 30 or 40 years after the practice of communion standing and in-the-hand became widespread, to ask ourselves the inevitable question. Did the experiment work? Have we seen greater Eucharistic reverence, or have we seen an increase in lackadaisical attitudes? Has attendance at Mass gone up or down? Are people better able to explain and internalize the Real Presence in the Eucharist? An honest evaluation of the state of Eucharistic Piety in our time is bound to be dismal and disappointing.

What, then, are we to do? Must we have a long, drawn out process of educating the laity before we can return to the posture and mode of reception that has been far more prevalent in the history of our Church? Perhaps Romano Guardini was ahead of his time in 1965 when he prophetically wrote, “The man of today is not capable of a liturgical act. For this action, it is not enough to have instruction or education; no, initiation is needed, which at root is nothing but the performance of the act” (quoted in Schneider, 47). This is a much more eloquent way of saying that orthopraxy will bring about orthodoxy. Right actions will educate and enliven doctrine. It should be pointed out that the Holy Father, in his return to distributing communion on the tongue while kneeling, seems to have subscribe to the advice of Guardini. He simply made the return, and the people have responded.

While the mode of reception is at the center of Biship Schneider’s book Dominus Est, the book is an inspiring exposition of how to best reverence the miracle of the Eucharistic Lord.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Dominus Est!

  • Agape, our mouth open to love and receive Our Lord. On our knees, where we fall in adoration. Our altar rail needs to return to assist in our failing knees the push off of knees already returned to heaven.(as well as exclude the laity from the sanctuary, another sign of reverence that may be exhibited by the unordained.) Our mouths open in love and awe, giving especial significance to the consecrated hands of the ordained priest into whose sacred hands God has entrusted HIs Only Begotten Son. The extraordinary ministers whose hands are not consecrated, and the lay ministers function in person of the priest. Not always a good thing. Without the altar rail, the sanctuary has become a market place. With the Blessed Sacrament not front and center the “fellowship” after Mass is despicable. Sometimes so rude I would not allow it in my home, with people parking their buts on the back of the pew with their backs to the altar and Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI would like to see the Kiss of Peace returned to before the Consecration. Leaving the Body of Christ alone and unattended on the altar, the Body of Christ in Whom all men are perfectly present to Jesus, the priest goes off to wish the organist peace, a Pax Christi some people do not even know WHO they are offering and WHO they are accepting. If, as a Christian, I do not love the person next to me outside the church, the Kiss of Peace is not voluntary, but enforced by the liturgy and I am not properly prepared for Jesus. The Catholic Church is Jesus Christ’s house and if one is not there to visit Jesus, they need to be gone.
    The school children at Mass were orderly. When, after Mass, the adults began their marketplace behavior, three or four of the children smiled, knowing that when they became adults, they too, could talk church.
    Father Tom asked the parishioners to leave the church in silence after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. The parishioners began their marketplace behavior and Father Tom had a heart attack right there and has been disabled ever since.
    Two stories about reverence and holiness in church.

  • “Did the experiment work?”

    That is the one question the liturgical innovators will never ask themselves. In a way,
    their attitude is like that of today’s communists– when confronted with the failures
    and grief their ideology has begotten, they reply ‘ah, it just hasn’t been implemented
    properly yet!’.

  • Pingback: tac collecting discern cardinal schonborn ancient israel |
  • To pick up on Clinton’s point…I wonder if back in the 50’s and early 60’s, when Eucharistic faith was commonly strong among Catholics, if a communist or a free mason wanted to seriously damage that faith what would have been the most effective thing to do? Loud discourse would not have worked. Probably one of the most effective moves would have been to get Catholics receiving communion in the hand and standing up. I’m not saying that this was some kind of plot by ecclesiastical communists or masons but an innovation unwisely introduced and maintained, by well meaning but naive liturgists and bishops, some of whose theology had become cloudy.
    I appreciate the work of bishops like Cardinal Ranjith and Bishop Schneider and the witness and teaching of our Holy Father. I’ve read Bishop Schneider’s little book several times. As priests we must grow in our own love for the Eucharist and our awareness of our Catholic liturgical tradition. We also have to give a lot of consideration to how best catechize our people to enable more reverent celebrations of Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion.

  • As a Cradle Catholic, I can never feel right receiving My Lord and My God in my hands. But to those who can do so with reverence, as well as we oldies who can no longer kneel – even if the Altar Rails are back – it is the attitude of the heart, the awe and the adoration we express as we receive our Saviour and the humility with which we go back to the Pew to listen to Him talking in our hearts and souls that really matters. What jars me most is those communicants who, immediately after receiving the Holy Communion, come back to the Pews and continue to participate in loud singing. Surely, one wonders if they ever listed to their God who has just united Himself with them,

It Is An Ill Wind

Saturday, April 14, AD 2012


Hattip to Instapundit.   As faithful readers of this blog know, I am, for my sins no doubt, an attorney.  My bankruptcy practice has grown 20-25% each year of the Obama administration:


Tax refunds being used to pay for bankruptcy filings. “More than 200,000 money-strapped households will use their tax refunds this year to pay for bankruptcy filing and legal fees, says a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

Continue reading...

6 Responses to It Is An Ill Wind

  • Former FDIC Chairman (was possibly the only competent person in DC since Bush left) has a modest proposal (Swiftian) in the Wa Post.

    She wants to end income inequality and stimulate the economy by providing to the American household the same loans Bernanke, Geithner, and Obama have been giving to Goldman Sachs, AIG, JPMorganChase, et al since late 2008.

    The Fed has been handing Trillons $$$ in basically interest-free loans to banks to spark the recovery.

    Ms. Bair suggests that each American household receive access to the Fed printing press by be granted a $10 million interest free loan.

    This way Main Street gets a piece of the action as well as Wall Street. And, no bureaucrats are involved.

    Makes as much sense as handing interest-free trillions to billionaire banksters.

    Tell me again why you voted for Obama . . .

  • Two of my daughters lost their homes and are now renting. One’s husband’s overtime was cut off. The other daughter’s job was sent to Japan (where their product was inferior because they did not know what they were doing) Now, she is making sandwiches in a Seven Eleven while trying to put her children, my grandchildren, through college. The bank refused to take the key to the house back, leaving her with a mortgage forever. My son and the famly all helped. Her house was sold, but there was only so much we could do. Do not let Obama tell anyone that the stimulus package was anything but to get him reelected. Obama is pretty sure of being reelected, but not with my vote.

  • Obama is pretty sure of being reelected,

    How so?

  • Art Deco: I am doing everything possible to ensure FREEDOM.

  • Middle class manufacturing jobs have been going overseas since the ealry 80’s.
    We started loosing jobs well before Obama came into office. It’s not him nor was it Bush. It’s the rules that allow the highest top 5% to run things the way it benefits them. Corporations have been getting breaks long before Obama and we were not getting those breaks before him either.
    We need strong middle class and a viable third political party.
    We can’t spend $trillions on poorly strategized wars that provide no clear winners and expect the economy to shine. It’s all of us – keep buying your goods from overseas, but keep complaining about the economy…my car was made in Indiana…how bout yours?…what percentage of durable goods in your household were built in America?
    Our policies stink and are counter to growing a strong middle class. Don’t need a president for that.
    We need to generate the political will to make the changes required. The republicans have the house, but what bills have they produce or gotten into law that help the middle class? This shouldn’t be us vs them…it should be how we are going to get together to solve the root causes of the problems you’re all complaining about. Certainly Mitt isn’t the answer…

Captain Buffalo

Saturday, April 14, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  The song Captain Buffalo from the 1960 movie Sergeant Rutledge (1960), John Ford’s salute to the regular army black soldiers who fought in the West in post Civil War America.  Called Buffalo Soldiers, the black troops made up the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments.  While confronting the extreme prejudice of that time, the troops earned accolades for their courage and professionalism.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Captain Buffalo

Our Most Cherished Freedom

Friday, April 13, AD 2012

Judging from this statement on religious liberty issued yesterday, the Bishops understand that the stakes are very high indeed this year:


A Statement on Religious Liberty


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.   Freedom is not only for Americans, but we think of it as something of our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be guarded now. We are stewards of this gift, not only for ourselves but for all nations and peoples who yearn to be free. Catholics in America have discharged this duty of guarding freedom admirably for many generations.   In 1887, when the archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, was made the second American cardinal, he defended the American heritage of religious liberty during his visit to Rome to receive the red hat. Speaking of the great progress the Catholic Church had made in the United States, he attributed it to the “civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic.” Indeed, he made a bolder claim, namely that “in the genial atmosphere of liberty [the Church] blossoms like a rose.”1   From well before Cardinal Gibbons, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience. It is among the proudest boasts of the Church on these shores. We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.   We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.   This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops:  

Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.  

Continue reading...

14 Responses to Our Most Cherished Freedom

State Interests in the Primary Process

Friday, April 13, AD 2012

I’d like to post a question that reader G-Veg sent to me regarding states and the primary process.

Cursory research suggests that the most common reason cited for states running Primaries is to avoid fraud.  This is certainly the reason cited by Progressives in Teddy Roosevelt’s time for campaign reform.  While not strictly focused on Primaries, 19th and early 20th Century Progressives made huge strides in dismantling political machines.  (Interestingly, at least in Pennsylvania and New York, primary contests have been paid for and managed by the state for as far back as I could research on line.  In Pennsylvania, for example, election officials ran primary contests at least as early as Lincoln’s election and there are records of New York City primaries for Mayor going back to 1850.)

