Marching Along

Saturday, May 31, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  Marching Along by William B. Bradbury.  Bradbury was a human song writing machine of the 19th century.  Of all the songs he wrote, doubtless the best known is the tune for Yes, Jesus Loves Me which I frequently sang as a child.  He wrote that tune the same year, 1862, that he wrote Marching AlongMarching Along, appropriately enough, was a favorite marching song of the Army of the Potomac, and they sang it endlessly during their marathon marches of the Civil War.

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2 Responses to Marching Along

  • 🙂 …for God and for Country we go marching along! Amen.

  • Marching! WE are marching – can’t help but think, as I watch and listen to this, of just how fun it was to be part of a marching band.
    It is no fun to march alone , at least for any length of time. But getting with other and marching. All in the same direction mind you . In tacit cooperation- that is fun.

PopeWatch: Ouch!

Saturday, May 31, AD 2014

8 Responses to PopeWatch: Ouch!

  • St. Benedict is laughing! (Bora et labora.)

    Maybe a little less Bora and much more Ora is in order.

  • ROFLOL !

  • Dear Donald
    I find your posts jocking and mocking about Pope Francis complety disgusting and ask how can you consider yourself a catholic with such behaviours. Don’t you believe in the Holy Spirit ? Instead you behave like many atheists. Unbelievable and disgusting !

  • Ah MRC, I see that you belong to the saddest of all minority groups, the humor impaired.

    In regard to the Holy Spirit and popes I will defer to this answer of then Cardinal Ratzinger when asked if the Holy Spirit picks popes:

    “I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.

    There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!”

  • Deliciously funny….in a Catholic sort of way.

  • I find your humorous and other writings to be delightful because there is a single undercurrent of self-deprecating humility to them. There is a general awareness that you know things worth knowing more generally and can speak eloquently, that is tempered with a sense of amusement that you should be the one to say it. You would have been a great satirist if you lived in an age where satire was appreciated.

  • I would blush David if 32 years at the bar had not deprived me of the ability to do so!

  • Well, at least Eye of the Tiber didn’t actually use our pictures, so we’ve got a little room for deniability….

Joan of Arc: Saint of Courage

Friday, May 30, AD 2014


Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.

Sir Winston Churchill

Today is the feast day of Joan of Arc, but any day is a good day to celebrate Saint Joan.  One of the examples of the direct intervention of God in human affairs, the brief history altering life of Saint Joan of Arc has attracted the admiration of the most unlikely of men, including the Protestant Sir Winston Churchill, and the agnostic Mark Twain who called his book on Joan of Arc the finest thing he ever wrote.  She was not canonized until 1920, but almost all of her contemporaries who met her had no doubt that she was a saint sent by God.  Some of the English who were present as she was burned at the stake cried out that they were all damned because she was a saint.   Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan:   ”We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation”.  With Saint Joan humanity came into contact with a messenger from God, and the result to her was as predictable as it was lamentable.  However, the outcome of her mission was exactly as she had predicted.  The weak Dauphin that she had crowned would reign as Charles VII and end the Hundred Years War in victory for France, something that none of his contemporaries thought remotely possible before Joan embarked on her mission.  With courage and faith she altered the course of the history of France and of all the world.

On January 26, 2011 Pope Benedict spoke of Saint Joan:


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9 Responses to Joan of Arc: Saint of Courage

  • I love ‘La Pucelle d’Orléans’.
    St. Jeanne D’Arc, the Maid of Orleans, pray for us.

  • “Serve God First!”
    St. Joan.

    J Jesus first in our lives.
    O Others second in our lives.
    Y Yourself always last.

    Joan had it. I pray God’s JOY be with all of us.

  • The Maid of Orleans is a personal hero of mine.It is fitting that the photo used for the article is from the movie version starring Leelee Sobieski, star of one of the best films about Ste. Jeanne d’Arc and the actress is really the only one who has portrayed her on film to be close to the real Joan’s age.I love The Passion of Joan of Arc also ; The Messenger,Luc Besson’s film, was interesting in its own way.Also the great books on Ste. Jeanne, on her trial, and on the Middle Ages by noted French scholar Regine Pernoud are absolutely invaluable to any student of St. Joan.Twain’s book is actually quite good too.

    All Americans should be very grateful to St.Joan of Arc.

    We would have unquestionably NOT won the revolutionary War had it not been for all of the invaluable assistance given us by France (including millions in loans – which we never paid back incidentally, protection of our shipping in the Mediterranean from both Britain and the Barbary Coast pirates during the war, at least 10,000 troops and an entire navy at Yorktown while another navy kept the British busy near India, etc. etc.) Without the appearance of Joan of Arc, it is highly unlikely that France would have re-emerged as anything other than a very small country which had been defeated by the Brits ; there would have been no France to aid us in our struggle against their age-old enemies, the bloody British.

  • To follow up on the excellent historical comments by Donald Smock,
    we not only have Saint Joan to thank for our Independence, but also that a good portion of France (perhaps all if the English had won the 100 years war) would have been forced into schism etc under Henry VIII. While the main impetus of the Catholic Reformation came from Spain and Italy, how much harder would this counter offensive to the Protestant revolution been made if we had to deal with a schismatic/even Protestant France [it almost happened as it was]

  • Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan”: We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation.”
    History bears him out. The Scottish historian, Andrew Lang records, “They were all lost. The curse of their cruelty did not depart from them. Driven by the French and Scots from province to province, and from town to town, the English returned home, tore and rent each other; murdering their princes and nobles on the scaffold, and slaying them as prisoners of war on the field; and stabbing and smothering them in chambers of the Tower; York and Lancaster devouring each other; the mad Henry VI. was driven from home to wander by the waves at St. Andrews, before he wandered back to England and the dagger stroke—these things were the reward the English won, after they had burned a Saint. They ate the bread and drank the cup of their own greed and cruelty all through the Wars of the Roses. They brought shame upon their name which Time can never wash away; they did the Devil’s work, and took the Devil’s wages. Soon Henry VIII. was butchering his wives and burning Catholics and Protestants, now one, now the other, as the humour seized him.”

  • Amen. If we love God we will do His will. What a message I needed today in my decision making regarding which path to take –as His will is plain to me.

  • Without St. Joan of Arc, France would have been speaking English then, and German now. It is said that St. Joan’s heart would not burn even after three attempts. Her heart was thrown with her ashes into the Seine River. Her heart is probably still in the Seine River, incorrupt.
    I love St. Joan of Arc.

  • Messrs Smock and Botolph,
    Firstly it is anachronistic to refer to ‘Brits’ in the context of the Hundred Years’ War. You presumably mean the English (the Scots sided with France), whose descendants went on to colonize the eastern seaboard of north America and founded the United States. Secondly, the deciding factor in the Hundred Years’ War was not Joan (who was betrayed by her own countrymen) but the decision of the Burgundians in 1435 to break off their alliance with England. Thirdly, in the 15th century England was arguably the most devoutly Catholic country in Europe – the Dowry of Mary, no less – and the Reformation was ushered in by the son of a Welsh usurper who had seized the Crown in 1485. Fourthly, French support for the American Revolution may have been crucial, but France paid a heavy price since it resulted in her own revolution in 1789 which was a disaster for France and for Europe in general; ironically it was Britain which emerged in 1815 as the undisputed world power.

    Joan’s trial and execution for heresy was a travesty and the verdict was quashed not long afterwards. But her canonization was political – in the aftermath of the Great War Rome wanted to appease the French Third Republic which had been bitterly hostile to the Church before 1914. Not long ago the French presented Winchester Cathedral (Anglican) with a statue of St Joan. She stands facing the tomb of Cardinal Beaufort who oversaw her condemnation.

Adultery Remains Adultery

Friday, May 30, AD 2014

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20

One of the shabbiest, and bleakly hilarious, features of our time is the increasingly popular superstition that morality and sex have nothing to do with each other.  That this is absurd we see all around us in shattered families, fatherless kids, a million abortions a year and hordes of truly pathetic individuals attempting to substitute promiscuity for love.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Faith so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, takes the verbal buzz saw to one of the advocates of this rubbish on stilts:

Feeling guilty about the fact that your wife caught you doing your hot, young, female executive assistant?  Or that your husband caught your hot, young, male executive assistant tapping you again and again?  Not to worry, says self-described “Hollywood life coach and spiritual teacher” Lisa Haisha (which means that every word out of her mouth is brain-dead crap). We’ll just redefine “marriage” so that you don’t feel bad:

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not condoning adultery as we know it,

Are so.

because I’m not strictly talking about sex.

Are too.

But because it is so taboo, when you consider the historical context of marriage, isn’t being shocked by adultery a bit of an overreaction?

No.  What part of this don’t you understand, “spiritual teacher?”

Of course, no one can deny that when you lie and do something behind another person’s back, you are doing something wrong. You’re breaking an agreement, and that lacks integrity. You’re breaking trust with the other person, which is most definitely hurtful. But in the course of a long term relationship, taking into account the practical realities of our human need to experience life on our own, or through experiences with other platonic or romantic relationships, perhaps a new kind of conversation can unfold with your spouse or partner where you jointly communicate your needs and set reasonable and practical parameters of what is and isn’t allowed in your marriage, so the negative and hidden behaviors associated with adultery don’t take place.

Translation: it really sucks that it took us this long to come up with pseudo-intellectual euphemisms for banging the babysitter but we’re only human.

Since marriage has evolved so much over the ages, and different cultures have different views of it even today, perhaps it’s time for the age-old institution to evolve yet again. Maybe the tenets of a successful marriage should not be whether the couple stays monogamous for decades, but rather whether the couple openly communicates about what their unique marriage will look like, what will be deemed acceptable and what will not, and then honoring that joint decision.

Back to the old man again. If he’d had his druthers, Pop’d druther not have married a woman he knocked up since she’d already had a daughter by her first, late husband so he’d always have that “number two” feeling in his head.  And particularly if he knew that he would eventually have to leave his beloved Montana and have a youngest son who would turn out to be not all that fond of him.

But my old man, well, manned up.  He understood that taking responsibility for your actions involves, well, taking responsibility for your actions, no matter the cost.

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44 Responses to Adultery Remains Adultery

  • Of course. Here we are. Gay marriages are notoriously non-monogamous. For some reason, gays feel a compulsion to have sex outside the marriage. They intend to be monogamous at first, but find it is impossible. Which says a lot about why they are gay.
    So now everyone else has to redefine (or “evolve” as she says) so that ALL marriages are non-monogamous.
    This will be the next wave of news media articles, designed to justify the fact that gay marriages cannot procreate and neither are they monogamous. Note that Liz Mundy already wrote a column in the Atlantic about this, saying that all marriages will become non-monogamous – it’s just a higher and more evolved way of existing, don’t you know. The New York Times published an article saying that gays need to “play” outside the marriage.
    Gee, and you were worried that gay marriage would destroy the institution of marriage.

  • “Hollywood life coach and spiritual teacher”. More like a spiritual enabler. Or better yet, a spiritual euthanizer.

  • “Since marriage has evolved so much over the ages, and different cultures have different views of it even today, perhaps it’s time for the age-old institution to evolve yet again.”
    Saw this coming from a mile away. Of course the “spiritual teacher” would advocate what amounts to polyamory: it’s the unstated but logical conclusion.

  • Any particular reason why you chose to link a protestant “bible”?

  • I love the majestic language of the King James Bible. I use Catholic Bibles for my devotional reading and for study but the English translations are often hair raisingly pedestrian, and often for quotations, as with the Isaiah quote, I use KJB.

    In regard to the link, that is from Christopher Johnson’s post. Since he is a Protestant, although friendly to the Church, I am unsurprised he linked to a Protestant Bible.

  • I use Protestant translations all the time. Then again, I use the Douay–Rheims translation all the time too. No big deal.

  • Saruman spoke for a long time and wove a spell, then Gandalf laughed and the spell was broken. Moral self-justifications always seem to need so many words!

  • The difference of import between the KJB and the Catholic (badly translated by some atheist scholars) Bible is that only the Catholic Bible refers to The Supreme Sovereign Being using the Holy Spirit of God’s Name” I AM WHO I AM”
    In the first translation of the New American Bible (which had to be later revised), “WHO” was rejected and the Lord’s prayer began: “Our Father, in heaven…”. The passage now reads: “Our Father, WHO art in heaven.” Only sins against the Holy Spirit are not forgiven unless and until repentance, restitution and repair are made.
    Cecil B. Demille’s masterpiece, The Ten Commandments uses the Protestant version, leaving the Triune God with only two Persons, the Father and the Son. “Who” proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    I am hoping and praying that the Holy Spirit has been acknowledged.

  • Our Lady, Holy Mary, desired to remain virgin. Mary willed to be perfectly obedient to God’s will, from the first moment of her existence. Mary chose to be immaculate as God had created her for all time. God fulfilled Mary’s desire and predicated “full of grace” on Mary’s choice.
    The Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost chose Mary as daughter of the Most High, Mother of God and Spouse of the Holy Ghost. Mary is redeemed before all ages by Jesus Christ through her informed consent, through Mary’s “fiat voluntas tuas.”
    When God created Blessed Mary’s soul, the Immaculate Conception, God endowed Mary’s soul, as all men’s souls are endowed, with free will. Mary exercised her free will in choosing to serve God in time and in eternity. Mary chose the right to choose God.

  • “Hollywood life coach and spiritual teacher”.

    Ziggy Zoggy!
    Ziggy Zoggy!
    Oy! Oy! Oy!

  • In other words: Mary chose to exercise her Right to Choose, to choose God.

  • “….perhaps a new kind of conversation can unfold….”
    I think this conversation is ancient.

  • Side note – the original KJV included all the books that the Catholic Bibles have – all the Deuterocanonicals although they were called Apocrypha. KJV is an excellent translation. But I prefer the Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum. 😉

  • I actually have a KJV with the Deuterocanonicals included. I read it all the time. The thing’s as Anglican as all get-out. Almost has more ribbon markers than it has pages.

  • 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, sir.’* And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’]]*

    I use the New Revised Standard Version Catholic edition.
    “… the increasingly popular superstition that morality and sex have nothing to do with each other”.
    Thank you Donald McClarey- superstition is an interesting term for this belief in this scientific and so called “rational” age. Our view of life seems to grow more and more superstitious and less and less well reasoned.

  • Jesus forgives sin. All of it.

    But the church ought NEVER affirm sin…of any kind.

    But, people want what they want. And will rationalize every way they can to defend it.

  • The Old Adam: “Jesus forgives sin. All of it.” I agree. It is not if, but how.

  • Mary De Voe,

    In the hearing of His preached Word (“Faith comes by hearing.”)

    And in Baptism and Holy Communion (which He commanded us to do – He never commanded us to do anything wherein He would not be present in it)

  • “Open marriage” was what it was called in the ’70s. Our women’s Bible study class leader, a Catholic priest, had us mull it over then. He wanted us, I think, to be able to meet it head-on and deal with it, but once we assigned it to perdition the subject evolved into the possibility of married people having a “platonic” relationship with the opposite sex (there were only two sexes then). Most of us said it was not likely for men but that women could handle it. Finally we all agreed that under the Golden Rule we would not attempt it, because it would hurt our husbands.

  • Kmbold,
    I was raised with a very conservative father who always said that men & women could never be friends, one would always want more & it would lead to an affair. I never questioned that because it’s my personality to listen to authority. So many people have a hard time coming to the conclusion that your bible study did. I’ll be teaching my children the same.

  • Donald,

    Great comment: “the increasingly poplar superstition that morality and sex have nothing to do with each other”. Indeed it is a superstition, a myth that has been enshrined by SCOTUS as ‘the right to privacy’. Because of that ‘myth’ there is no objective moral norm between two consenting adults

  • Went to my son’s wedding today in the Cathedral in Raleigh, NC.

    The priest who knows my wife gave her and her lover communion.
    I walked out from the wedding, got my things together and left for home.

    The bishop knows well the circumstances and was forewarned.

    That was my last Mass. I am done. I cannot be part of this anymore.
    Our children are very distraught. I told them my decision was final.
    They are now, i believe, at odds with each other but to what extent, I do not know. I have a three week old granddaughter I just met and another is expected by another daughter in August. I told my two daughters that i will not attend their baptisms.

    This is the fruit of Francis.

    Take care, Don. You are a good man.

  • Karl,
    Why would you allow anyone, cleric or layperson, to separate you from God and shatter what’s left of your family unity?
    God sees what is happening with your wife and HE alone will intervene with her in due time.
    Consider the possibility that God is calling you to engage in a radical act of mercy for the well being and future happiness of your newly married son and his bride…witness the love of Christ to your son by forgiving your wife NOW and yield your marital situation to Christ.
    Take care that you do not allow your injured Pride to fracture the marriage(s) of your children. When Jesus taught us to pray the “Pater Noster” he reminded us that His forgiveness of our sins requires us to forgive others… “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.
    Karl, we freely choose to Love and we freely choose to Hate. Choose to Love your children enough to forgive your wife and restore happiness to your home. Don’t let the seeds of your divorce take root in your children’s lives; they have lived the tragedy as well. Let joy return to your household…and go to Mass again soon.

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  • Slainte, I cannot disagree more with your counsel, given the facts presented. Adultery is a grave sin in the eyes of the Church. To remain active in such a state and then receive Holy Communion is a further sin. For bishops or priests to be aware of this situation and not attempt to correct it before administering Holy Communions is a colossal failure on their part. It is also a sin.

    Since the adultery is likely well known among those present, a public scandal has arisen, as well as the public humiliation of the affected spouse. He has a perfect right to be angry with the cowardly actions of his so-called shepherds and the reluctance of his family and friends, if they are Catholic, to rise up in his defense and counsel the adulterous wife and lover before hand (or after).

    The problem with liberal catholics is that they do not believe that Christ preached on sin, and heaven and hell. Did not Christ say to the prostitute once he forgave her sins, “Go, and sin no more?”

    Sin exists. It causes great harm to the perpetrator and to those affected by it. Unrepentant, grave sin at the time of death may very well jeopardize your immortal soul. It is the job of the Church to make sure you die repentant, without grave sin. The Church cannot do this by turning a blind eye to the sin. Mercy is not the correct action to on-going grave sin. Admonishment is. Remember the Spiritual Works.

    This particular problem is the result of the leaders in the Church acting like wolves in sheep’s clothing, saying one thing and doing another, and the sheep acting like they never received an ounce of instruction and never bothered to develop an informed conscience as adults.

    I would say to the man, make a stink! Write letters, privately—to the bishops and priests at the wedding, to your family, children, and friends, including the wife and lover. Let them know how you really feel. It can be done charitably, according to Church teaching. This is important since the scandal went public and his reaction went public. Then, go and seek out a Catholic Parish that adheres to the true teachings, and have a long discussion with the parish priest and do as he suggests. I would say. “Do not despair! Love God first, among all things, even above all those around you.”

  • Karl,
    Annulments do not fall under infallibility ergo often they are reversed at Rome appeals which also don’t give absolute certitude. Priests along the way must proceed under the assumption that the last decision was valid. They MUST give Communion to your legally divorced and annulled wife….must…until the decision is reversed if at all.. They cannot go by private judgement…either yours or theirs. They must follow the judicial decisions. All of this is separate from the Last Judgement when the perfect truth of your marriage will come out. These annullment tragedies predate Pope Francis’ odd moments by a long shot. As slainte said, yield it into Christ’s care…yield it, turn it over verbally each day to Christ in your case. You are very verbal about it here. Be verbal about to Him…to Him. You’re getting worse telling us…you’ll get better telling Him. The foregiveness part I’m not sure of in that God does not forgive a bankrobber unless he returns the cash. The foregiveness awaits the restitution. Certain sins are fixable as to their damage with great effort and in your conscience this one is fixable. You are awaiting restitution but you should forgive in this sense: you should be praying daily that God leads her away from damnation because if you really are the husband before God, then you must will her salvation until death and in that sense you must forgive her daily until death.

  • Raymond,
    I think an anullment took place but Karl rejects its decision. Am I incorrect here?

