2

Marching Along

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.

8

PopeWatch: Ouch!

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

VATICAN–Vatican sources are confirming that Pope Francis has nearly completed his new Encyclical Letter, and is awaiting the final approval of Reginald Edwards, an internet troll commonly known as “PiusXIIRoxII.”

Edwards, who has read several paragraphs of the Catechism, three books by Peter Kreeft, and half of St. John Paul II’s “Fides et Ratio,” is universally regarded as the final authority in matters of Orthodoxy in internet chatrooms, forums, and the comment section under YouTube videos.

Speaking from the kitchen this morning, Reginald’s mother told EOTT over a phone interview: “I’m so proud of Reggie for getting to be a consultant to the Vatican. He’s more than earned it. All he does is sit in the basement on his computer, answering questions and demanding people justify their beliefs to him. He gets so into it that he often locks the door and doesn’t let me down there, even to bring him lemonade.”

Edwards has already made several notes on the new Encyclical, titled Bora et Labora, having circled or underlined several paragraphs in red and written margin notes such as “a little too Spirit of Vatican-II-ey” and “where is this in the Catechism?” Continue Reading

9

Joan of Arc: Saint of Courage

 

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:

 

Continue Reading

44

Adultery Remains Adultery

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. Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Retirement

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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.” Continue Reading

62

Killing the Messenger

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 (LifeSiteNews.com) – 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.” Continue Reading

70

Get the Knives Out

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 [email protected]#$% 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.

7

Triggers for the Bard

 “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.’ Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Pius XII

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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”. Continue Reading

May 30, 1864: Battle of Totopotomoy Creek

Overland_Campaign_May_29-30

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.  Continue Reading

28

PopeWatch: Not Another Interview

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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. Continue Reading

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

Overland_Campaign_May_27-29

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: Continue Reading

21

Converts

 

 

 

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. Continue Reading

14

A Paean to Doubt

 

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. Continue Reading

24

Pope Francis: A “political genius”?

 

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.

HH

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:
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/pope-francis-political-genius-102301.html#.U4OHxPldXE0

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

9

PopeWatch: Francis Diplomacy

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

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. Continue Reading

May 27, 1864: Battle of Pickett’s Mill

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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 : Continue Reading

15

Joyce Kilmer and the Fighting 69th

I THINK that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

That poem written by Alfred Joyce Kilmer, better known as Joyce Kilmer, in 1914 is, unfortunately, all most Americans remember today about Kilmer which is regrettable, because he was a devout Catholic and an American patriot and he deserves better than relative historical oblivion. Continue Reading

2

Martin Treptow’s Pledge

Martin August Treptow was a barber from Cherokee, Iowa.  Enlisting in the National Guard, during World War I his unit was called up and Treptow found himself in the 168th Infantry, part of the 42nd Division, called the Rainbow Division by Major Douglas MacArthur, who would rise during the War to eventually command the division, because it consisted of National Guard units that stretched across the country like a rainbow.

July 30th, 1918 was a hard day for the division.  Participating in the Second Battle of the Marne which stopped the last major German offensive of the War and saved Paris from capture, the division was attempting to take Hill 212 on La Croix Rouge Farm and incurring heavy casualties.  A message from Treptow’s unit needed to be taken to another platoon.  Private Treptow did not hesitate, but grabbed the message and ran off with it.  As he neared the platoon leader to deliver the message, Treptow was cut down by a burst of German fire.  He was twenty-five years old.  Sergeant  Joyce Kilmer was killed on the same day, in the same battle, a little bit later.  Go here to read about him. Continue Reading

4

Memorial Day Pledge

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

 

 

On this Memorial Day I thought that we might want to look at Eisenhower’s Gettysburg Address.  On the 100th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1963, President Kennedy had to beg off appearing due to his trip to Texas, a trip that would end in tragedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.  Former President Eisenhower, a resident of Gettysburg, agreed to speak in his place.  Eisenhower in his brief address viewed Lincoln’s speech not as of merely historical interest, but rather an ongoing challenge to the nation.  Here is what he said:

 

We mark today the centennial of an immortal address. We stand where Abraham Lincoln stood as, a century ago, he gave to the world words as moving in their solemn cadence as they are timeless in their meaning. Little wonder it is that, as here we sense his deep dedication to freedom, our own dedication takes added strength. 

Lincoln had faith that the ancient drums of Gettysburg, throbbing mutual defiance from the battle lines of the blue and the gray, would one day beat in unison, to summon a people, happily united in peace, to fulfill, generation by generation, a noble destiny. His faith has been justified – but the unfinished work of which he spoke in 1863 is still unfinished; because of human frailty, it always will be. 

Where we see the serenity with which time has invested this hallowed ground, Lincoln saw the scarred earth and felt the press of personal grief. Yet he lifted his eyes to the future, the future that is our present. He foresaw a new birth of freedom, a freedom and equality for all which, under God, would restore the purpose and meaning of America, defining a goal that challenges each of us to attain his full stature of citizenship. 

We read Lincoln’s sentiments, we ponder his words – the beauty of the sentiments he expressed enthralls us; the majesty of his words holds us spellbound – but we have not paid to his message its just tribute until we – ourselves – live it. For well he knew that to live for country is a duty, as demanding as is the readiness to die for it. So long as this truth remains our guiding light, self-government in this nation will never die. 

True to democracy’s basic principle that all are created equal and endowed by the Creator with priceless human rights, the good citizen now, as always before, is called upon to defend the rights of others as he does his own; to subordinate self to the country’s good; to refuse to take the easy way today that may invite national disaster tomorrow; to accept the truth that the work still to be done awaits his doing. 

On this day of commemoration, Lincoln still asks of each of us, as clearly as he did of those who heard his words a century ago, to give that increased devotion to the cause for which soldiers in all our wars have given the last full measure of devotion. Our answer, the only worthy one we can render to the memory of the great emancipator, is ever to defend, protect and pass on unblemished, to coming generations the heritage – the trust – that Abraham Lincoln, and all the ghostly legions of patriots of the past, with unflinching faith in their God, have bequeathed to us – a nation free, with liberty, dignity, and justice for all.

Soon we will remember D-Day on June 6, this year being the 70th anniversary of that longest day.  Here is what Eisenhower wrote to the troops who were embarking on, as he termed it, the Great Crusade:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!


You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Sacrificing for freedom for Eisenhower was not just an empty political phrase.  As he wrote these words he knew that many of the men who read it would be paying the ultimate price so that people long after they were dead, generations unknown to them, would enjoy the freedom they were about to die for. Continue Reading

14

Have We Always Been This Crazy?

You’re on the Internet, reading a politically-themed religious blog. You’ve heard about the shooting in Santa Barbara. I almost feel as if I’d be wasting my time and insulting your intelligence by providing a link. Long story short: a rich kid went nuts because no girls would sleep with him and killed a whole bunch of people. Then everyone immediately projected their ideological loves, fears, and hatreds onto the situation and into the Interwebs in a massive deluge. Only three things get people this worked up in the Twitterverse: race, gender, and sexual preferences. This time the wheel stopped at gender.

Continue Reading

5

Father Turgis: Preacher By Deeds, Not Words

Father Turgis

“God give me strength for I am not a good preacher.”

 Born in Marigny, France on April 12, 1813, Isidore Francois Turgis loved the classics and the Church.  He was ordained on May 31, 1846.  During the Crimean War he attempted to served as a chaplain, but was rejected for physical reasons.  However, while his flesh was frail, Father Turgis had a spirit of pure steel and his persistence was rewarded in 1857 with an appointment to the Corps of Chaplains.  During the Second Italian War of Independence he served with the French army at the battles of  Montebello, Palestro, Magenta, Crossing of the Tessin, Marignan, and Solferino.  He also served with the French army in Cochin China (Vietnam).