Research suggests that we’ve been doing state paid for and managed primaries for quite some time with almost no thought as to whether there is even a legitimate state interest in the contests to begin with.  I suggest that there is no legitimate interest and that state patronage is both unconstitutional and irrational.

First, I’ll note what we all know: that we have a “Two Party System” by default, not law.  The Constitution of the United States makes no mention of the country’s political makeup or character.  That reality gives particular significance to Washington’s warnings about factionalism.

Second, the argument that State sponsorship controls fraud is, itself, a farce.  It does nothing of the kind because the “back room deals” Progressives sought to control continue to rule the process.  It seems like a well-intentioned but failed experiment.  It is an expensive one too.  In Pennsylvania, for example, a statewide election, whether primary or general, costs a touch more than $1 million (2010).

Third, even if State sponsorship controlled a host of ill effects like fraud, disputed outcomes, and mob selections of candidates, the state has no interest in contests.  So what if Party X chooses a union bullied candidate or one purchased lock, stock, and barrel by monied interests?  Party X can do what it wishes.  They can select by heredity if they want to.  As long as there is a robust general election, how candidates get on the ballot is largely irrelevant.

Fourth, state paid for and managed primaries force out of elections many millions of qualified citizens because there can never be more than two “real” parties as long as the coercive powers of the state are used to keep alternatives marginalized and disenfranchized.  Surely the state has an interest in promoting greater levels of public service among the citizenry and anything that discourages such participation should be overhauled.

For these reasons, I believe that states should stop paying for and managing primaries.  I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Personally I don’t think there’s much under the constitution that would allow the federal government to get the states out of elections, and any large-scale attempt to get the states out of the business may only enhance the power of the two-party system.  But I’d like to hear thoughts on this.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to State Interests in the Primary Process

  • Do away with party registration. Let’s have real parties that you have to join (as opposed to ticking a box on a form). Thus only dues-paying members get to vote on who will be a candidate according to its own rules.

    This will never happen of course, but it’s fun to imagine what rules the parties might come up with

  • At least from my reading of the Constitution, we don’t even need to have primaries. There is nothing in the Con itself that prohibits anyone, assuming they meet the qualifications, from being on the ballot (at least not in the Con itself) or writing in whomever you please. But then, I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution where we (joe citizen) actually elects the President/ Vice-President. This is left to “electors” appointed as each state legislature directs. Theoretically, these electors could choose whomever qualifies for the office, even if the citizenry had never heard of him or her.

    The practiced reality, of course, is quite different. There is probably not a very practical way of doing it without state involvement with primaries, and I don’t see how it would improve things anyway. TV coverage and advertising is what makes candidates, so whatever system you have, you still need money backers and party apparatus, and that is where the corruption comes in.

  • This seems a very interesting concept, though I might be reading G-veg’s proposal incorrectly. The idea that the primary process is just a way of winnowing down the selection of candidates into just two major candidates does seem a bit of a waste when situations like the one we had this year happen that the “major party candidate” is not at all the one most people in the designated “constituency” is excited about. To have multiple national conventions selecting candidates to go up against each other in a presidential election that really pits all the candidates against each other seems interesting. I’m not a history buff in the least. How was it done in earlier presidential elections? Who selected the party representatives? From what I can recall it seems that at most there were only ever 4 candidates vying for the presidency, but I don’t know how they entered the race.

    I’m all for saving money and making the elections even more representative of the national population and not having to settle so often on the “major party candidate.” I just don’t know exactly what it would look like. Nor, as you say, Paul, how it would start to happen. Again, not a history buff (though I would like to be).

  • I am confused. If you don’t have a primary then what do you do? Just not have an election? Sorry – but that makes no sense.

    The point of the primary is to find out who is going to represent that party – what could possibly be wrong with that?

  • The point is not that there should be no primaries but that the State shouldn’t be in the business of determining who the candidates for parties are. The State shouldn’t pay for and manage the selection of party candidates and should confine itself to overseeing the General Election.

    Consider that there are several dozen third parties in the US. The Libertarian Party is probably the best known but we have a Green Party, a Communist Party, and a Constitution Party as well. Set aside, for a moment, any feelings you may have about the ideologies of these non-main stream political parties.

    Why are they any less deserving of State sponsorship than the Democratic or Republican Parties?

    As it stands, the State pays for and manages what is, in essence, a party activity. The result is that the State uses its coercive powers to reinforce the extra-constitutional requirement that one be a member of one of the two main parties if one is to hold elective office. Indeed, since only members of the two main parties can get elected due to State manipulation of election laws and administration of voter registration, the State determines their citizens’ vote.

    If the disenfranchised were in a protected class, the very same actions would be acknowledged by all three branches of government to be unconstitutional. Since the disenfranchised are those with different political views, we allow it.

    The result is the same, the victims are different.

    What if we were to say to the two main parties (I acknowledge here that this a theoretical point since the only way to make this happen is for the representatives of the two major parties to voluntarily cede power) “you may place whomever you wish on the ballot and may arrive at your choice by whatever means you wish but the State will not pay for it and will not manage it”?

  • For what it’s worth, not that G-Veg is arguing for the abolition of primaries, but the current system is of a recent vintage. At least in terms of the presidential nomination process, primaries did not become the almost exclusive means of nominating presidential candidates until 1972. There had been primaries held for many decades before then, but the system was a combination of open primaries and closed party conventions, and the nominees were decided at the national party conventions. I’m not necessarily advocating a return to the older way of doing things myself, but am merely pointing out that primaries are not the only way to determine nominees.

  • “The point is not that there should be no primaries but that the State shouldn’t be in the business of determining who the candidates for parties are.”

    it’s not the ‘State’ that decides. It’s put up to the people of that state to select.

  • I am really ignorant about this. I did not know the state controlled the primaries. i thought that the parties did– in State A, the State A Repubs would control the A Repub primary. Not right?

    re: state paid for and managed primaries force out of elections many millions of qualified citizens because there can never be more than two “real” parties as long as the coercive powers of the state are used to keep alternatives marginalized and disenfranchized.

  • My understanding is:

    1) Party members in that state fund the primaries.
    2) Citizens, not the State, elects who they want representing their party during the primaries by a fair vote.

  • I think G-Veg is being rather punctilious in his complaints. The expense of primaries is a trivial component of state and local budgets, a legal architecture is necessary for allocating ballot access, and the distinction between generic voluntary associations and ‘official’ parties is observed in other countries. It would not surprise me if you could demonstrate that primaries were a contributor to the development of a sterile political duopoly, but I will wager you there are two or three stronger vectors.

    1. We have an unadulterated first-past-the-post electoral system.

    2. There are social and cultural cleavages in American society, but the manifestation of them in particular persons tends in our own time to be strongly correlated. People who are on side A in one nexus of disputes also tend to fall on side B in another nexus of disputes, so you have a political party which promotes both.

    3. Sheer inertia.

    Several modifications:

    1. Supplement the election of legislators single-member district constituencies. Each party would nominate a reserve list of at-large candidates in addition to its district candidates. The sum of votes received by its candidates in all constituencies compared to the sum of votes received by all candidates in all constituencies would determine the number of seats the party received in the legislature. From that total, you would subtract the number won in district contests and then fill in the remainder from the reserve list. The reserve list could be constructed from the party’s unsuccessful district candidates. Simply rank-order the party’s unsuccessful challengers according to the ratio of votes they received to the ratio of votes received by the winning candidate in their district and then rank order behind them the party’s defeated incumbents according to the same metric.

    2. Relax the requirement that districts be equipopulous, develop a practice manual for the construction of districts which delineates impersonal rules for the construction of districts, and devolve any residual discretionary decisions over district lines to panels of local trial judges. You do not need precisely equipopulous districts, and it is (I would submit) better for particular counties and municipalities to be represented as integral wholes. What you need is to avoid systemic over-representation of certain interests in one election cycle after another. (As used to be the case in apportionment of state legislators).

    3. Require at the very least rotation in office for legislators. No one serves more than eight years in any bloc of twelve.

    4. Adopt a practice of ordinal balloting for all competitive elections. Have voters rank-order the candidates on the ballot rather than simply casting a ballot for one to the exclusion of the others. Count ordinal ballots as follows:

    a. Tally the first preference votes of each candidate
    b. Take the ballots of the candidate in last place and distribute them to the other candidates according to the second place preference of his supporters.
    c. Rinse and repeat until one candidate is left standing.

    5. Have local authorities classify each district as ‘competitive’ or ‘non-competitive’ in anticipation of each election. A ‘non-competitive’ district might be one represented by a given political party for at least 20 of the previous 24 years. Because district-boundaries change, authorities will have to construct a simulation of representation by looking at who represented the various components of the district in previous districting schemes.

    6. Have different nomination schemes for competitive and non-competitive districts.

    a. For competitive districts, have each political party hold a district caucus among its card-carrying and dues-paying members. They could subsequently hold a primary among their registrants according to their discretion, but that would not be a requirement. Once the caucus was complete, the party would pay a deposit to the board of elections for ballot access, refundable with a given level of performance.

    b. For non-competitive districts, have aspirant candidates petition among the party’s registrants and then pay the deposit out of pocket. All aspirant candidates would appear on the general election ballot with their party registration listed, but none would be the party’s official candidate. The practice of ordinal balloting would excise any dilemmas and perversities that might arise from the presence of multiple candidates from a single party on the ballot. This practice would replace our current practice of having party primaries as tantamount to election in non-competitive constituencies.

  • I wonder what would happen if the presidents elected by the electoral collage had to not like being president (such as John Adam) because one major problem you run into is presidents acting like tyrants such as Andrew Jackson, Bill Clinton, and Barrack Obama.

