2

PopeWatch: Invitation

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

 

Just days after Catholic internet personality Michael Voris revealed that he had been actively involved in homosexuality before his reversion to the faith, sources tell EOTT that the founder of The Vortex has been inundated with emails by members of the Roman Curia inviting him to visit the Vatican.

“We thought it might do him some good to just get away for a while,” one official said. “Sometimes you just gotta get away, you know? You gotta get away with some buddies, drink some beer, shoot some pool…you know, guy stuff. Maybe toss a couple throw pillows on the floor and watch a little Guys and Dolls on DVD, Lemon Drop Martinis…”

After being asked about why the sudden interest in a man that many Church officials criticized in the past, the official said, “Criticized? Who, us? No, no, we never criticized him. He’s one of us, after all. I mean…one of us as in Catholic. He’s Catholic and we’re Catholic. One of us in that way. After all, there’s no other way for him to be one of us, but to be Catholic. And a man. We’re all straight here in the Curia is what I’m getting at. What’s that? Past life, you say? He mentioned that it was part of his past as in, no longer…Oh, I see.”

At press time, Members of the Roman Curia have withdrawn their invitations, claiming they were busy washing their hair that night. Continue Reading

8

Faith Is Not Dead In Hollywood

Faith based films have seen a marked increase in Hollywood in the last several years. Critics were quick to dismiss the success of the Passion of the Christ some 12 years ago claiming its success was only caused by controversy, and the bankrolling of the picture by a celebrity like Mel Gibson. However, a few short years later came Fireproof and Courageous.  Both these films had an estimated budget of 1-2 million dollars and they grossed about $33,000,000. In 2011 a subtle pro-life film October Baby came out and moved the genre along to more success.

This set up the wildly successful 2014 which included films like God’s not Dead, Heaven is for Real, Mom’s Night Out etc.  The success continued in 2015 and 2016. Word is the big studios are now reaching out to small faith based companies to see if they forge partnerships, which while helpful also presents some serious concerns for faith based companies.

In full disclosure, the writers and producers of God’s not Dead are friends of mine who a few years ago came to a talk I gave at Family Theater in Hollywood, and then took my wife and me to dinner after reading one of screenplays. In a faith based world filled with Evangelicals, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, as well as the crew at Family Theater in Hollywood are Catholic.  For those interested in Family Theater, you might want to read my past article on the late Father Patrick Peyton , the Rosary priest who is on the road to canonization.

In secular 2016, it is hard to believe how well received Father Peyton was in Hollywood.  Family Theater is where James Dean and William Shatner got their starts. A trip inside Family Theater affords one an array of pictures from Hollywood’s Golden Era when Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and Grace Kelly all starred in Family Theater production films. A side note, tucked away in closet at Family Theater is an old film splicer. Rumor has it a young film student from USC named George Lucas used it to edit a Family Theater production film featuring a recently arrived young Canadian actor named William Shatner.

Everyone has their own story on how they ended up in the faith based realm. Chuck and Cary worked with the likes of Sylvester Stallone and other action oriented films for years until they could no longer resist the call to do faith based films. While they like Stallone, too few other people had the heart or character of Rocky Balboa in Hollywood. The initial years were tough, especially when hardly anyone was doing faith based films, they literally went into the valley before they could get back up to see the Promised Land. Needless to say, many thought they had lost their minds saying goodbye to the mainstream and taking the road less traveled.

Some readers might recall my initial 2014 review of God’s not Dead. The film made on a budget of $1,000,000 that initially generated a US box office figure of $60,000,000 and when all the worldwide receipts were accounted including foreign box office, DVD, movie subscription services etc totaled over$100,000,000. Generally writers and producers don’t see the kind of big money on an out of the blue success story like God’s not Dead. It comes later. If one thinks politics can be dirty, one needs to understand how the movie and music industry works.

Some film critics, even those in the faith based community complain that some of the scripts can be predictable, and perhaps the faith based angle needs to be more subtle, grittier and more provocative. Most faith based writers have no qualms with this argument. They are often put in a Catch 22, they either write a film that would be approved by faith based film companies like Pure Flix or risk the big studios saying a more subtle faith based approach is still too “faithful” for them.

Some secular critics showed nothing but venom for God’s not Dead, ( a Variety review actually used the words “Nazi propaganda film” to describe a scene) and the just released God’s not Dead 2 claiming Christians aren’t persecuted by the secular world. Then stories emerged that literally came right out of the plot lines of both films. Yet, these militant secularists give no apology.

While the critics of faith based films will always be sharpening their pens and swords, there is reason to believe that some of the Big Studios are seeing the light–or at least the financial possibilities. As mentioned above, some of the big time Hollywood studios are beginning to reach out to smaller faith based studios. Also, more faith based film companies are emerging. In addition up and comers like Nathan Leon, a talented writer, producer  and director received some notice for his film/documentary Sidewalk Chronicles on Unplanned Pregnancies which led to adoptions that positively changed the lives of so many. He and many others like him are generating some buzz in Tinseltown.

Indeed I met Leon and many other young talented men and women, while I was out in Hollywood a few weeks ago. I had been invited invited by Chuck and Cary for their premier party for God’s not Dead 2, over dinner they shared with me their big plans. They are literally this week putting the fishing touches on God’s not Dead 3 which should start to film in a month or so and be out in theaters next March or April. Also, they have an ambitious blueprint for the future and are seeking investors for their own studio and several projects are already in the works. Who knows where there this will all lead, but there are shoots and blossoms being seen in Hollywood. In a town known for fully embracing the dark side, shoots and blossoms of faith are a very good thing.