Some priests seem to be destined to lead adventurous lives.  After returning to France, he decided that he was called to be a priest in New Orleans.  Arriving there he was assigned to serve at the Saint Louis Cathedral.  He quickly became popular with the creole population and was asked to serve as chaplain of the Orleans Guards.  He hoped that he would not have to preach often as a chaplain in the Confederate Army:  “God give me strength for I am not a good preacher.”

Letters from troops in his regiment, which later became the 30th Louisiana Infantry, attest to the courage, kindness and faith of Father Turgis.   At Shiloh he was one of the few Catholic priests who was present at an engagement, and this fact still stuns even after 152 years, where more Americans were battle casualties, 23,000, than in all of America’s prior wars combined.  His courage stood out during two days when courage was not in short supply on either side.

Lieutenant Colonel S.F. Ferguson, an aide de camp to General Beauregard, was placed in command of a brigade during the battle of Shiloh.  One of the regiments was the Orleans Guard in which Father Turgis was chaplain.  In his report to General Beauregard he stated “and of Father I. Turgis, who, in the performance of his holy offices, freely exposed himself to the balls of the enemy”, in commending the priest’s courage.

Here is a summary of a letter written after Shiloh that Father Turgis wrote to the formidable Archbishop Jean-Marie Odin, second Archbishop of New Orleans, in which he modestly told him not to believe what the newspapers were saying about his valor at Shiloh:

 

Turgis begs pardon for not having given (Odin) any sign of life since the terrible days of (April) 6 and 7.  He has been trying ever since, as much as his energy permits, to make himself useful visiting the 18th, 24th, 17th, 13th and 4th regiments at Corinth, in all 296 sick, of whom 207 have confessed and 121 have received Communion.  He begs (Odin) to believe nothing which newspapers say in his regard, the Orléans Guards are so favorable to him that they exaggerate everything, regarding as self-sacrifice that which is only the accomplishment of a duty.  About the Battle (of Shiloh): There were about 18 to 20 thousand Catholics, all speaking or understanding French, and he was the only priest.  He gave absolution for 18 hours without stopping, but he cannot prevent himself from weeping continually in thinking about those thousands of Catholics who asked for him and whom it was impossible to see.  The pastor of the cathedral had told him there would be 6 or 7 priests and that he would be unneeded, but without him the elite of their Creole population would have been exposed to being lost for eternity.  If (Odin) could visit some of the wounded in (New Orleans), such as Major or young Labar(?), etc., he believes it would result in great good and also greatly relieve their suffering.  On the field of battle a colonel made him promise to spend eight days amid his brigade of 2,000 men, camped 40 miles away.  All are Catholic. Captain Stayaise (?) of the 4th of Orléans Guards took the name of this place; he went to New Orleans without leaving this address for Turgis.  He asks (Odin) to get it for him. Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Smile When You Say Shalom or Salaam

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

JERUSALEM–Fifty years after the historic embrace between the heads of the Catholic and Christian Orthodox Churches, Pope Francis will become the fourth Pope to visit the Holy Land and try to walk away unscathed.

There he will hold his own private meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem, where they will sign a declaration promising that the Patriarch won’t attempt to poison his glass. His pilgrimage will include the delivery of three masses (said for the intentions of his own life) and a private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

But in addition to inter-Church relations, the Pope will be extending an olive branch to the other Abrahamic faiths that share the land. Accompanying him on the trip will be Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud, who both hail from the Pope’s native Argentina, and who could, if needed, be used as shields against a barrage of bullets.

Their packed three-day itinerary, includes a trip to the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel, and Jordan, where, if you seriously think about it, could turn out to be a trap, like in that one movie where the lead cop in the presidential motorcade leads them into an alley, which turns out to be a trap. And then people on the roof start firing down on them as the music gets all crazy and dramatic and everyone gets killed except for the president.

At press time, the Vatican is announcing that, to address the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian political conflict, Pope Francis will waste his time visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Continue Reading

15

In Memory of Baby

babydoglarge

His Apologies

MASTER, this is Thy Servant. He is rising eight weeks old. He is mainly Head and Tummy. His legs are uncontrolled. But Thou hast forgiven his ugliness, and settled him on Thy knee . . . Art Thou content with Thy Servant? He is very comfy with Thee.

Master, behold a Sinner? He hath done grievous wrong. He hath defiled Thy Premises through being kept in too long. Wherefore his nose has been rubbed in the dirt, and his self-respect has been bruiséd. Master, pardon Thy Sinner, and see he is properly looséd.

Master — again Thy Sinner! This that was once Thy Shoe, He hath found and taken and carried aside, as fitting matter to chew. Now there is neither blacking nor tongue, and the Housemaid has us in tow. Master, remember Thy Servant is young, and tell her to let him go!

Master, extol Thy Servant! He hath met a most Worthy Foe! There has been fighting all over the Shop — and into the Shop also! Till cruel umbrellas parted the strife (or I might have been choking him yet). But Thy Servant has had the Time of his Life — and now shall we call on the vet?

Master, behold Thy Servant! Strange children came to play, And because they fought to caress him, Thy Servant wentedst away. But now that the Little Beasts have gone, he has returned to see (Brushed — with his Sunday collar on —) what they left over from tea. . .  . . .

Master, pity Thy Servant! He is deaf and three parts blind, He cannot catch Thy Commandments. He cannot read Thy Mind. Oh, leave him not in his loneliness; nor make him that kitten’s scorn. He has had none other God than Thee since the year that he was born!

Lord, look down on Thy Servant! Bad things have come to pass, There is no heat in the midday sun nor health in the wayside grass. His bones are full of an old disease — his torments run and increase. Lord, make haste with Thy Lightnings and grant him a quick release!

Rudyard Kipling

My dog Baby, a terrier poodle mix, passed away over night, after a mercifully brief illness.  She had been in decent health until recently.  We brought her home from an animal shelter 13 years ago.  She was so eager to make a good impression on us that she didn’t bark for three days!  She was the companion of our children when they were young and the solace of my bride and I as our fledglings left the nest.  For years I would take her for a pre-dawn stroll which she loved and was the high point of her day.  I was also always the easiest touch for treats and hand outs, and she would always beg from me whenever I ate, although otherwise she was a mommy dog.  I would feed her chocolate occasionally although I was warned that the black sweetness was bad for dogs.  I replied that at least she would die with a smile on her snout!  She was a grand dog and led a grand life, bringing us love and companionship every day that she was with us, from her first to her last.  We will miss her, which is not a bad epitaph for man or beast.

29

PopeWatch: Fool’s Gold

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

The official reason for the trip to the mid-East is that eternal chimera of popes:  union with the Orthodox:

But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.

Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054.

Moves toward closer understanding followed, but differences remain on issues such as married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican.

It was the current Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I — known as the “first among equals in the Orthodox church” — who asked Francis to join him in Jerusalem. Continue Reading

May 23-26, 1864: Missed Opportunity at the North Anna?

north-anna-battle-map

We can lie about him,
Dress up a dummy in his uniform
And put our words into the dummy’s mouth,
Say “Here Lee must have thought,” and “There, no doubt,
By what we know of him, we may suppose
He felt—this pang or that—” but he remains
Beyond our stagecraft, reticent as ice,
Reticent as the fire within the stone.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

 

Ultimately the North Anna portion of the Overland Campaign produced little in the way of fighting.  Four skirmishes fought over four days with total casualties of 2600 for the Union and 1500 for the Confederacy, high enough for the men killed and wounded  and their families but as nothing compared to the casualties amassed at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania.  However, one tantalizing question emerges from this section of the campaign:  did the Confederates miss a golden opportunity to defeat Grant on May 24 due to the illness of General Lee.  The armies now were closer in size than they would be at any time before or later during the campaign:  68,ooo in the Army of the Potomac and 53,000 in the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee having received reinforcements, consisting of Breckinridge’s Valley force, fresh from their victory at New Market and three out of four brigades from Pickett’s James River defense force, Butler and his Army of the James now being safely bottled up.  If the Confederates were to go over on the offensive, this was their window of opportunity from a numerical standpoint.

