15

Kneeling Before the Poor and Other Absurdities

Pope Francis made one of his trademark hyperbolic statements on Tuesday:

 

Pope Francis said on Tuesday that poverty is the great teaching Jesus gave us and we can find his face among the poor and needy. Stressing that the poor are not a burden but a resource, he said he wished that both the city of Rome and the local Church community could be more attentive, caring and considerate towards those in need and that Christians could knee before a poor person.

Go here to read the rest.  He also said that poverty is the great teaching that Christ left us.

How is a Catholic to respond when a Pope constantly makes statements that are bunk?  If such statements were not frequent, say once a year for example, perhaps passing them over in silence might be the preferred strategy.  When the statements are frequent, I think it is the duty of Catholics to speak out, so here goes.

Saying that Catholics should kneel before the poor is as wrong as saying Catholics should kneel before the rich.  Catholics should kneel to no one but God.  If the Pope was attempting to say that Catholics should attempt to help, care and love the poor, surely he has the vocabulary to do so without making a statement that so easily can be regarded as an attempt to transform the poor into a false idol.

Likewise poverty was not the great teaching that Christ left us.  The great teaching that Christ left us is to love God and our neighbor.  We love God by following Christ and His Teachings as given to us by the Church.  We love our neighbor by attempting to do good to all mankind, which includes the poor, just as it includes the rich, our enemies and those we find personally annoying and offensive.  How this love is demonstrated can be a complex issue in myriad circumstances, but Christ’s teaching that all men are brothers is at the heart of Christianity with love of God. Continue Reading

16

PopeWatch: Wage Disparity

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

The Pope spoke out against wage disparity between men and women this week:

In discussing the causes of family dissolution, Pope Francis said, “The Christian seed of radical equality between men and women must bring new fruits,” in our time. “The witness of the social dignity of marriage shall become persuasive,” he continued, “precisely by this way: the way of witness that attracts.” The Holy Father went on to say, “For this reason, as Christians, we must become more demanding in this regard: for example, [by] supporting with decision the right to equal retribution for equal work; disparity is a pure scandal.”

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch does not doubt that there are many nations in the world, most of them Islamic, where women are treated like dirt.  However, for the United States, the idea that there is a wage disparity between men and women performing equal work is simply not true.

 

Christina Hoff Sommers puts the lie to this myth:

MYTH 5: Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for doing the same work.

FACTS: No matter how many times this wage gap claim is decisively refuted by economists, it always comes back. The bottom line: the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

Wage gap activists say women with identical backgrounds and jobs as men still earn less. But they always fail to take into account critical variables. Activist groups like the National Organization for Women have a fallback position: that women’s education and career choices are not truly free—they are driven by powerful sexist stereotypes. In this view, women’s tendency to retreat from the workplace to raise children or to enter fields like early childhood education and psychology, rather than better paying professions like petroleum engineering, is evidence of continued social coercion. Here is the problem: American women are among the best informed and most self-determining human beings in the world. To say that they are manipulated into their life choices by forces beyond their control is divorced from reality and demeaning, to boot. Continue Reading

Sherman: Telegraphs and Railroads

 

Sherman at the end of his memoirs has a chapter on the military lessons of the war.  Two of the most prescient listed by him are the impact of the telegraph and railroads on the War:

For the rapid transmission of orders in an army covering a large space of ground, the magnetic telegraph is by far the best, though habitually the paper and pencil, with good mounted orderlies, answer every purpose. I have little faith in the signal-service by flags and torches, though we always used them; because, almost invariably when they were most needed, the view was cut off by intervening trees, or by mists and fogs. There was one notable instance in my experience, when the signal-flags carried a message. of vital importance over the heads of Hood’s army, which had interposed between me and Allatoona, and had broken the telegraph-wires–as recorded in Chapter XIX.; but the value of the magnetic telegraph in war cannot be exaggerated, as was illustrated by the perfect concert of action between the armies in Virginia and Georgia during 1864. Hardly a day intervened when General Grant did not know the exact state of facts with me, more than fifteen hundred miles away as the wires ran. So on the field a thin insulated wire may be run on improvised stakes or from tree to tree for six or more miles in a couple of hours, and I have seen operators so skillful, that by cutting the wire they would receive a message with their tongues from a distant station. As a matter of course, the ordinary commercial wires along the railways form the usual telegraph-lines for an army, and these are easily repaired and extended as the army advances, but each army and wing should have a small party of skilled men to put up the field-wire, and take it down when done. This is far better than the signal-flags and torches. Our commercial telegraph-lines will always supply for war enough skillful operators. Continue Reading

9

Presenting some eminent alumni/ae of the nation’s catholic colleges and universities…

 

Over at Catholic Education Daily, Kimberly Scharfenberger has done a yeowoman’s job in culling together some data concerning the nation’s Catholic colleges and law schools:

  • They boast 65 alumni who are members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • That’s 15% of the House’s membership, twice the number of Catholic 4-year institutions of higher education in the United States.

Is that political clout something about which the Church should be proud?

Scharfenberger reports that 50%+ of these Catholic college alumni/ae—38 to be precise—have votes on abortion that “should mortify their alma maters.”

Pro-abortion organizations such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood have rated most of those 38 alumni/ae at 100%. In contrast, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has rated many of them at 0% when the vote comes to significant life-related issues.

Here’s the roll call of those 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were educated at Catholic institutions and have consistently voted in favor of abortion rights:

  • Brad Ashford (NE)
  • Brendan Boyle (PA)
  • Mike Capuano (MA)
  • David Cicilline(RI)
  • Gerry Connolly (VA)
  • John Delaney (MD)
  • Rosa DeLauro (CN)
  • Mark DeSaulnier (CA)
  • Deborah Dingell (MI)
  • Sam Farr (CA)
  • Lois Frankel (FL)
  • Steny Hoyer (MD)
  • Jared Huffman (CA)
  • Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson(TX)
  • Bill Keating (MA)
  • Ann McLane Kuster (NH)
  • Ted Lieu (CA)
  • Zoe Lofgren (CA)
  • Stephen Lynch (MA)
  • Sean Patrick Maloney(NY)
  • Betty McCollum (MN)
  • Gwen Moore (WI)
  • Jerrold Nadler (NY)
  • Rick Nolan (MN)
  • Bill Pascrell (NJ)
  • Nancy Pelosi(CA)
  • Mike Quigley (IL)
  • Charles Rangel (NY)
  • Kathleen Rice (NY)
  • Bobby Scott(VA)
  • Albio Sires (NJ)
  • Adam Smith(WA)
  • Chris Van Hollen (MD)
  • Juan Vargas(CA)
  • Filemon Vela, Jr.(TX)
  • Pete Visclosky(IN)
  • Peter Welch(VT)

Another interesting factoid: Of those 38, 27 attended Jesuit institutions. 11 of them—25%—attended Georgetown University.

Something about which the Church should be proud? No.

About which the Church should boast? No.

Something those institutions should honor? No.

But, why did those obviously bright women and men choose to attend Catholic institutions in the first place? It mustn’t have been to learn to think about important matters—like the law and significant life issues—as Catholics do, to paraphrase Blessed John Henry Newman in his Idea of the University and St. John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Or, for that matter, natural law.

No, it must’ve been the institution’s reputation, the prestige associated with the degree awarded, and other such worldly honors and accolades.

“By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16).

 

 

 

To read Kimberly Scharfenberger’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/
DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/4125/Most-Catholic-College-Alumni-
in-House-of-Representatives-Vote-for-Abortion.aspx

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

 

17

Sustainability

sustainability

 

Father James Schall, SJ, at The Catholic Thing, takes a look at one of the more popular modern buzzwords:  sustainability:

 

The root of the “sustainability mission,” I suspect, is the practical denial of eternal life. “Sustainability” is an alternative to lost transcendence. It is what happens when suddenly no future but the present one exists. The only “future” of mankind is an on-going planet orbiting down the ages. It always does the exact same, boring thing. This view is actually a form of despair. Our end is the preservation of the race down the ages, not personal eternal life.

“Sustainability” implies strict population control, usually set at about two or three billion (current global population is around 7.3 billion, so many of us will simply have to disappear for sustainability’s sake). Sin and evil imply misusing the earth, not our wills. What we personally do makes little difference. Since children are rationed or even produced artificially as needed, whatever we do sexually is irrelevant. It has no real consequences in this life, the only one that exists.

Some talk of saving the race by fleeing to other planets. This leaves existing billions stuck here. The planet will disappear as the Sun cools. So the final “meaning” of the human race was that it “sustained” itself as long as possible. What is missing from this whole scenario is the notion of man’s “dominion.”

The earth and its resources, including its chief resource, the human mind, are given for the purposes for which each individual was created. Enough resources, including human mind and enterprise, are given for man to accomplish his purpose. When this purpose is accomplished, no more “resources” are needed. In this sense, the revealed doctrine that this world will end is the one that frees us from the dismal “sustaining” cycle that, presumably, goes on and on.

No doubt, while here, we should ”sustain” the world as a “garden” the best we can. But, as in the “beginning,” our key problems will not arise from the abundant Garden itself. They originate in our wills. The Garden does not exist for its own sake but for what goes on in it. This confusion is what is wrong with “sustainability.” Continue Reading

April 29, 1865: Johnson Postpones Day of Mourning For Lincoln

 

 

On April 29, 1865, President Johnson in his second Presidential Proclamation postpones the national day of mourning that he proclaimed in his first Proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

 

 

Whereas by my proclamation of the 25th instant Thursday, the 25th day of next month, was recommended as a day for special humiliation and prayer in consequence of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States; but

Whereas my attention has since been called to the fact that the day aforesaid is sacred to large numbers of Christians as one of rejoicing for the ascension of the Savior:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do hereby suggest that the religious services recommended as aforesaid should be postponed until Thursday, the 1st day of June next.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 29th day of April, A. D. 1865, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.

ANDREW JOHNSON.

By the President:

W. HUNTER,

Acting Secretary of State. Continue Reading

1

Pope Francis: Robert Spaemann

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Hmmm.  An old friend of Pope Benedict goes public with criticism of Pope Francis:

 

In a recent lengthy interview with the German Catholic journal Herder Korrespondenz in an issue especially dedicated to the theme of Pope Francis, the renowned and arguably most prominent Catholic philosopher in Germany, Professor Robert Spaemann, a long-time friend of Pope Benedict, has gone public with a strong criticism of Pope Francis that is being discussed nation-wide.

At the beginning of this interview-discussion that included also another German Catholic philosopher, Professor Hans Joas, Spaemann in a calm and differentiated way first acknowledged Pope Francis’ strengths and especially what he calls his “traditional piety”: “He speaks like a Latin-American bishop who is fully rooted in the piety of his people.” Spaemann continues:

“On the other side, in my view, his cult of spontaneity is not helping. In the Vatican, some people are already sighing: ‘Today, he has already again another different idea from yesterday.’ One does not fully get rid of the impression of chaos. And it is irritating how he prepares the Synod. It is the intention that two parties meet at the synod which the Pope wants to lead into a dialogue whereby he himself plays the role of a moderator. In the same time, however, he takes sides already in advance by favoring the position of Cardinal Walter Kasper, he has excluded the John Paul II Institute for Studies on the Family from the pre-Synod consultations and tries with the help of explicit pressure to influence those consultations.”

Spaemann then also criticized Pope Francis for dismissing personnel who have been close to Pope Benedict XVI: “Pope Francis always stresses his close bond with Pope Benedict. In certain ways that certainly also exists. But I wonder why he throws so many people out of the Vatican who had been called in by Benedict.”