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PopeWatch: Kasper’s Victory Dance

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa explains how Cardinal Kasper has emerged victorious in his quest to give Communion to Catholics in adulterous marriages:

 

The German Option of the Argentine Pope

ROME, April 28, 2016 – The definitive confirmation of Pope Francis’s endorsement of the German solution to the crucial question of communion for the divorced and remarried has come from Germany’s most famous cardinal and theologian, Walter Kasper, in an interview published on April 22 in the Aachen newspaper “Aachener Zeitung”:

> Kardinal Kasper: Was Franziskus von der Kirche und Europa erwartet

An interview summarized in English here:

> Kasper: Pope Intends “Not to Preserve Everything as it has Been”

Thanks to the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Lætitia” – Kasper said – the German bishops now have “a tail wind to help solve such situations in a humane way.”

And he recounted this revealing episode. Some time ago, a priest of his acquaintance had decided not to prohibit a remarried mother from receiving communion herself on the day of her daughter’s first communion. And he himself, Kasper, had helped that priest to make this decision, certain that he was “absolutely right.” The cardinal then reported the matter to the pope, who approved of the decision and said: “That is where the pastor has to make the decision.”

So “the door is open” for admission of the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, Kasper continued. “There is also some freedom for the individual bishops and bishops’ conferences. Not all Catholics think the way we Germans think. Here [in Germany] something can be permissible which is forbidden in Africa. Therefore, the pope gives freedom for different situations and future developments.”

*

Between Kasper and Jorge Mario Bergoglio there is much more than just the occasional contact.

In his last in-flight press conference, on the way back from the Greek island of Lesbos, Francis said he had felt “annoyance” and “sadness” over the importance given by the media to communion for the divorced and remarried.

And yet this has happened precisely on account of the pope’s decision to entrust to Kasper – for decades the leader of proponents of a decisive change in this matter – the opening talk at the consistory of cardinals in February of 2014.

That dramatic consistory was followed by two synods that laid bare the stark divisions within the Church hierarchy. But in Francis’s mind, the script was already written. And it is that which can now be read in “Amoris Lætitia,” the centerpiece of which is precisely the eighth chapter, composed in the typically vague and shifting form of Jorge Mario Bergoglio when he wants to open and not to close a “process,” but that now is leading Kasper and the Germans to say with absolute certainty that they have “the wind at their backs.”

Of course, not all the cardinals and bishops of Germany agree with Kasper. Fellow cardinal and theologian Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, is also German, and has made it known repeatedly – most recently in a book issued a few days before the publication of “Amoris Lætitia” – that he is in radical disagreement with those who, by absolving the divorced and remarried and admitting them to communion, in point of fact undermine the foundations not of one but of three sacraments, marriage, penance, and the Eucharist.

But by now it is as clear as day that for Francis Cardinal Müller isn’t worth a thing, in spite of his role as guardian of doctrine and of the useless toil with which he sent the pope dozens of corrective notes for the draft of the exhortation, which had been given to him in advance merely by virtue of his office.

In fact, for the official presentation of “Amoris Lætitia” to the world on the day of its publication, the pope called not Müller but another cardinal and theologian of the German-speaking area, Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna.

And a few days later, during the flight from Lesbos to Rome, Francis once again proposed Schönborn as the main exegete of the post-synodal exhortation, he being a “great theologian [who] knows well the doctrine of the faith,” as the pope described him. To the question of whether for the divorced or remarried there now is or is not the possibility, formerly precluded, of receiving communion, the pope responded with a peremptory and for once unmistakable: “Yes. Period.” But he recommended that none other than Schönborn be consulted for a more detailed reply.

And not by accident. Because at the synod last October it was precisely the archbishop of Vienna, in agreement with Kasper, who thought up in the “Circulus germanicus” the formulas of apparent respect for the traditional magisterium of the Church but at the same time open to change – capable of getting around Müller’s objections –  which then went into the “Relatio finalis” of the synod and finally into “Amoris Lætitia,” always in that deliberately ambiguous form that however now allows Kasper’s party to chant victory and Müller and the others on his side to suffer a scorching defeat.

*

On opposing side of the victorious German solution there has been only one bishop so far who has reacted by going right to the heart of the question, not simply entrenching himself behind the “non-magisterial” nature – and therefore able to be interpreted only in the light of the previous magisterium of the Church – of “Amoris Lætitia,” as Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, for example, has instead decided to do.

This bishop is, curiously, also of German ancestry. He is the auxiliary of Astana in Kazakhstan, Athanasius Schneider.

The complete text of the remarks by Bishop Schneider came out in Italian on April 24, on the online agency Corrispondenza Romana” directed by Professor Roberto de Mattei:

> “Amoris lætitia”: chiarire per evitare una confusione generale

And in English the following day on the blog “Veri Catholici”:

> Bishop Athanasius Schneider speaks on “Amoris lætitia”

On the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, Schneider’s criticism of the “confusion” produced by “Amoris Lætitia” is very tough.

“The confusion reaches its apex,” he writes, “since all, whether the supporters of the admission of the divorced and remarried to Communion, or those who oppose them, sustain that the doctrine of the Church in this matter has not been modified.”

Schneider sets up a comparison with the spread of the Arian heresy in the 4th century. In 357, the confusion reached the extreme when Pope Liberius endorsed an ambiguous formula concerning the divinity of Jesus, which made Saint Jerome say, describing the state of disorientation at the time: “The world groaned and found itself, with shock, to have become Arian.”

At that juncture – Schneider notes – “St. Hilary of Poitiers was the only Bishop to undertake grave remonstrations with Pope Liberius for such ambiguous acts.”

But today as well – continues the auxiliary of Astana – the situation is such that some might exclaim like Saint Jerome: “The whole world groans and finds itself, with shock, to have accepted divorce in practice.”

So just as in the 4th century “St. Basil the Great made an urgent appeal to the Pope of Rome to indicate with his own words the clear direction to obtain finally a unity of thought in faith and charity,” so also today “one can consider legitimate an appeal to our dear pope, Francis, the Vicar of Christ and ‘sweet Christ upon earth’ (St. Catherine of Sienna), so that he order the publication of an authentic interpretation of ‘Amoris lætitia’, which should necessarily contain an explicit declaration of the disciplinary principle of the universal and infallible magisterium in regarding to the admission to the sacraments for the divorced and separated, as it has been formulated in n. 84 of ‘Familiaris consortio’.”