Civil War Death Toll

Friday, April 13, AD 2012

“War means fighting. And fighting means killing.”        

Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Hattip to my co-blogger Paul Zummo.  One hundred and fifty years later we are still learning about the greatest war in US history, even in regard to such a basic fact of the conflict as the number of men killed in it:

For 110 years, the numbers stood as gospel: 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.       

But new research shows that the numbers were far too low.      

By combing through newly digitized census data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000. 

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Civil War Death Toll

  • Crazy to think how much anger fuled the South to fight so violently to want to keep slavery.

  • And that’s not counting civilian deaths, of which there must have been many, particularly in 1) cities targeted for siege and attack such as Vicksburg, Atlanta and Richmond, and 2) areas plagued by guerilla warfare such as Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, etc.

    If I’m not mistaken, the staggering number of combat deaths during the war did leave numerous women of that generation (particularly in the South) either widows or “old maids.” Obviously societal expectations of women would have to have shifted in an environment where so many had lost husbands or had no reasonable prospects of marriage. That would make a really interesting academic study, I imagine.

  • Don, a bit off topic perhaps but I’m reading O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln” and was wondering if you read it and what you think of its accuracy inasmuch as you are a Civil War expert.

  • I haven’t read it yet Joe and therefore I am unable to comment. Due to Booth being killed rather than captured there is much about the assassination and the conspiracy leading up to it which still remains a mystery.

A Real Job

Thursday, April 12, AD 2012

I’ve had it suggested that I write about motherhood a bit; be careful what you ask for.


….Yeah, I’m posting on that.  Some idiot talking head makes a slam at a grandmother with MS and everyone has to comment about it.  I think I have something worth saying, though, rather than just talking about it because it’s big.


I’m a stay at home mom.  A home-maker.  A house wife.


I have worked outside the home, before I got married, in a very similar field—I was a Petty Officer in the Navy, specializing in calibration. (Making sure things that measure are accurate enough.)  Before that, I was in another similar field, at least sort of—I was a ranch kid.


Perhaps some folks look at those things and are curious—what on earth is the connection between being a mother, working with cows and fixing stuff that’s used to fix planes and ships?

Continue reading...

11 Responses to A Real Job

  • My wife stayed home with the kids Foxfier until they were in highschool and now helps me out at the office while they are in school. (Our oldest is finishing up his sophmore year at the University of Illinois.) I have always thought that I work so that she can do the important work of the family in being the mom of our kids.

  • I have always thought that I work so that she can do the important work of the family in being the mom of our kids.

    Hey… maybe part of the problem is that “produce high quality adults” isn’t the main purpose of a family anymore? It’s about Husband and Wife, not Mom and Dad…. A sort of sister problem to the whole removing-reproduction-from-sex thing.

  • Donald: You have a blessed family.
    Foxfire: “It’s about Husband and Wife, not Mom and Dad…. A sort of sister problem to the whole removing-reproduction-from-sex thing.” The word “sex” is used to confound the difference between “love” and “lust”. Husband, wife, mom and dad are offices assumed through the exercise of free will, informed consent, and are vocations. Male and female refers to the human being’s gender. Man and woman are human beings composed of body and soul as created by God. To consider the sex of a person without considering the soul of a person is a crime. To place the wife and mom outside her vocation to which she has consented to in an act of free will is a violation of a person’s FREEDOM, a crime against who a wife and mom is as created by God. That Rosen presumes to know the heart of Ann Romney is plagiarism, jealousy. I just realized that the word jealousy ends in the word “lousy”. Rosen was being lousy. With family, husband, wife, children, one learns how to pray.

  • Found this:
    For thousands of years men were expected to provide for the household and women were expected to manage it. And in Memphis when I was growing up, most of the city commissions that actually ran the city were dominated by married women. There might be a figurehead man chairman, but everyone understood that the power rested with the commissioners, just about every one of them married, educated, and upper middle class. They had the time and interest to participate in self government. And of course most church committees and charitable functions were run by married women who had the time to participate in these associations. That’s not modern, of course. And surely we’re so much more civilized now and the children are so much more civilized since all that changed.

  • There will be an extra bit of “oomph” in my intentions for you this Divine Mercy Sunday, FF.

    “The Mote In God’s Eye” is an all time classic, BTW.

  • This whole episode has made me so mad I just want to spit! I work full time and my husband stays home with the children. The very idea that staying with the children is not a ‘real job.’ The thought that my job is more important than raising children. How utterly insane the world has become. I can’t even put together a coherent thought.

    Foxfier, I like your phrase, sister problem. Well this attitude is a sister attitude to what I frequently find at work when having some child issue (like being tired after staying up all night with the baby). The attitude goes something like this, ‘It was your choice to have children, so it’s your own fault. If you don’t like being tired, you shouldn’t have had children.’ There is little empathy or perspective, just blame.

  • I stayed at home while my four kids were young. It was hard work, and we sacrificed the big house, the second car and many other luxuries for which I have no regret! I almost wanted to go back into the work force to get a little rest! But what I wanted even more was to be with and nurture my kids instead of daycaring them and barely affording the coverage. Lots of women in the mid to late 70?s and a little beyond still stayed home with their kids, as did all of the folks from my parents age group. “Stay at home Mom” should not now be a bad word. For those who can, God bless them- it is far better for your children! For those who cannot, God bless you as well; but please don’t be bitter and envious as some of these shrill women are.
    What is most stunning, is that the left consistently makes these ridiculously thoughtless and most often mean spirited statements, and never has to explain nor apologize for them!!!!

  • Foxfier—what is so important in your post is the recognition of the unity of the marriage, regardless of whether the mom works. We chose that my wife would “work” at the vocation of family friend, leader, spouse, mom, executive, etc. In so doing, probably like Don, I worked the heavy hours building a practice. There were many scary times along the way. I always find it interesting, as again in the judginess by the left, how a life dedicated to her family as with Mrs. Romney, a noble inspiring vocation, is viewed by polity in a snapshot rather than the video stream of what was, is and will be. It’s the same leftist view of the so called “rich.” The snapshot of what is now in an instant, not the life time of sacrifices, hard work, and purpose undertaken by many of the so called “rich” to achieve something for others.

    I can honestly remember growing up the normality of moms being home, and dads pouring themselves out to provide for the family. In post modernity, this is considered a defect. Strange times indeed.

  • I think Ms Rosen’s jab was a least in part motivated by class warfare– not only about whether or not working at home qualifies as “working”… some comments that I have read elsewhere are more about having the freedom to choose to stay home– which I know is always subject to what the values of the particular mom/dad are– some think they have to work when others would think they will cut back on their spending– but I do think class jealousy has something to do with the huge reaction.

  • You know as rich as Jackie Kennedy was, people were proud of her for having a job… the princesses of England are former schoolteachers etc– the class issue is at the bottom of it– the royal family of England knows it is important that the regular folks can identify with them

    Although lots of women don”t “have” to work they just like to get out of the house and use their other talents once in a while

  • Of course it was class warfare. Same as the old lie about only folks who are really well off can have a stay-at-home parent. Part of why there are so many programs to help pay for working mother’s daycare costs is because it usually doesn’t make economic sense otherwise; if you’re not willing to take handouts you don’t really need….

    While I was obviously not alive then, I get the impression that Mrs. Kennedy would have been lauded for anything she did. She was beautiful, fashionable, charming, married a handsome and charismatic hero that became president and died tragically and early. Any time they come up, my mom tends to point out that there were three pictures on the wall when she was a kid– Jesus, the Pope and JFK.

    Same way we’re supposed to be awed when the Obamas volunteer at a soup kitchen, but the Cheneys giving the majority of their income away is somehow bad; Sarah Palin running for office with kids at home is abandoning them, and Mrs. Romney having been a home-maker is a sign they’re spoiled, rich people.

    Don’t get me started on the “she had help” meme– I have no idea what their finances looked like when the boys were young, I doubt anyone spreading the meme has bothered to look into it, and I’d like to know what the heck daycare is if it’s not “help watching the kids.” Don’t see anyone discounting working mothers because someone else watches the kids part of the day….

Honoring A Murderer in Galway

Thursday, April 12, AD 2012

 “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”

 G. K. Chesterton

 Ah poor Ireland.  As the Faith has become weaker in the Emerald Isle, strange new gods are arising, and one of the strangest is Che Guevara, deceased Argentinian revolutionary and hero of politically correct fools everywhere.  In Galway of all places the local government passed a measure approving of a memorial to Castro’s Himmler.


The minutes of Galway City Council’s meeting of  Monday, 16 May 2011, include the following proposal: ‘That Galway City Council  commit itself to honoring one of its own, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, descendant of  two of our Tribes, the Lynch family of Lydican House, and the Blakes. The  project to be furthered by liaising with the Argentinean and Cuban  Embassies.’


Billy Cameron, an Irish Labor Party councillor in  Galway, has scoffed at the claims made by fellow city councillors that they  didn’t know they had voted to approve a monument in honor of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.


To underline his point Councillor Cameron dryly  asked if his fellow Galway City Councillors thought they had been voting for ‘an  egg and spoon race?’ when they unanimously approved the measure.


Councilor Cameron also had some advice for  conservative Cuban-Americans who have taken an interest in the case in recent  weeks: they should ‘butt out’ of Irish affairs, he told

That last comment is rich.  What business is it of Ireland to honor a man who helped install a brutal tyranny in Cuba?  Of course this is being done because nature abhors a vacuum, and without a belief in Christ, people will search for substitute religions and for many in the West Leftism of various stripes is the favored choice.  It is gratifying that this attempt to honor “Saint” Che is drawing such fire.  Castro’s hangman deserves it:

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Honoring A Murderer in Galway

  • I would cite this, as well as all infatuation with such degenerates, as proof that evolution of the human species remains a myth. To evolve is to become greater and better. Such progress is difficult to find nowadays.