The 87-year old Spaemann who had taught at important universities such as the University of Heidelberg and the University of Munich, also criticized Pope Francis for his way of electing new cardinals:

“Take the recent elections of new cardinals. There have now entered into the government of the whole Church completely unknown bishops who at times only have 15,000 Catholics in their dioceses. Bishops with larger dioceses, however, were passed by, even though one must have seen in them a certain extraordinary quality when they were chosen to be archbishops. Why are they then not called to the top? I ask myself, what will be the result in the end – next to a fleeting symbolic gesture? The upcoming Synod will especially have to show what the Holy Father intends.” Continue Reading

4

Sic Transit John Wilkes Booth

Death of Booth

 

 

Judging from his melodramatic “Sic, Semper Tyrannis!” at Ford’s Theater after murdering Lincoln, Booth perceived his role of assassin as  being his greatest role, a chance to play in real life a doomed Romantic hero, an avenger of a wronged people.  The last twelve days of his life, as he eluded capture must have been disappointing for him, as the newspapers he read, including those who had been highly critical of Lincoln, universally condemned his action.  Perhaps he perceived that instead of  being a hero, he was fated to be cast as a minor villain, remembered solely due to his slaying of a great hero.  Booth wrote in his diary, “With every man’s hand against me, I am here in despair. And why; For doing what Brutus was honored for … And yet I for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew am looked upon as a common cutthroat.” Continue Reading

12

John P. Angelos and the Rioters of Baltimore

 

 

Oh, this is rich, John P. Angelos, executive veep of the Baltimore Orioles, stands up for the rioters:

 

Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

John P. Angelos is a poor little rich boy.  He made his money the old fashioned way:  he got it gratis from his Daddy, uber ambulance chaser Peter Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.  He is a liberal Democrat and has worked glove in fist with the Democrat powers that be in Baltimore, who have controlled the city since World War II, with one, count them, one Republican mayor from 1963 to 1967 to prove the exception to the rule.  He is a big time donor to Planned Parenthood that wages a never ending war against urban black unborn babies.  If there is a leftist cause in America that Angelos has not paid lip service to, it must be very, very obscure.  In short, Angelos is a member in good standing of the liberal Democrat establishment that runs things in Baltimore and Maryland.  Let us examine his statement:

“That said”

Translation:  you can ignore the part of my statement that was my window dressing prelude.

“but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore “

Oh, that is rich!  Baltimore, above almost all other cities in the country except for Washington, has benefitted from government largesse over that same period.  The growth of the federal bureaucracy in Washington has brought endless jobs into the areas that surround Baltimore.  What has hurt Baltimore has been a completely corrupt government, former Mayor Sheila Dixon we are looking at you, and the legacy of the Baltimore riots of 1968 that accelerated white flight from Baltimore to its suburbs.

“to third-world dictatorships”

Angelos helped negotiate a two game series in 1999 between the Orioles and the Cuban National Team in Havana.  Today, one-quarter of Oriole players are foreign, most of them from Third World nations.

 “plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation”

True, the Obama administration, loyally supported by Angelos, has been an economic disaster for most Americans.

“and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections”

If Angelos were truly concerned about civil rights in Maryland, he and his Daddy have more than enough pull with the Maryland Democrat Party to make a difference in Maryland.

“of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.”

Having rioters run wild is not the way to convince people that the police have too much authority.  Perhaps an experiment could be conducted and have the police reduce their presence today around Oriole Park? Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Morality and the Climate

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Patrick J. Michaels of the Cato Institute at National Review Online raises moral questions that PopeWatch is confident will not be addressed at the Pope’s conference on the moral dimensions of climate change:
Kudos to Pope Francis for calling a conference, scheduled for tomorrow, emphasizing the moral dimensions of climate change. It’s about time we took a clear and sober look at an issue that can cause so much harm to so many, especially the poor and downtrodden. The core problem for the conference is to balance the costs and benefits imposed by climate change against the costs and benefits of a major reduction in the use of fossil fuels, with the understanding that there are only two other sources of dense energy that can effectively replace them, nuclear power and large hydroelectric dams. 

Continue Reading

4

Time For Catholics to Stand Up

 

Bravo to Professor Stephen Bainbridge:

I agree with Kingsfield that secular elites at high end universities and colleges are an annoyingly self-satisfied:

To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, “at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They don’t really understand that there’s a link between Sister Helen Prejean’s faith and the workd she does on the death penalty. There’s a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.

“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”

Which is precisely why Kingsfield needs to come out of the closet. Sadly, however, he is going deeper into the closet:

The emerging climate on campus of microaggressions, trigger warnings, and the construal of discourse as a form of violence is driving Christian professors further into the closet, the professor said.

“If I said something that was construed as attacking a gay student, I could have my life made miserable with a year or two of litigation — and if I didn’t have tenure, there could be a chance that my career would be ruined,” he said. “Even if you have tenure, a few people who make allegations of someone being hateful can make a tenured professor’s life miserable.” 

He’s right. I’ve been there (albeit for saying something obnoxious unrelated to my faith). But so what? 

Polycarp wasn’t threatened with people making his life miserable. He was threatened with being burnt at the stake. And he refused to deny Christ. And he went to his death thanking God for allowing him to be counted among the Church’s martyrs.

The Christians beheaded by ISIS faced a fate far worse than a smear campaign by academic lefties and they refused to deny Christ.

Put simply, being a Christian is supposed to be hard. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

It is true that Christ tells us that we are sheep among wolves and so must be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. But going into a religious closet is not shrewd.

“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”

I am a sinner who is far from perfect. But I refuse to be a closeted sinner. So I am going to continue teaching and writing about Catholic Social Thought. And I’m going to go on having a picture of St Thomas More in my office. And I’m going to go on having many books on religion in my office. And I’m going to go on wearing my ashes to class on Ash Wednesday. And I’m going to go on pushing back when people infringe on freedom of speech and religion, especially on campuses.

And if my colleagues don’t like that, all I can say is “Come and Have a Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough.” After all, if I may be forgiven quoting the great reformer, “Here I stand; I can do no other.” Continue Reading

April 27, 1865: Sultana: Death on the Mississippi

After the massive bloodletting of the Civil War, one would have hoped that Death would have taken at least a brief holiday in the US.  Such was not the case.  On April 27th 1865, the SS Sultana, a Mississipi paddlewheeler steamer, constructed in 1863 for the cotton trade, was serving as a transport.  Its cargo was appoximately 2500 Union soldiers, many of them former POWS, some of them survivors of Andersonville.  The Union soldiers boarded at Vicksburg.  The Sultana while in port at Vicksburg had a patch put on its steam boiler.  The repair was clearly inadequate, a new  boiler being needed.  Continue Reading

3

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Thornton Wilder

wilder

 

Two quotations from Thornton Wilder’s Our  Town at the beginning of Act III:

 

 

“Now there are some things we all know, but we don’t take’m out and look at’m very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars… everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”  

 

“Over there are some Civil War veterans. Iron flags on their graves…New Hampshire boys… had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they’d never seen more than fifty miles of it themselves. All they knew was the name, friends – the United States of America. The United States of America. And they went and died about it.”

The first quote reminds me of this passage from CS Lewis:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

How different our view of humanity if we view us as being merely intelligent animals or as immortal spirits sheathed in flesh.

The second quote is indicative of the old fashioned patriot that Wilder was, as demonstrated by his serving in the Army in World War I and in the Army Air Corps in World War II.  Civil War veterans in his day were as far in time from him as World War II veterans are from us.  Both groups of veterans, and the memory of them, serve as anchors for patriotism and heroism for the generations that came after them.

We are creatures of eternity but live in time and what we do in time echoes not only in eternity but for those who come after us. Continue Reading

1

PopeWatch: Jesus

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

 

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent San Francisco based Roman Catholics signed a petition and ran a full-page ad Friday calling on God to remove Jesus from the Trinity for fostering “an atmosphere of division and intolerance.”

The plea follows months of dissent within the archdiocese over Jesus’ emphasis on traditional, conservative doctrine, including asking all Catholics to accept that both sex outside of marriage as well as homosexual relations are “gravely evil.”

In their open letter to the God, Jesus critics say his morality-clause push is not only mean-spirited, but that it “sets a pastoral tone that is closer to persecution than evangelization.”

San Francisco Catholic Leonard Nibbi, who signed the letter, said the Second Person of the Trinity “is just causing a lot of discord, especially with the young people in the diocese.”

“The crux of our worry is that the faithful are going to become very disenchanted and stop going to church because they don’t like the message that Jesus sent when he preached the kingdom of God some 2,000 years ago,” Nibbi said.

According to a source familiar with the drafting of the open letter to God, the frustrated Catholics first considered running the ad weeks ago. They held off while they appealed to saints, including John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene, to address their concerns. When nothing came of that, they went public.

Incidentally, don’t expect Jesus to start soft-pedaling his opposition to same-sex marriage. He’s encouraging Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco to join him at a large march in Washington D.C. in favor of “traditional” marriage on April 25. Continue Reading

4

Anzac Day 2015

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon

 

 

 

Something for the weekend, The Last Post.  One hundred years ago the Gallipoli campaign began.  Australian, New Zealand, British and French troops would slug it out for over eight months in ferocious fighting over the Dardanelles, the pathway to Constantinople and perhaps an early end to the Great War.  Although unsuccessful, the raw courage, tenacity and resourcefulness of the Australian and New Zealand troops were sources of pride for their young nations and they are remembered each April 25 on Anzac Day.

It is remembered by me each year as a salute to the courage and self sacrifice it honors.

At the beginning of the war the New Zealand and Australian citizen armies, illustrating the robust humor of both nations,  engaged in self-mockery best illustrated by this poem:

We are the ANZAC Army

The A.N.Z.A.C.

We cannot shoot, we don’t salute

What bloody good are we ?

And when we get to Ber – Lin

The Kaiser, he will say

Hoch, Hoch, Mein Gott !

What a bloody odd lot

to get six bob a day.

The Anzac troops referred to themselves as “six bob a day tourists”.  By the end of World War I no one was laughing at the Anzacs.  At the end of the War a quarter of the military age male population of New Zealand had been killed or wounded and Australia paid a similarly high price.  Widely regarded as among the elite shock troops of the Allies, they had fought with distinction throughout the war, and added to their reputation during World War II.  Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the German Desert Fox, rated the New Zealanders as the finest troops he ever saw.  Continue Reading

4

Not Yet Begun to Fight

 

Bravo to David French at National Review Online who states eloquently my position:

I must admit, my first response to the notion of “strategic withdrawal” is less intellectual and more visceral. Retreat? I recall John Paul Jones’s words, “I have not yet begun to fight,” or, more succinctly, General Anthony McAuliffe’s legendary response to German surrender demands at Bastogne: “Nuts!” In reality, Christian conservatives have barely begun to fight. Christians, following the examples of the Apostles, should never retreat from the public square. They must leave only when quite literally forced out, after expending every legal bullet, availing themselves of every right of protest, and after exhausting themselves in civil disobedience. Have cultural conservatives spent half the energy on defense that the Left has spent on the attack?
 After all, the theological base is still strong. As I’ve pointed out before, not one orthodox Christian denomination is even contemplating shifting its stance on sexual-revolution issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and the traditionalist faiths are holding the line in membership or growing. By contrast, the mainline, progressive churches are collapsing in membership, continuing a long slide that could see some of America’s historic denominations essentially vanish in our lifetimes. The grassroots of social conservatism are not just strong but increasing in strength. The cultural Left has lost one high-profile cultural clash after another. From the Chick-fil-A “boycott,” to Hobby Lobby’s legal and cultural triumph, to the recent windfall and triumphant reopening of Memories Pizza, when the cultural Right actually bothers to mobilize, the cultural Left tends to lose. And while pop culture produces prodigious quantities of leftist propaganda, the surprising box office of God’s Not Dead, the overwhelming success of American Sniper, celebrating the life of a Christian warrior, and the consistent ratings for Bible-themed television demonstrate that there remains a large-scale appetite for works of art that advance, whether by intention or by effect, a substantially more conservative point of view.

Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Green Pope

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

How bad will the upcoming Papal encyclical on the environment be?  Maybe this bad:

As the world celebrates Earth Day on Wednesday, Pope Francis is planning to use one of the highest forms of papal expression — an encyclical — to promote climate action to save the planet as a moral and religious imperative.

In recent weeks, Vatican officials have outlined what the document will say and are choreographing its release — perhaps as early as June — for maximum global impact beyond the Roman Catholic Church’s 1.2 billion members.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who chairs a panel dealing with environmental issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the encyclical has “gone to the translators, so it’s at the end of its birthing process.”

First on the promotional agenda is an April 28 Vatican conference where United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will be a keynote speaker. The goal is to advance the morality argument that is a theme of the encyclical.

Then on successive days beginning Sept. 23, the pope will visit the White House, address a joint session of Congress — the first pontiff to do so — and address the U.N. General Assembly at the beginning of a summit on sustainable development.

“The timing of the encyclical is significant,” Cardinal Peter Turkson told a university audience in Ireland last month. “2015 is a critical year for humanity. … The coming 10 months are crucial.”