  • Don’t go, Karl. These other members of the Catholic Church who are betraying Christ are sinners. They are hurting you and all of us. They are hurting The Lord. Don’t you go away from Him too.
    I know you are crying with Him, My God, My God WHY have You forsaken me. You are participating in the suffering He took on when Peter abdicated. Jesus dealt with Peter. We let Jesus deal with Francis. Meanwhile you Karl, have to remain standing like Mary and John.

  • Acceptance of Gay marriage will necessarily lead to anti-monagamy, polyandry and polygamy because:
    1. There isn’t really any natural satisfaction in homosexual sex, this leaves a person longing for something, that something is of course the other half of humanity. All have this.
    2. The whole meaning of a pair, two, binary lovers.. Is based on heterosexual normal behavior.. Children with parents. Abolish that and you abolish the idea of two.
    3. Gay marriages are by definition naturally sterile, always. Any attempt to “have children” involves not only another person, but one of the opposite sex. At that point there’s really no transition to polyandry or poligamy, you’re already there..

  • The Old Adam: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matt. 28: 19-20.
    The Sacrament of Penance is where forgiveness of sins takes place after our original Baptism. The priest speaks “in persona Christi” the words of Jesus Christ: “I absolve you…”. Confess the sin. Do the penance, with a firm purpose of amendment.
    Karl: It is time for you to get selfish about you soul and refuse to allow anybody, for any reason, to injure your relationship with Jesus Christ. God made them. God will take care of them. God loves them more than you can.
    Cling to Jesus.

  • Raymond Nicholas,
    I don’t support adultery and I take Karl at his word that he informed the bishop of his wife’s irregular status, to wit, “The bishop knows well the circumstances and was forewarned”. Karl posted previously and disclosed additional details about his plight for which I am in full sympathy.
    The pain and injury of divorce is horrific made worse by a spouse’s betrayal in the form of adultery. This sort of trauma can emotionally cripple some and badly scar others. All members of the family suffer.
    If one has has successfully defended the marital bond in connection with an offending spouse’s petition for nullity, as Karl did, it is understandable that he should experience a sense of injustice when he observes his spouse continuing to receive communion at mass. It is unfortunate that the bishop didn’t inform Karl that he intended to permit the priest to dispense holy communion to Karl’s wife. Short of writing to the Vatican, I don’t know what other remedy is available that has not already been exhausted to resolve this debacle.
    There comes a point in every divorcee’s life when the innocent spouse must choose to forgive, but not forget, a great betrayal and injustice in order to move on with one’s life and bring peace to the home. Forgiveness heals the entire family.
    We cannot control others; Karl cannot control the bishop he forewarned or his spouse who exercised her free will unwisely. We can control ourselves, though, and how we respond to adversities. For the good of all, forgiveness is a worthy endeavor that will restore Karl to wholeness so that he can be liberated from the heaviness of the hurt that abandonment and divorce causes. God’s grace is sufficient to get us through the worst of times.

  • Since adultery requires at least one in the couple to be married, the way to get rid of adultery is to get rid of marriage, and certainly anyone who goes into marriage thinking about it like this “life coach” will not be entering a valid marriage.

  • Regarding Karl, I am not aware of any prior posts regarding divorce and/or annulment, and “who shot John” issues. Based on Karl’s brief comments, and that this was an article on adultery, it seemed to me that he was referring to yet another Church scandal, which seems to be reported with regularity on the internet, and that he has lost hope in the Church ever backing him up or following what they say.

    On the other hand, if a Church process did happen, and it was proper in all aspects, then Karl must live with the results, and he has a tough test ahead of him, as slainte says.

    Unfortunately, I know of more than one Catholic “break-up” wherein one party or the other did not like the Church ruling, so they left and joined another church in order to get married.

  • Mr. Nicholas,
    Please see Karl’s amplified statement in the comment section of this link
    Karl, I offer my prayers for your well being and that of your family.

  • Bill Bannon
    You are right to stress the provisional character of annulments. It has always been the law of the Church that declarators concerning status are never final (In the current code, see Can. 1492 §1)
    In cases concerning the validity of sacred orders or marriage, the Holy See is always prepared, on cause shown, to grant a Commission of Review, even of its own decisions. This is not an appeal, but a re-hearing on the merits.

  • slainte, I just finished reading Karl’s very long post from the link you posted. This situations is a shame of the Church and reinforces my earlier post, regarding scandal and its intended/unintended consequences.

    Obviously, Karl could use help because he feels betrayed and bitter. It very well may be the test God gave Karl in his life.

    Putting aside Karl’s soul for the moment, it seems to me that the second annulment was obtained under false pretenses and granted by an erring priest. The priest and the two lovers will have to account for their actions in the end.

  • Mr. Nicholas writes, “…It very well may be the test God gave Karl in his life…”
    We concur…hence my recommendation that Karl forgive the unforgiveable and yeild his marriage and his wife into the hands of God. The act of forgiveness does not suggest that Karl forgets or affirms his wife’s trespasses. Rather, Karl’s granting forgiveness to his undeserving wife is a radical act of mercy in imitation of Christ’s unmerited gift to us (undeserving children of Eve) in atonement for our sins.
    God will grant Karl grace to supercede his pain and a tranquil family life….in essence, beauty for his ashes.

  • Raymond Nicholas
    “granted by an erring priest”
    I would be very reluctant to accuse any judge of error, when I had not had his advantage of observing the demeanour of the witnesses and parties.

  • I will pray for Karl.

    If I had any kind of ecclesiastical authority at all, that woman and her partner in adultery would be excommunicated as of this moment. It is not because of sin, but rather, obstinate grave sin. Forgiveness is absolute, but also conditional.

    I was hesitant to post here again, but after reading slainte’s link about Karl’s situation, I simply couldn’t contain my outrage.

  • Proslogion writes: “…Forgiveness is absolute, but also conditional…:
    Thankfully God did not apply a conditional standard of forgiveness to mankind. Had He done so, He would not have sent His Son to atone for our sins by dying on the cross; and we, the unrepentant sinners, would not be saved.
    Forgiveness requires the forgiver to adhere to an ideal greater than one’s self; it causes one to reach beyond the flesh and become godlike in dispensing unmerited mercy.
    For many, it requires much prayer, much supplication, and many hours in Eucharistic Adoration seeking the strength to do what we resist on every level of our being.
    It is a test of a lifetime…would that those who commit adultery and then divorce fully apprehend the consequences of their acts on the rejected spouse.

  • I was prepared to see the blessing of adultery by the ordinary and the priest. I expected it. Against my own will, I read Tobit at the request of our son and, I presume, his fiancee. It broke my heart reading it and seeing my wife with her lover separated by her father who sat between them in the row behind our son but I worked through it.

    I was totally unprepared to see my wife and her lover be given the host, it was overwhelming. I could not bear it. I had to leave. I made no scene.

    It is not a question of forgiveness. It is a question of a broken human
    Making that choice, every moment of every day. Sometimes I fail.

    But when I failed, at that moment and after, somehow my sin became
    Worse than unrepentant public adultery.

    In defense of the priest: He is a young priest with little experience. He misunderstood the need to see me so he could understand the facts. He heard only from my wife and her lover, not me. Our daughters, who spoke with him the following day believe he was and is unprepared for such circumstances and asked me to consider their visit with him.
    This would not be written if I was unforgiving or hateful or whatever.

    But, his bishop knew the story and should have prevented it. This is fact.

    The bishop, my wife and her lover put that young priest in a position he is not equipped to adequately understand, much less deal with.

    Now, my family is shattered! One would think that bishop would move
    Heaven and earth to work to heal all that brokenness, wouldn’t one?

    But, in his defense, should the bishops in responsibility wherever my wife and her lover have lived for the passed more than two decades not have attempted the same, again and again, before him?

    There is no annulment. There may be one granted in the near future, for reasons i have just learned but which i feel should not be mentioned, but not for reasons supported by Canon Law or its underlying theology. Not good reasons.

    Do pray for all of us but, pray more for priests and bishops to work to restore marriages rather than supporting adultery, which is what they are doing now and have been for decades and decades.

  • Karl,
    Jesus will not co-exist within a heart that is inflamed with anger, even if that anger is righteous as yours appears to be.
    Please consider prayer, supplication, and spending time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. Invite him into your heart; ask him to extinguish the negative emotions that have taken root; request that he silence the endless internal monologue of self blame you may recite; and ask Him to bless you with His Grace.
    Do all of this repeatedly, if necessary, and I promise you that in time He will restore you and make you whole again. If not for yourself, do this for your children and grandchildren.
    The Serenity Prayer
    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.
    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.

    –Reinhold Niebuhr
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will direct your paths.
    Proverbs 3, 5-6

  • Slainte,
    Be careful speaking for Jesus as to where his is. He lived among and moved among some ugly characters. I believe you meant no harm but
    Only God knows my heart and the horrors i have faced from the Catholic Church for at least 25 years.

    The corruption is thorough. I have only, within the last day or two, come to understand it in frighteningly concrete ways regarding annulments, even though i have fought this system since 1991.

    Do you not understand that NO BISHOP has shut his mouth, opened his mind and his heart and sat down with me, in face of our valid marriage and asked me….”what can i do to work to heal this?” Not in this entire nightmare!

    If you or any person does not find that completely unacceptable and outrageously, gravely and scandalously harmful, then you need your prayers more than i do. Have you personally contacted your bishop about this and demanded he act and demonstrate that he has? If not, then you should.

    How can i sit down with men who have turned their back on me and our marriage for decades? To ask that of me is to ask a woman to sit down with her unrepentant rapist with no defense.

    If this offends you, then you need to try to walk in my shoes and the shoes of others who walk the same walk.

    The clergy do not care. If they did their actions would indicate it.

    Please stop pouring salt on my wounds. Unless the clergy are forced to act, this marital and child holocaust goes on and on and on.

    Stop telling me of my unrepentance and say the same to your clergy and hierarchy. You are persecuting me and our marriage and supporting rapists!

    If they drop to their knees in repentance for their scandalous neglect and rent their clothes and tender their resignations to show their outrage at themselves and their callous clerical selfrighteous hatred, their might be a place to start! But these persecutors must remove their knives from my throat and the throats of our children first!

    I have never shut the damn door. These men have never opened it. I have been knocking on it for 25 years, begging for help and been ignored.

    Do you feel better now, slainte. And yes, i know and believe you meant only good. So do I. But you have seen the tip of my pain.

    Forgive me, dear, sincerely. I had to let you see it.

  • Karl – I’ll pray for you. I’m truly sorry for your pain – we fallen and imperfect people, in our own self-absorption, sometimes cause great pain to those who trust us. May God Bless you.
    To those who are criticizing or rebuking or “advising” Karl, I would respectfully suggest that you review the Book of Job and particularly God’s warning to Job’s “sympathetic friends”.
    Regarding the original content of this article, the legitimization of adultery in western society, persuasive rationalization is a tool used by satan to mislead man throughout history – the pagan spiritualist in this piece sounds very similar to satan tempting Eve in the garden.

PopeWatch: Retirement

Friday, May 30, AD 2014




In flying back from the Middle East, Pope Francis made a response to a question that has not received much attention:

After a grueling but ultimately successful three-day visit to one of the most complicated regions on the planet, the idea of retirement probably sounded pretty good to Francis. So it is no surprise that when reporters traveling with him on the papal plane asked if he would consider resigning like his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, he said he wouldn’t rule it out.

“I will do what the Lord tells me to do. Pray and try to follow God’s will. Benedict XVI no longer had the strength and honestly, as a man of faith, humble as he is, he took this decision,” Francis said, according to a transcript of his press conference published in La Stampa’s Vatican Insider. “Seventy years ago, popes emeritus didn’t exist. What will happen with popes emeritus? We need to look at Benedict XVI as an institution, he opened a door, that of the popes emeritus. The door is open, whether there will be others, only God knows. I believe that if a bishop of Rome feels he is losing his strength, he must ask himself the same questions Pope Benedict XVI did.”

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11 Responses to PopeWatch: Retirement

  • At first I thought to myself that it would be wonderful if Pope Francis retired – right now. Then after reading this blog post in its entirety, I came to the conclusion that far more damage would be done by a retired Pope Francis that a sitting one.


    Back to praying that the Holy Spirit guides the Pope.

  • I think that what he said was entirely right. It would have been bizarre if he said that popes can’t, or shouldn’t, retire. I appreciate that he credited Benedict’s decision to his humility. I don’t like the idea of papal retirement, and I hope it doesn’t become an expectation, but I think he said the right thing.

  • I think of the photo of the lightning strike at St. Peter’s at retirement of Benedict XVI. What could we expect if Francis were to follow suit.
    Hope he wouldn’t retire while Benedict is still occupying that pew 🙂

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  • Good points. I wish Francis had not talked about an “institution” of pope emeritus; it’s really more of an honorific. Benedict remains especially dear to us, but functionally, he is just a retired bishop at this point.

    The early Japanese “emperors” (I use quotes because the institution never has exactly corresponded to any Western institution) really did govern, but much of their time and energy was consumed by ceremony and ritual. After a few centuries, a “solution” was found — once an emperor had an adult son, he would retire and leave the ceremonies to him, while the retired emperor made the important state decisions. This was the beginning of a process in which the emperor lost almost all of his power, though some of it was briefly regained between the Meiji Restoration and the end of WWII.

    The same thing could not happen with popes in reality, but it could in appearance, with the practical upshot being that the pope emeritus would either become a puppet master (like the kings of France during the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy) or a de facto antipope. Let’s not go there!

  • I agree with you Howard: “I wish Francis had not talked about an “institution” of pope emeritus…”

  • “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. (Gal 1:8)

    LORD, Please send the Great King and the Great Pope soon! Also, the Illumination of conscience for the World.


  • DEGRADATION (The Church taken for granted as an INSTITUTION and run on that line)……DECAY……..and DEATH……but it will happen only to the projected reality of The Church.

    And now, O Lord, we have POPE RETIRING!

    It looks like for the Pope Jesus the Lord has run away from his CROSS.

    Jesus Lord, You NEVER abandoned your cross or run away from it, give us good popes like St. John Paul II who remained nailed to your CROSS till his very last moment of his life on earth.

    Since Pope Francis has not yet started to act like Peter in the ACTS – that is acting like a true Apostle – he is tempted to welcome thought on ‘retirement’.
    Jesus Lord, save him and us from such great evil.

    Before such a disgraceful and unimaginable evil happening AGAIN grant us the grace of lightening-speed election of succeeding Pope.

    Jesus Lord, once my dear and most loving and caring mother prayed to you that i be no more if I were to even think of LEAVING your service and what a WONDERFUL GRACE she was to me from you Lord my only LOVE!

  • “Nothing but evil can come about if such retirements become part and parcel of the papacy.”

    So very true. Jesus Lord, have mercy on us and save us from such Popes in future.

    Those who go down the slopes with childish abandon what understanding have they of JESUS CRUCIFIED THE WISDOM OF THE LIVING GOD? Perhaps such people are thinking only of saving the bit of their miserable life that is left but can such lives be saved? Has not the Lord said, “Those who lose their life on account me and on account of the Gospel will keep it for eternal life?

    Here it looks even people having PASTORAL quality are acting like those who actually worship only the god of Philosophers. Could be that such qualities are exercised as mere human techniques to win popularity and approval from below disregarding the approval that comes from above.

    If such EVIL example is followed, for Bishops, Priests and Religious too to reduce their call to a temporary phase, the time is not too far away.

    Pope Benedict spoke of EVIL in his Regensberg talk but this EVIL is unimaginably more so for it keeps crucifying the Lord of glory down to our own age.

    Does not Brutus make a difference, and what a difference, my God!

    Jesus Son of God, our Savior, save us such concrete EVIL from within your Church.

  • Following the decree Christus Dominus of VII, Pope Paul VI set, in effect, a retirement age of 75 for diocesan bishops and parish priests (Ecclesiae Sanctae, 06/08/1966) and excluded Cardinals from the Roman Curia and Papal Conclaves at 80 (Ingravescentem Ætatem, 21/11/1970)

    It would be odd, if “the natural relationship between the increasing burden of age and the ability to perform certain major offices” did not apply to the papacy.

    Part of the problem is the age at which popes now tend to be elected. Innocent III, often considered the greatest of the mediaeval popes was born in 1161, elected pope in 1198 at the age of 37 and died in 1216, aged 55, younger than many of his successors at the time of their election.

    Other young popes include Leo X, who was elected on 9 March, 1513, aged 38. To enable him to accept his election, he was ordained a priest on 15 March, consecrated bishop on 17th and crowned on the 19th He died in 1521 aged 46.

    His fellow Medici pope, Clement VII, was elected in 1523, aged 45 and died in 1534 aged 56. He had been consecrated Archbishop of Florence in 1517, aged 39. Interestingly, in light of his involvement with Henry VIII’s over the king’s abortive annulment, in 1521, he was appointed bishop of Worcester in commendam. Other sees that he held in commendam were the archbishopric of Narbonne in Languedoc and the bishopric of Eger in Hungary

  • ” It would be odd, if “the natural relationship between the increasing burden of age and the ability to perform certain major offices” did not apply to the papacy. Part of the problem is the age at which popes now tend to be elected. ” –
    Michael Paterson-Seymour,

    It would be odd. A life spent growing toward wisdom is a quality that belongs in major offices, especially in the Church hierarchy where news from God is entrusted to be given to people. With the existence of the natural relationship between age and ability to perform, there is, for the people, a hope that the freedom to focus or emphasize is based on that wisdom. I think it’s good that age is only part of the problem, otherwise is unthinkable. Health of mind and strength of body become a great gift for God’s people and those that would be His people with the help of wisdom emanating from the Fathers.

    There is great food for thought in the ages of life, and as well, responsibility or integrity of major offices. As Donald McClarey writes, “that changes the nature of the office and the role of the pope in the Church.” We can hope that integrity surpasses politics, but, meanwhile use our lifespan to listen to God’s Word for advice.

Killing the Messenger

Thursday, May 29, AD 2014

Killing the Messenger


Paul in his post, go here to read it, takes to task Catholic bloggers upset by this story by Hilary White:


ROME, May 23, 2014 ( – Pope Francis raised eyebrows earlier this month by concelebrating Mass with and kissing the hand of a leading homosexual activist priest campaigning for changes in the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. On May 6, Francis received the 93 year-old priest who has cofounded the homosexualist activist organization, Agedo Foggia, that is opposed to Catholic Church teaching.

Fr. (Don) Michele de Paolis concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis at the Domus Santa Martha and then presented the pontiff with gifts of a wooden chalice and paten and a copy of his most recent book, “Dear Don Michele – questions to an inconvenient priest”.

In a previous book, Don Michele wrote, “homosexual love is a gift from (God) no less than heterosexual.” He also disparaged the idea of homosexual couples not having sex.



Francis closed the meeting by kissing the priest’s hand, a gesture that the far-left newspaper L’immediato called one “revealing the humility of a great man to another of the same stature.” De Paolis described the unusual papal gesture himself in a post to his Facebook page, saying that he asked Francis for an audience with the priest’s other organization, the Community of Emmaus: “Is that possible?”

He said that the pope replied, “Anything is possible. Talk to Cardinal Maradiaga and he shall prepare everything.”

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62 Responses to Killing the Messenger

  • I read this as a factual story. Hilary White is a solidly good writer.
    I can’t understand why the knives came out.
    Why didn’t anyone just call her before the typing began ?

  • Mr. McClarey writes…”….When Pope Francis doesn’t explain his actions, and I have noticed that he rarely explains either his words or his actions, whose fault is it when his actions may be viewed unfavorably?
    Can’t resist playing with your words and their authorship….
    “When Jesus doesn’t explain his actions, and I have noticed that he rarely explains either his words or his actions, whose fault is it when his actions may be viewed unfavorably?”….Pontius Pilate
    When the message isn’t clear, don’t kill the messenger.

  • Slainte, Pope Francis is not Jesus and Donald is mot Pilate.

  • Paul,
    Jesus, who was innocent, was wrongly accused and condemned. I suggest we reserve judgment and refrain from doing the same thing to Hilary White and Christ’s vicar, Pope Francis.
    Pilate is every one of us who condemns another without just cause and/or a clear factual basis for any alleged wrongdoing.