Which at no. 84, “incomprehensibly absent from ‘Amoris lætitia’”, says:

“Reconciliation in the sacrament of penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who… take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

*

Under the circumstances it nevertheless appears unlikely that Pope Francis would accept such an appeal.

Continue Reading

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Who Is the Buddy of the GOP Establishment?

 

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One of the frustrating thing about this campaign for sentient observers is the absurd claim of the crony capitalist Donald Trump to be an outsider running against the establishment.  John Boehner, former Speaker of the House, put paid to that notion yesterday:

A few months ago I asked a Washington insider for the scoop on Ted Cruz. His first words were, “No one likes Ted.” Well, John Boehner certainly doesn’t:

The longtime Ohio powerhouse had not been very outspoken on the race since retiring last year, but he held little back when asked about the Texas senator and underdog GOP presidential candidate during a forum at Stanford University.

“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” he said, according to The Stanford Daily.

Boehner also called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.” Trump, on the other hand, he described as a “texting buddy.” Continue Reading

4

Danegeld

 

The thirtieth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere and hereOne of the many reasons to read Kipling is due to how much of his writing stands the test of time.  A good example of this is Dane-geld written in 1911.  Danegeld was a tax levied by the Kings of Wessex to buy peace with the various invading warbands of Danes in the ninth through the eleventh century.  The Danegeld of course convinced the various Danes in Denmark that it was a good idea to invade England, be bought off in gold by a Saxon king and then to settle in England and repeat the process whenever money ran short.  One would think that the bad consequences of giving way to such extortion should be obvious, but it is amazing how often this simple lesson has been repeated down the centuries.  The Obama administration has paid Danegeld of a sort to various enemies, or would be enemies, of the US, including Iran, Russia, North Korea, thus having the US pay for trouble down the road.

Kipling is not merely to be read for amusement during an idle hour.  Read carefully he often has wisdom useful for today.  Here is the text of Dane-geld: Continue Reading

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Catholics Who Support Bernie: You Are Idiots

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Either that or you don’t give a damn about fighting abortion:

Sanders stated, “I think we should expand funding for Planned Parenthood. And it is no secret, that in states all over this country, in a dozen different ways, there are governors and legislatures who are trying to make it impossible for a woman to control her own body. I will use the Department of Justice to go after those states, in every way that I legally can.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Bishop Athanasius Schneider

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Voice of the Family is hosting the English translation of Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s reflections on Amoris Laetitia.  Go here to view the translation  They indicate that the Bishop has given permission for the text to be shared widely, so I have taken the liberty of setting it forth below.  Here are his reflections:

 

 

 

 

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (AL), which contains a plethora of spiritual and pastoral riches with regard to life within marriage and the Christian family in our times, has unfortunately, within a very short time, led to very contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate.

There are bishops and priests who publicly and openly declare that AL represents a very clear opening-up to communion for the divorced and remarried, without requiring them to practice continence. In their opinion, it is this aspect of sacramental practice, which, according to them, is now to undergo a significant change that gives AL its truly revolutionary character. Interpreting AL with reference to irregular couples, a president of a Bishops’ Conference has stated, in a text published on the website of the same Bishops’ Conference: “This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting.  It can and should happen immediately”.

This opinion was further confirmed by the recent declarations of Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., after the Synod of Bishops in 2015, that the Synod had established the “foundations” for the access of divorced and remarried couples to communion by “opening a door” that had still been closed during the previous Synod in 2014. Now, as Father Spadaro alleges in his commentary on AL, his prediction has been confirmed. There are rumours that Father Spadaro was a member of the editorial group behind AL.

The way to abusive interpretations appears to have been paved by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself, who said, during the official presentation of AL in Rome, with regard to irregular unions, that: “My great joy as a result of this document resides in the fact that it coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’”. Such a statement suggests that there is no clear difference between a valid, sacramental marriage and an irregular union, between venial and mortal sin. Continue Reading

19

Ted Cruz Names Carly Fiorina as Veep Running Mate

 

Taking a tip from Ronald Reagan’s playbook, Ted Cruz names Carly Fiorina as his running mate.  Back in 1976 Reagan was behind Ford.  Prior to the Republican convention he named Senator Richard Schweiker (R.Pa) as his running mate.  Schweiker was a moderate Republican, although a strong pro-lifer.  Reagan came close to taking the nomination away from Ford at the convention.  Interestingly, Schweiker’s voting record became much more conservative thereafter.  In 1981 President Reagan appointed him as Secretary of HHS.

So, will this work?  Quien sabe?  It will get Cruz a lot of publicity going into the crucial Indiana primary.  Fiorina is an articulate and tough campaigner, and she should be getting intensive coverage for the next few weeks.  Trump, in the truly classless manner that he normally displays, will probably go over the top in his attacks against Fiorina.  All in all, I like the move.  It is unusual, but when you are behind doing the usual is a recipe for slow defeat.   Better to be bold and do the unexpected.

5

PopeWatch: Peronist Pope

 

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa reprints an extract from an  interesting article on the Peronist vision of the Pope:

The chosen people

by Loris Zanatta

Bergoglio is Peronist? Absolutely he is. But not because he took to it in his youth. He is so in the sense that Peronism is the movement that sanctioned the triumph of Catholic Argentina over its liberal counterpart, that saved the Christian values of the people from the cosmopolitanism of the élite. Peronism therefore embodies for Bergoglio the healthy conjunction between people and nation in defense of a temporal order based on Christian values and immune from that [. . .] Protestant liberalism whose ethos projects itself as a colonial shadow over the Catholic identity of Latin America.