The Ghanian cardinal, who heads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and who helped draft the encyclical, said all events lead to Paris in December, when nations will gather to debate how to slow or reduce global warming. He described the core message of the encyclical as “human ecology,” arguing that global economic inequality — a theme Francis has frequently raised — is inextricably linked to climate change. Continue Reading

1

April 24, 1945: Death of Father Cyclone

father-larry-lynch

 

Larry Lynch was born, the first of 12 kids in his family, in the City Line neighborhood of Brooklyn on October 17, 1906.  He grew up on some pretty tough streets while also serving as an altar boy at Saint Sylvester’s.   He came to greatly admire the Redemptorists, an order of missionary priests founded by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in 1732.  In America the order had distinguished itself by its work in some of the roughest slums in the country and thus it was small wonder that a tough street kid would be attracted to them.  Larry Lynch was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Order in 1932.

His initial assignment was as a missionary priest in Brazil, in the parishes of Miranda and Aquidauana in the State of Mato Grosso, quite a change from Brooklyn!  In 1937 he served at Old Saint Mary’s in Buffalo, New York with mission assignments to Orangeburg, North Carolina and Ephrata, Pa.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, in September 1941, Father Lynch enlisted in the Army as a chaplain.  He served at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, Fort Polk, Lousiana, and in the Mojave Desert in California with the 31rst regiment of the 7th Armored Division.  In December 1943 he was sent overseas to New Caledonia in the Southwest Pacific.

Assigned initially to the 42nd Quarter Master Battalion in Noumea, Captain Lynch quickly began making himself unforgettable.  The commander of the outfit was Lieutenant Colonel Julius Klein, a remarkable man in his own right who had served as an American spy in Germany during World War I.  Klein, to his astonishment, found himself agreeing that he and all the staff officers in the battalion would be at Christmas Mass that evening, although he wondered what a Jew like him would be doing at a  Catholic Mass!  Father Lynch had that type of effect on people, his enthusiasm tended to overwhelm all opposition.  He decided that the chapel was too small for the Mass and it was held in the base amphitheater.  The amphitheater filled to capacity, the Christmas carols at the Mass were led by a soldier named  Goldstein, a great tenor, who Father Lynch had met on the troop transport.  Father Lynch explained the priest’s vestments prior to beginning for the benefit of the non-Catholics present:

“Father Stearns of the Navy will celebrate the Mass.   Before he begins, there’s a lot even Catholics should know and I’ll bet a nickel there are some right here who couldn’t explain why a priest wears all those vestments, for example.  Well, it’s time we all knew why and it won’t hurt you non-Catholics to know either.”

“Father Stearns will begin to put on his vestments, and while he does, well talk about them a little. First, as to the why. Every one of them is a symbol, a symbol of service to God.”

He picked up the amice and held it high. “This, for example. It’s just a piece of linen, and it is called an amice: A-M-I-C-E. Jesus was blindfolded, and the amice represents that blindfold. Okay, Father.”

He extended the amice to Father Stearns who put it on.

“Herod placed a garment on Jesus to make a fool of Him. You remember that.  This white robe white to signify purity is an alb: A-L-B, and the alb is symbolic of that garment.  Incidentally there are six colors used by the church and each one of them is significant: white for purity and joy, red for blood and fire, green is the symbol of hope, violet for penance. . . .”

The Mass had a huge impact on everyone present, and Colonel Klein announced that he was glad he came. Continue Reading

4

Various & Sundry, 4/23/15

I was going to wait to post another Various & Sundry until after the Mets lost another game, but I wouldn’t have to hold out on you until June.

Example Number I lost count of how we are raising a nation of coddled brats.

On Thursday, the State of Israel is celebrating her 67th birthday. Naturally, pro-Israel college students nationwide have organized celebratory gatherings – ranging from guest speakers to culturally (read: food) oriented events.

On Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campus, the planned celebration was not without controversy and dissent.

On April 20th, the student group [email protected] issued an “open letter” decrying an Israel Independence Day celebration scheduled to take place during SpringFest. [email protected] went as far as to claim that the event makes them feel “unsafe.”

– In completely unrelated news, a wide majority of Americans say they would not permit their elementary school-age children walk to school by themselves. There are some issues with the poll: elementary school-age could mean anything between 5 and 14 years-old, plus who knows how many families live miles away from school. That being the case, it’s more proof that large swathes of the public think of pre-teens as little faberge eggs that cannot be let out of adult sight for more than a second.

– Pro-abortion zealots in Colorado won’t even criminalize the act of ripping out and killing an unborn child against the mother’s wishes.

But abortion extremists — the real abortion extremists — insist that cutting a pregnant woman’s baby out of her and killing it, even against her wishes, should not be a crime in and of itself. You could charge this guy with assault for cutting the woman — but the deliberate cutting out of her unborn child would support no further charges, because it’s simply not a life. It’s not even property that could be vandalized.

Seven Things Everyone Should Know about Pregnant Ladies. I particularly liked number four.

Another ridiculous media trope. In movies, laboring women are regularly getting raced to the hospital by mailmen or pizza boys who happen to be on hand. Nervous fathers experiment with different routes to the hospital because that extra 45 seconds will probably spell the difference between life and death.

How often have you seen this happen in real life, where a pregnant woman is rushed out of a restaurant or mall because the baby is coming right this second? Probably never. There’s a reason for that. In most cases, labor takes pretty much forever. My deliveries take so long I could just walk the six miles to the hospital, except by the time I got there it’d already be full of people who had heart attacks because they saw a laboring woman strolling along the interstate.

The movie Knocked Up was one of the few that actually got labor right, oddly enough.

Number five is also good.

A surprising number of people seem to think that pregnant women are automatic wards of the public. Nope.

That means you don’t need to give me the evil eye when I step into the coffee shop. (You don’t even know what I’m ordering. And also, it’s not your business.) There’s no reason to be scandalized if you see me in the checkout line of Total Wine. I might be going to dinner party, or getting something special for my husband’s birthday. Or maybe I am buying something for myself, which is completely fine, because guess what? I won’t be pregnant forever, or even (if it’s visible now) for very much longer. If the store is having a sale on the Lus’ favorite Shiraz, why shouldn’t I pick up a case?

We used to have British neighbors. One year they hosted a new year’s eve party. The woman was pregnant – late second/early third trimester – and she was happily drinking a beer. Most other countries do not put absolutist restrictions on alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Obviously they don’t encourage women to get drunk, but the occasional glass of wine or beer is fine. Of course not in lawsuit happy America.

Some interesting photos of what the White House looks like completely gutted.

– Yeah, this has bad idea written all over it: Doctor Who could be coming to the big screen. It might not happen for eight years, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the series until its demise.

– And just because: Whittaker Chamber’s awesome takedown of the rancid Atlas Shrugged. There’s so much to love about this essay, but I’ll highlight this paragraph:

The overlap is not as incongruous as it looks. Atlas Shrugged can be called a novel only by devaluing the term. It is a massive tract for the times. Its story merely serves Miss Rand to get the customers inside the tent, and as a soapbox for delivering her Message. The Message is the thing. It is, in sum, a forthright philosophic materialism. Upperclassmen might incline to sniff and say that the author has, with vast effort, contrived a simple materialist system, one, intellectually, at about the stage of the oxcart, though without mastering the principle of the wheel. Like any consistent materialism, this one begins by rejecting God, religion, original sin, etc., etc. (This book’s aggressive atheism and rather unbuttoned “higher morality,” which chiefly outrage some readers, are, in fact, secondary ripples, and result inevitably from its underpinning premises.) Thus, Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world.

Okay, one more

Something of this implication is fixed in the book’s dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber–go!” The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture-that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.

10

Wolf Hall and Anti-Catholicism

 

George Weigel takes on the BBC’s paean to anti-Catholicism and bad history:

 

Wolf Hall, the BBC adaptation of Hillary Mantel’s novel about early Tudor England, began airing on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” Easter Sunday night. It’s brilliant television. It’s also a serious distortion of history. And it proves, yet again, that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable bigotry in elite circles in the Anglosphere.

The distortions and bias are not surprising, considering the source. Hillary Mantel is a very talented, very bitter ex-Catholic who’s said that the Church today is “not an institution for respectable people” (so much for the English hierarchy’s decades-long wheedling for social acceptance). As she freely concedes, Mantel’s aim in her novel was to take down the Thomas More of A Man for All Seasons—the Thomas More the Catholic Church canonized—and her instrument for doing so is More’s rival in the court of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell.

Hillary Mantel does not lack for chutzpah, for Cromwell has long been considered a loathsome character and More a man of singular nobility. In the novel Wolf Hall, however, the More of Robert Bolt’s play is transformed into a heresy-hunting, scrupulous prig, while Cromwell is the sensible, pragmatic man of affairs who gets things done, even if a few heads get cracked (or detached) in the process. All of which is rubbish, as historians with no Catholic interests at stake have made clear. Thus the president of the U.K.’s National Secular Society, historian David Starkey, finds “not a scrap of evidence” for Mantel’s retelling of the More-Cromwell tale; Mantel’s plot, he claimed, was “total fiction.” And as Gregory Wolfe pointed out in a fine essay on Wolf Hall in the Washington Post, historian Simon Schama has written that the documentary evidence he examined “shouted to high heaven that Thomas Cromwell was, in fact, a detestably self-serving, bullying monster who perfected state terror in England, cooked the evidence, and extracted confessions by torture.” Continue Reading

32

Gee, I Wonder Why Army Morale Stinks?

 

Faithful readers of this blog will recall a recent post about low morale in the Army.  Go here to read about it.  Now we have this story which succinctly demonstrates why the morale is plummeting.

 

On Monday, Army ROTC cadets at an Arizona State University campus were reportedly pressured into participating in an event allegedly designed to promote awareness of sexual violence against women, the Washington Times reported. The event, according to reports, required cadets to walk around campus wearing red high heel shoes.

Last year, the Times said, the Army encouraged cadets to voluntarily participate in what was billed as “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes.” This year, however, cadets weren’t given much of a choice, according to many reports. Visitors to Temple University Army ROTC’s Facebook page and other social media sites made it clear the event wasn’t exactly voluntary.

“They were threatened with negative counselling (sic) statements and OERs if they didn’t participate,” one person said on Facebook. “It was pretty much ‘do this or we’ll kill your career before it even starts.’”

“Attendance is mandatory and if we miss it we get a negative counseling and a ‘does not support the battalion sharp/EO mission’ on our CDT OER for getting the branch we want,” one cadet said on social media. “So I just spent $16 on a pair of high heels that I have to spray paint red later on only to throw them in the trash after about 300 of us embarrass the U.S. Army tomorrow.” Continue Reading

19

PopeWatch: Kristina Keneally

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Kristina Keneally, a former premier of New South Wales who the voters had the good sense to bounce from office, reflects the impatience with Pope Francis that is growing on the Catholic Left.

 

 

I’m starting to have a crisis of faith. Not in God, but rather, in Pope Francis.

It seems a betrayal to even write these words. I’m a progressive Catholic who longs for a church that is more welcoming of women, homosexuals and divorced people. I want a church where the hierarchy spends more time talking about liberating the poor and oppressed and less time lecturing about birth control. I pray for a church that comprehensively faces the causes of child sexual abuse so we can have confidence such systematic evil will never occur again.

Francis – global superstar, media darling, a truly modern pope – is the best hope people like me have had for many years, right? He’s the second coming of John XXIII, isn’t he?

I confess that I am starting to doubt it.

Francis swept into the Chair of St Peter with such animation and apparent determination to up-end the traditional notions of how popes ought to behave.

Washing the feet of prisoners, including women and Muslims. Refusing to live in the Apostolic Palace. Apparently calling a woman who married a divorced man in a civil ceremony to assure her it’s OK to go to communion. Refusing to judge homosexuals.

“I love this guy,” proclaimed the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. Catholics everywhere – especially progressive Catholics, but also those who were lapsed or just bored – enthusiastically agreed.

Last month Francis made a curious comment in an interview marking the second anniversary of his election as pope:

I have the feeling that my Pontificate will be brief: four or five years; I do not know, even two or three. Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation. Maybe it’s like the psychology of the gambler who convinces himself he will lose so he won’t be disappointed and if he wins, is happy. I do not know. But I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short-time, and nothing more …

He’s only going to be pope for four or five years? Well, Francis, two of those years have already passed. It’s time to get moving. Continue Reading

10

Obama Yawns

One of my favorite liberals, Kirsten Powers, takes aim at Obama’s silence about the worldwide persecution of Christians:

 

What do you call it when 12 men are drowned at sea for praying to Jesus?

Answer: Religious persecution.