  • I don’t know if I would equate evolution with greater and better. To evolve is simply to adapt to changed conditions. Evolution is neutral as to whether those changes are good or bad, from a moral sense, particularly if we are speaking about “cultural” evolutions.

  • Fascinating video. It is rather ironic that the anti-capitalist Che’s image is exploited by capitalists on t-shirts and coffee mugs. I am sure Che is enjoying this from his 6th circle.

  • “To evolve is simply to adapt to changed conditions.”

    Granted, in the value-neutral sense. But homo sapiens is supposed to be able to change his environment as well as adapt to it.

    If we have that ability, and yet we still wind up on a regular basis with both murdering tyrants and those who worship them, I’d submit that something in the theory is awry.

  • My ancestors departed in suffering and tears.

    The sassenach succeeded after all.

  • For some reason known only to God, there are two surviving….things….that successfully resist extermination. One of them is the cockroach. The other is Marxism.

    Nothing on the face of the earth has failed in such a spectacular way as Marxism. Marxism is the worst ideology, the worst philosophy, the worst economic model, the worst system to devise a society ever thought up by man. Karl Marx was a degenerate. Karl Marx lived off of others for almost all of his adult life. Karl Marx abandoned his children. Karl Marx was a racist, an elitist and in favor of eugenics.

    Marxism survives primarily in the minds of so called academics who infest the so called “institutions of higher learning” which are turning out deeply indebted and highly stupid people. To a lesser degree, Marxism infests the worlds of art and entertainment. Marxism fails when it comes to sports. The blatant cheating of the USSR at the Olympic Games when I was young is proof of that.

    Ronald Reagan was born before the rise of the USSR and lived to see it fall. Karol Wojytla was born a few years after Red October 1917 but he too lived to see the USSR fall. RR and JPII were living proof that smarts, guile and determination were what it took to bring down an Evil Empire. These men should be seen as the heroes of our age and the ages to follow, but the expensive and failed indoctrination systems known as public education have failed the youth of the world and their parents.

    The Black Book of Communism should be required reading of anyone who enters high school. A good book to accompany that would be Bloodlands. Nazism was never more than second worst compared to Communism.

    Yet, the brain dead of the worldwide Political Left continue to genuflect at the High Altar of Evil. Guevara was a punk, a terrorist and a thug – a small man with a vicious mind and accountable to no one. He deserved his fate in Bolivia. the CIA should have cremated his remains and dumped the ashes into the Pacific – like what Israel did to Adolf Eichmann. JFK was too much of a coward to commit the necessary force to eliminate Castro in 1961, and as a result, Castro has sought to spread his cancer thorough Latin America. Castro has failed in creating other Communist states such as his own, but Castro succeeded in indirectly causing the deaths of countless people in Latin America through wars, political repression and economic instability.

    Our failed indoctrination systems have caused the USA to be led by insufferable twits – useful idiots – like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Obumbler. Notice that these people come from states that are currently abject failures.

    The Irish Labor Party is populated by idiots – useful idiots as Lenin would call them. So is the Democrat Party of the USA, the Socialist Party of France, Spain and Portugal, the Liberal Party of Canada, the Sandinistas, the Chavistas, the followers of Evo Morales in Bolivia, et cetera, ad infinitum.

    Not so long ago, Mairo Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian intellectual, wrote a book, The Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot. Latin American “higher education” is permeated with worshipers of Castro, followers of the insufferably stupid Eduard Galeano, and abject haters of the USA, who they blame for all of Latin America’s failures. It is a funny and hard hitting book. Llosa excoriates Latin American politicians, university professors, liberation theology-damaged Catholic religious and other assorted fools.

    People who wear a Che t shirt should be given a week’s vacation in Little Havana and Hialeah. It would be like wearing a Joe Stalin T-shirt in Warsaw. I would pay my own way to see the fireworks from that.

  • Penguin’s Fan: Excellent!!!

  • Don’t blame the Sassanach for what is going on in Ireland. For generations, the Irish stood up for the Church and their Faith against great oppression. Given two decades of economic prosperity, they dumped it all for modernism and materialism. Maybe not all, but a great many.

  • Pingback: sspx divine mercy sunday college for greater glory catholic |

Crazy Mel

Thursday, April 12, AD 2012



Back in 2011 I reported that Mel Gibson was working on a screenplay about the Maccabean revolt.  Go here to read the post.  I hoped that this movie would help Gibson work out the personal demons that afflict him.  Alas, such is not the case.  The project has been shelved, and the screenwriter of the play Joe Eszterhas has unloaded on Gibson in a nine page letter that may be read here.  (Caution as to strong language.)  Mel Gibson is the most prominent Catholic of his generation in Hollywood.  His Passion of the Christ is a masterful film that inspired, and inspires, huge numbers of people around the globe.  To see him destroy his life and reputation since then has been painful.  Gibson needs our prayers and a swift kick in the hind end.

Update I:  Hattip to commenter Chris P.  Go here to read Gibson’s response to the Eszterhas letter.

Update II:  Go here to read Eszterhas’ response to Gibson.

Continue reading...

26 Responses to Crazy Mel

  • Can we still consider him Catholic? He did form his own schismatic church.

  • It appears from the letter that Gibson was being fitted out for a Maoist confessional, with the Enemy of The People receiving absolution after some heavy going. Madness or his guardian angel saved him from that ignominious fate. Good on ya mate, ha ha.

  • I thought Mel was a Sedevacantist…. like Sungenis.

  • When Jim Caviezel was interviewed about the filming of “The Passion” he said Mel insisted they both go to daily confession and daily (Latin) Mass to remain safe from demonic attacks. That was a wise move, and the incredible success of “The Passion” is a testament that they harnessed great spiritual power. But Mel let his guard down afterward and obviously the devil has had his way with him. Part of his problem is the sedevacantist mindset which mocks Blessed John Paul and encourages Holocaust denial. I have had many friends attend SSPX churches and eventually this crept into their thinking. They become their own popes, deciding for themselves which pope is valid and which is a Mason, which means they are no longer Catholics, they just look like them. Add to that the wealth which I and the millions who attended many showings of “The Passion” helped him accumulate. Wealth ruins many people as they can afford to terrorize their staff, build and staff their own churches, becoming isolated dictators.
    Mel needs a tough priest, who says Latin Mass and is an exorcist to confront him, and the spirits which have infested him.

  • “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

    Am I a sedevacantist? I ask because I only say three (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) sets of Mysteries of the Holy Rosary and I don’t totally buy that “human dignity” stuff. Otherwise, I honor Pope John Paul II.

    In 1979, during his visit to NYC, I came within 100 feet of Pope John Paul II. I was walking past St Patrick’s on my way to work and he and Terence Cardinal Cook were taking a quiet stroll about the Cathedral (behind NYPD barricades). I waved to him. I don’t think he saw me. And, I could feel the holiness.

  • T.Shaw. You may not be a sedevacantist but you are dead wrong if you say you can pick and choose which papal teachings to accept. What makes you any better than liberal Catholics who accept Church social teaching which fit with their liberal agenda and ignore Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae?
    Its the same thing Mel does, you go with your feelings. Mel agrees with his father that JPII is “Garullous Carolus the Koran Kisser” and mocks him. You ‘feel’ his holiness. IT=ts not about feelings, its about submitting to authority which Christ put over you as a Catholic. If you do not accept papal authority, you are a Protestant.
    Name one saint who was disobedient to his superiors, even when they were morally bankrupt and jealously suppressing him, as in the case of St Faustina and Padre Pio.
    Why don’t you read some of Blessed John Paul’s writing on human dignity and his Marian writings. You may find that your disobedience is borne out of ignorance and pride. They don’t call Blessed John Paul II Great for nothing.

  • TShaw:

    Well, unless you have a nigh-unto-unique form of sedevacantism which holds that JP2 was a valid pope and B16 is not, it’s pretty clear you’re not.

    The Luminous mysteries are optional. I’m not sure what you mean by the “human dignity stuff,” but man does an excellent job of effacing his God-given dignity these days, that’s for sure.

  • Though part of Catholic teaching is Veritatis Splendor which talks about intrinsic evils which can never be supported (abortion, contraception, torture) and those things which are not evils per se (income inequality). The former can never be accepted while (within reason) the latter can.

    Then of course are the licit variety of approaches to applying social teaching which Catholic teaching itself allows. For example the licit variety of approaches for providing health care. One can be a faithful Catholic and vary on such approaches. This as opposed to some who abuse the term “human dignity” to justify a particular approach to a problem and villify those who don’t agree.

  • Well, I can say this much, that letter comes across as a pretty crazy read in and of itself regardless of Gibson….

    I really hope Gibson turns things around for himself. I hope he seeks out that first step to recovery and receives the sacrament of reconciliation from a properly ordained priest.

  • Funny after reading this post I came across this article on yahoo movies. It really seems to put things in a different light. Mel comes across as very level headed and professional.

  • To “Student”: I really hate responding to people who don’t use their real name, but, for the record, I’m not a sedevacantist and never have been. I have had several debates against sedevacantists (e.g., Peter Dimond, John Lane). So please, no more rumors. If you want to know something about me, ask me. Anything else is gossip. Capice?

  • I don’t get it. How many times does Mel Gibson have to apoligize?