But then Bergoglio is populist? Absolutely he is, provided that this concept is properly understood. [. . .] On his great journeys of 2015 – Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay; Cuba and United States; Kenya, Uganda, Central Africa – Francis used the word “pueblo” 356 times. The pope’s populism is already present in his words. But Bergoglio is less familiar with another lexicon: he said “democracy” only 10 times, “individual” 14 times, mostly with a negative connotation. [. . .] Are these  numbers meaningless? Not so much. They confirm for us what could already be guessed: that the notion of “pueblo” is the keystone of his social consciousness. [. . .]

His people is good, virtuous, and poverty confers an innate moral superiority upon it. It is in the popular neighborhoods, the pope says, that wisdom, solidarity, values of the Gospel are preserved. It is there that Christian society is found, the deposit of faith.

Moreover, that “pueblo” is not for him a sum of individuals, but a community that transcends them, a living organism animated by an ancient, natural faith, where the individual is dissolved in the whole. As such, that “pueblo” is the chosen people that safeguards an identity in peril. It is no coincidence that identity is the other pillar of Bergoglio’s populism; an eternal identity impervious to the unfolding of history, on which the “pueblo” has a monopoly; an identity to which every human institution or constitution must bend in order not to lose the legitimacy conferred on it by the “pueblo.”

It goes without saying that this romantic notion of “pueblo” is debatable, just as the moral superiority of the poor is. It doesn’t take an anthropologist to understand that popular communities have, like every community, vices and virtues. And the pontiff himself acknowledges this, contradicting himself, when he establishes a cause-and-effect relationship between poverty and fundamentalist terrorism; a relationship that moreover is improbable.

But idealizing the “pueblo” helps to simplify the complexity of the world, something in which the forms of populism have no rivals. The border between good and evil will then appear so diaphanous as to unleash the enormous power inherent in every Manichaean cosmology. This is how the pope contrasts the good “people” with a predatory and egotistical oligarchy. A transfigured oligarchy, devoid of face and name, the essence of evil as the pagan devotee of the God money: consumption is consumerism, the individual is selfish, attention to money is soulless worship. [. . .]

What is the greatest harm caused by this oligarchy? The corruption of the “pueblo.” The oligarchy undermines its virtues, homogeneity, religious spontaneity, like a tempter devil. Seen in this way, Bergoglio’s crusades against it, inasmuch as they emulate the language of postcolonial criticism, are heirs of the anti-liberal crusade that hardliner Catholics conducted a couple of centuries ago. Something that is not strange at all: the Catholic anti-liberalism that on the secular level sympathized with the anti-liberal ideology of the moment, fascism and communism first of all, naturally embraces with ardor today the anti-globalization lingo.

Of course, there is in the history of Catholicism a robust Catholic-liberal tradition, devoted to political secularism, to the rights of the individual, to economic and civil liberty. But such is not the family that saw Francis grow up. If the sacred college had elected a Chilean pope, who knows, perhaps he would have fished around in that cultural universe. But the Argentine Church is the tomb of the liberal Catholics, killed by the wave of national populism. [. . .]

In the background, meanwhile, many things are happening and raising enormous questions on the foundation of Francis’s vision of the world and on the notion of “pueblo” that inspires it; and therefore on its efficacy in restoring to the Church its lost stature.

Modern societies, including those of the southern hemisphere, are ever more articulated and pluralistic. Speaking of a “pueblo” that preserves its pure and religiously imbued identity is often a myth that does not correspond to any reality.

Continuing to consider the middle classes, growing by the millions and anxious for more consumption and better opportunities, colonial classes that are enemies of the “pueblo,” makes no sense. So many poor of yesterday are in the middle class today. [. . .]

Also on the political level, the forms of populism with which the pope shares such affinity have suffered severe blows, especially in Latin America, so much so as to prompt the suspicion that they are being orphaned by the “pueblo” that they invoke.

It is no accident that Bergoglio appeared to be disoriented when a journalist asked him for his view on the election of Mauricio Macri in Argentina and on the new anti-populist course that some think is beginning in Latin America. “I have heard a few opinions” – the pope stammered – “but on this geopolitics, at this moment I don’t know what to say. There are a number of Latin American countries in this somewhat changing situation, it is true, but I cannot explain it.”

At first glance he is not an enthusiast of this, considering the rather more secular and cosmopolitan profile of the forces that are coming forward to replace the forms of populism in crisis. But it is with these that the Holy Father will have to come to grips. Adored by the faithful, but he too an orphan, at least a bit, of the “pueblo.” Continue Reading

3

Monmouth College

 

My bride and I took yesterday off from the law mines to attend the Honors Awards ceremonies at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, in which our twenty-one year old “baby girl” was participating.  (Fortunately our daughter inherited both her looks and her brains from her mother rather than me.)  The ceremony was wonderful.  You haven’t lived until you have seen an academic procession, led by a student clad in a plaid mortarboard and a white gown carrying the American flag, conducted as bagpipers play Scotland the Brave.

Founded in 1853 by Scottish Presbyterians, Monmouth was co-ed from the first.  During the Civil War its student body was almost entirely female when male students, and many of the faculty, enlisted as a body in the Union Army.  Two of them would earn Medals of Honor during the conflict.

It is a fine school offering degrees in most areas for undergraduates.  Its tuition is a scary 35K a year.  However, Monmouth works hard at making the college affordable.  I have never paid more than 8000 a year out of pocket at Monmouth.  That contrasts to the approximately 21000 a year I was paying out each year for the undergraduate education of my son at my alma mater, the University of Illinois.  This comes about due to the mixture of scholarship and grants awarded to our daughter.   In that she was by no means exceptional, as some 95% of the student body receives assistance to make Monmouth one of the better academic choices for families on a budget.  Our daughter will graduate almost entirely debt free.

More important than the cost is the quality of education which is quite superior.  Our daughter loves Monmouth and if I had known about it back in 2010, our son probably would have attended there also.