Yet, when a throng of Muslims threw a dozen Christians overboard a migrant ship traveling from Libya to Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi missed the opportunity to label it as such. Standing next to President Obama at their joint news conference Friday, Renzi dismissed it as a one-off event and said, “The problem is not a problem of (a) clash of religions.”

While the prime minister plunged his head into the sand, Italian authorities arrested and charged the Muslim migrants with “multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate,” according to the BBC.

As Renzi was questioned about the incident, Obama was mute on the killings. He failed to interject any sense of outrage or even tepid concern for the targeting of Christians for their faith. If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested? When three North Carolina Muslims were gunned down by a virulent atheist, Obama rightly spoke out against the horrifying killings. But he just can’t seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.

Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as Pew has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing. Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders — including Obama — will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded. The president’s mumblings about the atrocities visited upon Christians (usually extracted after public outcry over his silence) are few and far between. And it will be hard to forget his lecturing of Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast about the centuries-old Crusades while Middle Eastern Christians were at that moment being harassed, driven from their homes, tortured and murdered for their faith. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Bishops

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City has resigned:

Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has resigned, nearly two and a half years after being the first U.S. bishop convicted of a misdemeanor in failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest in his diocese. 

The Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ acceptance of Bishop Finn’s resignation according to Canon 104 Article 2 in the Code of Canon Law in an April 21 statement, released at noon local time.

Go here to read the rest.  This could be interpreted as a symbol of the zero tolerance policy of the pope if it were not for the case of another Bishop: Continue Reading

1

Litany for Dictatorships

 Stephen Viincent Benet

The home raids on conservatives in Wisconsin, go here to read about them, brought this Stephen Vincent Benet poem that he wrote in 1935 to mind.  If more people do not stand up when government is run by gangsters this could happen here:

 

For all those beaten, for the broken heads,
The fosterless, the simple, the oppressed,
The ghosts in the burning city of our time…

For those taken in rapid cars to the house and beaten
By the skillful boys with the rubber fists,
-Held down and beaten, the table cutting the loins
Or kicked in the groin and left, with the muscles jerking
Like a headless hen’s on the floor of the slaughter-house
While they brought the next man in with his white eyes staring.
For those who still said “Red Front” or “God save the Crown!”
And for those who were not courageous
But were beaten nevertheless.
For those who spit out the bloody stumps of their teeth
      Quietly in the hall,
Sleep well on stone or iron, watch for the time
And kill the guard in the privy before they die,
Those with the deep-socketed eyes and the lamp burning.

For those who carry the scars, who walk lame – for those
Whose nameless graves are made in the prison-yard
And the earth smoothed back before the morning and the lime scattered.

For those slain at once.
For those living through the months and years
Enduring, watching, hoping, going each day
To the work or the queue for meat or the secret club,
Living meanwhile, begetting children, smuggling guns,
And found and killed at the end like rats in a drain.

For those escaping
Incredibly into exile and wandering there.
For those who live in the small rooms of foreign cities
And who yet think of the country, the long green grass,
The childhood voices, the language, the way wind smelt then,
The shape of rooms, the coffee drunk at the table,
The talk with friends, the loved city, the waiter’s face,
The gravestones, with the name, where they will not lie
Nor in any of that earth.
Their children are strangers.

For those who planned and were leaders and were beaten
And for those, humble and stupid, who had no plan
But were denounced, but were angry, but told a joke,
But could not explain, but were sent away to the camp,
But had their bodies shipped back in the sealed coffins,
“Died of pneumonia.” “Died trying to escape.”

For those growers of wheat who were shot by their own wheat-stacks,
For those growers of bread who were sent to the ice-locked wastes.
And their flesh remembers the fields.

For those denounced by their smug, horrible children
For a peppermint-star and the praise of the Perfect State,
For all those strangled, gelded or merely starved
To make perfect states; for the priest hanged in his cassock,
The Jew with his chest crushed in and his eyes dying,
The revolutionist lynched by the private guards
To make perfect states, in the names of the perfect states.

For those betrayed by the neigbours they shook hands with
And for the traitors, sitting in the hard chair
With the loose sweat crawling their hair and their fingers restless
As they tell the street and the house and the man’s name.
And for those sitting at the table in the house
With the lamp lit and the plates and the smell of food,
Talking so quietly; when they hear the cars
And the knock at the door, and they look at each other quickly
And the woman goes to the door with a stiff face,
      Smoothing her dress.
“We are all good citizens here. We believe in the Perfect State.”

And that was the last time Tony or Karl or Shorty came to the house
And the family was liquidated later.
It was the last time.
We heard the shots in the night
But nobody knew next day what the trouble was
And a man must go to his work.
So I didn’t see him
For three days, then, and me near out of my mind
And all the patrols on the streets with their dirty guns
And when he came back, he looked drunk, and the blood was on him.

For the women who mourn their dead in the secret night,
For the children taught to keep quiet, the old children,
The children spat-on at school.
For the wrecked laboratory,
The gutted house, the dunged picture, the pissed-in well
The naked corpse of Knowledge flung in the square
And no man lifting a hand and no man speaking.

For the cold of the pistol-butt and the bullet’s heat,
For the ropes that choke, the manacles that bind,
The huge voice, metal, that lies from a thousand tubes
And the stuttering machine-gun that answers all.

For the man crucified on the crossed machine guns
Without name, without ressurection, without stars,
His dark head heavy with death and his flesh long sour
With the smell of his many prisons – John Smith, John Doe,
John Nobody – oh, crack your mind for his name!
Faceless as water, naked as the dust,
Dishonored as the earth the gas-shells poison
And barbarous with portent.
      This is he.
This is the man they ate at the green table
Putting their gloves on ere they touched the meat.
This is the fruit of war, the fruit of peace,
The ripeness of invention, the new lamb,
The answer to the wisdom of the wise.
And still he hangs, and still he will not die
And still, on the steel city of our years
The light falls and the terrible blood streams down.

We thought we were done with these things but we were wrong.
We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
We thought the long train would run to the end of Time.
We thought the light would increase.
Now the long train stands derailed and the bandits loot it.
Now the boar and the asp have power in our time.
Now the night rolls back on the West and the night is solid.
Our fathers and ourselves sowed dragon’s teeth.

Our children know and suffer the armed men.

8

Perhaps Catholic schools no longer provide an answer…

 

Over at The Wanderer, James J. Kirkpatrick has written a defense of San Francisco’s Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, for injecting a so-called “morality clause” into the contract of archdiocesan teachers. Archbishop Cordileone has come under heavy fire from activists—including some self-identified “prominent” Catholics—who claim the clause would “create a repressive environment in which not only dissent, but any critical thought, robust exchange of ideas and genuine dialogue are discouraged and punishable by loss of livelihood.”

All Archbishop Cordileone apparently has required is that employees of San Francisco’s archdiocesan schools “conform their hearts, minds and consciences, as well as their public and private behavior, ever more closely to the truths taught by the Catholic Church.” These moral issues include “adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations” as well as “the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Presumably, Kirkpatrick accurately assesses that

…this is not the understanding of the role of teachers of secular subjects in Catholic schools held by those protesting Archbishop Cordileone’s morality clause in San Francisco; they do not see the teachers of secular subjects as “ministers” of the Catholic faith.

cordileone

 

 

Yes, the ideal is that “practical” Catholics (defined by Kirkpatrick as “loyal to…Church teaching”) should be teaching every course in the curriculum. It is also quite likely that those who protest the Archbishop’s mandate don’t hold that view.

The issue isn’t just who is teaching those courses, as the ideal is that every employee appreciates one’s ministerial role simply because the school is a Catholic school.

Why? Contrary to Mr. Kirkpatrick’s assessment, the subject taught in Catholic schools is not the various academic disciplines comprising the curriculum. No, the subject taught is each and every student enrolled in the school.

Those who work in Catholic schools are charged with forming what the Church calls an “integral person,” that is, a person whose mind, body, and soul are imbued with the truth as revealed by the Gospel as well as the truths unveiled by human arts and sciences.

In this sense, administrators, teachers, and staff members of a Catholic school aren’t just “professionals” but also are a community of adult “ministers” who collaborate in forming integral persons and, at a minimum, each according to one’s contractual responsibilities. If “practical” Catholics aren’t available, there are many “practical” non-Catholics and non-Christians who might very much desire to minister in this way to the students enrolled in Catholic schools. Certainly this is not the ideal, but preferable to a community of adults who are, at best, “Catholic In Name Only.”

But, Kirkpatrick veers away from the facts when he asks whether this ideal is a realistic possibility or even necessary, in every instance. Yes, as he notes,

It doesn’t make sense for a Catholic school to hire teachers of subjects such as those who are going to devote their classes to promulgating a worldview indistinguishable from what is taught at a “progressive” academy in Greenwich Village or Berkeley.

He then adds:

That is not the reason why Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools.

Really? For decades, research findings have been rather consistent: Parents send their children to Catholic schools for a number of reasons. In general order of preference, these include: a strong academic reputation; a climate characterized by order and discipline; teachers who care; and, a sense of community that emphasizes generic, pan-Protestant values. Teaching and practicing the Catholic faith appears very low in the list of reasons (anywhere from 10th to 15th).

Reminiscing a bit about his five brothers and sisters, all of whom graduated from their parish elementary school in the late 1950s and 60s, Kirkpatrick notes:

…we could chose [sic] from literally dozens of Catholic high schools in New York City, run by many different orders of priests and religious brothers and sisters: Jesuits, Marists, Christian Brothers, Dominican Sisters, and the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, for starters. It was pretty much the same during the years I taught at a Catholic high school in the Bronx in the mid-1960s.

Once again, Kirkpatrick is accurate in that many people do “call those years the ‘golden age’ of Catholic education in the United States.” And perhaps they were. He is also accurate when assessing that

…there were very few laymen who taught with me who considered themselves “ministers” of the faith. In fact, not all practiced their faith. Not all were Catholics. More than a few dissented from the Church’s teachings on contraception, divorce and remarriage, and abortion.

But, Kirkpatrick may not be as accurate as he believes in his assessment that

 All of them…would have accepted—some more compliantly than others—a requirement that they not use their classes to proselytize anti-Catholic views; all would accept the proposition that they serve as models of good behavior and solid citizenship in their role as teachers. All would agree that they had a responsibility to teach academically sound courses. (italics added)

Today, the sad fact is that many graduates of those Catholic schools Kirkpatrick laments having passed from the scene are not “practical” Catholics but hold dubious moral positions that align better with those of liberal Protestantism. Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin are but two examples of “prominent Catholics” who had nearly the same educational experience about which Mr. Kirkpatrick reminisces…all the way through Catholic college and graduate school.

In fact, the research once again is pretty clear that, beginning in the mid- to late- 1960s—as the transition to lay faculty started—those who have taught in Catholic schools have been eerily similar to the public at large in terms of their attitudes about Catholic moral teaching, in general, and the very matters Archbishop Cordileone has contractually mandated, in particular.

Apparently, those teachers weren’t quite as willing to comply with keeping their moral opinions to themselves. One outcome of this transition has evidenced scores on standardized tests of basic knowledge of the Catholic faith and its practices have for the most part demonstrated no significant difference between graduates of Catholic elementary and high schools and those who attended parish religious education programs.

Embarrassing but true.

In retrospect, that “Golden Age” about which Kirkpatrick reminisces may not have been so golden, after all. It may have been in some respects, but not quite as golden as Kirkpatrick implies.

Yes, it would be a tremendous boon to the Church if, as Kirkpatrick notes,

…the religion courses were sound, and the social studies and literature courses were supportive of Catholic values, and the Mass and the rosary were regular parts of the students’ lives, the school was solidly Catholic, worth every dollar in tuition payments.

In most locales. there simply aren’t a sufficient number of those “practical Catholic” parents whom Kirkpatrick identifies as “looking for a solidly Catholic environment for their children” for parishes to operate the kind of Catholic school he envisions.

Perhaps the more challenging and difficult truth that must be considered in light of the signs of the times is that, in face of the fact that many so-called “Catholic” schools are “Catholic in Name Only,” perhaps the Church should stop sponsoring educational institutions. After all, finding qualified personnel has been a perennial problem for Catholic schools. Paying a just wage to those who are qualified and willing to teach in Catholic schools has also been a perennial problem for Catholic schools. Building and funding those schools has been yet another perennial problem for Catholic schools.

The Church has an interest in the moral education of baptized children, not necessarily in building Catholic schools to do that. Parents possess a prior right to educate their children as they see fit and when it come to the moral education of Catholic children, the Church must figure out how best to support parents in what is their prior right.