  • lifesitenews has what’s coming to it. It is a narrow-minded, bigoted, and propaganda-centered outlet that leaves little, if any, room for dissent or diverse opinion. Those who attempt to engage in thoughtful dialogue are consistently blocked. It’s better suited as an ossified echo-chamber for bigots.

  • “It’s better suited as an ossified echo-chamber for bigots.”

    Translation: They do not agree with LWC so they are bigots.

  • Actually Slainte Christ did explain Himself sufficiently to Pilate for Pilate to hesitate with ordering His execution until Caiaphas had a howling rent-a-mob outside the Praetorium. Christ also constantly explains His words and actions to His Apostles throughout the Gospels, an aspect of His ministry that all popes would do well to emulate.

  • I would appreciate it if future comments on this thread actually focus on the story written by Hilary White and the challenge I have made to its critics.

  • So in co-founding Agedo Foggia pastor DePaolis knowingly taught / prescribed principles contrary to Catholic teachings? Then the daggers fly from the left when reported by the right.

    Yawn….! No disrespect Mr. McClarey.
    This ongoing battle, the War for souls, inches along everyday, every minute.
    I for one appreciate the reporting from LSN. I do not find it surprising that some dislike it. Some bigots in History were murdered for their Faith in God.
    We call them Martyrs. ( for lwc )

    In this battle for souls it’s comforting to know that TAC exists and is a refreshment to the parched soldier defending the line. For all defenders of Truth, thank you Mr. McClarey and with Holy Rosaries and frequent Mass we will march on. Prayers for Pope Francis.

  • The liberal, elites can get out the knives for this.

    Compare Pope John Paul II’s act with Pope Francis.

    “Aiding the Nicaraguan Communists were a group of Marxist priests, some of whom held positions in the Marxist government. Their plan was to replace the Catholic Church loyal to Jesus Christ with a “People’s Church” that would be controlled by the Communist party–who in Nicaragua went by the name, the Sandinistas.

    “When John Paul II went to Nicaragua (in the past century), he lowered the boom. His plane touched down in Managua airport, the pope came off, and there in the reception line was one of the Marxist (Oragnize and arm the least of Christ’s brothers and take it all) priests–still holding on to his government position. This was in direct defiance of John Paul II’s orders that no priest was to hold government power. With television cameras blazing, John Paul II ignored diplomatic protocol, put his finger in the priest’s face and told him: you must regularize your position with the Church–now!”

    Like almost everything in life: Note the man’s acts, not his talk.

    Innocents suffer when the guilty are not forced to stop.

  • It’s sad that some people reading the LSN story, prejudge the story, instead of reading what’s actually in it. Also where’s Catholic commonsense in the harping of the critics of this report? A priest, who’s a queer activist, is given a photo op with the Pope. Hillary White merely reported the facts of who this man was, and what his mission in life was. Why are so many Catholics upset with this? Are they such Francis groupies that they can’t stand the thought that he can do deliberate wrong? That’s what it looks like to me.

  • I cannot help but wonder if the people who are ripping into Hillary White are, in fact, people of very weak (or poorly founded?) faith–people who desperately need a good and holy and most of all orthodox Pope to keep them going to Church, putting money in the collection plate, raising their children in the faith, not using contraception, not handing the spouse divorce papers. . . I don’t know, but I wonder.
    Imagine your teenage daughter (who has a popular gay boss at her work site, one who appears to have a stable “marriage” and with young children at that) coming to you and asking why again is homosexual “marriage” a bad thing? After all, she just read on Facebook that the Pope con-celebrated a Mass with a priest who endorses gay marriage, etc.
    What would you say? Isn’t the Holy Spirit supposed to get the gates of Hell from conquering the Church? And it certainly seems like the gates of Hell are winning these days, doesn’t it? What with the clown Masses and puppet Masses, Sister Laurel getting chased away, Catholic colleges hiring atheist chancellors, etc. And now the Pope saying some interesting things (maybe) about divorced and “remarried” people being admitted to Communion, this particular con-celebrated Mass, etc.
    So, yes, I guess I can see where attacking the messenger makes sense.

  • Mr. McClarey,
    Simcha Fisher’s response to Hilary White was uncharitable, and her use of profanity as against Life Site News regrettable. Her motivation, I think, may be rooted in the fact that she, like fellow columnist Elizabeth Scalia at Patheos, has a brother who suffers from same sex attraction. Ms. Fisher’s brother states that he is celibate; Ms. Scalia’s brother died of HIV in 2005.
    I think this family connection may elicit more forceful and unpredictable reactions from both writers on issues related to same sex attraction. Hence, Ms. Fisher’s hyperbolic response to Ms. White’s article… which article appears straightforward in its recitation of facts.
    There is always more below the surface than we know regarding why writers take certain positions. Thus, prudence suggests discretion in issuing condemnations.

  • Since PF is setting this response (kissing the hands of someone) as his new standard protocol to reach out to others (having kissed the hands of Fr. de Paolis, and also recently the hands of holocaust survivors at the Yad Vashem memorial, or the feet of various and sundry persons at the Holy Thursday liturgies of the last two years), I look forward to his eagerly kissing the hands of other “dissidents” and “members of other faiths”, such as the founders of the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate, Frs. Stefano Maria Manelli and Gabriele Maria Pelletieri; Bp. Bernard Fellay of the SSPX; perhaps Bp. Mark Pivarunas of the CMRI’s, and so on. I am sure it is right around the corner.

  • As far as I can discern (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong), the substantive objections (e.g. not Ad Hominem or Genetic Fallacy arguments) to the LSN article are (1) the author did not use a reliable source and/or did not sufficiently verify the story, (2) the author (or headline writer) chose to sensationalize the incident in a way that cast Pope Francis in a bad light, and (3) the author did not offer more context, background or explanation about what and why Pope Francis did what he did.

    It would seem to me that these objections would not provoke such a response, but I read the original article with little reaction or shock, so I’m definitely not tuned into to detect what’s being detected here.

    I think that (1) isn’t too much of a concern since the first-hand account included photographs and no one has disputed the reported facts, (2) sounds reasonable, but I’m not sure how else the story could have been written in a way that doesn’t draw attention to primarily what this priest is known for, and (3) seems to be outside the scope of a news report of this nature, and would more get into editorializing.

    Those are my thoughts anyhow, but I’d love to see more of a discussion on the problems of the article, and less on the presumed agenda or the mindset of the author and the website publisher.

  • I heard a story about St. Francis of Assisi kissing the hands of a bad priest, one who flouted his lack of chastity, because they were the hands who performed the miracle of changing bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood. Is this a Franciscan act?

  • oops, “…the hands WHICH…

  • Kmbold, the difference was that St. Francis was a layman–not the Pope.

    It is the Pope’s obligation before God–for the good of souls–to silence a priest such as this from teaching serious error in the name of the Church.

  • Kmbold: I applaud you for trying to find some commendable aspect of this latest Bergoglioist malaprop: but I think he simply does things on impulse, the source of which none of us can find a rational explanation.

  • Issuing condemnations about H. White’s article is typical of the battle style now. She wrote a factual article but she didn’t stand a chance.
    It is not only verboten to print anything that portrays homosexual behavior on a bad light but worse you Must portray them in a Positive light.
    “… the Italian government’s National Antidiscrimination and Racism Office (Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali) that has issued documents threatening journalists with prison if they fail to portray homosexuality in a positive light.”

  • Her motivation, I think, may be rooted in the fact that she, like fellow columnist Elizabeth Scalia at Patheos, has a brother who suffers from same sex attraction. Ms. Fisher’s brother states that he is celibate; Ms. Scalia’s brother died of HIV in 2005.

    I have a second degree relation and a first degree relation who died approximately the same way that Robert Benchley and Jack Kerouac did. I really would not be motivated to pour vitriol on someone (even a cleric) for saying that ‘Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life”.

  • Stephen Spencer on Friday, May 30, A.D. 2014 at 2:18pm ~ Hit the nail on the
    head stating that ” It is the Pope’s obligation before God–for the good of souls–to silence a priest such as this from teaching serious error in the name of the Church.”

  • On point is the fact of the two photos with White’s article. Many of us would not know who the priest is; he is old, and Pope Francis looks very compassionate. BUT: there would have been a no-news event to report if the identity of the priest were not mentioned. Which means, once again our Holy Father (or is this an anachronistic appellation now?) has, I believe, given cause for possible scandal; if this is not willful, then it is indicative of grossly distracted judgment. If some think too many stones are being thrown at someone who is being just like Christ, then one must pray fervently that the Pope has some sort of epiphany at what he is evoking,

  • Aer Deco writes: “…I have a second degree relation and a first degree relation who died approximately the same way that Robert Benchley and Jack Kerouac did. I really would not be motivated to pour vitriol on someone (even a cleric) for saying that ‘Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life…”
    If Ms. Fisher’s intention was to protect the integrity of Pope Francis, or to affirm the dignity of her celibate brother (while not affirming SSA acts), then she shouldn’t be condemned for an intemperate response to a Life Site News (“LSN”) article. Nor should Hilary White or LSN be condemned if their collective intent was merely to present facts truthfully.
    The motivation and intention of the respective messengers matter when one discerns which, if any. of them should be killed.

  • With the overt hostility toward Gays, fitting of the most backwards stretches of rural America, how is it surprising the backlash that has arisen against this ‘messenger’ or any other for that matter? Gays are no less citizens than any other citizen and many are indeed no less Christian than the most pious of Christians. Additionally, as our American society progresses, and the scope of liberties advances, it is abundantly clear that discrimination against Gays is no less onerous (and illegal) than discrimination against creed, color, or origin.

  • LWC,
    The Catholic Church is a refuge for those who experience same sex attraction. It brings Christ’s love to the afflicted and calls all Catholics to extend care and compassion to one’s neighbors, especially those bearing heavy crosses who need Christ’s mercy.
    Consider the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

  • “With the overt hostility toward Gays, fitting of the most backwards stretches of rural America, how is it surprising the backlash that has arisen against this ‘messenger’ or any other for that matter?”

    Actually LCW homosexuals have never had more tolerance extended to them at any time in history than by the contemporary West. Such tolerance seems only to exacerbate the intolerance of many homosexual activists. Your jab at “backward stretches of rural America” is a fine example of the type of rabid intolerance I refer to.

    “Gays are no less citizens than any other citizen and many are indeed no less Christian than the most pious of Christians.”

    There is no civil disability that homosexuals currently are subject to in the United States or almost all of the West. In fact, they are politically powerful and are a favored and protected class by the powers that be throughout almost all of the West, with the law being enlisted to try to shut up opponents of the activist homosexuals. As for their Christianity, if they are engaging in homosexual sex they are committing mortal sin, just as assuredly as heterosexual adulterers.

    “Additionally, as our American society progresses, and the scope of liberties advances, it is abundantly clear that discrimination against Gays is no less onerous (and illegal) than discrimination against creed, color, or origin.”

    Your logical fallacy LCW is treating a sexual perversion as if it is in the same category as religion, race or nationality. It is not and has never been so treated throughout history, except over the past two decades in the West. Why it is currently so treated throughout most of the West has nothing to do with “progress” and everything to do with homosexuals having a disproportionate influence in the entertainment industry and the media, and, with the rise of homosexual identity politics, having been engaged in an intense propaganda effort to shift public opinion in regard to homosexuality for over the past four decades. They have been aided in this by leftists embracing the idea that morality has nothing to do with sexual matters and being in general at war with traditional sexual morality and the family, and a general collapse of sexual morality among a substantial portion of the population.

  • Within the United States, just as the government is emphatically proscribed from the establishment of religion, it is likewise in prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If one’s faith endorses, even celebrates, same-sex marriage who is one to criminalize or ignore that legally binding agreement between them.

    The Church (or any other church) is freely dispensed from having to perform said nuptials. Our Catholic faith (or any faith) is in no position to impose religious dogma into civil law. Further, Thomas Jefferson plainly stated to a group of pastors in his day, “…[B]ut laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    I think that says it all.

  • And while I could have chosen better phrasing in highlighting a known stereotype (ad hominem, as it is), it speaks to a broader point that more heavily populated, urban, and cosmopolitan area generally convey broader ‘tolerance’ of homosexuals. And having had more than a few conversations among people living within such rural areas, I can report my characterization is not too far afield. As to recognition, Gays still largely remain denied equal protection under the law insofar as marriage and other custodial concerns.

  • “Within the United States, just as the government is emphatically proscribed from the establishment of religion, it is likewise in prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If one’s faith endorses, even celebrates, same-sex marriage who is one to criminalize or ignore that legally binding agreement between them.”

    The Federal government has banned polygamy for over a century and a half. Your argument would have struck the Founding Fathers as either an obscenity or a bad attempt at ribald humor.

    “The Church (or any other church) is freely dispensed from having to perform said nuptials.”

    Lawsuits by gay activists seeking to compel churches to marry them are common in Europe and we shall see them here to. We live in a country where small time bakers of wedding cakes and owners of beds and breakfasts have been subject to successful suits to compel them to bend the knee to homosexuality. This has nothing to do with fairness and equality, and everything to do with homosexual activists attempting to stamp out all resistance to the idea that homosexual sex is a positive good. The Church is and will be target number one in this efforts.

    “Our Catholic faith (or any faith) is in no position to impose religious dogma into civil law.”

    Ludicrous. Most law is codified morality. The allowance of homosexual marriage is not a demonstration of the law being neutral in this area, but rather homosexual activists succeeding in imposing their morality and having the institution of marriage radically redefined.

    “I think that says it all.”

    Yes, that the words of figures in history are often used long after they are dead to lend support to causes they would have found abhorrent.

  • “As to recognition, Gays still largely remain denied equal protection under the law insofar as marriage and other custodial concerns.”

    That is not a civil disability since homosexuals are free to cohabit everywhere, and can go to a state that allows homosexual marriage if they wish to tie the knot, with activist Federal judges busily overturning state statutes banning homosexual marriages in any case. In regard to custodial matters, it is usually the case that it is the Catholic Church that is being driven out of arranging adoptions since many states now require that homosexuals be allowed to adopt children on the same terms as heterosexuals, the world of “Heather has Two Mommies” now being imposed by the State.

  • Here is what Sacred Scripture says about those who practice homosexuality in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10:
    9 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, 10 Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God.
    Now the Greek word translated as “effeminate” is “μαλακός” which really means “of a catamite” or “of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness,” which is exactly what the receiver of homosexual relations is doing.
    And the Greek word translated as “liers with mankind” is “ἀρσενοκοίτης” which really means “one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual.”
    Those people who practice such actions are classed right along with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, and extortioners. The Bible says that none of these people will possess the Kingdom of God. Since there is only one other place to go, that means that if such people do not repent, then they go to hell.
    But verse 11 in 1st Corinthians chapter 6 goes on to say:
    11 And such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.
    Note the past tense: “And such some of you WERE.” That means that some of the people at the Church in Corinth WERE fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, and drunkards but are no longer those kinds of people. Why? Verse 11 tells us: “…but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.”
    Now I specifically called out the word “drunkard” in St Paul’s litany because such WAS I at one time. I was NO better than a fornicator, an adulterer, a homosexual or whoever (and yes, I did my fair share of more than one sin as I am sure we all have). But at some point I have to STOP being a drunkard if I am to possess the Kingdom of God. The same is true of him who practices homosexual actions. He has to STOP it. And that happens by being washed, sanctified and justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord gave the Church a process for this. It is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. That is why after I did my 5th Step with my 12 Step mentor, he being a good Catholic had me go to Confession with a Franciscan priest (who unknown to me at the time was his sponsor).
    Thank God no one felt sorry for me in my drunkenness. They would have sealed my death sentence and greased the skids straight to hell. Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and the whole litany are ultimately NO different (especially in today’s sex-addicted society). That is why St Paul describes so eloquently in Romans chapter 7 the slavery to sin to which we were all subject.
    Equal rights for every human being: we all have the right to confess and repent to inherit the Kingdom of God. No special rights for sex-addicted adulterers, fornicators or homosexuals, just as there are no special rights for drug or alcohol addict persons, and no special rights for thieves, railers and extortioners. It is hate of the worst kind – a hate that sends to people to hell – to say, do or maintain otherwise.

  • Paul, you conveniently omitted: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    Nice try, though.

  • LCW, re-read my whole statement. I DID include verse 11 of 1st Corinthians chapter 6.

  • Paul, then my mistake. My phone must have truncated your message. My apologies.

  • Understood, LWC – smart phones are not all that smart. 🙁

    I made a point that some people at the Church in Corinth had once been drunks, adulterers, homosexuals, fornicators, but they stopped being those kinds of people.

  • LWC,
    Are you Catholic?
    If so, why do you bend your knee before a political ideology (liberalism) rather than Christ and His Church?

  • “…fitting of the most backwards stretches of rural America,..”
    I resemble that remark!

  • Slaint, precisely because I am an American who renders unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…and this instance it is the proscription against the establishment of religion and the equal protection under law.

    And yes, I am Catholic….and American.

  • LCW, This American Catholic suggests that you are making an idol of a political ideology to justify personal acts which may not be in accord with God’s law.
    God preceded the state; a fact recognized by the founders of the U.S and memorialized in the Declaration of Independence by reference to He who is the source of our inalienable rights.
    The founders would likely conclude that any positive law or Constitutional interpretation which contradicts or subverts Nature”s God is no law at all.
    We Catholics owe our allegiance to God first. If we love Him, we will follow His commandments.

  • LWC,

    The United States was NOT founded as a Secular National Democracy but as a Constitutional Republic based on Judeo-Christian principles. The overwhelming majority of this nation’s Founding Fathers stood upon those principles, even people like Deist Thomas Jefferson to whom is attributed much of this dogma of separation of Church and State. The intent was that never would the State dictate what the Church was to do, and ever was the Church to have freedom in the public square. The idea that Judeo-Christian morality was NOT the under-pinning of the nation’s law would have been foreign (and anathema) to these men. Quote after quote after quote from George Washington, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton, etc., can be cited demonstrating this. But the revisionist history of the adherents of the godless liberal progressive Democratic Party – the very one that booed God at the last DNC here in Charlotte, NC – denies all that is holy which would sustain this country. Regardless of all the pronouncements of liberal progressive Democrats promoting the separation of Church and State, God’s Word overrides everything and His Word says: “And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” 2nd Chronicles 7:14. Mark these words: unless the United States of America repents before the King of kings and Lord of lords for sodomy, abortion, fornication, adultery, thievery, and all its other sins, hell will rain down on us for we will have made it so rain. As Hosea 8:7 states, “For they shall sow wind, and reap a whirlwind, there is no standing stalk in it, the bud shall yield no meal; and if it should yield, strangers shall eat it.” Lord, what hypocrisy! When it comes to social justice nonsense, these liberal progressive Democrats are the first to quote Scripture and demand we seek Government to do what we should be doing ourselves, but when it comes to holiness they demand separation of Church and State. Godless liberal progressive Democrats!

  • “…but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    –Thomas Jefferson

  • “…Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

    –Thomas Jefferson

  • Oh how liberals know how to cherry pick what they wish to believe. Two can play this game.
    Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.
    The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.
    I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.
    Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?
    Thomas Jefferson
    It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
    Patrick Henry
    The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
    We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
    John Adams
    The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion…reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
    George Washington
    There are many, many more. The idea that pagans, atheists, Muslims, etc., could be elected to high office would have astounded these men. Thus does Samuel Johnston write:
    It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.
    I loathe, abhor, detest, despise, and hold in utter contempt and disgust the liberal progressive Democratic Party and its godless secular antagonism against the Christian religion. But in the end Jesus Christ wins, NOT the secularists, NOT the atheists, NOT the Muslims. Every knee will bend, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Those who cried separation of Church and State may well find themselves eternally separated from God’s Kingdom for that is really what they want. They worshipped and adored Caesar, a mere creature, rather than the Creator who is to be worshipped and adored forever and ever, Amen!
    Mors Atheismo Democratiaeque. Omnis gloria honosque Iesui Christo!