The campus is lovely and there is a good alum support system after college for Monmouth grads.  The total student body is about one thousand, perfect for students who do not want to be lost in the crowd.  Our daughter reports good one on one interaction with her professors.

I heartily recommend Monmouth to any parent looking for a good college for their offspring at a reasonable cost. Continue Reading

9

Five State Sweep for Trump

 

 

This surreal election year continues with Trump victorious in the primaries of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.  After tonight Trump has about 950 delegates pledged to support him on the first ballot.  He needs 1237 to get a first ballot win.  There are 622 delegates left to be awarded.

In other news Trump apparently has rejected attempts by his new advisor, Paul Manafort, to make him appear “more presidential”.  Trump the ego-maniac of course only wants yes-men and yes-women around him, and it was predictable that he would reject any attempts to have his campaign strategy be anything other than the next fool thing he wishes to utter.  In almost any other election year such a “strategy” would be disastrous, but Trump is riding a wave of voter discontent and the normal rules of politics appear not to apply to him, at least not yet.

6

Ignorance as Brave New World

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Much of leftist politics today consists of leftists stating that what is manifestly not true must be believed with a religious fervor that would put to shame most Trappist monks.  Dave Griffey at his blog Daffey Thoughts reminds us of the essential element in all this:

Thinly disguised as offended PC sensitivity warriors.  John C. Wright does the take down here.  Yep.  I’ve said already that much of the modern Left is about convincing us that 2+2=4 is hate speech, must be punished, and those who insist on resisting the new math are the baddies.

Why?  Because if you want to follow the basic trend of most Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment era revolutions by setting up a Despotic government where liberty and Utopia were promised, and furthermore want to do so in a nation that was the capstone of 2500 years of a long, agonizing march toward freedom and liberty, you have to make the population stupid enough to declare that 2+2=4 is the most evil, hateful thing imaginable and it’s good that we finally have laws that will punish those who insist on saying 2+2=4.

Much of what Mr. Wright says is, of course, spot on.  The idea that PC Warriors demand courtesy when they provide none, they demand respect when the provide the polar opposite to the traditions and beliefs they hate, and demand tolerance for their eradication of tolerance and diverse opinions, should be the neon warning signs for a generation.

It’s a testimony to our education systems, our entertainment industry and our media that so many Americans are ready to rewrite the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, and even the entire notion of a Bill of Rights because we’ve been told it could be hateful to say men can’t have babies.  It takes one stupid nation for that to happen.  Or it takes a nation that is the product of the last 50 years of concerted effort on the part of those same educational, entertainment and media industries to be that stupid. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-Overall Thoughts

 

 

 

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There is no way to mince words in regard to Amoris Laetitia:   it is a disaster for the Church.  In the Exhortation, the Pope and his ghost writers engage in a lengthy exercise to find excuses to disregard the clear command of Christ in regard to divorce and remarriage.  That much of this is done with a wink and a nod merely adds mendacity to the charges that could be brought against this document.  The reasoning, to use a charitable term for the arguments made by the Pope and his ghost writers, could be used in reference to any sin imaginable.  The Catholic Church has always taught that both confession and a firm intention at amendment of life were necessary for the forgiveness of sins.  Pope Francis seems to do away with amendment, and although it is not completely clear from this turgid, twisted document, he seems to be arguing that, depending upon the peculiar situation of a particular individual, what is clearly sin may not be sin, at least not mortal sin, in regard to them.  Thus even the confessional may not be necessary in many cases, since confession is in reference to sin, and who are we to judge?  This stands the teaching of the Church on its head.

Some people are content to focus on the true parts of the Exhortation and do their very best to ignore the rest.  This is understandable for people who find it heartbreaking that a Pope put his name to this dangerous mess, but it is ultimately mistaken.  The only reason why the Exhortation was written is because the Pope regards the position of Catholics in adulterous marriages to be a crisis for the Church.  That on his way to addressing that question he dispenses some truisms and bromides is of no consequence.  Rather than calling upon Catholics in adulterous marriages to repentance and amendment he changes the teaching of the Church.  That sad fact is all one needs to know about Amoris Laetitia.

 

Here in one post is PopeWatch’s stripped down version of Amoris Laetitia with the commentary of PopeWatch: Continue Reading

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April 26, 1777: Sybil Ludington’s Ride

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The eldest of twelve children, Sybil Ludington grew up in a household of ardent patriots, her father being the commander of the local militia in Duchess County New York.  On April 26, 1777 she became, at age 16, a heroine of the Revolution when she rode forty miles to her father’s militia encampment at night on her horse Star to spread the alarm that the British were moving on Danbury Connecticut.  During her ride she successfully defended herself against a highwayman using a long stick.  She used the same stick to bang on the door of houses along the way to let the occupants know that the British were on the march,  Thanks to her, her father Colonel Henry Ludington chased after the British with 400 of his militia.  They were unable to intercept the British before their attack on Danbury, but they, along with other militia units, harassed the British as they retreated to New York.  The campaign is considered a turning point that helped ensure firm patriot control in Connecticut.  Sybil received the personal thanks of George Washington. Continue Reading

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April 25, 1976: Saving the Flag

I am not much of a baseball fan, but I have always remembered Cubs centerfielder Rick Monday saving the flag from two loons who sought to burn it on the field during a game on April 25, 1976 between the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Field.   When Monday came to bat the next time in the game he received a standing ovation from the crowd.   The Dodgers went on to win the game 5-4 in ten innings, but Rick Monday, nonetheless, went home a winner.

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 11-Conclusion

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The conclusion of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

301.  People living in shack ups, the Pope refers to them as “irregular unions”, can’t simply be considered to be living in mortal sin because of possible mitigating factors.  (When it comes to sin the human mind can come up with infinite excuses for such conduct.  The Church never bought into that, except as a possible lessening of the penance imposed in the confessional.  Pope Francis takes this aspect of the priest-penitent relationship and uses it to argue that mortal sin is not mortal sin.  He clearly indicates that he is not referencing as a mitigating factor ignorance that what is being done is sinful, which would be the only legitimate factor which would cause someone not to be in a state of sin in such an adulterous marriage.)