Confronting a new age having different challenges may require discerning more effective ways to catechize children and young adults so that one day, they will be the kind of “practical” adult Catholics that all of us would hope they would be. After all, they’re going to be the Church’s future if it’s to be a Catholic Church.

 

 

 

To read James J. Kirkpatrick’s article in the Wanderer, click on the following link:
http://thewandererpress.com/frontpage/catholic-school-teachers-as-ministers-all-catholic-school-teachers/

To read about the reaction to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s mandate, click on the following link:
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/04/15/open-letter-pope-francis-oust-san-francisco-archbishop-salvadore-cordileone-morality-clauses-teachers/

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

15

Witch Hunt in Wisconsin

“When it comes to
this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no
pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism
can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
Abraham Lincoln
Democrats were so fearful of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin that John Chisholm, the Democrat District Attorney of Milwaukee Country, launched a secret “John Doe” investigation seeking to uncover links between conservative groups and the Walker administration.  This bitterly partisan Democrat unleashed a wave of terror of “no knock” raids on the homes of conservatives in Wisconsin, using police tactics that might have  been appropriate if they were storming fortifications held by terrorists.  The victims were instructed to tell no one about the raids, especially their attorneys.  These Gestapo tactics are detailed in a magnificent story by David French at National Review:
But with another election looming — this time Walker’s campaign for reelection — Chisholm wasn’t finished. He launched yet another John Doe investigation, “supervised” by Judge Barbara Kluka. Kluka proved to be capable of superhuman efficiency — approving “every petition, subpoena, and search warrant in the case” in a total of one day’s work.
If the first series of John Doe investigations was “everything Walker,” the second series was “everything conservative,” as Chisholm had launched an investigation of not only Walker (again) but the Wisconsin Club for Growth and dozens of other conservative organizations, this time fishing for evidence of allegedly illegal “coordination” between conservative groups and the Walker campaign.
In the second John Doe, Chisholm had no real evidence of wrongdoing. Yes, conservative groups were active in issue advocacy, but issue advocacy was protected by the First Amendment and did not violate relevant campaign laws. Nonetheless, Chisholm persuaded prosecutors in four other counties to launch their own John Does, with Judge Kluka overseeing all of them.
Empowered by a rubber-stamp judge, partisan investigators ran amok. They subpoenaed and obtained (without the conservative targets’ knowledge) massive amounts of electronic data, including virtually all the targets’ personal e-mails and other electronic messages from outside e-mail vendors and communications companies.
The investigations exploded into the open with a coordinated series of raids on October 3, 2013. These were home invasions, including those described above. Chisholm’s office refused to comment on the raid tactics (or any other aspect of the John Doe investigations), but witness accounts regarding the two John Doe investigations are remarkably similar: early-morning intrusions, police rushing through the house, and stern commands to remain silent and tell no one about what had occurred.
At the same time, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations received broad subpoenas requiring them to turn over virtually all business records, including “donor information, correspondence with their associates, and all financial information.” The subpoenas also contained dire warnings about disclosure of their existence, threatening contempt of court if the targets spoke publicly.
For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state.
Speaking both on and off the record, targets reflected on how many layers of Wisconsin government failed their fundamental constitutional duties — the prosecutors who launched the rogue investigations, the judge who gave the abuse judicial sanction, investigators who chose to taunt and intimidate during the raids, and those police who ultimately approved and executed aggressive search tactics on law-abiding, peaceful citizens.
For some of the families, the trauma of the raids, combined with the stress and anxiety of lengthy criminal investigations, has led to serious emotional repercussions. “Devastating” is how Anne describes the impact on her family. “Life-changing,” she says. “All in terrible ways.”
O’Keefe, who has been in contact with multiple targeted families, says, “Every family I know of that endured a home raid has been shaken to its core, and the fate of marriages and families still hangs in the balance in some cases.”
Anne also describes a new fear of the police: “I used to support the police, to believe they were here to protect us. Now, when I see an officer, I’ll cross the street. I’m afraid of them. I know what they’re capable of.”
Cindy says, “I lock my doors and I close my shades. I don’t answer the door unless I am expecting someone. My heart races when I see a police car sitting in front of my house or following me in the car. The raid was so public. I’ve been harassed. My house has been vandalized. [She did not identify suspects.] I no longer feel safe, and I don’t think I ever will.”
Rachel talks about the effect on her children. “I tried to create a home where the kids always feel safe. Now they know they’re not. They know men with guns can come in their house, and there’s nothing we can do.” Every knock on the door brings anxiety. Every call to the house is screened. In the back of her mind is a single, unsettling thought: These people will never stop.
Victims of trauma — and every person I spoke with described the armed raids as traumatic — often need to talk, to share their experiences and seek solace in the company of a loving family and supportive friends.
The investigators denied them that privilege, and it compounded their pain and fear. The investigation not only damaged families, it also shut down their free speech. In many cases, the investigations halted conservative groups in their tracks. O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth described the effect in court filings:
O’Keefe’s associates began cancelling meetings with him and declining to take his calls, reasonably fearful that merely associating with him could make them targets of the investigation. O’Keefe was forced to abandon fundraising for the Club because he could no longer guarantee to donors that their identities would remain confidential, could not (due to the Secrecy Order) explain to potential donors the nature of the investigation, could not assuage donors’ fears that they might become targets themselves, and could not assure donors that their money would go to fund advocacy rather than legal expenses. The Club was also paralyzed. Its officials could not associate with its key supporters, and its funds were depleted. It could not engage in issue advocacy for fear of criminal sanction.
These raids and subpoenas were often based not on traditional notions of probable cause but on mere suspicion, untethered to the law or evidence, and potentially violating the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The very existence of First Amendment–protected expression was deemed to be evidence of illegality. The prosecution simply assumed that the conservatives were incapable of operating within the bounds of the law.
Even worse, many of the investigators’ legal theories, even if proven by the evidence, would not have supported criminal prosecutions. In other words, they were investigating “crimes” that weren’t crimes at all. If the prosecutors had applied the same legal standards to the Democrats in their own offices, they would have been forced to turn the raids on themselves. If the prosecutors and investigators had been raided, how many of their computers and smartphones would have contained incriminating information indicating use of government resources for partisan purposes?

Continue Reading

22

PopeWatch: Living as if God Did Not Exist

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Pope Francis uttered a phrase that sums up the spiritual emptiness of much of the West:

 

 

In a historic encounter, Francis met in the Vatican with a delegation from the Conference of European Rabbis, the first time a pope has ever met with the Conference.

The Pope underscored that all Christians “must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people.” He also remarked on the recent seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp “which has come to be synonymous with the great tragedy of the Shoah.”

“The memory of what took place there, in the heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations,” he said.

“Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere,” he added.

Pope Francis also proposed that in the face of rampant secularism in Europe and other parts of the world, Jews and Christians have a co-responsibility to keep faith in God alive. Both Jews and Christians, he said, have “the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society.”

European society, he said, is “increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism,” and “we run the risk of living as if God did not exist.” Continue Reading

April 21, 1865: Stanton to Grant: Hostilities to Be Resumed

 

 

 

 

 

Sherman and Johnston

 

For all his world weary cynicism, General Sherman was a complete innocent when it came to political matters, in which he had little interest.  He demonstrated this by the terms of the memorandum of agreement which he entered into with General Johnston on April 18, 1865:

T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, April 18, 1865.

Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, or Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: I inclose herewith a copy of an agreement made this day between General Joseph E. Johnston and myself, which, if approved by the President of the United States, will produce peace from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. Mr. Breckenridge was present at our conference, in the capacity of major-general, and satisfied me of the ability of General Johnston to carry out to their full extent the terms of this agreement; and if you will get the President to simply indorse the copy, and commission me to carry out the terms, I will follow them to the conclusion.

You will observe that it is an absolute submission of the enemy to the lawful authority of the United States, and disperses his armies absolutely; and the point to which I attach most importance is, that the dispersion and disbandment of these armies is done in such a manner as to prevent their breaking up into guerrilla bands. On the other hand, we can retain just as much of an army as we please. I agreed to the mode and manner of the surrender of arms set forth, as it gives the States the means of repressing guerrillas, which we could not expect them to do if we stripped them of all arms.

Both Generals Johnston and Breckenridge admitted that slavery was dead, and I could not insist on embracing it in such a paper, because it can be made with the States in detail. I know that all the men of substance South sincerely want peace, and I do not believe they will resort to war again during this century. I have no doubt that they will in the future be perfectly subordinate to the laws of the United States. The moment my action in this matter is approved, I can spare five corps, and will ask for orders to leave General Schofield here with the Tenth Corps, and to march myself with the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-third Corps via Burkesville and Gordonsville to Frederick or Hagerstown, Maryland, there to be paid and mustered out.

The question of finance is now the chief one, and every soldier and officer not needed should be got home at work. I would like to be able to begin the march north by May 1st.

I urge, on the part of the President, speedy action, as it is important to get the Confederate armies to their homes as well as our own.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Memorandum, or Basis of agreement, made this 18th day of April, A. D. 1865, near Durham’s Station, in the State of North Carolina, by and between General Joseph E. JOHNSTON, commanding the Confederate Army, and Major-General William T. SHERMAN, commanding the army of the United States in North Carolina, both present:

1. The contending armies now in the field to maintain the statu quo until notice is given by the commanding general of any one to its opponent, and reasonable time–say, forty-eight hours–allowed.

2. The Confederate armies now in existence to be disbanded and conducted to their several State capitals, there to deposit their arms and public property in the State Arsenal; and each officer and man to execute and file an agreement to cease from acts of war, and to abide the action of the State and Federal authority. The number of arms and munitions of war to be reported to the Chief of Ordnance at Washington City, subject to the future action of the Congress of the United States, and, in the mean time, to be needed solely to maintain peace and order within the borders of the States respectively.

3. The recognition, by the Executive of the United States, of the several State governments, on their officers and Legislatures taking the oaths prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, and, where conflicting State governments have resulted from the war, the legitimacy of all shall be submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.

4. The reestablishment of all the Federal Courts in the several States, with powers as defined by the Constitution of the United States and of the States respectively.

5. The people and inhabitants of all the States to be guaranteed, so far as the Executive can, their political rights and franchises, as well as their rights of personal property, as defined by the Constitution of the United States and of the States respectively.

6. The Executive authority of the Government of the United States not to disturb any of the people by reason of the late war, so long as they live in peace and quiet, abstain from acts of armed hostility, and obey the laws in existence at the place of their residence.

7. In general terms–the war to cease; a general amnesty, so far as the Executive of the United States can command, on condition of the disbandment of the Confederate armies, the distribution of the arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by the officers and men hitherto composing said armies.

Not being fully empowered by our respective principals to fulfill these terms, we individually and officially pledge ourselves to promptly obtain the necessary authority, and to carry out the above programme.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding Army of the United States in North Carolina.

J. E. JOHNSTON, General,
Commanding Confederate States Army in North Carolina.

The agreement had been masterminded by Breckenridge, a canny politician and former Vice-President of the United States.  If accepted, the agreement would have short-circuited Reconstruction and basically re-established state governments in the Confederate States as if the War had never occurred.  Lincoln would not have accepted this, and in the wake of his assassination the terms were angrily repudiated by Washington as indicated by this letter from Stanton to Grant:

 

War Department, Washington City, April 21, 1865

Lieutenant-General Grant.

General:

The memorandum or basis agreed upon between General Sherman and General Johnston having been submitted to the President, they are disapproved.  You will give notice of the disapproval to General Sherman, and direct him to resume hostilities at the earliest moment.

The instructions given to you by the late President, Abraham Lincoln, on the 3d of March, by my telegraph of that date, addressed to you, express substantially the views of President Andrew Johnson, and will be observed by General Sherman.  A copy is herewith appended.

The President desires that you proceed immediately to the headquarters of Major-General Sherman, and direct operations against the enemy.

Yours truly,
Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War. Continue Reading

4

I Contributed

Rogans

Father Z brings to our attention this plea for help:

 

 

I received this note today.

I am writing to you this morning to request your help. Mike and Nikki Rogan of Wausau, WI were on their way to the hospital early yesterday morning with their seven children in anticipation of welcoming the eighth child into their beautiful family. [Did you get that?  On the way to the hospital because she was having a baby!]

On the way, their car was struck by a deer, and Mike was killed. Their children are recovering and baby Blaize was born later the same day. Please help us reach out and support this family in their time of profound loss. Prayers are also much appreciated.