After skirmishing on the 23rd, Lee confronted an interesting strategic situation.  Warren had his corps ready to cross the North Anna on his left at Jericho Mills.   Wright, Burnside and Hancock’s corps were still north of the North Anna confronting his center and right.  In the face of this Lee fortified his line in an inverted V with its apex on Ox Ford.  Lee hoped that Grant would assume that he was retreating and cross, allowing Lee to use his inverted V fortifications to divide Grant’s force and allow him to attack the Union troops crossing on his right while his left held off the Union troops crossing the North Anna on the left side of the inverted V. Continue Reading

37

Sisters of the Immaculate Placed Under Visitation

 

 

Well, I guess the ongoing persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate was not sufficient for the powers that be at the Vatican.  Rorate Caeli gives us the disheartening details:

 

 

There can be no further doubts for anyone who still had any. There exists a plan for the systematic destruction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, the two Religious Institutes founded by Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli currently caught up in the storm.

On Monday 19 May 2014 João Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, informed the Superior General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate that he was to appoint, with immediate effect, a “Visitor” for the Institute with utmost powers which would make her a sort of “Commissar.” At the Generalate in Frattocchie near Rome, Sister Fernanda Barbiero of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, a “grown-up” and “up-to-date” nun with moderately feminist tendencies and a follower (although somewhat later than all his other followers) of Jacques Maritain, has already been installed.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right distinguished by its very young average age, high number of locations, and especially the strictness of their charism in accordance with the Rule of St. Francis. Many of them are living an intense missionary apostolate in Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines, and others are living the contemplative life in a spirit of asceticism and prayer. The Sisters, drawing inspiration from St. Maximilian Kolbe, run publishing houses, radio stations, and print many popular magazines. This great apostolate, together with their love for Tradition, is certainly one of the reasons for the hatred many feel towards the Sisters and towards their Confreres (the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate).

On 11 July 2013, Cardinal Braz de Aviz entrusted running of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to an “Apostolic Commissar” who, in less than one year, has shattered the Order and forced some of the best Friars to ask for dispensation from their vows and to leave an Institute which now looks like a bomb site, and they have tried to live their vocation to the Priesthood elsewhere. Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Media Meme

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

PopeWatch was amused by this opening breathless paragraph at the leftist website Think Progress:

Pope Francis made the religious case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Had the Pope gone full frontal warmist?  Is green theology to become dogma?  I doubted it and so I went to the source.  Here is what the Pope said in full: Continue Reading

39

Pope Francis, Marriage, and the “End” of Infallibility

Angel

What will it mean if Pope Francis follows the counsel offered by some of his closest advisors, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, and permits divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion?  This prospect has only come to seem more likely given the Holy Father’s much discussed phone call to the Argentine divorcee.  This subject has been much on my mind for the past few months, and now that the worthy Ross Douthat has raised its implications in a highly public forum—and a number of important  Catholic  commentators are writing about it in depth—I think it is time to lay out a few of the scenarios that come to mind. 

Because the options are all rather unsettling, and opinions are deeply divided, it seems most useful to me to present the argument in the form of a three person dialogue, with each character representing a different perspective within the Church.  In the past, some readers have objected to this genre, making assertions such as “fictional dialogues belong in fiction.”  Tell that to Plato, St. Anselm, St. Thomas More, Erasmus, and Peter Kreeft.

To make things a little easier, I will label the characters’ viewpoints right up front:

John Paul: A faithful, orthodox Catholic who attends the most reverent Mass offered at his geographical parish. 

Marcel: A self-identified “traditional Catholic” who attends the Latin Mass exclusively. 

Josip: Raised a Byzantine Catholic, he attends that liturgy. He is politically and doctrinally conservative, but somewhat skeptical of Western conceptions of the papal Magisterium.

 

Marcel:  Hey John Paul! If Pope Francis blows up the sacrament of marriage, will you still insist that Vatican II was a “renewal” of the Church sent by the Holy Spirit?  Or will you finally start giving some thought to the alternative?

John Paul:  This issue is completely separate from the texts of the Second Vatican Council. They are the only aspect of the Council that binds us—and none of them says anything implying that divorced, remarried Catholics are eligible for Communion.  So your question is kind of incoherent.  But go on—what’s the alternative?

Marcel: That we have been witnessing since 1960 the Great Apostasy predicted by a number of apparitions of Our Lady.  That the orthodoxy, and hence the authority, of the popes who supported Vatican II is pretty dubious.

John Paul:  You know what’s dubious?  Private revelations.  You know what’s binding?  General councils of the Church and official statements of validly elected popes.

Josip: What happens if the official statement of a validly elected pope contradicts a fundamental Church teaching?  Such as the indissolubility of marriage, based on the clear words of Our Lord, and infallibly taught by the Council of Trent.

John Paul: That could never happen.

Josip: Yeah, but what if it does?

John Paul: It’s sacrilegious even to play with such hypotheticals. It shows your lack of faith in the Church.

Josip: St. Paul was willing to consider what it would mean if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead.  Divorce seems considerably less earth-shattering than that. What will it mean if Pope Francis does what he seems to hint he will do, which his closest advisors are saying in public he should do?  According to Cardinal Kasper, the Church should give divorced Catholics a “pass” on the Ten Commandments and the words of Christ, and treat their sexual relationships with their new “spouses” as something other than adultery. That’s the only possible implication of allowing them to receive Holy Communion without vowing to refrain from sex.

Marcel:  Which is exactly what the schismatics in the East have been doing for centuries. I’ll tell you what it would mean if “Pope Francis” does this: It will mean that he has lost the Catholic faith—and therefore the office of pope.  The throne will be empty, as some say it was when Paul VI endorsed the heresy of religious liberty, and when John Paul II and Benedict went on to teach it as well.

John Paul: At Vatican I, the Council closed off the idea that a pope could lose the throne through personal “heresy.” Saint Robert Bellarmine had made that argument, but Vatican I rebuked it.

Marcel: What use is infallibility if it doesn’t prevent a pope from endorsing a Council that teaches heresy, then reiterating it in countless public statements and in a Catechism?

John Paul: What use is papal infallibility if a pope can go ahead and teach heresy—God won’t stop him—but then we get to say that he’s no longer pope?  That makes infallibility an empty tautology: The pope is infallible, until he isn’t—at which point he isn’t pope anymore.  The Pharisees would have winced at that kind of legalism.  I certainly can’t imagine Christ winking at it.

Josip: If a pope ever taught heresy ex cathedra—which of course, I don’t expect will happen—it would prove something all right—that the Eastern Orthodox have been right all along. That Vatican I was not an infallible council, and neither were any of the other councils we have held without the Orthodox since 1054.

Marcel: Do you think Our Lord will be winking if the pope contradicts His plain words about divorce and remarriage?

Josip: No, I don’t.  We’ll get back to the implications of that in a minute.  First, I want to deny that religious liberty is a heresy.  Yes, there are many, many papal statements endorsing the persecution of “heretics.” Obviously, the Council Fathers and the pope knew about those statements, which their opponents such as Abp. Lefebvre were constantly quoting in the debates.  Clearly, the Magisterium concluded that those previous statements were not infallible—that in fact, they were wrong, because they endorsed violations of natural law and divine revelation, according to Dignitatis Humanae.  Papal assertions that it is right to imprison Protestants would have been false—like papal statements condemning all lending at interest as sinful “usury,” and statements permitting the enslavement of Muslims defeated in “just wars.” Of course, admitting all this should make us a lot more careful about how much weight we attach to papal statements.  Even when they reiterate “venerable” teachings like the condemnation of all lending at interest, and the embrace of religious persecution, most such statements are not infallible—and quite a number of them, in retrospect, were wrong.