302.  More of this rubbish.

303.  Personal conscience uber alles.

304.  Rules are sometimes not rules for the individuals involved.  (A rather confused paragraph.  Arguing that white is really black tends to be a fairly complicated exercise.)

305. “For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would be speak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.”  (Note the scare quotes around irregular when referring to people in adulterous unions.  The Pope argues like a juvenile in many cases.  This passage obviously tells priests that if they fail to give communion to people living in shack ups in mortal sin, they do so at their jeopardy.  This Pope will make the priests of our Church co-conspirators with him in ignoring the clear command of Christ.) Continue Reading

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A Century of Anzac Days

Today is Anzac Day, in Australia and New Zealand.   It commemorates the landing of the New Zealand and Australian troops at Gallipoli in World War I.  Although the effort to take the Dardanelles was ultimately unsuccessful, the Anzac troops demonstrated great courage and tenacity, and the ordeal the troops underwent in this campaign has a vast meaning to the peoples of New Zealand and Australia.

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.

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.   American veterans I have spoken to who have fought beside Australian and New Zealand units have uniformly told me that they could choose no better troops to have on their flank in a battle.

The last of the Allied troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli on January 8, 1916.  The first observations of Anzac Day occurred in Australia and New Zealand on April 25 of that year.  In Australia and New Zealand were largely organized by troops recovering from wounds, schoolchildren and the families of men who had fallen in the Dardanelles.  2000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through London, the papers designating them Knights of Gallipoli.  Front line units of Anzac troops in France did their best to solemnize the day.

This reaction was truly remarkable.  It is not unusual to recall fondly a battle where a nation wins.  Doing so for a campaign which was an utter failure is truly remarkable.  However, the peoples of New Zealand and Australia show wisdom in having this commemoration each year.  Wars and battles, come and go as the years pass, and the issues surrounding them become the province of historians when the veterans of the conflict are no longer in this Vale of Tears.  However, the legacy of their courage, ingenuity and good cheer in adversity remain to the descendants of those who fought.  It is an old truism that war brings out the very worst and the very best in men.  On Anzac Day two nations recall the very best that their men a century ago had to give, and that is something worth remembering. Continue Reading

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A Review of Bill Kassel’s My Brother’s Keeper

I have known Bill Kassel for about 10 years. He has been a big help to me in my publishing and writing efforts. The one thing everyone needs to know about Bill is that when he decides to take on a project, it is going to be done right. Besides being an accomplished writer, Bill is a top notch musician and was spotted as such at a very early age. You get the point Bill knows what he is doing.

In his latest quest for a lofty project, Bill didn’t decide to tackle the Iliad or the Odyssey but in a way he tried to tackle the faith based version of a tremendous struggle and journey. Bill’s latest book is entitled; My Brother’s Keeper which is a somewhat fictional account of the early life of the Holy Family.

Bill must have spent endless hours reading through early Christian history, non-Canonical writings and apocryphal statements about the Holy Family which have nearly been lost in the mists of history. In addition, he also sought the advice of noted Catholic, Evangelical and Jewish scholars. What we are left with his a very serious three part work on the life the Holy Family might have lived, since the Gospels only give us a hint of what life must have been like for Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Think about it, you are reading the e-version (soon to be released print version) of a 500+ page intensely researched book. This serious work technically isn’t a historical or fictional account. It lies somewhere in the middle, since it is well researched. My Brother’s Keeper tells the story of the Holy Family that includes not only Christian figures like the Apostles, but key Jewish contemporary 1st century AD scholars like Hillel and Gamaliel whose influence continues today.

As mentioned earlier, Bill doesn’t do anything easy or pay attention to sales and demographic figures. Many of you are probably aware that the book publishing industry is in a state of near disarray. Like the music industry, the book world has never quite wrapped it’s arms around the digital impact on the business.  Whereas once Evangelical bookstores were the envy of Catholic bookstores owners, Evangelicals now almost wish they had the Catholic sacramental sales to help them through a very tough stretch now that there is no Purpose Driven Life or Prayer of Jabez to help with their sales. It isn’t easy to be a book retailer these days, let alone a faith based retailer.

Bill Kassel has decided that he wants this work to stand on its own despite the fact that this clearly doesn’t fit into the category of the nearly non-existent Catholic fiction section or the Early Church section found in most books stores or online, again hardly a big seller topic, but a topic that needs to be addressed. This book is designed to make you think and seriously ponder the daily grind that was life in Nazareth in Roman occupied Israel. Bill points out the daily struggle for the essentials of life and the close family bonds. Needless to say, James is a principal character in My Brother’s Keeper.

Bill brings to life the many thoughts that must have been racing through the minds of those who knew Jesus and his family as word spreads concerning his ministry and miracles. In every family there exists someone who is definitely a little different, someone who says or believes things others dare not say or perhaps never pondered. It is quite another when something that person said actually comes true and miracles are performed. What must have been the word on the street or village and what must those who were close to Jesus and his family thought? Bill Kassel takes you there. Take a step back in time and imagine how you would have thought had you lived in Israel some 2,000 years ago dealing with the harsh reality of daily life in the cruel world of the Roman occupied Middle East. When you heard stories of Jesus of Nazareth would you have been a believer? Bill Kassel is willing to help you find out.

2

Saint Pope John on the Cure of Ars

I thought a time would come when people would rout me out of Ars with sticks, when the Bishop would suspend me, and I should end my days in prison. I see, however, that I am not worthy of such a grace.

Saint John Vianney, the Cure of Ars

Although chiefly remembered now for Vatican II, Saint Pope John XXIII in many ways was quite traditional in his Catholic piety, and no more so than in his personal devotion to Saint John Vianney, the famous Cure of Ars.