  • LWC, Thomas Jefferson supported the institution of slavery and owned slaves. He also impregnated at least one female slave whose ability to consent to the sexual act was negated by her status as slave in response to his demand as master.
    Do you support the enslavement of other persons and the engagement in sex with persons who cannot consent as Jefferson did?
    Christ informs the slave he is made in Imago Dei and is so beloved that he is worth dying for on the cross. Jefferson, a devotee of Enlightened Liberalism, kept the slave in shackles.
    Whose laws make you most free and demonstrate selfless love…God’s or Man’s?

  • Paul W Primavera on Saturday, May 31, A.D. 2014 at 3:44pm: “The United States was NOT founded as a Secular National Democracy but as a Constitutional Republic based on Judeo-Christian principles.”
    If that were true, the fruits would be showing.

  • Slainte, devotees of godless Liberalism still keep blacks in shackles, this time to the teat of the public treasury under the specious pretext of social justice of all things. Nothing has changed. They are as wicked as they have always been.

  • @FMS,

    Sadly liberalism like a cancer infects everything it touches. People like Ronald Reagan are the fruits. People like Barack Hussein Obama are the cancer.

  • How does Liberalism enslave Blacks anymore than Conservatism when such policies imprison Blacks more often, impose sentences that are disproportionately longer and of greater likelihood in the imposition of the death penalty?

  • Horse manure, LWC. You liberals create the social condition of black dependency that disproportionately results in more black criminality which results in more black imprisonment. And you are lily white rich liberal elitists who think you know better than anyone else. You are no different than the Democrat slave owners of one and a half centuries ago.

  • And Paul, if God was indeed all important to the Framers, why then attest to a document entirely devoid of mention of God, Jesus, Christ, Allah, Buddah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for that matter. In profound wisdom our Founders realized the paradigm of proscribing the establishment of religion, indeed preserves religious liberty into perpetuity. Were any one particular religion to be endorsed by the Government it would inevitably condemn the religious liberties of others and invariable cannibalize the very religion they ostensible sought to uphold. Bottom line; if you don’t want a gay partner, don’t get a gay partner. No church can be compelled to violate its faith in sanctioning a marriage they find abhorrent. That said, SCOTUS will soon affirm that within the United States discrimination on the basis of of orientation is no less odious (or illegal) than is discrimination against creed, color, or origin. A fight has been picked against Gay Americans that cannot (and will not) be won.

  • You liberals are all the same. You will find any way possible to make sexual perversion a socially acceptable norm. I do not give a darn what SCOTUS decides. Two same sex perverts marrying does not a marriage make. God said what marriage is and you liberals do not get to have an opinion in the matter. I am done discussing with you. Dialogue with a liberal is impossible. It makes me so angry.

  • For LWC and all liberals

    Liberalism Is a Sin

  • “if God was indeed all important to the Framers”

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

    Washington Farewell Address

  • Donald, religion may well indeed have been central in the lives of many Founders. I don’t deny that. That said, they fully understood the implication of the Government endorsing any one particular faith over the other. It would invariably destroy the religious liberty they sought to preserve ad infinitum. The Founders held their religious beliefs to be a matter of personal conviction and not of Government exercise. It’s apparent their faith, devout as it may have been for some, did not surpass a threshold sufficient enough to include within the document. Without repeating my quote from Thomas Jefferson, he made his position on the matter fairly clear and unmistakable.

  • Paul W. Primavera.

    Defender of the Faith YOU are!
    Great points and for the right reasons…our Homelands. We must preoccupy ourselves with our brothers state AFTER have had the beam pulled out of our own eyes first. I have read your confession in the past year. I believe you have had the graces restored to your being, hence, your charity is genuine. Thanks for being you.
    LWC. is a great place for combining a souls
    tendencies to same sex attractions with the sufferings of Christ. Redemptive Suffering is a gift to God that changes. Truly Changes the world far better than “change we can believe in.”

  • “That said, they fully understood the implication of the Government endorsing any one particular faith over the other”

    You badly misunderstand the Founding Fathers LWC. Not wanting to have an established Church like the Anglican Church in England did not mean that they wanted to separate the state and morality, and they all acknowledged that the basis of morality was religion. The idea by the way that it is an imposition of Catholic doctrine not to recognize homosexual marriage is farcial. This fad of “marriage equality” seeks to impose a radical redefinition of marriage. It is the advocates of this redefinition of an institution as old as Man who are attempting to read their “religious”, for contemporary liberalism is very much a substitute religion, doctrine into law and not the other way round.

  • It’s worth noting how Liberalism was understood some 60 years after the American Revolution.
    Blessed John Henry Newman recounted 18 tenets of Liberalism which he judged to be inconsistent with Christianity.
    1. No religious tenet is important, unless reason shows it to be so.
    Therefore, e.g. the doctrine of the Athanasian Creed is not to be insisted on, unless it tends to convert the soul; and the doctrine of the Atonement is to be insisted on, if it does convert the soul.
    2. No one can believe what he does not understand.
    Therefore, e.g. there are no mysteries in true religion.
    3. No theological doctrine is any thing more than an opinion which happens to be held by bodies of men.
    Therefore, e.g. no creed, as such, is necessary for salvation.
    4. It is dishonest in a man to make an act of faith in what he has not had brought home to him by actual proof.
    Therefore, e.g. the mass of men ought not absolutely to believe in the divine authority of the Bible.
    5. It is immoral in a man to believe more than he can spontaneously receive as being congenial to his moral and mental nature.
    Therefore, e.g. a given individual is not bound to believe in eternal punishment.
    6. No revealed doctrines or precepts may reasonably stand in the way of scientific conclusions.
    Therefore, e.g. Political Economy may reverse our Lord’s declarations about poverty and riches, or a system of Ethics may teach that the highest condition of body is ordinarily essential to the highest state of mind.
    7. Christianity is necessarily modified by the growth of civilization, and the exigencies of times.
    Therefore, e.g. the Catholic priesthood, though necessary in the Middle Ages, may be superseded now.
    8. There is a system of religion more simply true than Christianity as it has ever been received.
    Therefore, e.g. we may advance that Christianity is the “corn of wheat ” which has been dead for 1800 years, but at length will bear fruit; and that Mahometanism is the manly religion, and existing Christianity the womanish. {500}
    9. There is a right of Private Judgment: that is, there is no existing authority on earth competent to interfere with the liberty of individuals in reasoning and judging for themselves about the Bible and its contents, as they severally please.
    Therefore, e.g. religious establishments requiring subscription are Anti-christian.
    10. There are rights of conscience such, that every one may lawfully advance a claim to profess and teach what is false and wrong in matters, religious, social, and moral, provided that to his private conscience it seems absolutely true and right.
    Therefore, e.g. individuals have a right to preach and practise fornication and polygamy.
    11. There is no such thing as a national or state conscience.
    Therefore, e.g. no judgments can fall upon a sinful or infidel nation.
    12. The civil power has no positive duty, in a normal state of things, to maintain religious truth.
    Therefore, e.g. blasphemy and sabbath-breaking are not rightly punishable by law.
    13. Utility and expedience are the measure of political duty.
    Therefore, e.g. no punishment may be enacted, on the ground that God commands it: e.g. on the text, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”
    14. The Civil Power may dispose of Church property without sacrilege.
    Therefore, e.g. Henry VIII. committed no sin in his spoliations.
    15. The Civil Power has the right of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and administration.
    Therefore, e.g. Parliament may impose articles of faith on the Church or suppress Dioceses. {501}
    16. It is lawful to rise in arms against legitimate princes.
    Therefore, e.g. the Puritans in the 17th century, and the French in the 18th, were justifiable in their Rebellion and Revolution respectively.
    17. The people are the legitimate source of power.
    Therefore, e.g. Universal Suffrage is among the natural rights of man.
    18. Virtue is the child of knowledge, and vice of ignorance.
    Therefore, e.g. education, periodical literature, railroad travelling, ventilation, drainage, and the arts of life, when fully carried out, serve to make a population moral and happy.

  • An encouragement to those who treasure their Faith and their relationship with Jesus Christ during such tumultuous times:

    Steady the course. Keep the Faith. God knows all. Be still and know that He is God. Do not fret because of evil men. God only expects of us what we are capable of doing. Ask God to order our steps so that we know we are doing the things He wants us to do. Let the joy of the Lord be our strength in the face of such hatred, confusion, and chaos as we are facing. Do what we know to do, and God will take care of the rest. Wait upon the Lord and He will renew our strength. God may call some of us to do battle with these people on line AND some of us to withdraw from the battle for a period of time to put our energy in some other task or regain strength. Let’s focus on the tasks God wants us to complete, as unique individusl children of God, without judging others, who feel called to a different task or method than our own. Pray daily for the fruits of the Holy Spirit–love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, kindness, meekness, and self control. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto us.

  • I deleted your comment TomM. It dealt in unsubstantiated gossip which I despise and was off topic. However, most of the comments on this thread have been off topic which disappoints me. I am shutting down comments on this thread as a result.

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Get the Knives Out

Thursday, May 29, AD 2014

Last week Hilary White wrote an article for Lifesite News in which she reported on the fact that Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with and then later kissed the hands of an activist priest, Fr. Don Michele de Paolis, who has publicly spoken out against Church teaching on homosexuality. The priest also co-founded an organization, Agedo Foggia, that works to subvert the Church’s teaching. The article made no conjectures at all about the Pope’s motivation, nor did White at any point insert any editorial comment on the matter. She simply reported on the known facts – disputed, by the way, by no one – and then wrote about de Paolis’s previous work and writings. I repeat, White reported on the matter, and none of the facts she mentioned have been disputed by anyone. It is an accurate and well-sourced article.

The reaction to the piece was severe and swift. Soon after the article was published, and presumably in reaction to Hilary White’s article, Simcha Fisher intoned on her facebook page:

Two sentences that make me turn on my bull@#$% detector: ones that start, “Guess what Pope Francis just did?” and ones that start, “According to LifeSiteNews . . . “

Damien Fisher added in the comments: “If any lifesiter is reading this: You all suck at reporting and have no business pretending you are a news organization.”

By the way, at no point in any of their charitable screeds against Lifesite did either of the Fishers point out or specify any flaws in Hilary’s reporting. No, according to them Lifesite just sucks and you have to deal with it. Other comments on the thread were similarly lacking in anything resembling charity or substantive criticism.

Other denizens of the Catholic blogosphere weighed in with predictable reactions that I am not going to bother linking to, but you know where to look. Lifesite News itself issued this clarification that managed to offer up scores more conjecture than anything Hilary White offered in her article. First, Lifesite tried to backtrack the article:

LSN’s intention in publishing the story was to present the known facts about a public meeting between the pope and one of Italy’s leading Catholic dissidents – a newsworthy event in itself. However, in retrospect we recognize that in the absence of certain necessary clarifications and contexts the facts alone, as presented, unnecessarily lent themselves to misinterpretation.

What clarifications and context were needed, precisely? As usual, the Vatican spin machine offered no assistance, so all that was left for Hilary to do was report the facts as known to her.

LSN proceeded to propose several possibilities about what the Pope was up to.

Possibility #1: Pope Francis did not know about De Paolis’ pro-gay activism

In the first place, it is possible that Pope Francis was himself unaware of De Paolis’ pro-gay activism. As LSN’s original report stated, De Paolis officially met with Francis in his capacity as the founder of the Emmaus Community in the southern Italian city of Foggia, an organization that assists the poor and those suffering from AIDS – in other words, a commendable outreach. We do not know whether De Paolis’ other work agitating against Catholic teaching on homosexuality came up during the meeting. Pope Francis’ gesture in kissing De Paolis’ hands would in this case have been no more than a sign of priestly confraternity – a humble sign of respect from one priest to another. This view is given weight in light of the fact that Francis routinely shows respect for those he meets by kissing their hands. This week alone he publicly kissed the hands of the Patriarch of Constantinople, as well as a group of Holocaust survivors he met during his trip to the Holy Land.

However, even if the above scenario is accurate, it does raise some interesting questions about the Vatican’s vetting process. Why, for instance, of the many priests who would welcome the opportunity to concelebrate mass with the pope, did Francis’ handlers choose for this public honor a priest who is best known for his work opposing the Church’s teachings? On the other hand, it is possible that even they were they not aware of De Paolis’ background – a possibility that at first glance bears discomfiting echoes of that PR flub from Benedict’s pontificate, when the Vatican overlooked critical facts about Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX. Finally, given Pope Francis’ habit of mingling freely with guests at Domus Santa Marta, it is also possible that no such vetting process was applied to De Paolis, although this does seems unlikely, especially given that he was apparently given advance notice of his meeting with the pope.

Possibility #2: Pope Francis knew who the priest was, and was reaching out to him in mercy

On the other hand, it is possible that Francis and his handlers knew about De Paolis’ advocacy, but decided to arrange a meeting as an opportunity for the pontiff to reach out to the wayward priest as an act of mercy.

Some have compared the pope’s meeting with De Paolis to the famous meeting between the pontiff’s namesake, St. Francis, and a priest who was living in sin with a woman. After being urged by some local townspeople to go chastise the priest, Francis finally agreed. But instead of rebuking the priest as the townspeople expected, St. Francis fell to his knees and, without saying a word, began kissing the priest’s hands. According to the story, the priest repented.

The suggestion that the meeting between De Paolis and Pope Francis is similar is an attractive one. It is also given credence both by the pope’s love of St. Francis, as well as the strong emphasis of his pontificate on reaching out to the marginalized, and to bringing them back to Christ through kindness and mercy.

However, this interpretation runs into the difficulty that De Paolis himself has only spoken positively of the meeting with the pope. In his public comments he certainly has offered no indication that the pope either called him to repentance, or that he is considering abandoning his heterodox views after the meeting. Given the public nature of the meeting, this then raises prudential questions about the possibility of scandal, in the absence of a corresponding public statement from the Vatican or the pope calling De Paolis to repentance and conversion.

Possibility #3: Pope Francis intended the meeting as some kind of an endorsement of De Paolis’ work

The third possibility is that the pope knew of De Paolis’ pro-gay activism, but decided to meet with him anyway as a sign of respect either despite or even because of that activism. However, given the gravity of such an allegation, and how little is known about the meeting, there is clearly insufficient evidence to propose this as the best interpretation.

All three scenarios are certainly plausible (less so the third [I hope]), yet this is all complete guesswork. Hilary White did the responsible thing by offering up the facts as known to her through her reporting, and it would actually have been quite irresponsible for her to provide some kind of rationale for the Pope’s behavior based on educated guesswork. So she is experiencing blowback for failing to do precisely what she should not have done. Unreal.

I understand that we are living through some tense times, and there is a division developing between Catholics based on our feelings regarding the current Pontiff. I can respect the views of those who think the media and some Catholics have blown the Pope’s words and behavior out of proportion even if I think that some of the defense if fairly weak sauce. Yet what I cannot tolerate is this knee-jerk reaction against anything that might possibly cast the Pope in the bad light, especially when it is a straight news report in which the critics compile no substantive criticism of the reporting. It’s also especially galling that a faithful and talented reporter like Hilary White is mocked and derided on Facebook by people who can’t seem to compile an intelligent thought without offering up the intellectual equivalent of a loud grunt.

There’s also a delightful irony in the fact that the knee-jerk defenders are quick to resort to ad hominem attacks, such as mocking the “Cathowackosphere” before immediately making appeals such as “If you have a specific criticism, make it constructively, charitably, and reasonably. If you can’t, maybe you should just keep it to yourself.” Evidently this standard is to apply only to those who have expressed concerns with Pope Francis, and not defenders who can’t seem to handle any news story about the Pope without destroying the reputation of the person reporting the facts.

Update: Please read Steve Skojec’s blog post on this matter.

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70 Responses to Get the Knives Out

  • So, IS there any kind of problem with Does anyone have an opinion on this?

  • I quote LifeSiteNews quite a lot, which is why I’m asking.

  • I can’t go on FaceBook because my Top Secret, Bu!!$h!+ decoder ring burns out in two seconds. That leaves a mark!

  • The Emperor looks great in his new clothes and any writers who state otherwise are self-absorbed promethean neopelagian ink-stained wretches!

    Killing the messenger is always one time honored way of failing to address bad news.

  • LifeSiteNews is very good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they jump the gun here now and again.

    Only Jesus is perfect.

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  • I must add that when Francis fell to his knees and kissed the hands of the priest,
    Francis wept profusely. If Pope Francis had wept profusely, that too, would have been reported, even by the msm.

  • Hilary White should not be criticized for reporting the facts.

    With Pope Francis, anything is possible. He simply cannot help himself. It is all about appearance: the humility of a pontiff kissing the hands of a mere priest. Surely there is a photograph in the MSM somewhere showing the wonderful self-abasement and open-mindedness of a now liberal and progressive and kind and nice and non-divisive and tolerant and understanding Pope from Latin America who is so much better than that old mean and hateful Benedict, a German!

  • Thank you for this, including the links for me to read. LSN did a prolife piece on our family with kids with cystic fibrosis that we are so proud of. I was shocked to read the FB thread and wasn’t sure what to believe.

  • Whether it be toward Pope Francis, Hilary White or with each other, the blatant lack of charity in the Catholic blog world is appalling. Christ the Lord stated that by two signs peoples would know He had come:
    1) our love for one another
    2) our unity
    Since when has “Catholic” been superseded by the tribalism and frequent exhibitions of rage to which we all witness?

  • Pope Francis kissed the hands of this homosexualist priest.

    Problem #1. This priest should have been dealt with appropriately by his bishop.
    Problem #2. Pope Francis has no business meeting with him in public and kissing his hands.
    Problem #3. Pope Francis has pulled off another public stunt.

    I really don’t read LifeSite news much – not because I find it inaccurate, but because I fine the news to be sad and depressing. I hate Planned Parenthood, abortion and homosexualism – and they are all on the march. Yet, nary a peep from the USCCB as they want amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    Simcha Fisher’s writing has the same value as my two year old’s dirty diapers.

  • While I agree the thread under discussion got rude and out of hand, FWIW I did see constructive criticism being made of the reporting featured on LifeSite further down the thread (hours later). My sincere question for ALL Catholic bloggers lately, whether it be Simcha Fisher or this site or anyone in between, is why is Catholic media spending so much time focusing on the shortcomings of others? I wish to see more writing about the magnificence of Christ and his Church, and less about what Pope Francis/Michael Voris/the ‘nuns’ on the bus/’radical traditionalists’/Simcha Fisher/LifeSiteNews said or did this week. What on earth is gained by bringing up these hurtful words and boneheaded actions rather than letting them fade? I am young and naive, but from where I stand It seems as counter-productive as ripping open a scab. This site is by no means the only place I encounter this focus, but to see it here makes my heart hurt. I fear that blogs and Facebook threads are more and more frequently tearing chunks out of the Body of Christ just to feed them to the masses that live for online controversy. I would hate to ‘log off’, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to forgo Catholic media for a while to keep myself from getting sucked into arguments that cause a sinful curiosity in me. I challenge you gentlemen to avoid getting mired in this dangerous mentality. I enjoy reading and learning from you very much.

  • Ms. White simply reported facts in her article, and left it to her readers to
    form their own opinions about those facts. I believe that practice was once
    known as ‘journalism’. If others believe her reporting left out pertinent
    facts, they should point out those omissions. So far, I haven’t seen that happen.
    One observation: As I recall, St. Francis of Assisi was once told of a certain
    priest who was openly living with a woman, creating a scandal. Many of the
    faithful voiced doubts about the validity of sacraments celebrated by such a
    priest. St. Francis sought out the man, knelt before him, and kissed his hands.
    The saint explained that he did so because the man’s hands had held God– i.e.,
    St. Francis repudiated the semi-Donatist doubts of some of the scandalized
    faithful, and reaffirmed the Church’s teachings that the efficacy of a priest’s
    celebration of the sacraments wasn’t contingent on his own personal holiness.
    St. Francis never created doubt whether that priest’s actions were in fact wrong.
    Even in these times, I have no doubt that the faithful in Italy are scandalized
    by Fr. de Paolis’ public teachings, and rightly so. However, I haven’t heard that
    there were any neo-Donatist murmurings about the efficacy of the sacraments as
    celebrated by this priest. If Pope Francis chose to reverence the hands of a
    scandalous priest in the same way as his sainted namesake, he would really
    need to make his motive as crystal-clear as St. Francis did. Anything less simply
    sows confusion and deepens scandal. So far, I’ve heard nothing to suggest
    that my speculation about our Pope’s act is anything but that– my speculation.
    Getting the knives out over journalists that are simply reporting facts, creating
    a climate where inconvenient but newsworthy stories would be buried, isn’t
    going to get me the information I need. I’d like to think I’m not engaging in
    wishful thinking over this Pope’s hand-kissing, but if what passes for Catholic
    journalism continues, and this Pope continues to be as impulsive and incoherent
    as he’s been in the past, then it looks like I’ll just have to be content with my
    own guesses in lieu of clear teaching.