John Paul: It’s unhealthy and impious for faithful Catholics to be sifting papal statements and determining which ones are “wrong.” If the Church decides, at a later date, to override what a previous pope has said, then and only then may we draw such a conclusion.

Marcel: Like good little Communists, we should wait to hear what Moscow decides is the new “party line,” then pretend that we have believed it all along?  I don’t buy it.

Josip: So John Courtney Murray should not have written in defense of religious liberty, since it wasn’t yet Church teaching?  And Catholic bankers shouldn’t have loaned money at reasonable rates of interest, but waited for the centuries to pass until the Church realized that the previous teaching hadn’t been infallible—and in fact, was wrong?

John Paul: That would seem like the safe, obedient course of action.

Josip: And if Pope Francis approves Holy Communion for sexually active divorced Catholics, will it be safe and obedient to accept that as well?

Marcel: It will be proof that he has lost the Catholic faith, and the right to call himself pope.  I bet that the bishops of the SSPX hold an election to find a real pope.

John Paul: I renew my objection to talking about such a development as if it were really possible. But for the sake of argument: If Pope Francis permits this kind of pastoral policy, it will be gravely mistaken—on the order of popes in past centuries allowing choir boys to be castrated to sing in the Vatican.

Josip: Surely this issue has greater implications than that.  How will we explain to homosexuals that they cannot be sexually active outside of marriage, and still receive Communion—when we permit that to heterosexuals?  Even I’m kind of offended by that.  Will anyone, anyone at all, still take the Church’s ban on birth control seriously, when it’s giving people a pass for adultery?  Which one is a more obvious violation of natural law?

John Paul: The pope would not be teaching error, but merely tolerating it.  As in previous centuries, when popes were lax about enforcing clerical celibacy, or allowed the sale of indulgences.

Marcel: No, you’re wrong.  If the German bishops started allowing this evil practice—which they probably already are, because they don’t want people to stop checking the “Catholic” box on their tax forms, and depriving the Church of money—that would be one thing.  But if the pope permits it for the universal Church, that’s something else entirely.  It’s right up there with him personally ordaining a woman as a priest, or adding an eighth sacrament.  It would be heresy, plain and simple.

John Paul: But he wouldn’t be teaching ex cathedra….

Josip: So if this happens, it won’t necessarily prove that Vatican I was wrong and the Eastern Orthodox are right about the structure of the Church. (Though of course, they will still be wrong about marriage—but then they don’t claim to be infallible.)

John Paul: No.

Josip: Or that Marcel is right and that the pope will have lost the throne?

John Paul: Absolutely not.

Josip: But it will prove that papal authority, and the divine protections we attribute to it, are a heck of a lot narrower than we used to think.  It will completely demoralize faithful Catholics who have been relying on papal statements to decide what they believe about critical issues—from war and peace to economics, from birth control to gay “marriage.” In effect, it will say that every papal statement in history is subject to future revision—except for the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.  Those, at least, will be set in stone.  Apart from that, everyone will be reduced to a kind of cafeteria Catholicism—unless, as Marcel said, they decide to stuff previous Church teachings into the Memory Hole and simply follow the Party Line.  That would make things simpler.  Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia.

John Paul: I miss Pope Benedict XVI.

Marcel: I miss Pope Pius XII.

Josip: What do you think really motivates Pope Francis? I don’t think he’s just another post-Conciliar progressive.

Marcel: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Josip: It might in fact be a decoy.

John Paul: It seems to me that the pope is reaching out to the kind of people with whom John Paul II and Benedict XVI somehow couldn’t connect.

Marcel: People who want to claim that they’re “Catholic,” in the same sense that they’re “Irish” or “Italian”?

John Paul: No! I think he’s trying to convert the liberal’s false compassion for the “marginalized” into a genuine Christian concern for the needy.

Marcel: The “needy,” in this case, being prosperous divorced couples in Germany and the U.S.? Weakening marriage, in any way, really hurts the poor.

John Paul:  But I wish that Pope Francis would keep his outreach within the bounds of Catholic orthodoxy.

Marcel: Yeah, that would be nice.  It seems like the least we can ask… of a POPE.

Josip: What if there’s something else going on?  What if Pope Francis thinks that papal claims have been exaggerated, to the point where they needlessly block ecumenism—especially with the Eastern Orthodox?

Marcel: For all his talk of collegiality, he seems to have no problem using his power—against us Traditionalists.

Josip: But if he uses his power this time, to dismantle the traditional teaching on marriage, what would that mean for the authority of the papacy?

John Paul: Assuming the Holy Spirit allows it to happen…

Marcel: …And we don’t see a sudden resignation, “health crisis,” or falling meteorite…

Josip: The doctrinal contradiction would dismantle the papacy too—at least as we have known the papacy since… 1054. Which would remove the main barrier to unity with the East.

Marcel: So you think Pope Francis is practicing ecumenism by “auto-destruction”?

Josip: I don’t know.  Maybe he thinks of it as Perestroika.

John Paul: That’s impossible.  It’s apostasy.  God will never permit it.

Josip: Unless He does. In which case… well then, we’ll know who was right all along, won’t we?

 

John Zmirak is author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived here.

6

Au revoir and good riddance, Secretary Sebelius…

 

Over at The Catholic Thing, Dr. Paul Kengor—a professor of political science at Grove City College—comments about the transition now taking place at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The outgoing Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, confronts the specter of the threat of contempt of Congress. According to Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sebelius has obstructed the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the rollout of Obamacare:

The Department’s substantial delay in production, combined with its improper redactions, has obstructed the Committee’s investigation. Should the Department continue to refuse to produce all documents in un-redacted form as required by the instructions in the subpoena issued on October 30, 2013, I will have no alternative but to consider the full range of options to enforce the subpoena.

Sebelius

That’s provides great fodder for political junkies.

But, more important in the estimation of The Motley Monk, is Kengor’s discussion about what the HHS transition has to do with the Roman Catholic Church. As Kengor notes:

Kathleen Sebelius will be remembered not only as Barack Obama’s longtime HSS Secretary, but also as the spearhead of Obamacare. For that, many liberals will remember her fondly.

And here’s why:

  • Sebelius is a lifetime/pro-choice Catholic who, as the Governor of Kansas, expanded access to abortion in the state.
  • As HHS Secretary, Sebelius then expanded access to abortion nationally, forcing religious believers of practically every stripe to fund contraception and abortion drugs.
  • According to the New York Times and Politico, Sebelius and Valerie Jarrett–President Obama’s closest adviser–championed the mandate from the outset. They did so even as Vice President Joe Biden and Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley (both Catholics) warned the President to consider carefully the backlash from the Catholic Church. Sebelius and Jarret bested Biden and Daley. (NOTE: One thing Dr. Kengor didn’t mention: The assistance and cover provided by the Catholic Health Association of the United States in the person of Sr. Carol Keehan.)

Keehan3

Sebelius’ legacy includes one of the most anti-Catholic pieces of policy legislation and religious discrimination in U.S. history. “That is quite a legacy for a Catholic public official,” Kengor notes.

With Sebelius on the way out, the selection of Sylvia Burwell as HHS Secretary offers Roman Catholics a bit of solace. Nothing’s going to change, of course. But, according to Kengor:

…whatever Burwell’s doings, I can say this much that gives me a measure of relief as a Catholic: At least she isn’t Catholic. At least we’ll no longer have a Catholic who is the point-person and poster girl for this ignoble and ignominious cause. I don’t know if that is much solace, but maybe it makes the ordeal slightly less painful.

As for the unborn children whose lives will be snuffed out at taxpayer expense, the pain continues. And for that ordeal, Kathleen Sebelius, lifetime Roman Catholic, will always shoulder her share of responsibility.