John Vianney was born into a world in 1786 where the Church was soon under attack by the first of the totalitarian regimes, Revolutionary France.  His family remained loyal to the Faith, and helped priests on the run from the State.  Young John saw these brave men as heroes as well as priests, and soon wished to join their ranks.  He was hampered by his ill education and the fact that he simply wasn’t a very good student, no matter how hard he tried.  He was ordained more as an act of Christian charity, and a recognition that he had a good heart and would try his best to be a good priest, than because of any success in his studies.

He was assigned to be the cure of the village of Ars, a town of only 230 people.  The church was almost deserted, with most of the population of the town consisting of fallen away Catholics.  He immediately began doing acts of reparation for the sins of his parishioners, and eventually won them back to the Faith through the example he set, his manifest goodness and his own invincible faith in God.

Each day he spent 11-16 hours in the confessional.  He had the charism of often knowing the sins of his penitents before they spoke and giving them spiritual counsel that went directly to their souls.  People began to flock to confess to him from the regions around Ars, then from the rest of France, and eventually the world.  He could sometimes heal the sick, especially sick children, to whom he always gave kind attention.

The fame he won was completely unwanted by him.  Four times he ran away from his parish, attempting to become a monk.  Each time he came back because his people cried out for him.  Jealous priests in his diocese on one occasion sent a petition around to other priests requesting that the Bishop remove Saint John on the grounds that he was too ignorant to be a pastor.  The petition was sent to Ars by mistake, and Saint John unhesitatingly signed it and sent it on.  One of the priests who started the petition came to him to beg his forgiveness.  He said that there was nothing to forgive.  He knew that he was too ignorant, and that he hoped the Bishop would send a better man to replace him.

By the time he died on August 4, 1859, Saint John had transformed Ars and the region around the village into an area filled with fervent Catholics.   He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and in 1929 he was made patron saint of parish priests.

On the centenary of his death, Saint Pope John XXIII penned a magnificent tribute to him:

SACERDOTII NOSTRI PRIMORDIA

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII ON ST. JOHN VIANNEY

AUGUST 1, 1959

 

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

When We think of the first days of Our priesthood, which were so full of joyous consolations, We are reminded of one event that moved Us to the very depths of Our soul: the sacred ceremonies that were carried out so majestically in the Basilica of St. Peter’s on January 8, 1905, when John Mary Baptist Vianney, a very humble French priest, was enrolled in the lists of the Blessed in Heaven. Our own ordination to the priesthood had taken place a few short months before, and it filled Us with wonder to see the delight of Our predecessor of happy memory, St. Pius X (who had once been the parish priest of the town of Salzano), as he offered this wonderful model of priestly virtues to all those entrusted with the care of souls, for their imitation. Now as We look back over the span of so many years, We never stop giving thanks to Our Redeemer for this wonderful blessing, which marked the beginning of Our priestly ministry and served as an effective heavenly incentive to virtue. Continue Reading

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April 24, 1916: The Easter Rising Begins

Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Easter Rising.  A militarily hopeless venture, it was easily crushed by the British.  Yet, astonishingly, this doomed quixotic episode began the events that within five years would bring to an end in most of Ireland of almost a thousand years of English rule.

On Easter Monday April 24, 1916, a coalition of fractious Irish republican groups, organized under the Irish Republican Brotherhood, took over key locations in Dublin and proclaimed the provisional government of the Irish Republic.  The Irish Republican Brotherhood received substantial financial support from the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, Irish Americans playing a key role throughout the 19th and early 20th century in the struggle for Irish independence.  The Irish Republicans had around 1,250 troops in Dublin.  There was minor fighting elsewhere in Ireland, but the Easter Rising was basically a struggle for Dublin.

In retrospect it is difficult to see how the Republicans believed that the Rising had any chance of success.  Great Britain was fully mobilized to fight World War I, and Ireland, like Great Britain, was swarming with trained British troops, many commanded by veterans of the fighting on the Western Front.  By Saturday the provisional government had surrended.  About 500 people were killed in the Rising, half of them civilians.

Initially the majority of Irish civilians had little sympathy for the rising, viewing it as at best a mad adventure, and at worst treason when many Irish Catholics were serving in France.  However, British mass arrests, albeit swiftly releasing most arrested, began to alter public attitudes toward the rising.  This was enhanced as news of British atrocities, real and false,  against civilians during the Rising began to spread.  Finally, British executions of the leaders of the Rising appalled most Irish Catholics.   The men uniformly met their deaths with great courage, and the British added to this folly by including in the executions the badly wounded James Connolly who had to seated in a chair to be executed.  Asked by the priest who gave him the last rites to pray for the men who were executing him, he replied:   “I will say a prayer for all men who do their duty according to their lights.”

Connolly was the last man executed, except for Sir Roger Casement, knighted by the British government in 1911, who was executed in London on August 3, 1916 and who converted to Catholicism on the date of his execution.  Public opinion was outraged, not only in Catholic areas in Ireland, but also in the United States, and the British Prime Minister ordered that no more executions be undertaken.

From this disaster sprouted the movement that would lead to Irish independence.  Michael Collins, who had taken part in the Rising, realized from his experiences during the fighting that attempting to stand up to the British in a conventional War was merely a form of suicide.  He began to devise a form of urban guerrilla war that would allow tiny Ireland to confront the mightiest empire in the world. Continue Reading

17

Confession

come let us reason together

 

 

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, I have never been a fan of Michael Voris, but I must say bravo to his response to an alleged smear attempt by villains, (the New York Archdiocese has denied the allegation of Voris), within the Church:

 It involves the sins of my past life all committed prior to my reversion to the Catholic faith. We have on very good authority from various sources that the New York archdiocese is collecting and preparing to quietly filter out details of my past life with the aim of publicly discrediting me, this apostolate and the work here.