  • I guess when he stops acting like a truly deranged jerk Jasper, that might eliminate the necessity for further apologies.

  • I deleted your last comment Jasper and I have placed you on moderation. If you wish to defend Gibson’s insane anti-semitism, you will have to find other forums to do so.

  • I apologize, Robert Sungenis.
    I feel kind of foolish – yes, I was pretty much just parroting what I have heard others say.

  • The man behind “Showgirls” versus the man behind “The Passion of the Christ”, and it looks like Eszterhas is in the right. This is why being a human is so interesting.

  • Pinky,

    Joe Eszterhas underwent his own conversion – he’s also no the man he used to be.

  • The Passion of Christ is a still a major S&M cult film. No wonder. Mr. Gibson has a very strange propensity (in movie after movie) of showing naked young men being hideously tortured in extreme close-up. Heresy and PRIDE go together like a fish in water. He plays the little ‘pope’ with his own ‘church’, hands out ‘spiritual advice’ and yet is a cringing embarrassment with his bigotry, foul mouth and adolescent sexual indulgence and rages. I find Juno to be a MUCH more inspiring ‘Catholic’ film than ‘Passion’.

  • We will have to agree to disagree digdigby on the Passion of the Christ which I regard as the most moving portrayal of Our Lord ever to be placed on film. Part of the sadness that I feel for Gibson is seeing talent simply thrown away.

  • Mr. McClarey, . Being ‘moved’ by the life of Jesus Christ means nothing to me. I’m still moved to tears by Old Yeller. In the movie ‘Juno’ I was made ashamed in a real, Catholic way at how I judged the character ‘Vanessa’. Enough to shake me up at how I see people in my own life.

  • “Being ‘moved’ by the life of Jesus Christ means nothing to me. I’m still moved to tears by Old Yeller.”

    The depiction of the death of Christ should have more significance to you than the death of a canine. Pope John Paul II thought rather highly of the Passion of the Christ.

    As for Juno, I thought it was vastly overrated. I found it somewhat amusing when the star of the flick came out as a pro-abort.

    However, arguments as to the merits or demerits of films tend to get no place quickly.

  • digdigby does have a point. Mel Gibson’s movies from the Mad Max to Lethal Weapon series rely on the character’s capacity for controlled mayhem in a sadistic environment for their effect. Gibson is not a versatile actor, he needs violence to sell his movies. That said, I do not think he intends to kill his ex or anyone else for that matter. Though quite clearly he enjoys being a sob and a bigot.

  • “Pope John Paul II thought rather highly of the Passion of the Christ.”.
    He also thought highly of Maciel.

  • We’re discussing the Passion of the Christ and not red herrings.

  • Given the above…

    1. Mel has apologized enough for his drunken outburst. And while it certainly doesn’t excuse his remarks, let’s not forget the extent to which he was harassed and maligned by certain Jewish groups that were categorically opposed to any popular portrayal of the Scriptural truth.

    2. The Passion is most certainly not an “S&M film.” If your modern sensibilities are so delicate that you can’t bear to see the truth of what really happened, I really just pity you.

    I can usually tell whether or not I’ll like someone or get along with them based on their position on that film. I guess you either “get it” or you don’t, and if you don’t, well you’re just not my kind of people.

Paul Ryan & Subsidiarity

Thursday, April 12, AD 2012

Ever since Congressman Paul Ryan announced his budget plan, claiming that it was inspired by his understanding of Catholic social teaching (CST) in general and subsidiarity in particular, old debates about the meaning of CST have flared up once again. Michael Sean Winters of NCR blasted Ryan’s conception of “subsidiarity”; then Stephen White of Catholic Vote critiqued some of Winter’s own oversimplifications. Since everyone and their aunt in the Catholic blogosphere will weigh in on this at some point, I’ll get it over with and throw in my two-cents now.

First: I do believe that some of Ryan’s statements are oversimplifications. For instance, he claimed that subsidiarity and federalism were more or less synonyms for one another. They are not. Stephen White pointed out that these concepts are complimentary, however, and they are.

Secondly: Winters, and he is not alone in this, repeats Vatican statements about “access” to health care as if they were an exact equivalent with Obamacare or other types of government-run healthcare schemes. As White pointed out, Winters presents his leftist policy preferences as non-negotiable points of CST.

Third: I think the entire framework of this discussion needs a serious overhaul.

Continue reading...

27 Responses to Paul Ryan & Subsidiarity

  • Very good, you added to excellent White’ piece.

  • As well, Rights being naturally endowed unto us by God, their exercise cannot entail any kind of need to obtain the service or labor of others, except in their mutual defense. If Health Care (or housing, or food, or any other lefty favorite) is a natural right, then this entails the enslavement of those who provide it, as rights cannot be purchased, but only exercised.

    How this quiet little piece of logic goes unshouted by the establishment GOP is, or at least used to be, beyond me.

  • generally I agree with you, but here ( in your “on one level” paragraph) something sticks:
    to me “precedes” the State does not just mean preceding in time, but precedes in another way– a ranking — now that we are technologically capable, for instance, of feeding and hydrating T Schiavo, charity calls us to that–
    we are not called to live like we are BC era,; I think we are called to work with what we have.. natural law does not take us back to some primitive state-but applies here and now with what “wherewithal” we have… that’s why “precedes” does not necessarily mean “precedes in time”
    once again I am more than willing to be corrected as needed!
    I think you are saying extraordinary measures are not a human right — like heart transplant etc–

  • Anzlyne,
    I suspect that you and WK are not in agreement. WK is making the fairly time-honored case in favor of the proposition that rights are negative rather than positive. Libertarians point out, quite correctly, that the trouble with affirmative or positive rights is that they logically require the functional enslavement of others. This position has never been accepted by the Church, and in fact has been pretty directly criticized. That said, my sense is that the Church’s view and that of libertarians in this limited respect are not necessarily contradictory insomuch as libertarians are criticizing affirmative “rights” that are enforceable by government whereas the Church is affirming the importance of such rights vis-a-vis society, and government and society are not synonymous. More specifically, the Church is saying that society must be ordered in a way so that its members rights to basic needs are satisfied; liberarians do not oppose that as such, as long as the term right does not mean a legal right that can be enforced against others via government coercion. The Church does not oppose the latter, but does not require it either.
    All that said, I like the fact that Ryan seems to take his Catholicity seriously. I worry that he also takes Ayn Rand seriously, and while Rand had her insights her “philosophy” is ultimately not remotely compatable with Roman Catholicism.

  • All good points here. Consider that Mortimer Adler in his book “10 Philosophical Mistakes” makes the point that a human right to something doesn’t mean that a person must have that thing provided by either the government or his neighbors if he can’t get it for himself. It means that no one, whether government or anyone else can morally PREVENT the person from fulfilling that right. Often fulfilling that right is based on good fortune and circumstance. We see that in the right to bear arms. The government or anyone else doesn’t have the resposnsible to buy you a gun if you can’t afford one.

  • I think I am not in opposition to WK Aiken’s post– I do think that our rights precede the state, that they are not “posited” by the state… they are negative in that they are not imposed but are natural– I apologize that I wasn’t very clear who I was responding to– it was Bonchamps paragraph:

    ” On one level, something that has only been available for roughly a century or so cannot possibly be a “basic human right.” Rerum Novarum establishes that the natural rights that belong to each individual precede the state; this
    categorically excludes something as specific and dependent upon a high level of technological development as a lifetime of health services. Such goods and services can only be “accessed” to the extent that a technologically advanced society can produce them, and this capability in turn depends upon on a level of economic freedom that cannot be attained with purchasing mandates, excessive tax burdens, and bureaucratic control.’

    And I do agree with Bonchamps about all of this generally –at the end of the paragraph
    I agree we have to recognize that economic ability/ freedom to act which describes the level of burden to provide access to advanced health care. I agree that none of this burden (brother’s keeper) can be coerced by the state, but is social construct of individuals within families/ communities.
    my only question to Bonchamps was about our social burdens/responsibilities in his words since “roughly a century ago” — it sounds like our rights are defined a bit by the technical ability to intervene..
    so I say we do have the rights and mutual responsibilities and some of those responsibilities depend upon our “wherewithal” what we can and should do here and now is different than what would have been morally required back then or over there : )

    once people didn’t know how to read, but an education I think is a basic human right– provided first and foremost by the parents

  • I think I am not in opposition to WK Aiken’s post– I do think that our rights precede the state, that they are not “posited” by the state… they are negative in that they are not imposed but are natural– I apologize that I wasn’t very clear who I was responding to– it was Bonchamps paragraph:

    ” On one level, something that has only been available for roughly a century or so cannot possibly be a “basic human right.” Rerum Novarum establishes that the natural rights that belong to each individual precede the state; this
    categorically excludes something as specific and dependent upon a high level of technological development as a lifetime of health services. Such goods and services can only be “accessed” to the extent that a technologically advanced society can produce them, and this capability in turn depends upon on a level of economic freedom that cannot be attained with purchasing mandates, excessive tax burdens, and bureaucratic control.’