Support the family by making a donation

HERE

View the news report HERE

Okay folks. When I have put ACTION ITEMS on line, you have always stepped up. Step up again. Let’s have several thousand of you, no, every one of you, chip in. This is important.

Prayers for them as well, right after you donate.  I went through the process.  It’s easy and take very little time.

Just do it.  Don’t waffle. Continue Reading

9

Pope Francis: Vallely

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Ross Douthat has an interesting article in The Atlantic about whether Pope Francis is leading the Church into schism.  He examines the life of Pope Francis for clues as to how Bergoglio developed his positions:

 

But he did not attack the Dirty War publicly, and the Jesuits under his leadership kept a low political profile as well. The entire Argentine Church was a compromised force during the junta’s rule, and Bergoglio probably couldn’t have played the kind of role that, say, the soon-to-be-beatified archbishop Oscar Romero played in El Salvador. But some in the order blamed his conservatism, as they saw it, for the absence of a clear Jesuit witness against the junta’s crimes.

Eventually these critics gained the upper hand. Not long after Bergoglio’s term ended in 1979, his policies were altered or reversed. Just over a decade later, following a period in which the Argentine Jesuits were divided into pro- and anti-Bergoglio camps, he was exiled from the leadership, sent to a Jesuit residence in the mountain town of Córdoba, and essentially left to rot.

That exile lasted almost two years, and ended when John Paul II’s choice for the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Antonio Quarracino, reached out and picked Bergoglio to serve as one of his auxiliaries in 1992. The rescue made everything that followed possible, but it also completed the former provincial’s break with his own order. Ivereigh notes that over the next 20 years, during which he took many trips to the Vatican, Bergoglio never so much as set foot in the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.

Told this way—conservative Jesuit fights post–Vatican II radicalization, finds himself shunned by left-wing confreres, gets rescued by a John Paul appointee—the story of Francis’s rise and fall and rise sounds for all the world like The Making of a Conservative Pope. And indeed, a number of Catholic writers greeted Bergoglio’s election—some optimistically, some despairingly—with exactly that interpretation of his past’s likely impact on his papacy. But it seems fair to say that this interpretation was mistaken. So how, exactly, did the man who fought bitterly with left-wing Jesuits in the 1970s become the darling of progressive Catholics in the 2010s?

Piqué’s biography doesn’t even attempt to explain this seeming paradox. She blurs the tensions by treating Bergoglio’s 1970s-era critics dismissively—without really digging into the theological and political roots of the disputes—and then portraying Bergoglio the archbishop as basically progressive in his orientation. After succeeding Quarracino, she writes, he fought with “right-wing adversaries in the Roman Curia,” publicly showed annoyance at “obsessive strictness” on sexual ethics, and so on.

Vallely has a more creative argument. He suggests that Francis was essentially a pre–Vatican II traditionalist as provincial, and then, in exile, experienced a kind of theological and political conversion to his critics’ point of view. This is a fascinating idea, but perhaps too psychologically pat, and Vallely’s documentary evidence is interesting but thin. He makes much, for instance, of the older Bergoglio’s tendency to retrospectively criticize the too-hasty or overly authoritarian decision making of his earlier years. But much of this self-criticism seems more about style than about religious substance. And Vallely (like his sources) is rather too fond of false dichotomies: it’s supposed to be surprising, a sign of some radical interior change, that a theological conservative could be pastoral or want to spend time among the poor. Continue Reading

April 20, 1865: Lee’s Final Report

imagesUSIUCBQ2

 

 

Although he had no idea where the fugitive President of the Confederacy precisely was, Robert E. Lee on April 20, 1865 wrote his final report to Davis which contained a plea for peace instead of partisan warfare:

 

Robert E. Lee
to
Jefferson Davis

Richmond, Virginia
April 20, 1865

Mr. President

The apprehensions I expressed during the winter, of the moral [sic] condition of the Army of Northern Virginia, have been realized.   The operations which occurred while the troops were in the entrenchments in front of Richmond and Petersburg were not marked by the boldness and decision which formerly characterized them.   Except in particular instances, they were feeble; and a want of confidence seemed to possess officers and men.   This condition, I think, was produced by the state of feeling in the country, and the communications received by the men from their homes, urging their return and the abandonment of the field.   The movement of the enemy on the 30th March to Dinwiddie Court House was consequently not as strongly met as similar ones had been.   Advantages were gained by him which discouraged the troops, so that on the morning of the 2d April, when our lines between the Appomattox and Hatcher’s Run were assaulted, the resistance was not effectual:   several points were penetrated and large captures made.   At the commencement of the withdrawal of the army from the lines on the night of the 2d, it began to disintegrate, and straggling from the ranks increased up to the surrender on the 9th.   On that day, as previously reported, there were only seven thousand eight hundred and ninety-two (7892) effective infantry.   During the night, when the surrender became known, more than ten thousand men came in, as reported to me by the Chief Commissary of the Army.   During the succeeding days stragglers continued to give themselves up, so that on the 12th April, according to the rolls of those paroled, twenty-six thousand and eighteen (26,018) officers and men had surrendered.   Men who had left the ranks on the march, and crossed James River, returned and gave themselves up, and many have since come to Richmond and surrendered.   I have given these details that Your Excellency might know the state of feeling which existed in the army, and judge of that in the country.   From what I have seen and learned, I believe an army cannot be organized or supported in Virginia, and as far as I know the condition of affairs, the country east of the Mississippi is morally and physically unable to maintain the contest unaided with any hope of ultimate success.   A partisan war may be continued, and hostilities protracted, causing individual suffering and the devastation of the country, but I see no prospect by that means of achieving a separate independence.   It is for Your Excellency to decide, should you agree with me in opinion, what is proper to be done.   To save useless effusion of blood, I would recommend measures be taken for suspension of hostilities and the restoration of peace.

I am with great respect, yr obdt svt
R. E. Lee
Genl

6

April 19, 1865: Funeral Sermon on Abraham Lincoln

images3J7J183T

 

Although it was a  Wednesday, many contemporary observers in the United States thought that April 19, 1865 felt like a Sunday.  Funeral rites were being conducted for Abraham Lincoln at the White House and a national holiday, a national day of mourning, was proclaimed.  After the funeral service at the White House, Lincoln’s body began its long trek back to Springfield, where it would pass through 180 cities with the people of the country given an opportunity to pass by Lincoln’s coffin.  The funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Phineas D. Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington that Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln attended.  He had been close to both Lincolns, the Lincolns had chosen him to preach the funeral sermon when their son Willie died, and he would accompany the body back to Springfield and preach the final funeral sermon there.  His sermon at the White House was a powerful effort and reflected a willingness to see the Hand of God in all things, a common sentiment at that time, that most of us today, even those of us who are religious, lack, especially when something terrible occurs.  God is relegated, in much contemporary religious thought, to being either a divine Santa Claus, or an ineffectual, albeit well meaning, divinity, who stands apart from the frequently terrible things that occur in this vale of tears and weeps with us.  I think Gurley is closer to the truth, even with his patina of Calvinism, as to the nature of I AM who created the universe. Here is the text of the sermon:

 

 

AS WE STAND HERE TODAY, MOURNERS AROUND THIS COFFIN AND AROUND THE LIFELESS REMAINS OF OUR BELOVED CHIEF MAGISTRATE, WE RECOGNIZE AND WE ADORE THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. His throne is in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all. He hath done, and He hath permitted to be done, whatsoever He pleased. “Clouds and darkness are round about Him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne.” His way is in the sea, and His path in the great waters, and His footsteps are not known. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. If He cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder Him? For He knoweth vain men; he seeth wickedness also; will He not then consider it?”–We bow before His infinite majesty. We bow, we weep, we worship.

“Where reason fails, with all her powers,
There faith prevails, and love adores.”

It was a cruel, cruel hand, that dark hand of the assassin, which smote our honored, wise, and noble President, and filled the land with sorrow. But above and beyond that hand there is another which we must see and acknowledge. It is the chastening hand of a wise and a faithful Father. He gives us this bitter cup. And the cup that our Father hath given us, shall we not drink it?

God of the just, Thou gavest us the cup:
We yield to thy behest, and drink it up.”

“Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” O how these blessed words have cheered and strengthened and sustained us through all these long and weary years of civil strife, while our friends and brothers on so many ensanguined fields were falling and dying for the cause of Liberty and Union! Let them cheer, and strengthen, and sustain us to-day. True, this new sorrow and chastening has come in such an hour and in such a way as we thought not, and it bears the impress of a rod that is very heavy, and of a mystery that is very deep. That such a life should be sacrificed, at such a time, by such a foul and diabolical agency; that the man at the head of the nation, whom the people had learned to trust with a confiding and a loving confidence, and upon whom more than upon any other were centered, under God, our best hopes for the true and speedy pacification of the country, the restoration of the Union, and the return of harmony and love; that he should be taken from us, and taken just as the prospect of peace was brightly opening upon our torn and bleeding country, and just as he was beginning to be animated and gladdened with the hope of ere long enjoying with the people the blessed fruit and reward of his and their toil, and care, and patience, and self-sacrificing devotion to the interests of Liberty and the Union–O it is a mysterious and a most afflicting visitation! But it is our Father in heaven, the God of our fathers, and our God, who permits us to be so suddenly and sorely smitten; and we know that His judgments are right, and that in faithfulness He has afflicted us. In the midst of our rejoicings we needed this stroke, this dealing, this discipline; and therefore He has sent it. Let us remember, our affliction has not come forth out of the dust, and our trouble has not sprung out of the ground. Through and beyond all second causes let us look, and see the sovereign permissive agency of the great First Cause. It is His prerogative to bring light out of darkness and good out of evil. Surely the wrath of man shall praise Him, and the remainder of wrath He will restrain. In the light of a clearer day we may yet see that the wrath which planned and perpetuated the death of the President, was overruled by Him whose judgements are unsearchable, and His ways are past finding out, for the highest welfare of all those interests which are so dear to the Christian patriot and philanthropist, and for which a loyal people have made such an unexampled sacrifice of treasure and of blood. Let us not be faithless, but believing. Continue Reading

34

Democrats First, Catholics Second

 

Really, does this surprise anyone?

 

 

Catholic colleges and law schools can proudly claim 65 alumni in the U.S. House of Representatives—which amounts to 15 percent of the House, about double the Catholic share of four-year colleges in the United States. But The Cardinal Newman Society has found that more than half of these Catholic college alumni—38 in total—have records on abortion that should mortify their alma maters.

Most of them are rated 100 percent by pro-abortion organizations such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood. The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has rated many of them at zero percent on important life issues.

Of the 38 total representatives with scandalous records, 27 attended Jesuit institutions. More than a quarter of them, a total of 11, attended Georgetown University.

The numbers are bleak, but political science professors from faithful Catholic colleges told the Newman Society that they are hopeful for a new generation of faithfully-educated politicians who are nurtured by proper instruction. Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Illuminati

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

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

 

In a private meeting with cloaked members of the Illuminati this morning, Pope Francis reportedly signed a two-year extension to his pontificate, with a 3-year possible extension after that.

The Illuminati, who has run the Church behind the scenes since the 1700’s, reported that, although Francis’ pontificate could still end whenever they saw fit, that Francis was for now technically guaranteed at least a few more years.

“Our society has found his contributions good up till now, which is why we’ve decided to allow him a few more years,” an anonymous member of The Ancient and Illuminated Seers of Bavariato told EOTT in an exclusive interview. “His desire for a new world order has very much impressed us, and we hope that he continues his work to help us take over the world.”

The source went on to say that they had considered giving Francis a longer extension, but that they were weary of doing so ever since the “Benedict debacle.”

According to the source, the Vatican is scheduled to have “underground meetings” with members of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, as well as President Obama this fall to discuss how best to proceed with the brainwashing of the unsuspecting masses.