Kudos to Dr. Kengor for discussing these important matters in his is substantive post in defense of the Gospel of Life.

 

 

To read Dr. Paul Kengor’s post, click on the following link:
http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2014/so-long-kathleen.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

May 21, 1864: The Movement to the North Anna Begins

Overland_Campaign_Wilderness_to_North_Anna

 

 

Extricating himself from the Spotsylvania battlefield, Grant moved southeast, with Lee moving to keep ahead of him, ultimately stopping Grant with defensive lines south of the North Anna river and north of Hanover Junction.  Grant was now just a little over 25 miles from Richmond, and Lee’s options regarding maneuver were becoming limited if he was to keep Grant from taking the city.  Grant’s account below of the movement is interesting for two reasons.

First Grant states that the army had no maps of the area, which is stunning after three years of war that highly detailed maps of Virginia from Richmond and its environs north had not been prepared and distributed throughout the army.  Even elementary staff work was sometimes missing in the Civil War.

Second Grant believes that Lee missed a golden opportunity to defeat Union corps separately during this march.

Here is Grant’s account: Continue Reading

8

The End of Debate

 

 

A popular tactic on the left today, and for the past several decades in this country for that matter, is to strong arm adversaries and shout them down.  Faithful readers of this blog will recall the “feminist studies” professor Miller-Young who went berserk when confronted with a group of young pro-life women peacefully presenting  information on abortion at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Go here, here and here to read about it.  The following is an account by one of the pro-lifers present, Mairead McArdle, a student at Saint Thomas Aquinas College:

 

 

One part of the story that is not as widely known is what happened prior to the professor’s theft and assault. I can tell you about it. I was there.

I was among 13 pro-life students who exercised our right to free speech on that sunny afternoon in March. I was actually the first one to speak with Professor Young.

When the incident began I was using the sign in the “free-speech zone” to start conversations with people passing by. I began a calm, rational conversation with Professor Young, asking her what her thoughts were on our position and our sign.

She immediately raised her voice and spoke condescendingly, accusing me of using “fear tactics” to coerce women.

“I have a PhD, three degrees more than you do!” she yelled, smiling. At one point, she threw the pamphlet I had handed her at me.

“Do you even go here?” she asked me. “There’s no way you have the right to be here.”

I told Miller-Young that she could ask the administration whether we had the right to promote our cause on campus. She refused, saying she knew we had no right to remain.

After about 10 minutes of Miller-Young talking over me and yelling obscenities, a group of about 15 students gathered around us and watched the spectacle, as the professor continued her rant.

Before Miller-Young had begun, some of the students had been having reasonable discussions with us, but now they joined the professor and, following her example, mocked us and our work.

Professor Young started waving her arms, and walked back and forth between us and the students, insisting to them that we were liars.

Each time I tried to speak to Miller-Young, she would interrupt to yell at me. I also talked to at least three of the students who had gathered around. Because the situation was already hostile, however, and they threw insults me. Continue Reading

7

The Middle Ages and Academic Freedom

Medieval Students

 

 

During my time in this Vale of Tears I have listened to many commencement addresses, and I think I remember precisely one sentence from one address.  Forgettable exercises in throwing platitudes to students eager to get to the post graduate party, and parents still numb from considering how much it has cost them for their offspring’s brief appearance on stage in cap and gown, most commencement addresses are as ephemeral as the youth of the audience being given yet another boring lecture.  However, if Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter gave the commencement address below, a sharp satire on students not wanting to hear from speakers holding “heretical” views on politics,  I would have been very attentive indeed:

 

 

The literary critic George Steiner, in a wonderful little book titled “Nostalgia for the Absolute,” long ago predicted this moment. We have an attraction, he contended, to higher truths that can sweep away complexity and nuance. We like systems that can explain everything. Intellectuals in the West are nostalgic for the tight grip religion once held on the Western imagination. They are attracted to modes of thought that are as comprehensive and authoritarian as the medieval church. You and your fellow students — and your professors as well; one mustn’t forget their role — are therefore to be congratulated for your involvement in the excellent work of bringing back the Middle Ages.

Now, before I close, I would like to address those members of the Class of 2014 who might think that it’s wrong to ban speakers whose views you reject. Your reactionary belief in tolerance and open-mindedness is truly distressing. I beg you to remember that every controversial question has only one answer. You have absolutely nothing to learn from people whose opinions you dislike.

And now, graduates, before things go too far — before you run the risk of being thought to be on the road to becoming responsible adults — please, rise to your feet, and, speaking with one voice, shout me down!

Thank you. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Antonio Banderas

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Hmmm, a forthcoming movie about Pope Francis may star Antonio Banderas as the Pope;

 

 

ROME (RNS) Spanish heartthrob Antonio Banderas may be cast in the role of Pope Francis in the first feature film to be made on the life of the Argentine pontiff.

Italian director Daniele Luchetti plans to make the $12 million Spanish language film, titled “Call Me Francesco,” with producer Pietro Valsecchi, who has made some of Italy’s highest-grossing movies.

Valsecchi’s Rome-based production house, Taodue Film, confirmed the news Wednesday (May 14), and a spokeswoman said the company was looking to shoot the film in various locations, including Argentina and Italy.

Banderas is one of the top Spanish-speaking actors being considered to play the lead role, she told Religion News Service.

The film is based on the best-selling book “Francisco: El Papa de la gente” (or “Francis: The people’s pope”) by Evangelina Himitian, a journalist with the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nacion.

Casting is still being finalized but pre-production is well underway, the company spokeswoman said. Continue Reading

59

Can it possibly be? A return to virtue at Boston College…

 

Consider the following statistics describing today’s undergraduates:

  • 60-80% of college students have had some sort of hookup experience.
  • 63% of college-age men and 83% of college-age women would prefer a traditional relationship to an uncommitted sexual one.

No doubt about it, college is the place to be if one is interested in engaging in sex.

Yet, an associate professor in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Richard McAnulty, notes: “The vast majority of young adults hope to be in a romantic relationship characterized by mutual love and commitment.”

If the latter statistics and McAnulty’s research are accurate, then would it not seem sensible for that every administrator at every one of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges to work assiduously to provide undergraduates a culture wherein they can fulfill their hope?

Yes, it is sensible. But, try convincing those administrators of their moral obligation to reverse the hook up culture. “How?” they ask.  When told “Provide students a culture that not only raises their hopes but also assists them to translate those hopes into actual behavior,” they oftentimes opine something learned…about hopelessness…like Sisyphus.

Forget those administrators. They’re more interested in producing slick advertising campaigns and travelling all over Timbuktu to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their institutions than they are about their primary moral obligations to form their students in wisdom and grace before God and man.

But, according to the Boston Globe, hope is alive…at Boston College.

There, the associate director of the Lonergan Institute, Kerry Cronin, is showing those feckless administrators how to build that culture. How? She’s teaching her students the lost art of dating…that is, how to date. The idea came to Cronin years back when she was delivering a lecture about the hookup culture. A student asked, “How would you ask someone on a date?…Like the actual words.”

Cronin believes most of today’s undergraduates don’t know how to date or, even, how to ask for a date. Why? This generation has grown up with relatively low expectations in the realm of “happily every after.” She notes:

  • In their world, most embrace group activities that are punctuated with the periodic hookup.
  • They communicate in digital bursts of 140-250 characters instead of in person.

Cronin’s pedagogical remedy? A class assignment that helps students reclaim the “lost social script” of dating. Not knowing where to begin or what to say, the assignment defines the boundaries so that students know exactly what to expect:

  • The date has to be 45 to 90 minutes in length with a person of legitimate romantic interest.
  • The student has to pay and has to make the invitation not by text or e-mail but in person.
  • The date cannot involve alcohol, kissing, or sex.