    And I do agree with Bonchamps about all of this generally –at the end of the paragraph
    I agree we have to recognize that economic ability/ freedom to act which describes the level of burden to provide access to advanced health care. I agree that none of this burden (brother’s keeper) can be coerced by the state, but is social construct of individuals within families/ communities.
    my only question to Bonchamps was about our social burdens/responsibilities in his words since “roughly a century ago” — it sounds like our rights are defined a bit by the technical ability to intervene..
    so I say we do have the rights and mutual responsibilities and some of those responsibilities depend upon our “wherewithal” what we can and should do here and now is different than what would have been morally required back then or over there : )

    once people didn’t know how to read, but an education I think is a basic human right– provided first and foremost by the parents

  • Throughout 2009 during the purported “health care debate”, the version of CST as has been corrupted by modernity, legal positivism (as nicely mentioned by MP), liberation theology, etc., was manifest in ways not herebefore many Catholics had known with the exception of the flick in time CHD scandal. I can leave to others the root causes of that corruption but the domestic policy people at the USCCB and many bishops contributed greatly to the present day impoverished notions of what constitutes CST. I haven’t done this in a while as it’s simply too depressing but over the years one could witness first hand how the USCCB gave the Democratic Party platform its “theological” approval as it promoted higher taxes, cap and trade, mortgage bailouts, the Fannie/Freddi debacle, and many other statist oriented laws. Subsidiarity gets nothing but lip service. Free enterprise receives nothing but disdain.

    I like what George Weigal said in a lecture, From Centesimus Annus to Deus Caritas Est, The Free and Virtuous Society of the 21st Century, about subsidiarity and federalism:
    “The principle of susidiarity teaches us that decision-making in society should be left at the lowest possible level (i.e., the level closest to those most effected by the decision), commensurate with the common good. American ‘federalism’ is one empirical example of the principle of subsidiarity at work in actual political life. Articulated under the lengthening shadow of the totalitarian project in the first third of the twentieth century, the principle of subsidiarity remains today as a counter-statist principle in Catholic social thinking. It directs us to look first to private sector solutions, or to a private sector/public sector mix of solutions, rather than to the state, in dealing with urgent social issues such as education, health care, and social welfare.”

    As I’ve stated before, our constitutional federalism offers us the template for the reality of subsidiarity, which we should cherish.

    Finally as to any “worry” that Paul Ryan takes Rand’s “philosophy” seriously, I find that not being helpful to the discussion inasmuch that it is a random perjorative. Ryan, like many of us, have read Rand and particularly Atlas Shrugged. I would hope most college students do read it. Rand, as Ryan read it and as most of us have, provides keen insight into the simple understanding that economics, at its heart, is a behavioral ‘science.’ Where Ryan and any Catholic reading Rand depart radically from her is with her depressing notions of glorifying human depravity, egoism, selfishness and objectiveism…..but then that is the flip side of the coin known as freedom….the same coin which gives us the choice to obey Him, to live out authentic Charity and not the faux charity of government coercion, confiscation, dependency, etc. And when you really think about Rand’s depressing view of human nature, it’s not much different than the ideological ingredient found in socialism, or statism.

  • Paul Ryan speaks the truth regarding destructive, massive government spending and sky-rocketing debt that will enslave your children.

    The truth damages Obama’s narrative.

    Paul Ryan must be destroyed.

    Left-wing gangsters cloaking themselves in their version of CST politicize the Gospels to smooth the way for socialist serfdom.

  • Anzlyne,

    Thanks for the comments. By “precedes”, I actually think that Rerum Novarum – other natural rights doctrines too, in fact – really means “morally precedes.” It is a way of stating that man’s rights are not derived from the state, they do not depend upon the state, and the state can’t have some obligation to actually provide things for people; the state is instituted for a very specific purpose, which is to safeguard natural rights.

    “my only question to Bonchamps was about our social burdens/responsibilities in his words since “roughly a century ago” — it sounds like our rights are defined a bit by the technical ability to intervene..”

    That’s now how I would have it. I don’t think our rights should depend on technology. I don’t think new technologies that make the mass production of goods and services possible can create new rights to those goods and services. If something was not recognized as an entitlement 1000 years ago mainly because of reasons of scarcity, it can’t be recognized as an entitlement today, because we still have scarcity – just less of it. It is still impossible for everyone to get everything they want.

    The main reason people are agitated and clamoring for egalitarian “social justice” is precisely because the system they despise, capitalism, has made so many people so much better off that the presence of a marginalized underclass really sticks out like a sore thumb. But even this underclass, at least in the Western world, lives better than much of the rest of the world today and most of humanity throughout history. So there is a lot of impatience.

    More people die each year in auto accidents in this country than die from a want of health insurance. I would say that there’s just as little we can efficiently and justly do at the federal/bureaucratic level to prevent all auto accidents as there is all deaths related to a lack of health insurance. The amazing thing is that this rules out nothing for people whose imaginations can possibly operate outside of federal bureaucracies. But you’d have to be uninterested in controlling and plundering your neighbor for that, and I guess that’s too much to ask from fallen man.

  • Hi Bonchamps
    so we agree on what “precedes” means– that it is a moral ranking so to speak –
    your reference to our rights as related to time ( last century) and the development of technology threw me. I think you said that the ability to offer these things only for less than a century means we cannot see the application of technology as something that could be coerced by the state– ok
    I have no probem understanding negative or natural rights given by God preceding the state– but our real choices change a bit because we
    live now

  • Anzlyne,

    My point is to warn against the illusion that things have changed so much that we can declare specific goods and services “rights”, as if they existed in super-abundance and only some sort of irrational prejudice was preventing an unlimited supply to meet an unlimited demand.

  • Yes. Good point. Thank you. Also BPS point is well taken.

  • First among the many things I like about Paul Ryan is that he sees the need to take the CST narrative away from the left (which unfortunately includes the USCCB when it comes to issues like this) and proceeds to do just that.

  • If it’s Socialist to have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicade, than count me as a Socialist! What we need now is Socialized Healthcare. Healthcare for PROFIT no longer works! 50% of the population can no longer afford Healthcare! And 50% of the Country lives at or below the POVERTY LINE! Remember, the early Christians were Socialists! They held everything in Common! Don’t tell me that there is no money for these programs-that is pure BS! Stop giving BILLIONS of dollars away every year as “Foreign Aid”! Stop trying to police the world and cut back on the more than 1000 military bases we have around the world! Tax the RICH! Vote Democratic! Let Obama lead-not the Rich Republicans!

  • The notion of subsidiarity has captivated my attention for years, and I’m hoping that this concept soaks in to the public mind. As stated by others here, subsidiarity can be applied more broadly than rule-making. Specifically, charity needs to happen in person to person contact rather than through the organs of the State. State-run charity, welfare, had the promise to be more efficient than churches operating through disorganized but well-meaning individuals, but the state operates as would a machine between the donor and recipient. Without contact between the donor (taxpayer) and recipient (poor) there is no sense of charity and thankfulness, but only their opposites. A machine cannot convey love.

    In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the first two passers-by likely wished that someone else would help.

  • Richard,

    Use your inside voice.

    The “poverty line” is an arbitrary line. To be at the American “poverty line” today is to be wealthier than at least half of the people in the world, if not many more than that.

    I do agree that we should stop policing the world and slash the military budget significantly. But that money ought to be returned to the taxpayer, not siphoned into an inefficient bureaucratic monstrosity.

    I also think it is pretty absurd to cite such concerns and then scream about voting for Obama and the Democrats. Obama went into Lybia and is threatening Syria and Iran. And in case you’ve forgotten, Bill Clinton went into the Balkans, twice, and LBJ gave us the Vietnam War. If you want to go even further back, it was FDR who got us into WWII and Wilson who got us into WWI. I’ll leave aside the value judgments of these military adventures. The point is that Democrats get us into more wars than Republicans do, because they have always been more idealistic and willing to believe that ideas can be spread and imposed by force. It is nothing but an extension of their socialistic philosophy, which imposes ideas by force domestically. Republican war-idealism is a new thing (hence why we call those who promote it NEOconservatives).

    Obama is a warmonger. And unlike Bush, his war in Lybia had no Congressional approval.

  • Richard you are a thinking person and I invite you to read about the “Light to the Nations” Pope Leo XVII. That would be a good start.

  • Anzlyne,

    You mean Pope Leo XIII, right?

  • hahaha
    sorry sometimes I type too fast! ha– I do mean Thirteenth! and I see that I also wrote light to the nations! Lumen gentium! what a goofy post– I meant Light in the Heavens! ( remember St. malachy called him that)– Thanks Bonchamps


  • yes I know very well he didn’t write that– I was just saying that in my gooofy post I meant to write” Light in the Heavens” but my brain slipped to that other familiar phrase– which is the title (taken from the first sentence) of the Dogmatic Constitution–

  • I really don’t follow the argument that a service that has become highly technical cannot be a right.

    Whether we have a right to healthcare, or to access to healthcare, depends on the fundamental nature of the service (that is, the removal of suffering and the preservation of life), not the cost or sophistication of the technology. People are not to be left to die on the street, because they have a right to life. If, for example, someone passes out in my house, it is my obligation to apply CPR. This is my level of knowledge. CPR was unknown in prior generations, but I have the knowledge, and I am duty bound to apply it. If someone was shot on the battlefield during the Civil War, there was an obligation to perform an amputation or apply a tourniquet.

    It seems to me you are saying that, if someone is ill, they are entitled to whatever care one could naturally give them without technology – bed rest, dressing a wound, etc., but otherwise it is moral to let them die. This seems so ludicrous that I can’t imagine that is your position.

  • “I really don’t follow the argument that a service that has become highly technical cannot be a right.”

    I don’t know why you would try, since that isn’t my argument at all. My argument is that something that hasn’t been a “basic human right” throughout most of human history cannot possibly be a basic human right today because it suddenly looks like we might have the wealth and resources for everyone to have it (we don’t). Scarcity isn’t an “injustice”; its just a natural condition that all of the ideological temper-tantrums in the world can’t make go away.