  • PF: I agree fully with your sentiments, but we should heed Botolph as well on the need for charity on both sides.

  • “Since when has “Catholic” been superseded by the tribalism and frequent exhibitions of rage to which we all witness?”

    Judging from the history of the Church Botolph I would say fairly frequently. We live in turbulent times for the Faith and it is often difficult to strike a balance between the love with which Christ addressed all of humanity and the plain speaking he used on occasion to those who were opposed to His Truth. I am always in favor of good manners and charity. I am also in favor of attesting to the truth of Catholicism in season and out. Sometimes those two goals co-exist poorly.

  • Elizabeth: I understand where you are coming from. As you can see I don’t blog much anymore, so for me to post something indicates that I was driven by what I deemed to be unfair and malicious attacks to write on this subject. I really wish we could get past this intramural squabbling, yet we also can’t ignore those actions and words – whether they be undertaken by the Pope, a Bishop, a Priest, or some Catholic blog writer – that we find troubling or simply wrong. Believe me, if I wrote a post every time a Mark Shea or somebody from NCR (either one at this point) wrote something idiotic I would not have time to do anything else, but what’s the point? And though I singled out Simcha and her husband here, really my beef is with a larger constituency in Catholic media, and so I was trying to address a more general concern of mine.

    All that being said, I do hope you continue to read and learn, and I promise I’ll try to be a bit more positive.

  • Thank you for posting this. In “Evangelii Gaudiem”, Pope Francis himself repeatedly speaks of the want for discussion on various matters of the Faith. And as his approach to the Papacy is entirely different from the papacies of St. John Paul II and of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, it would appear to me that there is a lot of discussion to be had. It’s terrible that the Catholic blogosphere has been given over to satan as it has, in its lack of charity, and in its lack of reason.

    I love LifeSite news. They have actual news. I appreciate Patheos, yet I find their bloggers more… well, bloggy. That and I just don’t like Patheos… this blog is a reason why:

    However, a lot of Catholic bloggers are attempting to further their Catholic lifestyle through blogging, so I’m open to the fact that everyone has an opinion and is free to express it. I do find the Patheos bloggers in general more willing to bash those who disagree, to bully, than others.

  • Seriously? The Mighty Fishers took the phones and tried to get Hilary White fired? And almost succeeded.

    Wow. It seems as if every time I turn around Simcha Fisher is on some Facebook thread being proudly nasty about someone, followed in short order by her husband Damien, who jumps in to defend Fair Simcha and turn his scorn on..well..everyone. They are a corrosive, egomaniacal pair. But it all comes down to this: $$$. Simcha needs to keep her profile and blog hits high so she needs to keep her name in the forefront, which she does by stunts like this. Mark Shea is cut from exactly the same cloth. Their game is not evangelization -it’s making a little money (added so Shea can’t go into one of his ironic “OH I MAKE SO MUCH MONEY” rants) by sneering at a computer keyboard. Thank you for writing what you did, Steve. This pope is so freaking divisive.

  • Hiliary White is not biased from what I read of her. She has her eyes wide open to the danger involved with Pope Bergoglio. There should be no need to color the context to please those who want the ugly truth softened. This is the ecclesiastical era when full denial of reality is applauded because, if one assesses the crisis as clearly as Ms White does,what will it mean? Where will we turn? I agree wholeheartedly with the above comment of Steve Skojak. The Fishers are reactive and self righteous. Shame on them for their nastiness toward a capable colleague.

  • Donald,

    I second your desire to witness to the truth of the Catholic Faith. I would maintain however, that witnessing to this truth without charity ( and I certainly don’t do this perfectly) eclipses or at least cast shadows over the Splendor of Truth.

    Over the years I have come to see that we do not possess the Truth any more than we possess Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Truths of the Faith are all united, in a hierarchical way, in the One Faith Of which Paul speaks in Ephesians. Baptized, we are called to the prophetic ministry by believing, witnessing to and sharing the Faith with others. In other words, I don’t see the truths of the faith as weapons to be thrown at others, nor do I see using them in an Inquisatorial way- which we see frequently in the blogosphere.

    Truth in charity, charity in truth, like marriage itself, are indissoluble

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  • I see your point Botolph but I do not agree with it completely. Many of our saints, Saint Jerome comes immediately to mind, expressed themselves very roughly indeed.

    Saint Athanasius on the Arians is a fairly typical example of a saint defending the Truth bluntly:

    “For what have they discovered in this heresy like to the religious Faith, that they vainly talk as if its supporters said no evil? This in truth is to call even Caiaphas a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still among the Apostles, and to say that they who asked Barabbas instead of the Saviour did no evil, and to recommend Hymenæus and Alexander as right-minded men, and as if the Apostle slandered them. But neither can a Christian bear to hear this, nor can he consider the man who dared to say it sane in his understanding. For with them for Christ is Arius, as with the Manichees Manichæus; and for Moses and the other saints they have made the discovery of one Sotades , a man whom even Gentiles laugh at, and of the daughter of Herodias. For of the one has Arius imitated the dissolute and effeminate tone, in writing Thaliæ; on his model; and the other he has rivalled in her dance, reeling and frolicking in his blasphemies against the Saviour; till the victims of his heresy lose their wits and go foolish, and change the Name of the Lord of glory into the likeness of the ‘image of corruptible man ,’ and for Christians come to be called Arians, bearing this badge of their irreligion. For let them not excuse themselves; nor retort their disgrace on those who are not as they, calling Christians after the names of their teachers , that they themselves may appear to have that Name in the same way. Nor let them make a jest of it, when they feel shame at their disgraceful appellation; rather, if they be ashamed, let them hide their faces, or let them recoil from their own irreligion. For never at any time did Christian people take their title from the Bishops among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Saviour’s Gospel, yet not from them have we our title, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. But for those who derive the faith which they profess from others, good reason is it they should bear their name, whose property they have become.”

    I prize good manners, and I try to practice them in my private life, but I prize Truth more, and if I cannot defend the Truth without being rough on occasion in my writing, so be it.

  • “…the blatant lack of charity in the Catholic blog world is appalling.”

    Where were comments like this when Pope Benedict XVI was being vilified and castigated and condemned?

    Where were comments like this when President George W Bush was being vilified and castigated and condemned?

    Oh, but it is a mortal sin to question the non ex cathedra remarks and behavior of Pope Francis.

    It is a mortal sin to question Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama.

    Anything liberal and progressive has to be ever so nice and tolerant and kind and non-divisive.

    Anything conservative and orthodox is mean and hateful and intolerant and unkind and worst of all – not nice!

    Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ and the Supreme Pontiff, but when he isn’t speaking ex cathedra, then he is subject to the same scrutiny that anyone else should be. He is a fallible human being except in one very narrow and specific circumstance. And he is speaking and behaving very fallibly. Should we respect the office of Supreme Pontiff? YES. Should we pray for the Supreme Pontiff? YES. And should we give the Supreme Pontiff honest feedback? YES.

    How many prayed for Benedict? How many respected Benedict’s office? Yet all the liberal progressive Catholics were first in line to give him feedback and call themselves loyal sons and daughters of the Church because (not in spite of) their support for equal marriage rights and reproductive rights. And this current man kisses the hands of a known dissenter to the Faith once delivered unto the Saints! That’s as wrong as when Pope Saint John Paul II kissed the Koran. That doesn’t mean that JP II isn’t a Saint or wasn’t a good Pope (I love his writings!) – quite the contrary. But wrong is wrong, and where JP II made one mistake, this man makes a dozen!

  • In general there is a fine line between lack of charity and bluntness, and it’s hard for some of us to be both charitable and blunt, but it’s certainly possible to be both.

  • Paul Primavera,

    Since you are referring to my statement concerning the blatant lack of charity in the blogosphere, I will answer you.

    I was appalled by the so called progress I’ve Catholics castigating St John Paul because he was from Poland- in their minds some backwater insular Catholic world out of touch with their so called sophisticated view of things. Worse was the savage treatment I witnessed in their treatment of Pope Benedict whom they abused and misused-even among those in the Roman Curia. Now I am witnessing this samen type of judging, prejudice and abuse of Pope Francis. It was not right when progressives did it and it is not right when conservative Catholics/traditionalists do it.

    Left me be clear. Pope Francis can be criticized. However he is Peter and we owe him more than what I am witnessing by some in the Catholic blogosphere.

  • When it comes to dogma and the teaching of the Church on a matters of Faith and morals, Being Blunt is being Charitable.

  • I have had the honor of working with LifeSite for a few years. You will never find a more professional or honest group of people.

    Simca fisher is a Mark Shea wanna be who thinks she can increase her blog hits by attacking faithful Catholics

  • I read the title as a description of an example of the prevalent means of (in)”tolerance” of an objective report. Is it unjust these days to refer to or to reveal injustice?

  • Hilary’s article was accurate and needed nothing more. If the Vatican wants to elaborate, O.K., I’ll listen. But LSN has already used all the good stuff! And isn’t a wooden chalice a sign of defiance?

  • “Who am I to judge” Francis has kept a disgraced homosexual priest in charge of the Vatican bank and lives in a residence run by him.

  • Simcha Fisher had posted a defense of her position yesterday on this thread. I had wanted to post a reply to it, but it was deleted. So, I’m going to reply to a paraphrase of her post rather than direct quotes.

    Ms. Fischer had stated that LifeSiteNews “has carried some important stories that were carried nowhere else” but that due to sensationalism “they have no credibility”. I want to point out that these two statements are in conflict with each other. If a media source “has carried some important stories that are carried nowhere else” then that source has a credibility that exists despite any sensationalism.

    Another point I want to make is that Ms. Fischer’s example of sensationalism is subjective. She cited an article about a straight A college student from a troubled home who was employed briefly by pornographers and the committed suicide, and the use of two photographs of the poor woman as an example of sensationalism. In hindsight I can see how she might have reached such a conclusion, but I personally did not and still do not find this story to be overly sensationalized by LifeSiteNews. I think that stating that LifeSiteNews “has no credibility” on the basis of a subjective criticism is weak.

  • I agree with Botolph. We have to be very careful of how we criticize any Pope. Don McClarey’s critical posts of Pope Francis are sober and measured, and I think that all posters here should follow his example.

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  • Don, I have to disagree with your line “But wrong is wrong, and where JP II made one mistake, this man makes a dozen!” that ends an otherwise fine post.
    In hindsight St. John Paul II made many mistakes (some very serious), but the biggest difference between him and Pope Francis is that most of JPII’s mistakes were not made in public. It’s an ‘apples and oranges’ comparison, and in any case only an historical perspective from a few decades hence can lead us to an accurate tally of each. If Pope Francis makes as many non-public mistakes as JPII then I think you will be right, but it’s too soon to tell.

  • There is now an upper echelon of acceptable bloggers who have received an apparent pat on the head from the powers that be. And as such it appears they have now become no different than the left-leaning contingent that has infiltrated the Church: Do not question, criticize or otherwise cast any of our positions or suppositions in a negative light (even if it’s with facts or truth), or you will pay. It’s the new sub-set of the status quo. Is this evangelization? A person witnessing this from outside the Church would likely be horrified by this display from Catholics. I’m looking at it from inside and I find it pretty disturbing on several fonts.

  • Why do people pay attention to Simcha Fisher? She’s always insulting people or starting something.

  • Patheos has turned into a parody of itself. I’m sorry to say that. It’s gone from a potentially very powerful portal for evangelization and become a personality-driven (excuse the language) circle-jerk. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult not to think you’re God’s gift to the New Evangelization when you have fans and followers.

  • I like Lifesite. They’re good about showing their sources and tend to give as much information as they have– no selectively leaving stuff out to support a view.

    I can see how that would make some folks claim they’re not reporters, though, given how it seems like half of the big name places can’t be bothered to do basic research or give information that might make folks think differently than they do.

  • Many of the
    faithful voiced doubts about the validity of sacraments celebrated by such a
    priest. St. Francis sought out the man, knelt before him, and kissed his hands.
    The saint explained that he did so because the man’s hands had held God– i.e.,
    St. Francis repudiated the semi-Donatist doubts of some of the scandalized
    faithful, and reaffirmed the Church’s teachings that the efficacy of a priest’s
    celebration of the sacraments wasn’t contingent on his own personal holiness.
    St. Francis never created doubt whether that priest’s actions were in fact wrong

    Now THAT makes more sense.

    Oddly, the part where the Saint was telling people that a priest, even in a state of sin, could give valid sacraments wasn’t mentioned in the other mentions I read…..

  • The problem with the St. Francis analogy is enormous: St. Francis was not the Pope!

    POPE Francis knelt and kissed the ands of the hands of a priest concerning whom he was obligated by God–for the good of souls–to silence for spreading serious error in the name of the Church.

  • I don’t like fighting- some do. I have never read the Fishers, only rarely Mark Shea. Perhaps I should pay more attention to them, but I prefer Witherspoon, Ryan Anderson, Catholic Culture, Crisis, Catholic Stand and a few others. As I get older/wiser I think it a better use of my time to try to keep growing and learning ( I love to learn! ) rather than simply participate in stirring the pot.
    I love TAC. I appreciate the Rich and deep and profound look at history and at the efforts of earnest Catholics past and present.
    I regularly learn something here, from the variety of posts and from the conversations.
    Often it strikes that I am hoping some decision makers in our society are “listening in”. Maybe we TAC- ers can make a positive difference by our discussions.

  • Simcha has The Sads:

    “I am pretty exhausted by the whole thing. I had something to say, said it on Facebook, didn’t blog about it, didn’t get involved in the comboxes. I was invited to have a phone conversation, and I spoke my mind.

    I’m convinced that something good may have come of my Facebook comment. I had a long conversation with the editor of LSN, and we talked about many things. I told no lies, I lobbied to get no one fired.”

    “What bothers me is that I said one thing on Facebook, five days ago.Never blogged about it. I’ve now had maybe half a dozen articles written *about* me, and because my name is out there and I’m getting quoted and misquoted a lot, it appears that I’m the one who’s prolonging some kind of unseemly, petty, neverending tussle.”

    *Just so she doesn’t get “misquoted” – from Scott Eric Alt’s Facebook. (Whoever he is)

  • I note that her FB page is totally open to anyone who wants to see it. It does not appear that just anyone can comment on her posts, but her posts could be “shared.”

  • Well, this is ironic. A few days ago I visited Simcha’s “I Have To Sit Down” blog, which I do occasionally, and came across a really funny post titled “Someone really needs to check on Oregon” (about the top Google search terms by state). I got a good laugh out of it. I always liked her stuff and didn’t see where she was exceptionally critical of others. But then again, I am NOT reading absolutely everything she posts, either there or at the Register — only the stuff that looks humorous or interesting to me. Nor do I read though every single comment on her posts.

    I knew nothing about this controversy until yesterday; up to that point I always thought of Simcha as just a somewhat eccentric but funny and observant mother of a large Catholic family. For what it’s worth, I also don’t use Facebook — every time I just about make my mind up to join, I hear some horror story about their privacy policies or someone getting fired from their job because of something they posted or someone else posted about them, etc. and I decide not to. So I totally missed that aspect of it.

    Also, last night Mark Shea was at a Theology on Tap gathering in Springfield, which I attended. It was very enjoyable, had a great turnout and he gave a well presented talk that did not delve into politics or unduly criticize anyone — it was titled “101 Reasons Not To Be Catholic — And One Reason Why You Should Be.” In person, and when he sticks to apologetics, he seems like a great guy with a good sense of humor, and not at all like someone who makes his living “attacking faithful Catholics.” The “real” Shea does not seem at all like his evil online doppelganger, and I would presume the same is true of Simcha and many other Catholic bloggers that are frequently criticized for being too harsh or reactionary.

    I guess we just have to accept the fact that there is something about the internet that makes otherwise rational and well-mannered people go nuts and revert to tribalistic attacks; and it takes considerable grace and self-control not to fall into that trap.

    It probably has a lot to do with the fact that 1) people don’t see whom they are attacking and can hide behind screen names so they feel as if they can get away with being much more harsh than they normally would; 2) an insult or snarky comment that, in the pre-internet days, would have been heard only by the person to whom it was directed or to immediate bystanders, is now “heard” by hundreds or even thousands of people if it goes viral. In the “old days” if you had gotten carried away in an argument and insulted someone, you could resolve it simply by apologizing to them. Today, however, that won’t suffice because there are still thousands of people out there “hearing” your original comment and taking offense at it. It’s like stamping out a stray cigarette butt dropped in the grass vs. trying to stamp out thousands of sparks being blown about in a 50-mph wind.

    Anyway, probably the best way to deal with it is simply not to spend too much time on the internet, never post anything online that you would not be willing to say in person, and don’t take what you see in comboxes too personally.

  • In the “old days” if you had gotten carried away in an argument and insulted someone, you could resolve it simply by apologizing to them. Today, however, that won’t suffice because there are still thousands of people out there “hearing” your original comment and taking offense at it. It’s like stamping out a stray cigarette butt dropped in the grass vs. trying to stamp out thousands of sparks being blown about in a 50-mph wind.

    Except that people do stamp it out, regularly, by apologizing and not making a standard tactic of it. The “say sorry” stops being effective when someone uses it regularly, apologizes rarely or sometimes with apparent malice, and then keeps doing it.

    If you check the places that have facebook verified comments, you’ll find that screen names do little to nothing to make people behave better. It just hands the jerks more fodder to attack people with.

  • The Catholic bloggers at Patheos all follow the lead of Mark Shea, in that caustic cyber-bullying, bomb throwing way of his. Of course they all think its acceptable because he likes to refer to himself in that oh so deprecating way as nothing more than a slob of a sinner, mea culpa mea culpa. It’s no surprise then that Patheos has taken such a negative turn since his arrival on the scene. His recent attempts to smear the good priest, Fr. Z, have been most despicable. And don’t think it doesn’t influence others under his spell to do the same:

  • Mark Shea has attacked Fr. Z? How sad.

  • Tito, it’s along the lines of “…(Fr. Z) is a priest with absolutely no discernible pastoral responsibilities who spends all his time on line…endless blogging to complain about trivia in order to do just a little less than the bare minimum of the purpose for which he was ordained….” etc. His blog commenters are much more vicious in their attacks, which Shea does not prohibit, and indirectly encourages (imo).

  • I differ with Ms. White on some issues within the Church, but she is an honest and scrupulous journalist who ought to be defended by anyone with a sense of fairness and respect for free discourse. The cyberbullying campaign to which she is being subjected is disgraceful. The fact that it might WORK just tells us how contemptibly low the level of debate has fallen in the Catholic world. Anyone who takes part in the piling on deserves to be written down and remembered as a fellow bully, and disregarded utterly from this day forward.

  • Paul Zummo wrote: “…And though I singled out Simcha and her husband here, really my beef is with a larger constituency in Catholic media, and so I was trying to address a more general concern of mine…:
    If what unites the “larger constituency in Catholic media” is (i) that they are liberals/progressives, and (ii) that they attack conservative Catholic writers rather than countering perceived illiberal messages, maybe the best defense is to boycott that offending media. Don’t visit their websites or subscribe to their magazines. Money and advertising revenue matter. Consumerism can be used defensively as well.

  • A few words about Fr. Z:

    Father Zuhlsdorf was once in charge of the message board at, which was one of the first places I found when I got hooked up to the Internet in January 1999. I found a wealth of information there – and there were plenty of combative threads even then, before the 2000 election, 9/11, the priest abuse scandal, the death of JPII and the election of Benedict, the Anglican Ordinariate, Summorum Pontificum, the economic meltdown, yada, yada, yada.