Cronin tells her students that dating requires the courage to be vulnerable to another person. As a freshman, Frank DiMartino said about the assignment:

It’s easy to hook up with someone you’ve just met in a dark room after having a few drinks. But asking someone out on a date in broad daylight, and when you actually have to know their name, can be really scary.

Cronin’s assignment directly confronts the culture that emphasizes uncommitted sex when it’s committed love that their hearts desire. She says:

  • Students use friendships and groups to satisfy social and emotional needs and see hookups as purely physical. As a result, students don’t have a relationship that allows them to address the confusions or expectations that can arise out of hookups.
  • Relying on groups prevents students from learning to interact one-on-one.  Getting to know another person through a group dynamic is very different from getting to know another person in an interpersonal dynamic.
  • Social media, especially texting, is another way one-on-one conversations are mediated. It provides access to a constructed “virtual self.” Students may feel connected but it builds habits of “ADD-quality connections” rather than face-to-face relationships.

Cronin’s alternative builds on her students’ hope yet challenges them to risk failure. She said:

When you ask somebody, you risk failing, and nobody likes to fail or be vulnerable to rejection….[Undergraduates] like to push themselves out of their comfort zone only if the energy and effort will equal success. But when asking someone out, nothing can ensure the person is going to say yes.

Cronin believes the hookup culture “creates a part of life that is unnecessarily chaotic and lonely.”

Yes, indeed. Leading undergraduates from the darkness of sin into the light of faith, hope, and love. Cronin might not think of her assignment in this way, but she’s evangelizing young people about the Gospel of Life!

Kudos to Kerry Cronin! She’s treading in and casting her net into the deep waters that most Catholic university and college administrators fear will engulf, sink, and drown them and their careers.

 

 

To read the Boston Globe article, click on the following link:
http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2014/05/16/boston-college-professor-assigns-students-dates/jHXENWsdmp7cFlRPPwf0UJ/story.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

13

Lawrence Charles McClarey

LarryMcClarey2012

Lawrence Charles McClarey

Birth:  September 5, 1991

(Feast day of Saint Lawrence Justinian)

Death:  May 19, 2013

(Pentecost)

38. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,

39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 38-39

17

PopeWatch: Blank Faced People-Part II

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Hattip to Father Z.  Last week PopeWatch quoted Father Z who wrote about Bishop Nunzio Galantino who indicated that he does not stand with the blank faced people who say the rosary outside of abortion clinics.  Go here to read the post.  Canon Lawyer Ed Peters at his blog In the Light of the Law weighs in:

But it is Galantino’s gratuitous remark about “expressionless persons praying rosaries outside abortion clinics” that attracts my attention. I worry when ranking prelates disparage the simple and prayerful piety that some lay faithful show even before the Gates of Death.

I prayed my first rosary outside an abortuary in 1978. I don’t recall what my expression was, but I doubt I was smiling. I have prayed many rosaries outside of many abortion mills since then, have picketed them, side-walk witnessed at them, passed out literature around them, and even drove two women (who had showed up for abortions) to pro-life agencies where they sought assistance toward sparing their babies from abortion. I probably smiled on those two days.

At the same time—even though usually things are quiet (deathly quiet) outside an abortion chamber—I have nevertheless also been screamed at by clinic personnel, cursed at by passers-by, drenched in the rain, had a brick tossed over a wall at me, and once watched a driver gesture the ‘trigger finger’ at me. But even if I had the presence of mind to rejoice at these insults borne for the sake of the least of His children, I’m pretty sure I did not show it on my face. I wonder, does every feeling need to be shown? And what exactly should one feel outside a death chamber? Continue Reading

7

Schadenfreude: New York Times Bullwinkle Edition

 

 

Bullwinkle:   You just leave it to my pal Rock. He’s the brains of the outfit.
General:   And what does that make you?
Bullwinkle:   What else? The executive.

As the New York Times revenue base continues to collapse and it prepares for a much smaller future, it is only natural that members  of the top management at America’s holy writ of contemporary liberalism would be made to walk the plank.  So it was that Executive Editor Jill Abramson was fired by Publish Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, Jr. this week.  However, Abramson has not gone quietly:

New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. felt he had no choice but to hit back at Jill Abramson late Saturday after being attacked in the media for sexist motives in dismissing his executive editor.

Sulzberger sacked Abramson after concluding that her managing editor, Dean Baquet, would have quit otherwise and that this would have been devastating to the paper, says a Times executive with knowledge of the situation. Instead, Sulzberger elevated Baquet to be the paper’s first African-American editor.

The final straw was Sulzberger’s conclusion that Abramson had misled him by not informing Baquet that she planned to bring in another journalist, the Guardian’s Janine Gibson, and give her the same title of managing editor, the executive said. That was viewed as a sign of disrespect to her deputy. Baquet complained to Sulzberger about being blindsided shortly before Abramson’s dismissal.

The Abramson firing has played out amid allegations of sexism after leaks to the New Yorker that her $500,000 salary was less than that of her male predecessor, Bill Keller. Sulzberger, who had already put out a statement saying that she was actually earning 10 percent more than Keller in her last year, issued a toughly worded second statement on Saturday.

Go here to read the rest by Howard Kurtz.  The New York Times accused of sexism, does it get any better than that!  Well, yes it does, for those of us who like our schadenfreude served up in large portions.  The upper reaches of the management of the paper has apparently been more than a bit daft for quite some time:

Ed Driscoll at PJ Media gives us this bizarre incident:

By 2003, it was obvious that the New York Times had gone off the rails, between the firings of Jayson Blair for serial fabulism and Howell Raines for hiring him — not to mention Raines’ obsession with the Augusta National Golf Club, while a slightly larger story was unfolding in America: 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the dawn of the Global War on Terror.

But the clincher was the Moose. You remember the moose, don’t you?

At a 2003 meeting to reassure hundreds of troubled and irate Times staff members that everything was under control, Sulzberger suddenly displayed a stuffed toy moose. “He commented that unhappy Times employees should ‘talk to the moose,’ ‘deal with the moose,’” wrote one journalist, “and he also urged employees to ‘put their moose on the table.’” Sulzberger then handed the moose to Executive Editor Howell Raines, who put the stuffed toy aside next to his chair.

“You’re sitting in the room with giants in the business,” one Times reporter, appalled by Sulzberger’s toy moose, told New York Magazine. “It was mortifying.” “Its use struck some in the audience as a tone-deaf and patronizing gesture,” reported the New York Daily News. “It wasn’t just embarrassing,” wrote journalist John Ellis. “It was embarrassing and pathetic.”

For days thereafter, pundits pondered why the 52-year-old publisher had brought a toy moose to such a serious meeting. Eventually they discovered that Sulzberger is a huge fan of psychological motivation techniques. The moose is akin to the expression “the elephant in the room,” a big topic that people are reluctant to acknowledge or talk about.

“My father and his generation were defined by the Great Depression and World War II, and it created a very strong command-and-control culture,” Sulzberger has said. “My generation is defined more by revolutions…. We deal with the moose.”

To amplify Pinch’s comments, his father, Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger (1926-2012), who grew up in the dynasty that owned the New York Times, enlisted in the US Marines in 1944, serving in the Pacific Theater, and accompanied MacArthur to the surrender of Imperial Japan. His son deploys a stuffed moose during critical business meetings. Continue Reading

2

May 18, 1864: Final Attacks at Spotsylvania

Spotsylvania_Court_House_May_17

 

You see him standing,

Reading a map, unperturbed, under heavy fire.

You do not cheer him as the recruits might cheer

But you say “Ulysses doesn’t scare worth a darn.

Ulysses is all right. 

He can finish the job.”