    “Whether we have a right to healthcare, or to access to healthcare, depends on the fundamental nature of the service (that is, the removal of suffering and the preservation of life), not the cost or sophistication of the technology. ”

    My point is that you can declare whatever you want a “right”; if reality prevents it from being produced and distributed for all who might need it, then such declarations are not only meaningless, but potentially harmful to society.

    ” If, for example, someone passes out in my house, it is my obligation to apply CPR.”

    That’s not “healthcare.” That’s charity. And it isn’t your legal obligation to apply CPR, but the advocates of universal healthcare want to force us all to pay into a healthcare system to satisfy their social ideals.

    “This is my level of knowledge. CPR was unknown in prior generations, but I have the knowledge, and I am duty bound to apply it. If someone was shot on the battlefield during the Civil War, there was an obligation to perform an amputation or apply a tourniquet.”

    Yeah, I don’t know what this has to do with anything. I mean, if in your battlefield there are more injured people then there are tourinquets, no one is going to say it is a situation of profound injustice that some people will simply bleed to death. The reality of scarcity was understood by all. There isn’t always enough to go around. If and when there is enough, then YES, of course charity obliges us to provide what we can for those who need. My argument is against those who think they can overcome the realities of scarcity with government edicts and philosophical pronouncements of new rights.

    “It seems to me you are saying that, if someone is ill, they are entitled to whatever care one could naturally give them without technology – bed rest, dressing a wound, etc., but otherwise it is moral to let them die. This seems so ludicrous that I can’t imagine that is your position.”

    I certainly never said that. If you think I said that, maybe you could copy and paste what I said that gave you such an impression.

  • You in fact said:

    “On one level, something that has only been available for roughly a century or so cannot possibly be a “basic human right.” ”

    Now, you pretend you didn’t say any such thing, and that you were only talking about “scarcity.” It’s quite plain where I got the idea that I considered your argument to be based on modern technology – because there is no other way to intepret the sentence quoted above. So much for intellectual honesty.

  • I can see why your comments are put on moderation. It doesn’t occur to you that there might be a miscommunication here: you jump right to the uncharitable accusation of dishonesty.

    This is how you cast my position: “if someone is ill, they are entitled to whatever care one could naturally give them without technology – bed rest, dressing a wound, etc., but otherwise it is moral to let them die.”

    First, I never said anyone was entitled to anything. No one has ever been entitled to any of these things. People have had individual moral obligations to provide what they can, when they can, for those in need.

    Secondly, what I said has only been available for a century or so has been cradle-to-grave healthcare. This is what is demanded by those who classify “healthcare” as such as a “basic human right”, and who believe that this “right” obliges governments to provide it.

    And yet this thing they demand as a right, has only been available for about 100 years. So how can it be something that people have always been entitled to? No one in the past insisted that cradle-to-grave healthcare was a “basic human right” because it would have been impossible to provide it for every single person. Such a thing couldn’t even be imagined. No one said, “we live under a regime of injustice because we can’t snap our fingers and make the resources to provide everyone with this basic human right appear before us.” It was just a fact of life. There was no “right” to that which couldn’t exist.

    My argument is that it still doesn’t exist today. It just so happens that our level of technological advancement has made it so that SOME people, and in fact, a significant majority of people, can afford it, while others cannot. And this strikes people as unfair. And so they imagine that what some people have, everyone ought to have in order for fairness to be achieved. And they then insist that the government has an obligation to make it fair. And they clothe these presumptions in the language of “rights” in order to strike a chord in our hearts.

    You accuse me of saying that it is MORAL to “let people die.” I am not proposing that it is some positive act of morality to say to a person, “we’re not going to give you what you need because you can’t afford it.” But I would say that you can’t classify a situation of scarcity itself as a state of injustice or immorality, because that is simply the way the world is. Nor can you overcome such a state by saying that the thing which cannot be made available to all is a “basic human right” that governments MUST make available to all.


Wednesday, April 11, AD 2012

Hello everyone!

I am happy to be blogging at The American Catholic, which I have always known to be one of the most significant blogs covering the intersection of politics and the Faith. To have a public space in which Catholics are not expected to apologize for being Americans or espousing American values is more important today than perhaps it has ever been. And it is my belief that the values that have defined America are not incompatible with the truths of the Catholic faith, but are in many respects extensions of them.

So let me tell you about myself and what you can expect from me.

By education and profession, I am a political theorist. I greatly enjoy exploring Catholic Social Teaching, particularly the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII. I don’t have much to say about theological or liturgical disputes, though I will let it be known that I frequent the Latin Mass.

I espouse political views that can be classifed as “paleo”, whether they are paleo-conservative or paleo-libertarian (depending on the issue). My political influences are John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Pope Leo XIII, the Austrian school of economics, Pat Buchanan, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Thomas Woods Jr., and of course, Ron Paul, the man who converted me to the paleo-political diet in the first place.

I am not the least bit ashamed of Catholic history. I do not apologize for the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, or any of the other “black legends” that were spread by the lying enemies of the Church. I do not believe that the history of the Church has been one of terrible crimes against humanity for which she must atone. On the contrary, I am an unahsamed cultural elitist. I believe Western Christian culture is the best thing to ever happen to humanity, providing us with the most magnificent technology, art, architecture, and moral values known on the planet, and that none of it would have been possible without the guidance of the Catholic Church.

I don’t bow to political correctness, and that includes the right-wing version alongside the more familiar left-wing version. Chances are I will offend you at some point if I haven’t already. At the same time, there is no position I take that I am not willing to defend with arguments, and there are many issues I would be willing to change my mind on.

Again, its a pleasure to be here!

Continue reading...

27 Responses to Introducing…

Fr. Barron Eviscerates Dandy Andy

Wednesday, April 11, AD 2012

It’s Easter, so naturally it’s time for idiocy like Newsweek’s cover story written by Andrew Sullivan.  It looks like Sullivan has added theologian to his list of other professions, which include pundit and gynecologist.  It’s about what you’d expect from the combination of Newsweek and Sullivan.  Christianity is dying and it’s because of all those stuffed-shirts who have distorted Jesus’s message.

Fr. Barron is on the case, and he completely dismantles Sullivan.  A few highlights:

The solution Sullivan proposes is a repristinizing of Christianity, a return to its roots and essential teachings. And here he invokes, as a sort of patron saint, Thomas Jefferson, who as a young man literally took a straight razor to the pages of the New Testament and cut out any passages dealing with the miraculous, the supernatural, or the resurrection and divinity of Jesus.

The result of this Jeffersonian surgery is Jesus the enlightened sage, the teacher of timeless moral truths concerning love, forgiveness and non-violence. Both Jefferson and Sullivan urge that this Christ, freed from churchly distortions, can still speak in a liberating way to an intelligent and non-superstitious audience.

As the reference to Jefferson should make clear, there is nothing particularly new in Sullivan’s proposal. The liberation of Jesus the wisdom figure from the shackles of supernatural doctrine has been a preoccupation of much of the liberal theology of the last 200 years.

The Jefferson “Bible” is, if nothing else, an impressive work of art.  Jefferson took passages from Scripture written in English, Latin, Greek, and French.  He carefully pasted the passages side-by-side.  It’s an awesome display of craftsmanship.  Of course it completely distorts the life and mission of Christ and turns our Lord and Saviour into nothing more than a wise philosopher.  It’s a good representation of Jefferson’s uber-rationalistic mindset, and part of an extended effort to de-fang the real Christ.

Fr. Barron has more.

The first problem with this type of theorizing is that it has little to do with the New Testament. As Jefferson’s Bible makes clear, the excision of references to the miraculous, to the resurrection, and to the divinity of Jesus delivers to us mere fragments of the Gospels.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were massively interested in the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus and they were positively obsessed with his dying and rising. The Gospels have been accurately characterized as “passion narratives with long introductions.”

Further, the earliest Christian texts that we have are the epistles of St. Paul, and in those letters that St. Paul wrote to the communities he founded, there are but a tiny handful of references to the teaching of Jesus. What clearly preoccupied Paul was not the moral doctrine of Jesus, but the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Indeed, by removing the miracles and resurrection from the account of Jesus’s life you’ve almost completely stripped his mission of any meaning.

And this leads to the second major problem with a proposal like Sullivan’s. It offers absolutely no challenge to the powers that be. It is precisely the bland and harmless version of Christianity with which the regnant culture is comfortable.

Go back to Peter’s sermon for a moment. “You killed him,” said the chief of Jesus’s disciples. The “you” here includes the power structures of the time, both Jewish and Roman, which depended for their endurance in power on their ability to frighten their subjects through threats of lethal punishment.

“But God raised him.” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the clearest affirmation possible that God is more powerful than the corrupt and violent authorities that govern the world — which is precisely why the tyrants have always been terrified of it. When the first Christians held up the cross, the greatest expression of state-sponsored terrorism, they were purposely taunting the leaders of their time: “You think that frightens us?”

The opening line of the Gospel of Mark is a direct challenge to Rome: “beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). “Good news” (euangelion in Mark’s Greek) was a term used to describe an imperial victory. The first Christian evangelist is saying, not so subtly, that the real good news hasn’t a thing to do with Caesar.

Rather, it has to do with someone whom Caesar killed and whom God raised from the dead. And just to rub it in, he refers to this resurrected Lord as the “Son of God.” Ever since the time of Augustus, “Son of God” was a title claimed by the Roman emperor. Not so, says Mark. The authentic Son of God is the one who is more powerful than Caesar.