“It is our belief that, with Grand Mage Francis at the helm of one of our numerous tentacles, so to speak, that he will continue his work to convince the Catholic masses that various world markets working, more or less, separately from one another, will one day lead to a global crash. In the meantime, we, the private members of the elite, in conjunction with leaders of the world’s major banks will continue to create inflations and recessions in order to manipulate the world markets, thus proving Francis’ theories. Then, when the global economic crisis has been created, we will manage the crises, which we hope will convince the masses that a New World Order run by us is the best option and only option.” Continue Reading

1

Mourning Lincoln

 

My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Lincoln’s Farewell to Springfield, February 11, 1861

 

 

 

Something for the weekend.  The Funeral March of President Lincoln.  One hundred and fifty years ago the North was convulsed in grief, as it mourned the commander in chief who just had successfully concluded the bloodiest war in American history.  Lincoln belongs to the entire nation, but Illinois has always taken pardonable pride in her favorite son.  On May 1-May 3, 2015 Springfield, Illinois will be commemorating the funeral of Lincoln:

 

Mary Todd Lincoln, prostrated with grief, angrily resisted all suggestions and pleas that Lincoln be buried in Washington, and brought him home to Illinois, along with the body of their son Willie. Continue Reading

14

Francis Cardinal George: Requiescant in Pace

Cardinal George

Francis Cardinal George lost his long battle with cancer and died today.  This is what I wrote about him back in 2012:

 

Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago is alleged to have predicted that for upholding the teachings of Christ he will die in his bed, his successor will die in a prison cell, and his successor will be executed in a public square in Chicago.  Therefore, I am unsurprised that he has written an open letter exploring the “Chicago Values” cited by Mayor Emanuel when he decided to attack the free speech rights of Chick-Fil-A:

 

 

 

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago.  I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval.  Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?  Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it?  I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.”  Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus.  Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will?  What are we re-defining?

It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage.  Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago.  Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female.  The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women.  Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital.  Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.
Continue Reading

5

Army “Optimism” Program Flops

 

Well this is unsurprising:

More than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.

Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as “I rarely count on good things happening to me.” Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

The results stem from resiliency assessments that soldiers are required to take every year. In 2014, for the first time, the Army pulled data from those assessments to help commanders gauge the psychological and physical health of their troops.

The effort produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14% said they are eating right and getting enough rest.

Go here to read the rest.  Armies that are fighting and winning and have confidence in their leaders have high morale.  None of this is true for the Army under Obama.  Obama leaves to the next President a hollow military.

I wonder what Patton would have thought of an Army “optimism” program?  I can guess what he would have said, but such language is not fitting for a family blog.  Instapundit puts it well:

You know what helps morale? An Army that fights and wins. You know what doesn’t? A $287 million 6-year “optimism” program. An army overrun with sociology grads, “resiliency directorates,” diversity officers, and the like is not an army that’s focused on fighting and winning. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: The H Word

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Walter Cardinal Brandmuller has used the H word in regard to Catholics in adulterous marriages being granted Communion:

Can the Church deal with the topic of marriage in a pastoral manner that is different from the continual teaching of the Church? Can the Church at all change the teaching itself without falling herself into heresy?

It is evident that the pastoral practice of the Church cannot stand in opposition to the binding doctrine nor simply ignore it. In the same manner, an architect could perhaps build a most beautiful bridge. However, if he does not pay attention to the laws of structural engineering, he risks the collapse of his construction. In the same manner, every pastoral practice has to follow the Word of God if it does not want to fail. A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic – even if he wears the Roman Purple.

Continue Reading

6

Murder on the High Seas

 

 

The Pope has proclaimed a duty for Italians to welcome “immigrants” entering Italy illegally from North Africa.  Italians might be better advised to consider just whom they are to welcome:

 

 

The incident aboard the vessel, which was carrying about 100 migrants, took place in the Strait of Sicily, between Tunisia and Italy.

According to a group of Nigerian and Ghanaian survivors, a fight broke out over religion, with a group of Muslim passengers threatening the Nigerians and Ghanaians after they declared themselves to be Christians.

“The threats then materialised and 12 people, all Nigerian and Ghanaian, are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean,” the police statement added.

The remaining passengers were rescued and brought to Palermo, where the 15 alleged attackers, who came from Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal, were arrested.The boat, like many of the claptrap vessels flooding Italy`s shores each week with migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, had set out from Libya on Tuesday, according to the survivors.

The police said the distraught Nigerians and Ghanaians told a “dreadful” story of their struggle to escape with their lives “by forcefully resisting attempts to drown them, forming a veritable human chain in some cases.” Continue Reading

3

April 17, 1865: Sherman Meets With Johnston

Sherman and Johnston

 

 

One hundred and fifty years ago news traveled slowly outside of areas with operating telegraphs, and so it was that news of Lincoln’s assassination reached General Sherman in North Carolina on April 17, as he was on his way to discuss with General Joseph E. Johnston the surrender of Johnston’s army.  Here is the portion of Sherman’s memoirs where he discussed what happened at the meeting:

Just as we were entering the car, the telegraph-operator, whose office was up-stairs in the depot-building, ran down to me and said that he was at that instant of time receiving a most important dispatch in cipher from Morehead City, which I ought to see. I held the train for nearly half an hour, when he returned with the message translated and written out. It was from Mr. Stanton, announcing the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the attempt on the life of Mr. Seward and son, and a suspicion that a like fate was designed for General Grant and all the principal officers of the Government. Dreading the effect of such a message at that critical instant of time, I asked the operator if any one besides himself had seen it; he answered No! I then bade him not to reveal the contents by word or look till I came back, which I proposed to do the same afternoon. The train then started, and, as we passed Morris’s Station, General Logan, commanding the Fifteenth Corps, came into my car, and I told him I wanted to see him on my return, as I had something very important to communicate. He knew I was going to meet General Johnston, and volunteered to say that he hoped I would succeed in obtaining his surrender, as the whole army dreaded the long march to Charlotte (one hundred and seventy-five miles), already begun, but which had been interrupted by the receipt of General Johnston’s letter of the 13th. We reached Durham’s, twenty-six miles, about 10 a.m., where General Kilpatrick had a squadron of cavalry drawn up to receive me. We passed into the house in which he had his headquarters, and soon after mounted some led horses, which he had prepared for myself and staff. General Kilpatrick sent a man ahead with a white flag, followed by a small platoon, behind which we rode, and were followed by the rest of the escort. We rode up the Hillsboro’ road for about five miles, when our flag bearer discovered another coming to meet him: They met, and word was passed back to us that General Johnston was near at hand, when we rode forward and met General Johnston on horseback, riding side by side with General Wade Hampton. We shook hands, and introduced our respective attendants. I asked if there was a place convenient where we could be private, and General Johnston said he had passed a small farmhouse a short distance back, when we rode back to it together side by side, our staff-officers and escorts following. We had never met before, though we had been in the regular army together for thirteen years; but it so happened that we had never before come together. He was some twelve or more years my senior; but we knew enough of each other to be well acquainted at once. We soon reached the house of a Mr. Bennett, dismounted, and left our horses with orderlies in the road. Our officers, on foot, passed into the yard, and General Johnston and I entered the small frame-house. We asked the farmer if we could have the use of his house for a few minutes, and he and his wife withdrew into a smaller log-house, which stood close by. Continue Reading

18

Various & Sundry, 4/16/15

– Many are rightfully upset with the two parties in this country, but here’s a reminder that countries with multiple party systems are not fairing any better. Instead of one and a half meddlesome, anti-liberty parties they’ve got five of them in the UK. David Cameron makes John Boehner look like Ted Cruz. No matter the party setup, as long as a significant proportion of the population actively seeks government control at every juncture of life, change is all but impossible.

– Speaking of which, a crystal clear example of why the government gets away with taking more of people’s money: it’s the popular thing to do.

There it is in a nutshell. How much revenue the government collects, the state of the federal deficit or the morality of double taxation aren’t of any concern to Ed Kilgore and his ilk. In the end, the true evil in America is the specter of wealth and success. Purporting to speak for “the commonwealth” in their unwashed masses, liberal spokesmodels are mostly upset at anyone who buys into the “perceived morality of capitalism.” This underpins virtually every argument we have on economics and tax policy. Liberals have their own vision for America and it is one where success is something to be ashamed of and which should be punished wherever it is found. If everyone can’t have everything, then we should all share in the pain regardless of personal merit. The Left embraces socialism wholeheartedly, but most of the time they are at least embarrassed enough about it to lie and come up with some other argument as cover. Kilgore is, in a way, providing a refreshing bit of honesty here.
That doesn’t mean that the effort to repeal the death tax will come without cost. As Noah explained last night, good policy is not always good politics and it would be foolish to completely ignore that warning. It is true that populism is a powerful totem, and during tough economic times it’s easy to wave a red flag in front of the masses and urge them to take up their pitchforks and torches against those they perceive as “the rich.” But everyone with any interest in honest work and the ambition to make a better life for themselves and their family eventually realizes that their own success will become the target if they embrace such policies.

The soak the rich, screw ’em all attitude is not limited to the secular left. Far too many Catholics think obedience to Catholic teaching entails taking as much from the taxpayer, especially the “rich” taxpayer, as possible. I guess the tenth commandment is as out of vogue as the tenth amendment.

– Speaking of issues Catholics foolishly get behind, the living wage/minimum wage comes to mind. In the interests of advancing their agenda, many will claim that Walmart’s low wages are in effect subsidized by the government in the form of food stamps. Eh, not so much.

– Not all Republican politicians are craven cowards. Example Number One: Mike Lee.

We can do this first by influencing the attitudes of those around us, making every effort to persuade friends and neighbors that constitutionally limited government not only matters but is essential to our prosperity as a nation. Second, we have to remind elected representatives in Washington that the power to make laws belongs to Congress, not unaccountable bureaucrats, and encourage them to enact regulatory reform measures like the REINS Act, which would help put Congress make in charge of lawmaking. Finally, we have to bring our knowledge of the Constitution back to the ballot box and vote differently—especially when it comes to federal offices.

This is just the conclusion of an otherwise sterling essay examining the ways we have drifted over the years.

Of course Lee hasn’t single-handedly ended Obamacare or repealed the entirety of the tax code, so he must naturally be as bad as the rest.

– While Lee is right that we’ve gone far astray from the original constitutional design, some suggested remedies are worse than the disease.

Many on the right have contended that a Convention of States is distinct from a constitutional convention. What’s more, they might say, that process could be the only way to rein in the unelected elements of the federal government, like the judiciary or the nation’s unwieldy and proliferating regulatory agencies. Some on the right contend that the Constitution has been so perverted that it is already essentially defunct. But these same conservatives, who often lament the fact that Republican lawmakers are so regularly rolled by left-wing organizations and liberal politicians, would be foolish to vest in these GOP officeholders the authority to remake the system entirely. They would quickly find that conservative politicians who regularly fail to outmaneuver liberals in Congress don’t find their luck has improved on the convention floor.

I have never understood the call for a constitutional convention. There is zero possibility that what would emerge would be an improvement over our current situation. It would open pandora’s box to any number of bad ideas that would only further weaken the nature of our limited constitutional republic.

– Commenter Phillip has brought to our attention the troubling case of a Priest who seems to have been wrongfully convicted, and his inability to become freed.

Chris Matthews is a nut, but we knew that already. What’s funny is that on the left’s own terms the Republican presidential field is probably the most culturally diverse in history, while the Democrats have more of the same white faces. You would think Matthews would be celebrating that diversity, not mocking it.

– Fascinating story about Jackie Robinson. Long story short, a black man was booted by the New York Post for being too biased in favor of Republicans. Times have changed.

Churches vandalized by homosexual activists and/or their supporters. Somehow I don’t see this being national news.

12

PopeWatch: Johnny Rocco

 

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

You hick! I’ll be back pulling strings to get guys elected mayor and governor before you ever get a 10-buck raise. Yeah, how many of those guys in office owe everything to me. I made them. Yeah, I made ’em, just like a — like a tailor makes a suit of clothes. I take a nobody, see? Teach him what to say. Get his name in the papers and pay for his campaign expenses. Dish out a lotta groceries and coal. Get my boys to bring the voters out. And then count the votes over and over again till they added up right and he was elected.

 

 

Johnny Rocco, Key Largo (1948)

 

 

During the Presidential Election post game in 2000, PopeWatch treasured the scene below from the movie Key Largo:

 

Gangster Johnny Rocco, Edward G. Robinson, explains how he made Florida politicians, having “his boys” count the votes in elections and keep counting until the vote came out right.  From a recent interview of Cardinal Maradiaga, a similar mindset exists among supporters of communion for Catholics in adulterous marriages.  Father Z gives us the details:

 

At the Italian site Nuova Bussola, we find the observations of Oscar Card. Rodriguez Maradiaga about the possibility of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Impossible? “No!”, says the Cardinal.

And if the upcoming Synod rejects the proposal, the Kasperite Solution, hey!… maybe there could be a third synod on the question!

And His Eminence seems to be putting a great deal of stock in polls.

I’m in my car in a parking lot, so I can’t do the translation at the time of this posting.