And at last your long lines go past in the Grand Review

And your legend and his begins and are mixed forever

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

One hundred and fifty years ago the battle of Spotsylvania was drawing to a close.  Since the attack at the Bloody Angle on May 12, Grant had been shifting towards his left and he assumed that Lee would be weakening Ewell’s lines as a result to move forces over to his right.  Grant had Hancock’s corps move back into position to attack Ewell during the evening of May 17, with the attack to go in at dawn.  Lee had not weakened Ewell’s position however, and Ewell’s artillery alone was sufficient to break up Hancock’s attack before it got past the abatis  in front of his lines.  Grant’s reaction was to decide that no further attacks could succeed at Spotsylvania, and to continue to move to the southeast to drive Lee back towards Richmond.  Casualties at Spotsylvania were 18,000 for the Union and 12,000 for the Confederacy.  Adding in the Wilderness casualties, in less than two weeks the Union had lost 35,000 casualities and the Confederacy 23,000.  Northern public opinion was appalled at the shocking casualty lists in such a short period, but the Union could easily replace every man lost, while Lee was losing the veterans that his outnumbered army needed to maintain an essential combat edge.

Grant in his Personal Memoirs recalled this time as one of the low points for the Union of the Campaign of 1864:

But that night Hancock and Wright were to make a night march back to their old positions, and to make an assault at four o’clock in the morning. Lee got troops back in time to protect his old line, so the assault was unsuccessful. On this day (18th) the news was almost as discouraging to us as it had been two days before in the rebel capital. As stated above, Hancock’s and Wright’s corps had made an unsuccessful assault. News came that Sigel had been defeated at New Market, badly, and was retreating down the valley. Not two hours before, I had sent the inquiry to Halleck whether Sigel could not get to Staunton to stop supplies coming from there to Lee. I asked at once that Sigel might be relieved, and some one else put in his place. Hunter’s name was suggested, and I heartily approved. Further news from Butler reported him driven from Drury’s Bluff, but still in possession of the Petersburg road. Banks had been defeated in Louisiana, relieved, and Canby put in his place. This change of commander was not on my suggestion. All this news was very discouraging. All of it must have been known by the enemy before it was by me. In fact, the good news (for the enemy) must have been known to him at the moment I thought he was in despair, and his anguish had been already relieved when we were enjoying his supposed discomfiture, But this was no time for repining. I immediately gave orders for a movement by the left flank, on towards Richmond, to commence on the night of the 19th. I also asked Halleck to secure the co-operation of the navy in changing our base of supplies from Fredericksburg to Port Royal, on the Rappahannock. Continue Reading

12

Except Us

 

 

A brilliant piece by Brandon McGinley at The Federalist on the ongoing journalistic malpractice when it comes to abortion.  Legal abortion on demand largely exists in this country because the public is shielded by a pro-abort media from the every day grisly reality of the blood trade that kills a million human beings a year in this country.

 

 

What if we had a latter-day Upton Sinclair willing to expose our abortion regime, rather than the incurious mandarins who pathetically claim his mantle?  What would he find when he opens the door to the dungeon?

He would find systematic slaughter, but of children rather than hogs.  In Delaware, Planned Parenthood nurses reported “meat market-style assembly line abortions.”  The conveyor of pregnant women moved so quickly that bloody discharge remained on the exam table.  We know about this only because courageous nurses came forward; one can only imagine how many other abortion facilities still operate in such putrid conditions.

He would find callous disregard for human dignity, as children are treated in life and death more like livestock than persons.  Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson (again, a whistleblower rather than a journalist) reports that the organization had abortion quotas it expected its centers to fulfill, because abortion is the most lucrative part of the Planned Parenthood business model.  And only a few weeks ago we learned from The B.C. Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver that children aborted in British Columbia were being incinerated as fuel in Oregon.

And he would find that the squeals of hogs have a human analogue, as well:

[Sherry West] hated working in the room where Gosnell performed abortions—never more than the night a staffer asked for help with a problem at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia. “There was this clear glass pan, and I saw it, and I thought, ‘What do you expect me to do?’” West testified Monday at Gosnell’s murder trial. “It wasn’t fully developed,” West told the Common Pleas Court jury, referring to the 18- to 24-inch-long newborn in the pan. It didn’t have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise. It was weird. It sounded like a little alien.” Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, West, 53, said she did not know what happened to the “specimen”—the term she said she used because “it was easier to deal with mentally.” “It really freaked me out, and I said call Dr. Gosnell, and I went back out front,” West added.

And when Dr. Gosnell arrived, we can safely assume, with a snip the screeching fell silent.

And the silence persists.  The voiceless remain so, except for that terrible shriek of primordial fear.  They have no champion to make them heard. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: It’s a Miracle!

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

VATICAN—Just days after Pope Paul VI moved one step closer to canonization after a miracle required for Beatification was formally approved, an EOTT source inside the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints today is saying that a second miracle was approved this morning.

A yet to be released report by the Vatican states that an unidentified priest, through the miraculous intercession of Pope Paul VI, gave an entire homily on the topic of Humanae Vitae during the Summer of 2012.

The unidentified priest reportedly gave the homily during National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week in 2012, which occurs annually around July 25th, the anniversary of the release of Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI.

One former parishioner who was present during the miraculous homily told EOTT today that she had “never heard something so obscene” in all her years. “That was the last time I ever stepped foot into a Catholic church. Many parishioners, myself included, left to become members of the Unitarian Church across the street that very day. We felt so much more accepted. Our new church even has Zumba Yoga!”

Some parishioners, although admittedly taken back by the shocking homily, have hesitantly remained in the Catholic Church. “We were so confused at first,” said Sarah Miller, a lifelong Catholic studying Women’s Studies. “He usually starts homilies with a Deepok Chopra quote or a story about a disabled puppy that overcame obstacles, so this was very new to us. It was the summer, so there weren’t as many people at Mass. It was extra quiet. He started to talk about…stuff…stuff I’d rather not mention.”

Although the parish where the homily was given has since lost more than 50% of their parishioners, for some, it has become a pilgrimage site, with hundreds flocking to the site every year to kiss the lectern where the homily was given. Continue Reading

4

Of Camels, Humps and Chumps

Camel Crossing

One of my more cherished photos is of my three kids when they were little riding a camel.  The kids had a great time and the camel was gentle, obviously well cared for and very patient with the kids.  My bride and I had taught them about camels and they loved being able to ride on one.  It was therefore with some interest that I glanced at the latest example of moronic political correctness on campus:

Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota have cancelled an event to celebrate the end of the year after complaints that bringing a camel on campus could offend those of Middle Eastern cultures.

The “Hump Day” event, put on by the Residence Hall Association (RHA), was supposed to be “a petting zoo type of atmosphere” in which students could hang out and take photos with a live camel. According to Aaron Macke, the group’s advisor, the camel is owned by a local vendor and trained for special events.

But the event was subsequently cancelled after students took to Facebook to proclaim their concerns. The students said they were concerned about the money spent on bringing the camel to campus—around $500—and the implication that it would be racially insensitive to Middle Eastern cultures.

The Facebook group called “Protest Hump DAAAAAAY!” had more than 100 RSVP’d attendees before it was deleted on Wednesday.

“RHA’s goal in programming is to bring residents together in a fun and safe environment where all people can enjoy themselves,” RHA president Lindsay Goodwin said in a statement on RHA’s Facebook page. “It appears however, this program is dividing people and would make for an uncomfortable and possibly unsafe environment for everyone attending or providing the program. As a result, RHA has decided to cancel the event.” Continue Reading

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The “spirit of adolescent progressivism” and the commencement season at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges…

 

It’s commencement season in U.S. Catholic higher education, that time of year when administrators of the so-called “independent” Catholic universities and colleges can take advantage of the annual opportunity to “thumb their noses” at the Church and Her teaching.

The truth be told, those administrators don’t actually thumb their noses. Instead, they invite speakers with pedigrees aligning them with the “progressive forces of worldliness,” to quote Pope Francis. The speakers then do the thumbing for the administrators, as they sit on the dais and applaud.