    Fr. Z moved off of catholic .org, and it wasn’t until years later that I found his blog. Fr. Z has always made it clear where he is incardinated and what his responsibilities are. Should others have problems with that, then too bad.

    Given that Rorate Coeli and Shea are mad at Fr. Z, I think it proves Fr. Z knows what he is doing and he is right.

    New Catholic and Shea in a Texas Death Match? I’d pay to see that.

  • @Penguins Fan: “Given that Rorate Coeli and Shea are mad at Fr. Z, I think it proves Fr. Z knows what he is doing and he is right.”

    I can never see the if-both-extremes-are-against-me-I-must-be-right routine without chiming in: Not necessarily. One of the two extremes may actually be right. Or some other point between (or even beyond one of) the two extremes. There, now I feel better… 🙂

  • In the first place, it is possible that Pope Francis was himself unaware of De Paolis’ pro-gay activism.

    Which leads to two further possibilities. Pope Francis is really not that sharp, or Fr. De Paolis sucks as a pro-gay activist.

  • Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ and the Supreme Pontiff, but when he isn’t speaking ex cathedra, then he is subject to the same scrutiny that anyone else should be.

    Hmm. I think you could make a reasonable argument that, because of his position and influence, he should be subject to more scrutiny than at least your average Joe. Same would go for any others (e.g, presidents, prime ministers, sports and entertainment celebrities, moguls, etc.).

  • I do have one question: If TAC’s view of Shea’s blogging practices is somewhat low, why is he still on your blogroll?

  • Someone can be a jerk and still have valid points. Even be a jerk on some religious topics and be great on other stuff.

    I think he does more harm than good, but that’s because my primary focus is on harm done by those who represent their prudential judgement as binding teaching, and I despise the “well, those guys who are wrong will accuse me of only attacking them, so I’ll attack the opposite side even if I can’t find anything equivalent.”

  • Trying to imagine how tiny the list of links would be if nobody who’s abrasive to at least one of the TAC folks was linked…..

  • “If TAC’s view of Shea’s blogging practices is somewhat low, why is he still on your blogroll?”

    Foxfier is correct. The blog roll does not imply that a blog or site is endorsed by TAC but rather that we regard it as a blog or site that our readers might wish to be aware of.

  • Someone can be a jerk and still have valid points. Even be a jerk on some religious topics and be great on other stuff.

    Seven or eight years ago, I could not help notice the difference in his substance and style you would see when you put his blog posts side by side with his articles in Crisis. I figured Brian St. Paul was one wicked editor.

    There are people who are acquainted with him personally who have none of his issues on line who’ve either done collaborative work with him or have had him as a friend at one point (Sherry Weddell, Fr. Rob Johansen, Fr. Robert Sirico, and Mrs. Dale Price). There are invariably disjunctions between the aspects people see when you write and the aspects they see when your carcass is in front of them. In his case, they are unusually difficult to reconcile.

  • I like TAC, Fr. Z, Mark Shea, Simcha Fisher’s AND The Anchoress’ blogs and read all of them daily or nearly every day. Yes, I know that Shea is great for overstating his case but I have learned to expect that and adjust my interpretation accordingly. I rarely have issues with Fr. Z but I have to admit that some of his commenters are off-putting at times. If I don’t agree with something either of them said, or think they or their commenters are overlooking an important point, I leave a comment saying so — and to date I have never been flamed or banned.

    I approach every blog with the attitude that I will read what looks like it might be interesting or helpful, and ignore what appears to be excessively biased, not credible or degenerating into a combox war. Somehow I manage to like all these different blogs that are at war with each other. Is there something wrong with me?

  • Wrong with you? No, just fortunate.
    Or perhaps you’re just really good at ignoring the garbage that the rest of us engaged, and got blasted for, since you mention you ignore the stuff that is off the rails; different strokes for different folks.

  • Elaine, I used to read the Anchoress but found some of her positions cloying, so I stopped. Never read Simcha Fisher but I do remember when the Anchoress plugged her as a new addition to the blogging staff at Patheos.
    Over at Crisis Magazine (not a blog), I think going to war is a pre-requisite for all commenters. Quite startling at first, but then one sort of gets used to it.
    Sometimes it’s hard to separate the messenger from the message and one falls into the rather cowardly act of killing the messenger instead of logically disecting and refuting the message. This is something I am guilty of and I must exercise greater care.
    Your position is logical and makes sense. Keep your head down though when visiting Crisis. : )

  • This was a pretty good post. While it didn’t pull any punches, neither did it resort to name-calling and mud-slinging.

    There’s only two pieces of advice I can give:

    1) Don’t feed the trolls. If there are bloggers you absolutely cannot stand, don’t visit their websites, don’t reference them, and please don’t talk about them. Shun them; avoid them. To paraphrase Flaubert, by dint of railing at Ugly, Awful Catholics, one runs the risk of becoming an Ugly, Awful Catholic oneself.
    2) Be sure it’s the language of the message that angers you, and not the message itself. Foxfier is right: “Someone can be a jerk and still have valid points. Even be a jerk on some religious topics and be great on other stuff.”

    No, wait. There’s a third thought:

    3) One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was in a rather mediocre short story: “Anger is a weapon. Who are you going to let hold the handle?” I’m discovering, as the years go by, that snark responding to snark just escalates the misunderstandings as two (or more) inflated egos try to puncture each other. (Yes, yes, I’m guilty of that, too.) When you respond to snark with huff, you’re letting the other person control your reactions. Remember Proverbs 15:1? “A mild answer turns away wrath.” So the third piece of advice is: You don’t have to respond in kind. De-escalate the argument by speaking mildly and respectfully.

  • “De-escalate the argument by speaking mildly and respectfully.”

    Yes, so that we can say with St Paul (a paraphrase) that our actions do not shame us.

    That being said, in some cases, de-escalation does not work. Such is life.

  • Good pieces of advice all around, Anthony.

    Remember, keyboards have delete and backspace keys. Sometimes the best advice is to use them when your temper gets away from you and you are tempted to reply in kind.

  • Over at Crisis Magazine (not a blog), I think going to war is a pre-requisite for all commenters. Quite startling at first, but then one sort of gets used to it.


  • Art Deco,
    Thank you, it means a lot.

  • Pingback: Blogging and Calumny | The American Catholic

Triggers for the Bard

Thursday, May 29, AD 2014

 “Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere.”

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

One of the more ludicrous current fads on the academic left is the demand for trigger warnings.  Apparently some precious snow flake might recall bad memories by being exposed to literature much beyond twitter scrawls, hence the demand that, for example, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, be prefaced by warnings that it might trigger bad memories in those still in recovery for those told to “Shut up and sit down !” at Catechism or Sunday School back when they were seven, or that Satanists might have memories of insults tossed at them by Christians intolerant of those who worship absolute evil.  Of course all of this is being done as yet another way of ensuring that the political shibboleths of the moment of the left will never be forgotten for a nano second, especially when perusing literature that might engender political heresy.

Doni Wilson at The Federalist helpfully suggests nine trigger warnings for Hamlet:

1) If you have ever seen a ghost, and were scared out of your mind even though smart enough to get into a university (hey, Horatio and Hamlet were getting all smartened up at Wittenberg!), then YOU MIGHT WANT TO SKIP ACT ONE SCENE ONE because maybe a ghost appears.  Now I don’t really believe in ghosts, and I have never seen one, but maybe you have, so obviously I cannot relate to your level of trauma, and I have no idea if you will get all pale and speechless while reading this scene, never to be the same, so here is your trigger warning.  You’re welcome.  I am super relieved we are not reading Oedipus Rex.

2) Although you might think Hamlet is really obsessed with his mother and Ophelia and how they behave, if you have been in a war, heard of a war, object to war, fear war, or have even been in favor of a war, you might not have caught this, but those night-time security guys are awake ALL NIGHT because Denmark is, how shall I say it?  They are having a martial conflict with Norway.  If you don’t know what “martial” means, then you have probably not been traumatized.  If you thought I wrote “marital,” then you might have been, but that is a whole different trigger warning.  I am getting to them as fast as I can.  War is horrible, and in Hamlet most of it is off stage, but still.  You need to know.

3)  If your Mom married your wily uncle pretty quickly after your Dad was murdered, and you thought that was kind of, well, unseemly, then this might not be the play for you.

4)  If you, as an American, have been to France, and had French people be really rude to you, there is this little moment where Laertes actually asks permission to go back, and so that might just be too much for you.  Just sayin.’

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7 Responses to Triggers for the Bard

  • I could have used a few trigger warnings in my day as an English major. Warning: This class will assign literature and criticism that is offensive to good taste, lovers of language, logical thinkers, those with common sense, and anyone who holds Western culture in high esteem. Proceed at your own risk.

  • … or the msm could place one in the top left corner of most of what is reported!

  • Fortunately I have not had such problems as a Dickinson undergrad thus far, Mrs. Z. I’m on my way to being an English major and I have had thoughtful, challenging classes from brilliant professors. In my most recent class, we read Shakespeare’s sonnets, Forster’s A Passage to India, Othello, and a large amount of literary theory and criticism, from Brooks to Said. Everyone in our class talked during discussions, and we all wrote formalist and new historicist papers as well as critical editions. The English department at my college is first rate.

  • Trigger warnings for graphic scenes depicting various forms of sexual assault make sense.

  • Glad to hear it, Rodney. There were really only a few classes that would have required my warning. Many of my courses were great, and blessedly a political.

  • “…hence the demand that, for example, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, be prefaced by warnings that it might trigger bad memories in those still in recovery for those told to ‘Shut up and sit down !’ at Catechism or Sunday School back when they were seven…”

    I was told at certain meetings at 28 years of age to take the cotton out of my ears and stuff it in my mouth. No one cared if my tender feelings were hurt, and my mentor actually took some pleasuring in ensuring that I actually felt something instead of the mere the numbness that comes with being the intoxicated recipient of constant sentimentalism. His mentor was a Franciscan priest and my Confessor who agreed with this approach 100%.

PopeWatch: Pius XII

Thursday, May 29, AD 2014



Although it seems that it is almost impossible for a modern pope to escape canonization, Pope Francis does appear to make one exception:  Pius XII.

Without a miracle on his record, the beatification of Second World War-era pontiff Pius XII is stalled, says Pope Francis.
         During a news conference held as Francis returned Monday from a three-day trip to the Holy Land, the pope said that the file on Pius XII is still open.
         “There is still no miracle,” said Francis.      “If there are no miracles we cannot go forward”.

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11 Responses to PopeWatch: Pius XII

  • I can think of one miracle Pius XII did. He never made stupid, off the cuff statements during his entire papacy!

  • Back then that was the norm and not miraculous. Today…

  • Well, the canonisation process seems to have been rendered quite flexible since John Paul II. I don’t see anything to stop a canonisation by Papal pronouncement.

    JP II’s declaration of St Maximilian Kolbe as a “martyr to charity” rather than “odium fideii” was certainly an innovation.

  • If it is miracles that are needed, then why was Teresa Higginson not beatified and sanctified. The unintelligent for the non pedire on her case is utter rubbish. Her Archbishop had ste it in motion but it was stopped by a group of theologians who said the the cult of the Sacred head was just too much. The cult was a very ancient British Custom of praying for Wisdom right back to St Bede

  • I found the Holy Father’s “no miracles yet” excuse for not beatifying Pius XII pretty hollow, given that just last year, he waived the requirement and canonized a fellow Jesuit from the counter-reformation era.

  • Pope Pius was my pope when I was a child in Catholic School. He came to NYC, too.

    Brings back memories. A six-year-old, red-haired yahoo singing in the courtyard of St. Eugene’s Annex Chapel/school.. “O, May we crown thee with flowers today . . . Queen of the Angels . . . . Queen of the May!”

    Today, too, is the real Memorial Day. I have “Last Post/Tattoo” ringing in my head.

  • He is Venerable. A year ago I think pope Francis was considering his elevation. I wonder of Pope Francis wants to shelve it temporarily because he wants to smooth Jewish/Arab efforts, and some Jews do protest.

  • No miracles attributed to Pius XII? I don’t believe that for a second.

    thanks to the wretched play The Deputy and Soviet anti-Catholic propaganda, Pius XII has been smeared for decades. He was a pontiff of heroic virtue. Pope Francis ought to be looking at Pius XII as an example of a pope.

  • I am astounded that Pope Pius XII does not have any miracles. I certainly believe he was saintly as both a Christian and a successor of Peter. We all better get praying 🙂

    The Soviet propaganda machine to which so many fell hook line and sinker was a terrible travesty. While faithful Catholics did not and believe the ‘stuff’ coming from ‘the Deputy’, it did horrendous harm to such a faithful servant of the Lord and the Church.

    I always found that the name which the head rabbi of the Roman Jewish Ghetto took when he converted to Catholicism in the later 1940’s was an extremely helpful ‘weapon’ gainst the lies of “the Deputy”. The head rabbi was baptized as “Eugenio”, Pope Pius XII’s own baptismal name.

  • “There is still no miracle,” said P. Francis. “If there are no miracles we cannot go forward”.
    That’s right: Those are the rules. And PF would NEVER change the rules. Heaven forbid.

May 30, 1864: Battle of Totopotomoy Creek

Thursday, May 29, AD 2014


Lee realized that he was reaching a limit to how he could respond to Grant’s continual movement to the southeast.  Protecting Richmond was nailing his army in place, depriving it of the ability to maneuver as Grant used his superior numbers to outflank Lee’s defense.   Lee’s left and center along the Totopotomoy were relatively easy to defend, but his right was at a right angle tot he creek as the Union forces were continuing their push south to outflank him.  It was for this reason that Lee ordered Early, now in command of the II corps after Lee had relieved Ewell, attack Warren’s V corps.

The Confederate attack, although pressed heroically by the men of Ramseur’s division, proved a costly failure with 1500 Confederate casualties to 700 Union, the Union troops cheering the valor of the Confederate troops they repulsed and captured. 

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PopeWatch: Not Another Interview

Wednesday, May 28, AD 2014


Well, Pope Francis gave another interview on his flight back from the Middle East.  Father Z gives us the details and his comments:


You may have heard that Pope Francis visited the Holy Land.  On the flight back to Italy, His Holiness held another presser.

At this point many of you might be cringing as the thought “What could possible go wrong?” flashes through your brain.  After all, it was on a flight that Pope Francis uttered That Infamous Line™.

And so, during this return flight, from the Holy Land, the Pope was asked, inter alia, questions about Communion for the divorced and remarried and about the possibility of priests being able to marry.   The second I will treat in a separate post.  I will confine myself, here, to the first.

NB: Read the following after reviewing how Card. Balidisseri backtracked after making some edgy comments. HERE

A Spanish language reporter asked:

… In the Church, for example, what is going to happen with Communion for the divorced and remarried, ….

The Holy Father answered saying, inter alia:…. [T]hanks for the question about the divorced.  The Synod will be about the family, on the problem of the family, on research about the family, on the present situation of the family.  The preliminary essay that Cardinal Kasper made had five chapters: four on the family, beautiful things about the family, the theological foundation, some familiar problems; and the fifth chapter, the pastoral problem of separations, of matrimonial nullity, the divorced… Holy Communion come into this problem.  And I don’t like that many people – even in the Church – priests – have said: “Ah, the Synod for giving Communion to the divorced”, and they’ve gone right there, to that point.  I have heard it as if the whole thing had been reduced to case study.  No, the matter is more than this, it is wider.  Today, everyone knows it, the family is in crisis: it is in a global crisis.  Young people don’t want to marry or they don’t marry or live together, marriage is in crisis, and so too the family.  And I wouldn’t want that we fall into this (as if it were) case law [Italian “casistica”: it is hard to render what what the Pope is talking about here in his less than clear Italian.  He means by this, surely, that he doesn’t want an impersonal, theoretical, legalistic view of the problem. It has to do with English “casuistry”].  Can you do it?  Can’t you do it?… For this reason, thanks much for this question, because it gives me the opportunity to clear this up.  The pastoral problem of the family is very, very broad, very broad.  And it must be studied case by case.  Something Pope Benedict said three times about the divorced has helped me a lot.  Once, in the Valle d’Aosta, another time in Milan, and the last time in the public consistory which he held for the creation of cardinals: to study the procedures for matrimonial nullity; to study the faith with which a person comes to matrimony and [NB] to clarify that the divorced are not excommunicated, and so many times they are treated as excommunicated.  And this is a serious thing.  On this case study [casistica – here I think he means something like “problem to be examined”.  Again, casuistry is involved.], the Synod will be about the family: the riches, the problems of the family.  Solutions, nullity, all that.


I’ll stop translating there. Hacking through this stream of words, which is in an Italian that is less than perfect, we find a couple main points.  And note that he doesn’t always speak of the divorced and remarried, though it is fairly clear that he includes them in his remarks.

First, the Holy Father is upset that all the talk about the Synod is focusing on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  Thus, he says the word “family”, over and over again.

Second, he was clearly prepared for this question, because he worked in that his (still living) predecessor treated the issue three times and even said where.  He was telling the newsies to look up what Benedict XVI said.   Thus, by the way, he was telling the newsies what I said for an entire year after Francis’ election: Read Francis Through Benedict.  He aligned himself with Benedict even as he clings to what Card. Kasper presented (which in many respects – not all – was flawed).

Third, he wants to review the procedures by which “annulment” cases are handled.  Fine.  A review doesn’t hurt anything.  However, I can assure you, there has to be a canonical procedure.  The Synod and the Holy Father won’t sweep aside canonical procedure in the review of marriage cases.  The Synod really can’t change that.  Changes to the procedure could very well imply changes to doctrine.  Thus, changes to procedure would have to be studied closely and with great caution.  Alas, what could happen, an unintended consequence, is that priests will simply stop sending in cases.  The low-information, weak-synapse type (liberal) priests out there in LaLa Land may do what they did in the matter of Humanae vitae: distort and defy and do their own thing.  That would be bad.

Fourth, Francis wants everyone not to treat the divorced as if there were excommunicated.  Or else, “stop treating the divorced as if they were excommunicated”.   I am not sure where that is taking place.  After all, some people who divorce may be divorced for good reasons, sad as the circumstances may be.  Moreover, those who are divorced for good reasons are admitted to the sacraments (read: they are not excommunicated).  They can go to confession and receive absolution.  They can receive Communion.  They can be anointed.  Sure, there are some divorced people who divorced for sinful and ignoble motives.  They must amend their lives, just like anyone else who sins and must amend their lives.  But make no mistake!  That line about making sure that the divorced are not treated as if they were excommunicated is probably the most important line of the longish answer.  The Holy Father clearly wants the Synod to reinforce that people who are divorced as treated with compassion as well as with justice.

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28 Responses to PopeWatch: Not Another Interview

  • This man can never be trusted.

  • Karl: Pope Francis can be trusted to speak “in persona Christi” at the Consecration of the Mass and the Sacrament of Penance. These are the two most important.

  • It appears that the script is not turning out as he had intended.

  • He ought stick to subjects of which he knows something.

    But to be fair. There’s so much of this stuff going around these days.

    I do like him. But keep mum on politics and economics…and hockey.

  • There is a lack of clarity about whether simply divorced or civilly divorced -and-remarried. Perhaps a clarification of terms is still needed ( we recognize civil divorce/ we do not recognize divorce according to canon law).
    Also clarity regarding “excommunication”. Excommunication , unless I guess, it formally includes Anathema, does not prevent anyone from the Sacramenr of Reconciliation, contrition, repentance, and a firm will not to continue in sin. THERE in the confessional is where the pastoral approach shines forth.
    However, the confessional is where Humanae Vitae was undercut for many Catholics 40 years ago. It could be the way that a poor understanding of “primacy of conscience” ,along with a false understanding of what constitutes mercy could set up a married person to be judge of their own tribunal.
    All very dangerous for the people of God. Being led away by their own pastors.
    The problems faced by the family are not best addressed by making divorce and remarriage easier or more acceptable, but rather by encouraging Humility and Obedience.

  • ( we recognize civil divorce/ we do not recognize divorce according to canon law).
    Anzlyne: I never heard of divorce according to cannot law. Invalid marriage is no marriage.