Again and again, Sullivan says that he wants a Jesus who is “apolitical.” Quite right — and that’s just why the cultural and political leaders of the contemporary West will be perfectly at home with his proposal. A defanged, privatized, spiritual teacher poses little threat to the status quo.

This is a great passage, and one of the reasons that Fr. Barron is truly a treasure.  I love how he completely turns around Sullivan’s argument and makes him the champion of the status quo.  It’s a really great insight, and one that completely sticks it to Dr. Sullivan.  Well played.

(Thanks RL for the tip.)

Continue reading...

25 Responses to Fr. Barron Eviscerates Dandy Andy

  • Sullivan should stick to subjects where he’s less likely to embarrass himself.

    Such as gynecology.

  • CS Lewis put paid to the notion of Jesus as only a great sage for any one who is intellectually honest:

    “Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

    One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned; the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

    Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

  • One quibble, Jefferson was an old man when he made his cut and paste Bible. This was the culmination of a lifetime of thinking, not a whim of youth.

  • An elderly Jefferson attempting to edit the Gospels to remove the supernatural has always struck me as either inexpressibly silly or inexpressibly sad. Tom Jefferson, on occasion, was the wisest of the Founding Fathers, and on other occasions the daffiest.

  • I am afraid that Thomas Jefferson was an alcoholic and probably had become senile. Jefferson’s bible cutting probably resulted from his trying to make his concept of God fit the Sacred Scripture. How sad.

  • “Dandy Andy.”

    Niiice. 😀

  • Mary, I doubt the senile alcoholic bit very much. I worked on the recent conservation of the bible. So I’ve examined it first hand. Only someone very lucid and dexterous could have meticulously put that book together as he did. As for his motivation, he was a complex man with many contradictions. I thing you are right about making the Bible fit his views. One of the curators suggested that Jefferson cutting up the Bible was comparable to marking up your own copy with your favorite passages underlined. I don’t buy that line of reasoning. He was making a bold statement even if he intended for the book to be for his own private use.

  • Yeah, there is no evidence that Jefferson was either an alcoholic or senile. In fact letters from his latter years reveal a rather sharp mind into his 80s. His “bible” is a reflection of long-held religious views. The man was a radical, and I don’t think it was the vino that made him one.

  • Jefferson did not call his editing of the Bible a bible. I wonder what his own statements were in response to people’s reactions to his book.
    The title he gave it was “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”… which could have been an effort to see what mere mortals can learn from Jesus about how to live– an early version of WWJD. I read that somewhere a long time ago. I don’t know his motives but it does seem plausible.
    He was, I think, an immensely practical man, curious and intelligent– and perhaps he wasn’t discounting the miracles but wanted to see in a graphic way what he could learn from Jesus that could be applied to his own life —

  • From Jefferson’s letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803:

    The question of his being a member of the Godhead, or in direct communication with it, claimed for him by some of his followers, and denied by others, is foreign to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the intrinsic merits of his doctrines.
    1.He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of his attributes and government.
    2.His moral doctrines, relating to kindred & friends, were more pure & perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.
    3.The precepts of philosophy, & of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

    Jefferson also challenged the veracity Gospel and Epistle writers, noting that they wrote long after Christ had departed from the Earth. Christ was unable to write about his own life, and thus his teachings have been distorted through the years. Jefferson held that Paul had distorted the teachings of Christ. In Jefferson’s view, Paul was a “Platonist who had brought beclouding mysticism to Jesus’ clear moral teachings.”

    Jesus discounted the miracles and the resurrection not because he wanted to highlight Jesus’s teachings, but because he thought the supernatural elements of Christ’s life were just myth.

  • Thank You– there it is from the horse’s (Jefferson”s) mouth– I was wondering– I appreciate your response! I always want to see people in what I think is a good light– sometimes it’s just not that way

  • Of course, what Sullivan really wants is what most post-moderns want – a Jesus who will ratify gay marriage, contraception, fornication, women’s rights, and the rest of the leftist egalitarian agenda.

    Christianity brought to the world approximately as much egalitarianism as it could possibly handle without falling apart, summed up by St. Paul in Galatians (and I paraphrase): neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free, but all one in Christ. And yet in spite of this spiritual and moral truth, St. Paul recognizes slaves and masters, husbands and wives, as distinct and necessary parts of the social order with specific duties and obligations towards one another.

    It takes a mind unclouded by fanatical rage and envy to understand how it is possible to have a society in which there simultaneously exists a hierarchy and a concept of equality and how these work together to maintain peace and harmony. Such minds are an increasingly rare commodity. And so there is an attempt to re-cast Jesus as a 1st century Che Guevara, or at least a 1st century American liberal-Democrat, a milquetoast little nothing of a man who had no strong opinions on anything and simply lived and let live.

    No one can read the Gospels and honestly agree with these people.

  • The late greatest Catholic theologian the United States has ever produced Cardinal Avery Dulles (son of Secretary of State under Eisenhower and namesake of Dulles International airport on DC John Foster Dulles) has an excellent article on the whole issue of Deism and the Founding Fathers:–28

    …and in it he gives some great insights into Jefferson.

  • Pingback: rick santorum mel gibson hate jews judah maccabee |
  • Thank you Fr Barron. It was Jesus rising from the dead that has made the church what it is after 2000 years. What you wrote has once again made me feel liberated being a Catholic. Keep up the good work. God bless.

  • I read the Newsweek article carefully (as I’m sure the rest of you did), and didn’t come away with the feeling that Sullivan was calling for a revision or a stripping down of the New Testament to mere moral teachings, but rather was using Jefferson’s cut-up Bible as a mental exercise to get us to think about what Jesus said (and didn’t say), without the trappings of current political contexts and what politicians and get-rich evangelists are doing to Christianity. What did Jesus actually SAY about homosexuality? What did he SAY about marriage? What did he SAY about family values? What did he SAY about gay marriage? And what DIDN’T he say about these things?

    In fact, (as you all know, because you all read it; but it’s strange no one mentioned it above), most of the Newsweek article is about Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint F. took the words of Jesus to heart: he renounced his inheritance, gave away everything he had, and sought to serve others without ever having any power over them. He was humble. Winsome. ‘The lesser brother’. And the reluctant founder of an order that lasts to this day.

    Now contrast Saint Francis to our leaders and would-be leaders of today. They gain votes by spouting supposedly Biblical positions on inflammatory topics. But what do they want? To serve Christ in humility? To feed the poor and help the suffering? Or, maybe, just maybe, they want power. And cash. And food for their sizable egos.

    “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • There is merit in the intellectual exercise of examining Jesus’s teachings and life stripped of the supernatural. Jesus is a clever speaker, a provocateur, a gadfly, who reminds me of Socrates in Athens. But Jesus’s teachings and life stripped of the supernatural probably puts Jesus into the company of the top 100 philosophers. Still pretty impressive, but He’s not special without the supernatural. Jefferson’s Bible shows us that Jesus, without God, is impressive, but not enough. I’m glad Jefferson did this.

  • Thank you Father Barron!
    More Catholics need to learn from and follow his example!

  • I don’t waste eyesight or time reading the noisome opinions and grammar-appropriate rantings in Newsweek or from Sullivan (that is since March 2003 when he termed Pope John Paul II’s opposition to the Iraq invasion, “traditional, Catholic anti-semitism” – they fired the Derb for far less).

    “Twain, “If you don’t read the papers, you are uninfrmed. If you read the papers, you are misinformed.”

    I prayerfully spent the commuting days of Lent reading through the four Gospels, twice. I say, “prayerfully” because I read them in order to learn what Christ taught; to recall that through His Life, Death and Resurrection He purchased for me eternal life; and to amend my life as necessary.

    The purpose of the Gospels is to save souls, NOT to justify worldly opinion.

  • I didn’t read it either, but I did see Sullivan’s Easter morning appearance with Jake Tapper talking about this– I was irked. That seems to be pretty much my condition lately.

  • John 12: 30 – 33, Our Lord says, “Now is the time for ths world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be overthrown. When I am lifted up from the Earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (In saying this He indicated the kind of death He was going to suffer.)

  • I will not be surprised if someone levels a charge of “hate crime” against Fr. Barron. After all, Mr. Sullivan is a man with same-sex attraction, and we all know one cannot disagree with a person with same-sex attraction without being called a “homophob.”

  • Personally, I’ll accept the Bible in its present form which has survived around 1700 years of criticism by scientist and theologian alike rather than succumb to a revisionist interpretation composed by a handful of political egotists looking to substantiate their own agendas…!!!

  • Mrs. Zummo: Thank you for the information. I believe you are correct, especially with hands on experience. Thomas Jefferson tried to separate the Son of God from the Son of Man, the hypostatic union, Christ from Christ’s divinity. Thomas Jefferson could not have been saved if Jesus was not God. May Thomas Jefferson rest in peace seeing the God-man in all His glory.

  • Jason: Every practicing homosexual came into our world through a mother and a father, and the homosexual practicioner’s parents want grandchildren. How hateful is it in not giving his parents grandchildren? “Honor your father and your mother that you shall be long-lived upon the face of the earth”. If Father Barron, a spiritul father of multitudes out lives Dandy Andy, it will not be because Father Barron did not give Dandy Andy the TRUTH to live by. Long live Father Robert Barron.

Quiz Time!

Wednesday, April 11, AD 2012


Go here to take a quiz on religion from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  I found it very simple and scored 15 out of 15.  Unfortunately that means that I scored better than 99% of the people who took the test.  Take the test and report the results in the comboxes.  After you have taken the quiz, go here for some grim reading on the results of the Pew US Religious Knowledge Survey.

Continue reading...

39 Responses to Quiz Time!