Consider this year’s commencement speaker at Villanova University, Dr. Jill Biden.

The wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Biden is being honored for her work as an educator, supporter of military families and veterans, and breast cancer prevention. So far, so good! Dr. Biden also earned an M.A. in English at Villanova. Even better yet!

However, the University’s announcement of Dr. Biden’s invitation didn’t mention her support for abortion, for the proliferation and use of artificial forms of birth control (some of which are abortafacients), and for so-called “homosexual marriage.” Check it all out at LifesiteNews.com.

Administrators at Villanova likely would reply to critics that Dr. Biden’s invitation evidences their unwavering, personal commitment to “the tradition of Catholic higher education [that] has always placed a priority on the integration of the pursuit of intellectual excellence and ethical conversions essential for the integration of knowledge and faith.” Furthermore, those administrators likely would assert that this invitation demonstrates their commitment to “the sacredness of individual conscience [that] must find a secure place in the discourse with a Catholic, Augustinian university.”

In her speech, even if Dr. Biden wasn’t to mention any of her personal beliefs that are contrary to Church teaching, it will be eminently clear to everyone in the audience what those beliefs are. After all, that’s why administrators of the independent Catholic universities and colleges exercise such great care and oversight when inviting commencement speakers. In this case, Dr. Jill Biden will clarify for graduates the administrators’ loyalty to those cherished Catholic and Augustinian values as well as what those values should mean for graduates in the existential practice of their lives as they commence forth into the world beyond Villanova.

Yes, indeed. “Ethical conversions” and “the sacredness of individual conscience”—cherished institutional values.

Especially at a Catholic university, should it not be asked: “Ethical conversions to what ?” and “Individual conscience guided by what ?” And, especially at an Augustinian university, should it not also be asked: “Supported by what truth ?”

During a daily homily as Pope Francis was describing the Maccabean persectuion, he noted how when the people of God live in a foreign and alien culture, they oftentimes prefer to distance themselves from the Lord in favor of worldly proposals. These proposals, he said, are the root of evil. This preference then leads the people of God to abandon their sacred traditions as they negotiate their loyalty to God. This is “apostasy—a form of “adultery” the Pope said—that transpires as the people of God negotiate the essence of their being: loyalty to the Lord. This attitude of adolescent progressivism, he said, is the attitude “is a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness.”

Just two weeks ago, the University’s pro-life group, Villanovans for Life, celebrated its 40th anniversary. This student organization has evidenced a legacy of unwavering loyalty to Catholic and Augustinian values rooted in Church teaching. In contrast, the invitation to Dr. Jill Biden evidences the spirit of adolescent progressivism, as the University—like so many other independent Catholic institutions—seeks to be part of the secular world and promotes  its spirit.

 

 

To read the LifesiteNews.com article, click on the following link:
http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/villanova-announces-2014-commencement-speaker-jill-biden-the-pro-abortion-w

To read the text of Pope Francis’ comments about adolescent progressivism, click on the following link:
http://www.romereports.com/pg154748-pope-adolescent-progressivism-protects-human-sacrifices-en

The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus

7

Kirsten Powers on Liberal Tolerance

tolerant20liberals

Kirsten Powers, who is rapidly becoming my favorite liberal, casts her eye upon leftist tolerance and finds that it is an oxymoron:

 

Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as “a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully” and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a “psychotic mass murderer” and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.

The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women’s studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus’ “free speech zone” (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla’s Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn’t, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.

Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here. Continue Reading

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May 16, 1864: Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff

advance-on-drewry's-bluff

 “It seems but little better than murder to give important commands to such men as [Nathaniel P.] Banks, [Benjamin F.] Butler, [John A.] McClernand, [Franz] Sigel, and Lew. Wallace, and yet it seems impossible to prevent it.”

General Henry W. Halleck, letter to General William T. Sherman, April 29, 1864

 

Butler during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in May of 1864 threw away chance after chance to take Richmond, with a timidity that rose to astonishing levels and an ineptitude at leading his forces that defies belief.

While Grant was occupying Lee in the Overland Campaign, Butler was to take his 33,000 man Army of the James and strike at Richmond.

peninsulacampaignmapbattles

The above map is of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, but it is useful for understanding the geography of the 1864 Bermuda Hundred Campaign.  Butler’s army steamed up the James to the fishing village of Bermuda Hundred and disembarked on May 5, 1864 the same day that fighting began in the Wilderness.  Richmond was only a short distance away and it appeared to be merely a matter of marching for Butler to take it.

Butler was opposed by General P.G. T. Beauregard who now had the finest hour of his mixed record during the Civil War.  Stripping the Richmond garrison and bringing into his ranks militia consisting of men too old, and boys too young, to be conscripted into the Confederate Army, he assembled a force of 18,000 men.  After a week, Butler’s slow motion advance on Richmond came to an end at the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, also known as the battle of Proctor’s Creek, where Beauregard’s ragtag force launched an attack which convinced the demoralized Butler to withdraw to Bermuda Hundred.

Beauregard constructed the Howlett Line, a series of Confederate fortifications that kept the Army of the James bottled up at Bermuda Hundred until Lee withdrew from Richmond on April 2, 1865.  In the Civil War there were defeats, debacles and the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, where Butler made bad generalship almost an art form.

Grant summed up Butler’s generalship well in his Personal Memoirs when he recalled a conversation with his Chief of Engineers: Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Blank Faces

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Popewatch has long admired the pro-lifers who pray and protest outside of abortion clinics.  They routinely suffer ridicule, abuse, threats of violence and occasional violence from pro-aborts.  In the face of that the overwhelming majority of them keep calm and continue on protesting and praying, and helping women seeking abortions to realize what is about to happen to their baby and that there is a better path.  Apparently now these heroines and heroes of the pro-life movement will have one more obstacle:  ridicule and condescension from at least one Catholic bishop, handpicked for a very important position by Pope Francis.  Father Z gives us the details:

 

There was a puzzling piece at the Italian site Formiche, with comments by Bp. Nunzio Galantino, whom Pope Francis appointed as General Secretary to the Italian Bishops Conference.

Let’s see a few quotes from His Excellency:

I hope that the Italian Church can talk about any topic at all, about married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, homosexuality, without taboos.

“Without taboos”.   Were this from someone other than a Catholic bishop, I would suspect the use of code language.  ”Without taboos” sounds like code language for adapting doctrine to worldly trends.  Also, Pope Francis signed off on the excommunication of the Australian heretic, the former-Father Greg Reynolds.  He is still excommunicated.

“In the past we were exclusively focused on ‘no’ to abortion and euthanasia.  It can’t be like this, in the middle of this there is existence which develops.

I think this means that, because we live in 2014, we have to focus on other things because, “in the middle of this there is existence which develops… in mezzo c’è l’esistenza che si sviluppa”.  Hey, life goes on!  We evolve.  Right?  We move beyond the past.  It is unthinkable that he is saying that we have to “develop” to a point where we say “yes” to abortion, instead of “no”.

I spent a lot of time in Italy.  I am unaware that bishops and priests there were exclusively focused on abortion or euthanasia.  As a matter of fact, you would hear about those horrors from the pulpit so rarely that you would have thought the Church to be indifferent to them.  On the other hand, there were great groups of lay people who banded together to create some extremely well attended public days of demonstration in favor of life.  They even recited the Rosary.

More about those people who recite Rosaries:

I don’t identify with the blank faces of those who recite the Rosary outside of clinics which practice the interruption of pregnancy, but with those young people who are against this practice and struggle for the quality of persons, for their right to health, to work.

“Interruption of pregnancy”?  This is a very odd expression in Italian for someone – a Catholic bishop – whose default position must be staunchly pro-life.  And I wonder what bishops in these USA would think about one of their brothers in the episcopate describing them as reciting the Rosary with blank faces. Continue Reading