  • Agree, Mary. The Church no more recognizes civil divorce for Catholics than it does civil marriages, at least in the formal sense of recognize. That said, the Church has pastorally acknowledged the practical effect and imnportance of civil marriage and divorce and (i) will often not permit a sacramental marriage unless civil requirements have been satisfied and (ii) will sometimes even encourage a separated spouse to seek a civil divorce if necessary to protect her basic legal rights or those of her children. In other words the Church recognizes the practical importance of civil marriage and divorce as a pastoral matter, but does not canonically recognize civil marriage or divorce as a sacramental matter.

  • “In other words the Church recognizes the practical importance of civil marriage and divorce as a pastoral matter, but does not canonically recognize civil marriage or divorce as a sacramental matter.”
    This is a confusing statement if not outright weird.
    CCC Divorce
    2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.
    Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”
    2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.
    If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.
    2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
    If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.
    2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
    2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

  • FM,
    I’m puzzled by your confusion. My quoted statement is wholly consonant with the CCC provisions you cite.

    I could have stated it more elegantly though:

    “In other words the Church acknowledges the practical importance of civil marriage and divorce as a pastoral matter, but does not recognize the sacramental efficacy of civil marriage or divorce as a canonical matter.”

  • Karl you are right.
    The man (Pope Francis) can not be trusted anywhere.
    If he says “good morning”. My advice check on your watch first to be sure it is actually morning.

  • @Mike Petrik on Thursday, May 29, A.D. 2014 at 9:53am: Thank you! The more clarity we can help provide these days, the better.
    Btw, the church recognizes the marriages of non-Catholics. And another btw, a valid marriage between a catholic and non-baptized person is not a sacramental marriage. Marriages between baptized persons are sacramental [marriages].
    Sacrament being a sign that confers grace. The sign it points to (as above) “covenant of salvation”: God’s eternal love for His people , and Christ for His Church.
    May God bless His Work at your hands.

  • A Pope who is directly or indirectly responsible for causing so much turmoil and uneasiness in the faithful is marked by the alarm raised using the criterion of St. Ignatius of Loyola for the discernment of spirits: this one is certainly bad. Saul Alinsky would be quite delighted with what is going on.

  • PS “In other words the Church acknowledges the practical importance of civil marriage and divorce as a pastoral matter, but does not recognize the sacramental efficacy of civil marriage or divorce as a canonical matter.”
    A lot of problems with this … for her [the Church’s] children, civil marriage does not count.
    Pastoral … from V II till now, isn’t this the source of the problems within the Church? From the very beginning, when has the Church never been ‘pastoral’? It appears to me that these pastoral solutions apart from the shepherding that God and His Christ wants, are nothing more that placating the conscience of an individual while not providing them with what they really need.

  • Disagree, FM. There are perfectly sound reasons for the Church to pastorally recognize the practical benefits of both civil marriage and divorce. An abandoned wife and children should not have to endure deprivations of basic material needs as a legal consequence of still being civilly married. Such civil divorce has no bearing whatsoever on the canonical status of their sacramental marriage.

  • “In other words the Church recognizes the practical importance of civil marriage and divorce as a pastoral matter, but does not canonically recognize civil marriage or divorce as a sacramental matter.”
    @Mike Petrik, this is a conclusion you draw, however elegantly you want to restate it.

  • FM: Paying closer attention to the very words is important to understanding the meaning of the directive.“a ratified and consummated marriage” Even a “ratified” marriage, that is, agreed to, consented to; not consummated, may be annulled.
    These rules must be explained to the participants by their pastor. It is up to the individual involved to keep the rules. It is up to the pastor to ascertain that individuals understand their predicament.

  • My pastor, Reverend August Newman, RIP explained to me to accept a civil divorce to settle civil matters. I was still married in the eyes of the church unless, or until I chose to seek and received annulment. Pastor Newman’s support and friendship was and still is indispensable.

  • FM, yes that is the conclusion I draw, and it is a correct conclusion.

  • Thank you @Mary De Voe, my prayer and hope is that whatever has come in your life, and whatever may come, draw you ever upward to Our LORD, the One Thing Necessary. God bless!
    PS I would have been shocked if you had written something like, ‘My pastor, Rev. ‘Pastoral’, explained to me to continue in my civil marriage, as a pastoral matter, because of its practical importance.’ Then I would have hoped that you really prayed for him to RIP …

  • Posted by Father Anthony Cekada on Thursday, May 29, 2014 2:45 PM (EDT):
    What Francis will do is what he’s been doing already: Occasionally pay lip service to traditional doctrines or moral principles (Yes, marriage IS indissoluble!) but utterly undermine these principles on “pastoral” grounds (Well, the poor woman living in the adulterous second marriage just NEEDS the Eucharist, etc.)
    This is the same trick the 60s modernist “pastoral” bishops pulled: “Oh, sure, the Church teaches that artificial contraception is wrong, but we have to apply that teaching in a PASTORAL way.” So priests who regularly absolved contracepting couples or told them “follow your mature Christian conscience” were never disciplined and were allowed to negate the teaching in practice, and seminarians who in mock confessions gave the morally correct answer were refused ordination.
    Wait for it, folks! It’s back to the ‘60s!
    Read more:

  • “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say ‘he has a demon’. The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’. But Wisdom is proved right by Her actions” Matthew 11.18-19

  • Botolph,

    Good thing you aggree with Don. 🙂

  • Pope Francis should have told Walter Cardinal Kasper to shut his mouth. He hasn’t.

    Cardinal Kasper would do well to remember the admonishment of St. John Chrysostom.

  • @FMShyanguya: Thank you for your kind wishes. As you might already know that God is never outdone in generosity. The American Catholic is one of my blessings.

  • Mahalo @Mary De Voe and yes, God bless @Donald R. McClarey and His Work at his hands.

  • Yes that’s what I said. There’s no divorce in canon law

  • Fantastic discussion. As most if u know, I am new to the Catholic Faith having been a Protestant most if my life. I have always searched for and believed in my spirit in the sacramental marriage that the Catholic Church teaches. There is no such teaching regarding marriage in the Protestant denomination in which I grew up–but I have always known in my spirit that these things were true & should exist even though I never received explicit teaching regarding them. It has often been the case that I have known a spiritual truth before I found it in scripture or heard the teaching explained.

  • I have started seriously dating a fellow who is Catholic. I think he is awesome. This morning my sister, who has been a Protestant pastor’s wife for 30 years, and I had a discussion in which I explained to her my understanding of the Catholic teaching on marriage. we discussed many of the things y’all have said here in your comments. I told her that a Catholic can marry anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit as long as they are married in the Catholic Church. She thought that the Catholic Church would not recognize any marriage carried out by other churches. I told her that the Catholic Church recognized any marriage between 2 baptized people ( I am meaning of course one man & one woman who are not married to any others.) I have always been taught in my Protestant faith that God blesses marriage–meaning that He approves of & provides grace for those in a Biblical marriage. So that is not a new concept. However, the Protestant faith I was brought up in had no concept of a Biblical marriage existing after there was a civil divorce or existing apart from a civil marriage. Once a civil divorce took place–the marriage was dissolved as far as my Protestant Faith was concerned.

    Please be patient with me as a beginner when you all are so advanced in your knowledge. What a blessing to learn from you all!

May 26-28, 1864: Movement From the North Anna

Wednesday, May 28, AD 2014


Grant, after the fruitless skirmishing on the North Anna, decided to resume his drive by once again heading east and south, around Lee’s left, the same type of movement he had been making since the outset of this campaign.  However, he had a tricky problem to resolve:  How to cross to the north bank of the North Anna without Lee becoming wise to his intentions, and launching an assault on the Union army as it straddled the North Anna?  To divert Lee’s attention, Grant sent two divisions of cavalry west to convince Lee that Grant was going to move west instead of east.  The ruse worked, and Grant quietly moved his infantry corps successfully across the North Anna on the evening of the 26th-27th.

Lee on the 27th instantly realized what Grant was doing, and sent his army hurtling south to take up a strong defensive position at Atlee’s Station, only nine miles north of Richmond, where he could guard the railroads that supplied Richmond and his army.

Grant sent his cavalry ahead to blaze a path across the Pamunkey River for his infantry marching southeast.  On May 27th Union cavalry established a bridgehead over the Pamunkey at Dabney Ford with a Union engineer regiment building a pontoon bridge.  General Custer’s cavalry beat off a Confederate counterattack and Union infantry and Cavalry passed over the Pamunkey on the pontoon bridge.

On the 28th Union and Confederate cavalry fighting dismounted, clashed at Haw’s Shop while the remainder of Grant’s army crossed the Pamunkey, except for Burnside’s corps that was guarding the army’s wagon train.

Lee now knew that Grant was across the Pamunkey but was unsure what Grant’s next move would be, and for now held his position behind  Totopotomoy Creek at Atlee’s Station.  Here is Grant’s account of this movement in his Personal Memoirs:

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Wednesday, May 28, AD 2014




One of the sources of ever renewing strength to Catholicism has ever been our converts.  My bride is an example of this.  A United Methodist when we married, she converted to the Faith after two years.  Her doubts about the Eucharist were resolved when she drew my attention to these lines from a translation of Tantum Ergo, the masterpiece of Saint Thomas Aquinas:

Faith tells us that Christ is present,

When our Human senses fail

Now she is a far better Catholic than I, and if I ultimately behold the Beatific Vision it will largely be I think because of her prayers for me.

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, directs our attention to a recent convert:

You guys should have a spring in your step tomorrow morning because you just picked up someone who I would consider to be a MAJOR convert and his family, a guy who may astonish some of you. I’m not going to quote from his outstanding piece because it’s too long and too personal and you really do need to read the whole thing anyway.

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21 Responses to Converts

  • What this blog post says about the orthodox Anglican movement is 100% correct. As sincere, well intentioned and devout as they are, the entire movement is fragmented into a hundred different sects each rivaling the other. And while some of its leaders are paragons of virtue and honor, others can be as abysmally given over to corruption as certain Roman clergy. And yes, I agree with the comparison of the current Roman pontiff with the Archbishop of Canterbury. One orthodox Anglican bishop told me at one time that he could accept Benedict XVI as supreme pontiff, but when Francis got elected, oh the dismay and disappointment! he will never come into the Roman fold with Francis as pontiff.

  • Wonderfully clear-eyed. Welcome aboard, Mr. Griffith–here’s your bucket, now start bailing!

  • As sincere, well intentioned and devout as they are, the entire movement is fragmented into a hundred different sects each rivaling the other.

    Actually, I think eight different sects have appeared since 1966, shearing off after each new bit of grossness on the part of the House of Bishops; James Hashcookies Pike, broads in cassocks, Edmund Lee Browning’s buffooneries, massive embezzlement by the denominational treasurer (for which Edmund Lee Browning would take no responsibility), &c. (Did another appear after they consecrated homosexual alcoholic narcissist Vicky Gene Robinson? I’ve lost track).

  • Rather bittersweet to read this. Yet another convert who actually read the instructions! And I bet he thinks he is supposed to follow the instructions! Such troublemakers.

    His initial experience, …worship is, properly, sacramental and liturgical in nature. The Catholic church provides that for me in abundance. And, I never have to worry about my rector – to say nothing of my bishop – advocating same-sex blessings from the pulpit, hoisting a pro-abortion banner, marching in a gay-pride parade, or indulging in universalism… is in one parish. There are many more parishes in which the laity eagerly await the coming of the Doctrinal Change, and the priest sees his primary pastoral role as maintaining their faith by entertaining this possibility.

  • You are correct that I exaggerated, Art. this list of Continuing Anglican Churches is smaller – from Wikipedia:

    The following is a list of North American church bodies commonly called “Continuing Anglican,” with the approximate number of their parishes in North America shown in parentheses. Some also have affiliated churches in other countries.

    American Anglican Church (12)
    Anglican Catholic Church (150) includes the Traditional Anglican Church of Canada (11)
    Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (12)
    Anglican Churches of America (2)
    Anglican Church in America (75)
    Anglican Church of Virginia (8)
    Anglican Episcopal Church (5)
    Anglican Orthodox Church (10)
    Anglican Province of America (60)
    Anglican Province of Christ the King (42)
    Christian Episcopal Church (5)
    Diocese of the Great Lakes (5)
    Diocese of the Holy Cross (20)
    Episcopal Missionary Church (30)
    Holy Catholic Church–Western Rite (20)
    Orthodox Anglican Church (5)
    Reformed Anglican Church (5)
    Southern Episcopal Church (3)
    United Anglican Church (6)
    United Episcopal Church of North America (20)

  • “Over the past twenty years I have come to believe that worship is, properly, sacramental and liturgical in nature. ”
    Funny, that’s just about how long it took me to reach the same conclusion.

  • “Welcome aboard, Mr. Griffith–here’s your bucket, now start bailing!” Dale Priceless.

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  • I’m glad Greg has come home. He will resolve his questions with time. However, I read the comments on his blog “Stand Firm in Faith” and the anti-Catholic vitriol and ignorance is astounding, troubling and upsetting. Even from those who claim to know better. For example, Matt Kennedy of that blog says that the Catholic Church “denies the gospel.” Holy Smoke, how do ever begin to have a conversation with that kind of argument? I have been this side of the Tiber for over 6 years officially and about 15 unofficially. I’m home, and even though there are some issues (after all, it is humans who make up the Church), I continue to have a great sense of peace, relief and gratitude to the grace and mercy of God and to the Church for receiving me into the Barque of Peter.

  • We also walked out of TEC the Sunday after the ordination of Gene Robinson and walked into the local Catholic Church the next Sunday. That was 11 wonderful years ago.

  • Certainly this is good news for him, and I’ve asked the Blessed Mother to pray for him that it works out well. But it seems to me that he’s saying that he reviewed all the options and the Catholic one is best. I prefer the converts who say “The church building is ugly, the people stand-offish, the preaching uninspired, but it’s the one true Church so I have no choice.”

  • The Gospel is the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the things that drew me to Catholic worship services was the stating of the gospel every single service. I had listened in vain for decades in Protestant churches for the Gospel.

  • “Some of us are born Catholic…”–Donald R. McClarey

    Were that true there would be no need for infant baptism, would there now?

  • I read Mr. Griffith’s blog regarding his coming into the Catholic Church and I have to say I have never read a less inspiring conversion story. It does not sound like a conversion to the Truth of Jesus Christ. It sounds like an intellectual decision making the Catholic Church the least of the worst. In truth, the Catholic Church is the only Church, every other form of organized religion is just a pale imitation of the incredible gift that Jesus heads. To encounter the Eucharist and the grace and joy that comes with truly knowing the Lord is present to us and within us is a miracle of the highest order. Mr. Griffith did not once even mention Jesus Christ or the authenticity of His Church. I will pray that the Holy Spirit will pour out some fervor and desire for the Lord as he continues on his spiritual journey. For the first time in his life, he will actually be receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May that experience alone open his heart, so that it overrides his head.

  • Deb, completely agree with you. I’m glad this fellow joined in Communion with the one true Holy Catholic Church of Christ, but at this Pentecost, I hope the Holy Spirit grants him the gift of fervor in piety that is lacking in his conversion story. I’m reading GK Chesterton’s St. Francis of Assisi biography & in it Ches makes the point of what made St. Francis unique in human history: he treated religion as a Love-affair. Welcome home, Mr. Greg, but in your knew journey with the Bride of Christ (aka the Catholic Church), try to embrace this “love-affair” approach of St. Francis & not a Pharisee-like mentality. Pope Francis is giving us an example that should cause us to be challenged in our walk as Christian disciples (not occasions to unceasingly criticize Pope Francis), be open to the Holy Spirit’s workings through Francis (don’t shut the Spirit of God off, listen). We’ve been gifted with great Christian teachers lately- Francis, Benedict, St. John Paul II.

  • “We’ve been gifted with great Christian teachers lately- Francis, Benedict, St. John Paul II.”
    Pope Francis’ motto ought to be “Do as I do, not as I say.”

  • We’ve attended Anglican Usage Masses in Scranton. The liturgy is what the liturgy of the Roman Rite should be. The language harks back to the Golden age of English, the Elizabethan, and makes no concessions to the PC doctrine of inclusiveness. The host is given on the tongue and received, as one kneels at the altar rail. Evensong is beautiful. Benedict XVI did a great thing for the Church by establishing Anglicanorum Coetibus, to set up Ordinariates to make the swim across the Tiber easier.

  • Mary De Voe, Pope Francis (like Benedict & St. John Paul) both walks the walk & talks the talk. Pope Francis is an orthodox teacher of the Faith, actually listen to what he preaches. In some press interviews, he has said some things that are excruciatingly subtle yet orthodox but could have been said in a more clear fashion. Sadly, the mainstream media has taken these subtle statements & taken them out of context & reduced them to soundbytes. (I wish he didn’t naively do press interviews – a very informal, unclear & ineffective way to teach- & stick with formal modes of papal Teaching -like encyclicals & actions- but we all make mistakes.) But in his more formal papal teachings from symbolic acts of mercy to homilies, Pope Francis has been very insistent in his orthodoxy (although unreported by media), such as the fact that he warns against the dangers of the true Enemy (Satan) of the Gospel more than his previous two papal predecessors combined. People who listen to media constantly quote (out of context) his “who am I to judge” statement ONCE & on a very informal way, but how many quote his constant & numerous warnings against the Enemy (Satan) of the Gospel? Zip.
    The Church shall always be in debt to servant Pope Benedict’s Anglican Ordinariates, true sources of Beauty in the Mother Church & true examples of Ecumenical embrace. Anglican-Use Mass is how the reformed Roman-Rite Mass after Vatican II should have looked like (vernacular English but with all the rich music & Communion reception in mouth/kneeling, etc.). Bless the Lord

  • *said* ONCE & in an informal way- is what I meant

A Paean to Doubt

Tuesday, May 27, AD 2014


Kyle Cupp at The Week has an interesting post in which he celebrates Pope Francis for bringing uncertainty about God to Catholicism:

In fact, Pope Francis has explicitly endorsed doubt in the life of faith. In a 2013 interview published in America Magazine, the pontiff said that the space where one finds and meets God must include an area of uncertainty. For him, to say that you have met God with total certainty or that you have the answers to all questions is a sign that God is not with you. Be uncertain, he counsels. Let go of exaggerated doctrinal “security.” A devout faith must be an uncertain faith:

The risk in seeking and finding God in all things, then, is the willingness to explain too much, to say with human certainty and arrogance: “God is here.” We will find only a god that fits our measure. The correct attitude is that of St. Augustine: seek God to find him, and find God to keep searching for God forever.

The pope has taken a risk with all this, but not without reason. If God really is infinite and indescribable, as Catholicism and other religious traditions imagine, then an uncertain faith makes sense. At the end of the day, those who talk about God really do not know what they’re talking about. People refer to God with symbols and metaphors, stories and analogies, believing that these limited expressions disclose a limitless reality, but even if these expressions are true, they nonetheless differ infinitely from any infinite being. Undoubtedly, a lot gets lost in translation.

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14 Responses to A Paean to Doubt

  • You never can tell. You may go to Heaven. Or, you may go to Hell.

  • “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.” Abraham Lincoln.
    Jesus said to test everything, putting all things into the hands of God. Atheism says that to put all things into the hands of God is offensive. Man’s imperfection must not be acknowledged. Man’s dependence upon God for Truth and Justice must not be confirmed. God’s Divine Providence must not be invoked. Our Declaration of Independence specifically instructs American citizens to invoke Divine Providence: ” We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
    The atheist must be tolerated. Atheism is unconstitutional according to the First Amendment: “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”

  • Thomas Aquinas said that man cannot comprehend an infinite God with a finite mind. Acknowledging a finite mind in man only results in a recognition of man’s dependence upon a Supreme Sovereign Being. (There can be only one Supreme Sovereign Being as two would preempt one another.)
    Any person who prohibits man’s response to the gift of Faith from God is forfeiting his own civil rights by reason of prohibiting another’s pursuit of Happiness.