In tutto il mondo, aggiunge Maradiaga, “i sondaggi dicono che la gente non vuole sposarsi, né in Chiesa, né civilmente, e il Vangelo della famiglia deve essere annunciato, perchè è il progetto di Dio e deve essere sommamente considerato dalla Chiesa”.
Il problema “non è, come alcuni media hanno detto, sulla possibilità dei divorziati risposati di accedere all’eucaristia, no, ci sono cose molto più profonde e che devono essere affrontate nel Sinodo”.
Secondo il Card. Maradiaga il medoto del sinodo, che sarebbe quello di “vedere, giudicare e attuare”, potrebbe anche portare alla convocazione di una terza tappa. “Non sappiamo se alla fine del sinodo di ottobre si chiuderà il processo [sinodale], o se il Papa ne convocherà un terzo, potrebbe essere, perchè si tratta di cose molto importanti…”

Ongoing synods until the desired result is obtained? Continue Reading

8

Now He Belongs to the Ages

imagesBMB46NL6

 

Now he belongs to the ages.”  So said Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, who had kept vigil at Lincoln’s deathbed, after Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet.

In hundreds of posts since 2008 at The American Catholic and Almost Chosen People, I have examined various facets of the public life of Abraham Lincoln.  Of course, the most important part of Lincoln’s life came, as it will for each of us, after his death when he stood before God for the particular judgment.  In this life the outcome of that judgment is unknown to us.  However, I think  the record is well-established that during the Civil War Lincoln found his mind and his heart turning increasingly towards God.

Lincoln throughout his life had read the Bible and effortlessly used scriptural quotes in his speaking and writing, both in public and in private.  Lincoln had the Bible in his bones, and often turned to it.  Lincoln’s religious opinions are not simple to discern, however, as Mark Noll in a perceptive article skillfully points out.

In 1846 when Lincoln ran successfully for Congress against a well known Protestant minister, Peter Cartwright, he was attacked as an “infidel” and a scoffer against religion.  In a pamphlet Lincoln responded:  “That I am not a member of any Christian church is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular… I do not think I could myself be brought to support a man for office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, or scoffer at, religion.”  Before the election campaign Lincoln went to one of the revival meetings of Cartwright, probably to scope out the opposition.  During the meeting Cartwright asked all those who were intent on going to Heaven to stand, and Lincoln remained seated.  Cartwright then asked all those who were intent on going to Hell to stand, and Lincoln once again remained seated.  Cartwright then inquired of Lincoln directly where Lincoln intended to go since he stood neither for Heaven nor Hell.  Lincoln responded that he intended to go to Congress.

I have always thought that Mary Todd Lincoln, his wife and most perceptive observer, best understood Lincoln’s religious views:  “From the time of the death of our little Edward, I believe my husband’s heart was directed towards religion & as time passed on – when Mr. Lincoln became elevated to Office – with the care of a great Nation, upon his shoulders – when devastating war was upon us then indeed to my knowledge – did his great heart go up daily, hourly, in prayer to God – for his sustaining power When too – the overwhelming sorrow came upon us, our beautiful bright angelic boy, Willie was called away from us, to his Heavenly Home, with God’s chastising hand upon us – he turned his heart to Christ.”

Certainly Mr. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address gives strong evidence that Lincoln had thought long and very hard about God and human affairs.  Lincoln occasionally gave hints that indicated that he was thinking about his own destiny in the hereafter.  In August of 1864 it looked as if Lincoln was headed to electoral defeat.  A group of Wisconsin politicians visiting the White House suggested that perhaps Lincoln’s prospects would improve if he would agree to drop the Emancipation Proclamation in exchange for the Confederate states returning to the Union.  Lincoln responded briskly:

“I should be damned in time and in eternity were I to do that.  I will keep faith with the gallant black soldiers who have fought and died for this nation at Port Hudson and Olustee. The Proclamation sticks.”

As for the Bible, Lincoln gave frequent public and private comments that indicated his great respect for the book of books.  When Lincoln received the gift of a Bible from freed slaves in Maryland he made the following statement:  “In regard to this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.

In the summer of 1864 Lincoln spent an evening with perhaps his closest friend Joshua F. Speed.  When Speed arrived Lincoln was reading the Bible.  Speed recounted the incident as follows:  “As I entered the room near night, [Lincoln] was sitting near a window reading his Bible. Approaching him, I said, ‘I am glad to see you profitably engaged.’ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I am profitably engaged.’ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘if you have recovered from your skepticism I am sorry to say that I have not!’ Looking me earnestly in the face, and placing his hand upon my shoulder, he said: ‘You are wrong Speed; take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith and you will live and die a happier and better man.’”

Very significant evidence as to the impact on Lincoln of the death of his son Willie and the war is given by Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington that Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln regularly attended.  In response to an inquiry as to whether Lincoln was a scoffer, Gurley replied as follows:  ” I do not believe a word of it. It could not have been true of him while here, for I have had frequent and intimate conversations with him on the Subject of the Bible and the Christian religion, when he could have had no motive to deceive me, and I considered him sound not only on the truth of the Christian religion but on all its fundamental doctrines and teachings. And more than that, in the latter days of his chastened and weary life, after the death of his son Willie, and his visit to the battlefield of Gettysburg, he said, with tears in his eyes, that he had lost confidence in everything but God, and that he now believed his heart was changed, and that he loved the Savior, and, if he was not deceived in himself, it was his intention soon to make a profession of religion.”

So much for the historical record.  When it comes to something of the heart and soul like religion, prose and facts can take us only so far.  Time to call on a poet.

Stephen Vincent Benet 87, four score and seven, years ago wrote an epic poem on the American Civil War, John Brown’s Body.  Courtesy of Project Gutenberg, it is available on line here.  In this section of the poem I think he gets close to the truth of Abraham Lincoln and his turning to God during the war.  Lincoln is sitting in the telegraph office at the War Department anxiously awaiting news of the battle of Antietam: Continue Reading

10

Happy Tax Day!

“This is a question too difficult for a mathematician. It should be asked of a philosopher.”(when asked about completing his income tax form)”  

Albert Einstein

 

 

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once opined that taxes are the price we pay for civilization.  As usual Holmes was being more glib than wise.  Some taxation is needed for civilization;  taxation that becomes oppressive is usually a sign of a civilization in decline.  In the beginning most taxes are instituted for some more or less necessary purpose, at least that is what is claimed.  Over time they simply exist to feed an ever growing government.  Unlike most associations we develop in our lives, government is completely involuntary and always has compulsion at its beck and call to ensure compliance.  It is all too easy over time for government to simply become a mechanism to transfer funds to favored political groups.  Until governments master this technique usually they stay small simply because taxpayers hate paying taxes.  This taxpayer resistance is overcome when government is able to claim the allegiance of large groups that view themselves as net beneficiaries from taxation.   When sufficient funds are not available, governments simply wish them into being through borrowing and the printing press.  The best argument against big government is to closely watch how the funds taken and manufactured are used by the government each fiscal year.  63 % of the federal budget consists of transfer payments from collective Peters to collective Pauls.  Christ noted that we should render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar.  It is instructive that He never breathed a word about the care of the poor being a responsibility of Caesar, instead making it the duty of each of His followers.  Relying upon Caesar to do this task is rather like using an army to provide day care services.  Thus we have the modern welfare states that attempt at great cost to do what people should do for themselves or what should be the province of private charity.  Government thus becomes ever larger and eventually begins to kill its host, the private sector.  So here is to Tax Day, that monument to human hubris, chicanery and avarice!  Continue Reading

4

PopeWatch: Leadership Pathologies

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

PopeWatch despises books that attempt to distill leadership secrets from such diverse individuals as Napoleon, Attila, Lincoln, etc.  The history is invariably shoddy, and the leadership “secrets” usually banal.  However, Gary Hamet at The Harvard Business Review has looked at the verbal flogging given by Pope Francis to the Curia last Christmas and has distilled from it 15 diseases of leadership:

  1. The disease of thinking we are immortal, immune, or downright indispensable, [and therefore] neglecting the need for regular check-ups. A leadership team which is not self-critical, which does not keep up with things, which does not seek to be more fit, is a sick body. A simple visit to the cemetery might help us see the names of many people who thought they were immortal, immune, and indispensable! It is the disease of those who turn into lords and masters, who think of themselves as above others and not at their service. It is the pathology of power and comes from a superiority complex, from a narcissism which passionately gazes at its own image and does not see the face of others, especially the weakest and those most in need. The antidote to this plague is humility; to say heartily, “I am merely a servant. I have only done what was my duty.
  1. Another disease is excessive busyness. It is found in those who immerse themselves in work and inevitably neglect to rest a while.  Neglecting needed rest leads to stress and agitation. A time of rest, for those who have completed their work, is necessary, obligatory and should be taken seriously: by spending time with one’s family and respecting holidays as moments for recharging.
  1. Then there is the disease of mental and [emotional] “petrification”.   It is found in leaders who have a heart of stone, the stiff-necked;  in those who in the course of time lose their interior serenity, alertness and daring, and hide under a pile of papers, turning into paper pushers and not men and women of compassion. It is dangerous to lose the human sensitivity that enables us to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! Because as time goes on, our hearts grow hard and become incapable of loving all those around us. Being a humane leader means having the sentiments of humility and unselfishness, of detachment and generosity.
  1. The disease of excessive planning and of functionalism. When a leader plans everything down to the last detail and believes that with perfect planning things will fall into place, he or she becomes an accountant or an office manager. Things need to be prepared well, but without ever falling into the temptation of trying to eliminate spontaneity and serendipity, which is always more flexible than any human planning. We contract this disease because it is easy and comfortable to settle in our own sedentary and unchanging ways.

Continue Reading

Abraham Lincoln: February 12, 1809-April 15, 1865

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head;

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

But I, with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.
Walt Whitman
19

Various & Sundry, 4/15/15

– Cancel the primaries, folks, Walker has it all sewn up. I jest, but the horserace stuff really bothers me. I’m as guilty as anyone, and I’m not helping matters with four different links to stories related to the presidential election in some way, but is it too much to ask that we wait a little while before digging seriously into poll numbers?

– I’m extremely critical of Rand Paul, but if he is able to turn the abortion narrative on its head, then kudos.

But Wasserman Schultz’s feigned confidence on the issue of abortion politics was betrayed when she channeled Mitt Romney just a few seconds later. “At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that voters are going to be deciding who they’re going to vote for for president and whether a candidate has their back on this issue,” the DNC chairwoman said of abortion. “It’s more going to be on jobs and the economy.”

You know we are witnessing a tectonic shift in American politics regarding right to life issues when the progenitor of 2012’s War on Women and a self-described champion of “reproductive justice” sounds more like a Republican than Republicans. Wasserman Schultz would rather take the issue of abortion off the table entirely than be faced with the prospect of alienating her party’s rabidly pro-abortion base.

I’m not as sure as Rothman that the tide has turned yet. I’ll note that the polling data has always been more favorable to pro-lifers, and has consistently shown that those whose primary issue of concern is abortion tend to vote pro-life rather than pro-abortion. What has stung Republicans is the, ugh, narrative. It’s about time someone took the fight to the Democrats and put them on the defensive, where they should be, as they are the ones truly on the fringes when it comes to this issue.

– Jonah Goldberg says its only a matter of time before we hear from the Hillarycons.

Since then, the caliber of defectors have proved to be less and less impressive. That’s not to say that some weren’t sincere, but generally speaking their public arguments for switching to the other side were not very persuasive and often at odds with their real motivations. Douglas Kmiec is probably the most notorious example of an “ObamaCon,” at least among pro-lifers (he famously defended Obama’s vote in support of partial birth abortion, a hard case to make for someone calling himself a Catholic pro-lifer). Obama rewarded him with an ambassadorship to Malta, inspiring any of us to quip that it profits a man nothing to trade his soul for the whole world, but for Malta . . . ? Anyway, it will be interesting to see if Hillary Clinton can inspire similar conversions this time around.

Speaking of old Dougie, how is his vice presidential candidacy coming along?

– Hilllary Clinton: faux champion of the poor. I’m not sure that stories like these, which accurately reflect the hypocrisy of Madame Clinton, really have much of an impact on the electorate. By now most people know she’s a phony, and the LIVs who don’t are lost causes.

– David French wants to bring some common sense to the topic of police shootings. This is absurd of course. We demand nothing short narrative-based journalism steeped in ideological hand-wringing.

We live in some scary times. The media are more invested in digging up dirt on ordinary joes (and janes) expressing opinions than they are in vetting actual candidates for the highest office in the land.