  • Open wide the doors of indifferent-(ism)

    Your argument Mr. McClarey is sound.
    The risks that Pope Francis is taking by eluding to the doubts of knowing with any certainty what God desires from his creation opens a can of worms that can only muddy the clear waters of sanctifying grace. If people read indifference in the Popes words, he is only hindering their progress to Truth.

  • Some words are metaphors and don’t fully exhaust what the meaning of the thing is but call our mind to something else. So there is always some doubt as to whether we have completely (or even adequately) captured what the essence of a thing is. When we say that Jesus is the rock of salvation, we don’t me he is made of minerals. Rather, he is our foundation.

    But some words actually do convey a meaning – they are not mere conventions to express some uncertain concept. When we say the word God, then we can actually form ideas about his nature as uncreated being, infinite, omnipotent, etc. Ideas that express real truths that we can hold.

  • good thinking Donald McClarey.
    To me, not-knowing-completely is not the same as Doubt. We can admit freely that we don’t know everything about God, without saying that we doubt God.

    At some point we make a decision to believe. Sometimes the thoughts of our hearts are advance parties for the thoughts of our heads.

  • Seems that the obvious error this approach (no one can know God) risks is equating lack of full knowledge of God with the inability to know anything about God with certainty. Sure, it is obvious that a finite mind cannot know everything about an infinite subject with certainty. But a finite mind can know some things, with certainty, about an infinite subject. I’d take partial certainty over infinite doubt any day of the week.

  • To wrestle with and acknowledge doubt strikes me as sensible. But it loses me when it offers doubt as a positive good, or an essential component of a healthy, living faith.

  • Doubt is good when it causes us to study and seek out more of the truth. And more truth can lead to more doubt which starts the seeking for the answer and the gaining of more truth, etc…doubt does not have to result in lessening our faith.

  • I would suggest that the word “doubt” is ill-chosen, but it points to a real experience, as B John Henry Newman points out: “Notions are but aspects of things; the free deductions from one of these necessarily contradicts the free deductions from another. After proceeding in our investigations a certain way, suddenly a blank or a maze presents itself before the mental vision, as when the eye is confused by the varying slides of a telescope. Thus, we believe in the infinitude of the Divine Attributes, but we can have no experience of infinitude as a fact; the word stands for a definition or a notion. Hence, when we try how to reconcile in the moral world the fulness of mercy with exactitude in sanctity and justice, or to explain that the physical tokens of creative skill need not suggest any want of creative power, we feel we are not masters of our subject.”

    That is not to doubt the Object, but our grasp of it and the adequacy of our language.

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  • I can think of a place where I can say, “God is here”: the Eucharist.

    I’m not a fan of Lincoln, but for what it’s worth, there was more truth in the uninspired Lincoln quote than in the uninspired Francis quote.

  • I understand that Joseph Ratzinger began his “Introduction to Christianity” with an entire chapter on “Doubt.”

  • I think it was John Henry Newman, certainly a reasonable man, a champion of human reasoning, and one who faced the difficulties as he inched his way toward the Catholic Church. And it was he who made it a point to argue that, however many the difficulties in understanding the faith professed by Catholics, difficulties are not doubts. There’s a great difference between struggling to grasp how there can be One God who is the Trinity of Persons. One has but to study the earliest Councils of the Church, from Nicaea to Chalcedon, the period during which the this question was argued. How can one teach in a language which human reason can grasp, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One God, without division and without confusion. The truth of the Gospel is not against nor is it a denial of human reason; if what we call “Revelation” is to have meaning, the Lord who speaks must speak a language acceptable by reasonable people, whose assent is an act of reason assenting what is certain. A thousand difficulties do not make a single doubt.

Pope Francis: A “political genius”?

Tuesday, May 27, AD 2014


The subtitle of the January 17, 2014, Politico article concerning Pope Francis was eye-catching: “This guy could teach President Obama a thing or two.”

The article’s author, Candida Moss—a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame—wasn’t writing about biblical, moral, or ethical matters. No, she was writing about political matters and reversing President Obama’s low poll numbers.


Moss’ thesis is that because President Obama and Pope Francis have so much in common, perhaps “that guy”—the President—can learn “a thing or two” (it’s actually four things) from “this guy”—the Pope.

Regarding those similarities:

  • Both elections were historic firsts: Obama was the first Black elected U.S. President and Francis is the first Pope from Latin America and first Jesuit.
  • Both preside over deeply-divided constituencies and institutions: Scandal and bureaucratic incompetence plague both the U.S. government and Roman Curia.
  • Charting an unlikely path to power, both were initially media darlings who were heralded as ushering in a hopeful new era. President Obama has slipped in the polls but Pope Francis remains astoundingly high in the polls.

Given these similarities, Moss wonders why Pope Francis’ approval rating is 200%+ more than President Obama’s?

Moss answers her question, offering four lessons Pope Francis might have to teach President Obama:

  1. While utterly without guile, Pope Francis avoids the trappings of office which bolsters his credibility on political issues. The lesson?  President Obama should avoid the trappings of the imperial presidency. After all, Moss notes, “power unexercised is power preserved.”
  2. Pope Francis sets aside notes and speaks off the cuff, giving his words an additional layer of sincerity. The lesson? President Obama should get out from behind the teleprompter and toss the script aside.
  3. Pope Francis has a knack for politics as well as people. His “eagerness to engage people proves not just that he’s a man of the people, but that he’s willing to do this despite the risk to his personal safety.” The lesson? President Obama should emulate the humility and accessibility of Pope Francis.
  4. Pope Francis embodies a few big ideas and persuades people to rally around them. The lesson? “What American president couldn’t benefit from a reminder of that?

Moss summarizes these four lessons stating “Herein lies the genius of Pope Francis’s papacy: He has persuaded the world he isn’t a politician and, in doing so, has become arguably the most politically influential man in the world.”

If Moss’ assessment is accurate, Pope Francis has mastered the politician’s arts. Were President Obama to become more like Pope Francis, his polling numbers would skyrocket.

There’s a problem The Motley Monk has with Professor Moss’ assessment.

Pope Francis would have to become the politician he is not. And President Obama would have to become the spiritual leader he is not. After all, leopards don’t change their spots.



To read Candida Moss’ article in Politico, click on the following link:

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

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24 Responses to Pope Francis: A “political genius”?

  • Thank you Motley! The musings of Ms. Moss gets my work week off to a laugh. I believe she understands Obama and the Pope as well as she does Christian persecution by the Romans:

  • I thought the name “Candida Moss” looked familiar. Candida Moss denies the early Christian martyrs and all of their bodies in the catacombs. Candida Moss believes that the early Christian martyrs were not free to choose to be Catholic, and therefore, these martyrs deserved to be put to death for disobeying the Emperor. Now, she, along with Obama is denying the human soul and the soul’s conscience. How is it that Candida Moss is still teaching at NOTRE DAME? (No more money from me).
    “Moss goes on to argue that the Romans weren’t really persecuting Christians, they were prosecuting them for what they saw as violations of Roman cultural and legal norms.” – See more at:
    You will abort, euthanize, contracept and engage in fornication to pay homage to the devil. You will pay taxes to support human sacrifice, contraception and fornication. Which leads us to the question: Did the Romans execute Christians as human sacrifice to their gods and emperors? If the early Christians were put to death for not offering incense to Roman gods or the emperor as a Roman god, it is indeed a “persecution, a religious persecution”, not as Candida Moss maintains a “prosecution” for violating Roman laws.”
    Candida Moss holds a teaching post of theology at Notre Dame, and she does not recognize or acknowledge the meaning of “religion”, or the First Constitutional Amendment. “abandon hope all you who enter here”

  • None of this has any reference at all to the Good. Just manipulation and PR. Very sad statement that polity is rapidly losing any retaliation ship to Good. So does not seek Goodness in civil leaders, only seeking Comfort- which is a lot easier for both religious leaders and polical leaders to sell.
    It seems that what is trending is the promotion of a type of prosperity gospel that everything is all right and everybody can have everything- no personal involvement, effort, investment or change necessary. Just relax and let it go- that’s what will make everyone Happy.

  • Sorry I didn’t mean retaliation ship! Relationship .

  • What does Ms. Moss call the planet on which she exists?

    Politics are essentially coersion and deceit (Orwell).

    Anyhow, Obama doesn’t need a majority of the people saying he is doing a satisfactory job. He has 99% of the wilfully uncurious press corps covering for him.

    As such the “shelf life” of the regime is extended. Zero Hedge: “What is the shelf life of a system that rewards confidence-gaming sociopaths rather than competence? Those in power exhibit hubris, arrogance, bullying, deception and substitute rule by elites for the rule of law. The status quo rewards misrepresentation, obfuscation, legalized looting, embezzlement, fraud, a variety of cons, gaming the system, deviousness, lying and cleverly designed deceptions.

    “Our leadership was selected not for competence but for deviousness. What’s incentivized in our system is spinning half-truths and propaganda with a straight face and running cons that entrench the pathology of power.”

    Here is evidence: Congressional approval rating – 11%. Congressional incumbents winning primary elections: 100%. Need I say more?

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  • Ah yes. Because the most important thing about either a Pope or a President is that he have high poll numbers. Ideally, he should have a cult of personality built up around him.

  • Moss’s politics are as shallow as her scholarship.

  • The critiques are well placed but I think there is something useful in the piece: her observations about approachability are worth consideration for regular folks.

    Those persons who remain grounded and accessible as they move up in their careers are more persuasive. I’ve worked for the puffed up who think they have their hands on the reins but have far less control than they pretend or imagine. I’ve also worked for the “common man,” respectable but understated, persusasive and respectful. Most managers are somewhere in between.

    Humility is an odd thing, it cannot be faked for long and the faker is despised all the more for the pretending. If real, it is charming and draws people to the man. It is like a self-effacing joke that reveals more in a moment than mountains of words.

    Perhaps that is the “genius,” to use Ms. Moss’ concept, of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Reagan.

    There is, though, a natural instinct to sense and follow greatness that trumps this “genius” though. Hamilton has always struck me as a bit of a jerk. John Marshall has too. However, their intellects dwarfed other men of their age. As much as I detest FDR, the sheer audacity of his program and over-aweing will made a follower of men who should have led the opposition.

    So, while Ms. Moss may have her argument half thought out and badly presented, the observation strikes me as one worth considering. Some are lights themselves and other inadvertently provide the spark.

  • The very soul of the Jesuit order was forged in the furnace of the counter reformation,they were men dedicated to bringing the elite back into the fold.We shouldn’t be surprised that the Pope is good at what Jesuits do.

  • “the Pope is good at what Jesuits do.”

    Lately the Jesuits seem to me to be missionaries within the Church of the opinions of the self-anointed elite of the West, rather than the other way around.

  • Pascal summed up the Jesuit policy very neatly; it has not changed in 350 years – “”That is what you have yet to learn,” he replied. “Know then that their object is not the corruption of manners- that is not their design. But as little is it their sole aim to reform them- that would be bad policy. Their idea is briefly this: They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essentially necessary to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. And the Evangelical or severe maxims being best fitted for managing some sorts of people, they avail themselves of these when they find them favourable to their purpose. But as these maxims do not suit the views of the great bulk of the people, they waive them in the case of such persons, in order to keep on good terms with all the world…”

  • I’m not sure quoting a Jansenist to make a point about Jesuits is quite fair. Pascal was a complicated man and the period of his most ardent following of Jansenism was a troubled time in his life. Catholic? Yes. But it was Jansenism that was subject to heresy findings so I’m not sure their distaste of the Jesuits is a terribly strong indictment of the order.

  • Interestingly, the four things she believes BO should do are four thigs that he is incapable of doing, both personally and politically.
    To believe he could is the height of delusion . . . gee, no surprises there.

  • Not fair to hear the assessment of Pascal in his observation of Jesuits?
    Peter Kreeft: Those who dismiss Pascal with the label of “Jansenist” are like those who call all orthodox Christians “fundamentalists”: the label reveals more about the labeler than about the labeled. …

  • About the lack of reference to the Good, just to what works. We have not yet rejected the sophistry of the one who was really really good at this- Bill Clinton.

  • I am for sending Ms. Moss to the Capitol of Iran for a forced solo stay for 5 years in a land where even nominal Christians risk the death penalty on a daily basis. Her being a female would also add depth and understanding to her experiment in experience gaining insite into the term “prosecution” vs “persecution.”

  • Anzlyne, I thought my response quite measured. Pascal is an important figure and, as I said before, quite complicated – as all great minds are. I objected to applying a single Pascal quote to the entire history of the Order, not because Pascal was a Jansenist (there is considerable debate as to whether he remained so and how committed to Jansenism he was) but because I’m not sure a single quote is quite sufficient to answer the Order’s contribution to our faith.

  • Wouldn’t this quote be more appropriately read as a characterization of modus operandi than as a history or statement of contribution?

    “…Their idea is briefly this: They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essentially necessary to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. And the Evangelical or severe maxims being best fitted for managing some sorts of people, they avail themselves of these when they find them favourable to their purpose. But as these maxims do not suit the views of the great bulk of the people, they waive them in the case of such persons, in order to keep on good terms with all the world…”

  • If I understand, I agree with you about any broad brush against or for these great minds – Pacal’s also the Jesuit’s You prob know a lot more about them than I do!

  • Sorry for the delay in responding. Work and then family life consumed me.

    I had/have mixed feelings about His Holiness’ Jesuit roots. He seems always “catching up” with the perception of his remarks. By this I mean, he seems to assume much common ground and intellectual capacity that is not there and then to be surprised that people take his words and actions at face value.

    This has been a common experience in my encounters with Jesuits.

    I worked nearly a week with two Jesuits on Project Appalachia back in the 90s before finding out they were priests. They weren’t hiding it, they just didn’t think it relevent to what we were doing (rebuilding a house and shed.) Without that context, the fascinating conversation about faith was merely a theological discussion between two graduate students with me as an onlooker. They actively engaged me in conversation too and I was constantly lost because I lacked the context, the background to be fully engaged.

    The church I go to in DC when I’m staying in NW is run by the Jesuits and I’ve had confession twice there. Both confessions were illuminating and as much spiritual guidance as Reconciliation. I’m 44. I’m quite sure I could not have benefited from that style of confession when I was 24. Would that confessor have met me where i was? I don’t know.

    Sometimes I wonder if His Holiness’ pastoral refrain, directing the clergy to meet the people where they are isn’t as much a reminder to himself and his fellow Jesuits as nything else.

    So, I think Pascal’s quote hints at this underlying Jesuit trait, that confidence in their individual and collective intellects that causes the wisest to hold back much and walk the people in baby steps towards their line of thinking. Now that I think of it, maybe that explains why there are so many very public heretics in the Order. It may also explain why they are able to be such champions of the Faith.

    That dicotemy, the militant and spartan instinct, coupled with the considered and challenged intellect, are, for me, the defining features of the Order and the Jesuits intrigue me because of it.

  • David Spaulding

    “{W]alk the people in baby steps…”

    One recalls the controversy over the Chinese and Malabar rites; an early attempt at enculturation.

  • It is worth looking at again with this line of thinking in the background, MPS.

  • This piece makes me question my previous answer. It does not appear that at least this Jesuit writer thinks Jesuits and His Holiness struggle to meet people where they are because of their intellectualism:

PopeWatch: Francis Diplomacy

Tuesday, May 27, AD 2014




Pope Francis was full of surprises yesterday during his visit to the Middle East.  John Allen of The Boston Globe mentions the major one:



In a surprise announcement at the conclusion of his Mass in Bethlehem, the pope said he was inviting both President Shimon Peres of Israel and Abbas to the Vatican to take part in a common prayer for peace, saying that “the men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.”

Lombardi called it a “creative and courageous” gesture on the part of Francis, adding that the hope is to organize the encounter quickly. Though Lombardi did not say so out loud, the rush is in part because Peres’s term ends on July 27.

Both leaders quickly accepted the invitation, which comes one month after the latest attempt at restating peace negotiations broke down. Though the official motive for the meeting would be the prayer, it might also be an occasion for the two leaders to talk informally about substantive matters.

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9 Responses to PopeWatch: Francis Diplomacy

  • SInce 1964, the Holy See has shown a taste for wheel-spinning exercises. The ‘peace process’ is great for occupying aspirant hamsters.

  • “is great for occupying aspirant hamsters.”

    Comment of the week Art! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • As long as they are spinning their wheels for peace, they are not shooting at each other. Minor children are impressed. Even hamsters get exercise from “spinning wheels”. God alone knows what good will come from these exercises. Perhaps some Italian or Argentinian cuisine will be enjoyed by all. Hmmm

  • and from someone who enjoys matzoh pizza. I invented it. One matzoh, tomato paste, olive oil, oregano or Italian herbs, mozzarella cheese, onions and peppers, red preferably, skip the pepperoni on Friday. One minute in the microwave. The Poles had an Italian queen, daughter of the Duke of Naples. But that is a love story.

  • The Pope chooses to request a peace meeting between two weak-kneed leaders, one of whom is a figure head and the other a weathervane, instead of choosing to request a meeting between, for example, Netanyahu the Israeli PM and Khaled Meshaal the Hamas leader. The general public throughout Western Europe, Latin America and North America is totally clueless of the uselessness of the two leaders solicited to be at a peace meeting. All it wishes to perceive is an invitation offered to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, surely a Noble Peace Prize winning moment. If the Pope were serious, then would he not extend the invitation to leaders who were polar opposites and who need to come together face to face to talk? Once again, all these things we are seeing about Pope Francis are appearance. Where is the substance? Yes, we have the appearance of piety, peace-making, concern for the poor, humility, etc. And all these virtues Pope Benedict XVI had in abundance, but lacking their appearance, for none of them was he recognized by the lame stream media with whom the current reigning monarch seems to ingratiate himself however indirectly. I will take substance any day over appearance.

  • Something about John Allen’s writings almost always irks me. From calling this a “breathtaking gesture” to saying Bethlehem is the place where Christians believe Jesus was born. Are His birth records in doubt?
    The pope’s gesture will not be more than a gesture if the prayer includes Allah as somehow equal or interchangeable with God. There is only one God and He is Trinity. We pray with pagans and heretics as if everything is copacetic.

  • Mr. McClarey, that video, along with the Great Britain Ukelele orchestra’s rendition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and the Orange County police car chase set to Yakety Sax, are my three fave Youtube vids.

  • It is an imperishable classic PF, particularly “and keep the world safe from weirdos!”

  • I made the mistake years ago (right after the real 9-11) of attending an interfaith prayer service at our state capitol put together by our Lt Governor at that time. I wondered when I showed up why our Christian elected officials were not present–I thought the word interfaith referenced different Christian faiths who believed that Christ was the Son of God who died to pay the penalty for our sin. Boy was I wrong. The meaning of the word interfaith to our Lt Governor included Muslims. After listening to the extensive, very long, very loud meaningless prayers of the local resident Imam–I determined to NEVER make that mistake again.

May 27, 1864: Battle of Pickett’s Mill

Tuesday, May 27, AD 2014



After the battle of Resaca, go here to read about it, Johnston retreated to the Allatoona Pass, fighting the battle of Adairsville on May 17 during his retreat.  Sherman viewed Johnston’s  Allatoona Pass position as too strong to assault.  He moved his armies to the West,hoping to Johnston’s left.  Johnston anticipated this move.   At New Hope Church on May 25, Johnston bloodily repulsed Hooker’s corps, inflicting 1665 casualties for 350 of his own.

Attacking Johnston’s right at Pickett’s Mill with O.O. Howard’s corps, Sherman suffered another bloody repulse, losing about the same proportion of Union casualties (1600) to Confederate (500) as at New Hope Church.

A Confederate probe at Dallas was repulsed on May 28.

Tactically Johnson won these engagements and stopped Sherman’s advance for a brief period.  Strategically, Sherman won by drawing Johnston’s army away from Allatoona, which Sherman’s cavalry captured on June 1.  Sherman moved towards Allatoona on June 5, now being able to supply his army up to that railhead.  Johnston followed, as he had to if he was to stop Sherman from advancing down the rail line.  Here is an excerpt, from an article that Johnston wrote for the August 1887 edition of  Century Magazine on his portion of the Atlanta Campaign, which deals with these battles :

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