I have never made a secret that my life prior to my reversion was extremely sinful. I have said many times — in public — that I was in a state of mortal sin, and had I died, I would have been damned. I also revealed these sins were of a sexual nature and that they occurred over a prolonged period of time. I did not reveal the specific nature or details of the sins, because when I returned home to the Church, I did not think that a full public confession of details was necessary in order to start proclaiming the great mercy of God.

Perhaps that was a wrong assessment. I don’t seriously know. Perhaps along these years I should have been revealing of greater detail. That, I now think so, but more on that in a moment.

Whatever the matter, I will now reveal that for most of my years in my thirties, confused about my own sexuality, I lived a life of live-in relationships with homosexual men. From the outside, I lived the lifestyle and contributed to scandal in addition to the sexual sins. On the inside, I was deeply conflicted about all of it. In a large portion of my twenties, I also had frequent sexual liaisons with both adult men and adult women.

These are the sins of my past life in this area which are all now publicly admitted and owned by me. That was before my reversion to the Faith.

Since my reversion, I abhor all these sins, especially in the world of the many many other sins I have committed having nothing to do with sexuality. I gave in to deep pains from my youth by seeking solace in lust, and in the process, surrendered my masculinity.

Many of you know the story of my mother’s prayers and sacrifices and pleading to God on my behalf that I give up my sinful life and return home to the Church. As a last resort, she prayed to be given whatever suffering needed so that I would be granted sufficient grace to revert. It was shortly after that prayer that her very early stage stomach cancer was detected, which she died from a few years later.

During the last year of her life, I began to change by beginning to frequent the sacraments more often. When my mom died, I pledged at her coffin that I would change. I said, “Mom, what you went through for me, you will not have gone through in vain.” I returned fully and completely to the Faith and close to two years later, I began this apostolate.   Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Retirement

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

Pope Francis, the man who helped the Church win hundreds of thousands of converts over a 20-liturgical-year career, announced Sunday that he will retire after this liturgical season, writing “this Easter is all I have left to give.”

Francis addressed the media after this week’s loss to Islam, a humiliating defeat for the Christians after Muslims handily defeated Catholics in number of children born, saying that he made his decision “a while ago.”

“I’ve known for a while,” Francis said. “A decision like this, you can’t make that decision based on outside circumstances, so finally I’ve decided to accept that I can’t actually do this anymore, and I’m OK with that. It takes a weight off my shoulders and everybody else’s, especially those trying to defend nearly everything I say or write.”

Vatican Preacher to the Papal Household Raniero Cantalamessa, speaking before Wednesday’s General Audience, emphasized that the star pope’s “purpose is to finish out this liturgical season and pray.”

“I think he still loves the Church,” Cantalamessa told reporters. “He still has a passion for it. He’s still a spiritually competitive man.”

Cantalamessa said he was “shocked” when Francis informed him last Saturday night that he was going to announce his retirement the following day.

“He kind of shocked me when he told me,” Cantalamessa said. “I’m just sad more than anything. Somebody who I truly care about, have a lot of respect for. I think it’s always hard when greatness like Francis decides to hang it up.”

Francis’ decision is not totally unexpected, given that he has said many times in recent weeks that he has considered making this liturgical season his last. After one encyclical, a post-synodal document, and numerous impromptu plane interviews, Francis’ career is officially winding down.

“With his relentless work ethic, Pope Francis is one of the greatest popes in the history of our Church,” Vatican commissioner Arnold Silver said in a statement. “Whether honing his homily skills or practicing his thurible swings after midnight in an empty Vatican gym, Francis has an unconditional love for the Church, and we will never forget him.”

At press time, Vatican officials have announced plans to retire the name “Francis” in a ceremony next month. Continue Reading

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The Bold Fenian Men

Something for the weekend.  Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men).   Tomorrow marks the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin which set in motion the chain of events leading to Irish independence.  Shortly before the Rising this song was written by  Peadar Kearney.  He would go on to fight in the Irish War of Independence.  A personal friend of Michael Collins, after Collins was slain in the Irish Civil War, Kearney sickened of politics.  He resumed his trade as a house painter and died in 1942 in relative obscurity and poverty.

Compare and contrast the above two versions of The Bold Fenian Men.  Although I have long been a fan of the Clancy Brothers, I confess that I prefer the acappella version.  The Sons of the Pioneers did a notable version of the song in the John Wayne movie Rio Grande, anachronistically singing a song in the 1870s that would not be written until 1916. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 10

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Part 10 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

271.  Moral education must not involve too much of a child.  (A legitimate concern, although PopeWatch has observed that kids, like most people, tend to live up to, or down to, expectations.)

272.  A rather confused and turgid paragraph on ethical formation in kids.

273.  Excuse making for wretched conduct, a major theme of the Exhortation.

274.  The family is the first school for human values.  (A prime cause of the bloat in the Exhortation is the tendency of the Pope and his ghost writers writing the same thing again and again with minor variations.)

275.  Get your brats off the damn electronics for a while.

276.  We pick our friends, God picks our relatives, and learning to put up with them is an important element in growing up.

277.  More eco-babble. Continue Reading

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Laura Ingraham: Member in Good Standing of the Trump Cult

 

 

To show how invidious the Trump Cult is, listen to the video above where radio talk show host Laura Ingraham makes lame excuses for the fact that the candidate she backs, Donald Trump, sold out the pro-life movement in regard to abortion as to the Republican party platform.  This comes as no surprise, because Trump is neither pro-life nor a conservative.  But to Laura Ingraham, who has always claimed to be pro-life and a conservative, none of this apparently matters in regard to her support for Trump.  In reaction to this, she absurdly lashes out at the Republican Establishment for being insufficiently pro-life or anti-gay marriage, as the candidate she supports prepares to jettison both issues.  Being a member of a cult means never having to think again and that appears to be what has happened to Laura Ingraham since she joined the Trumpsters.  Sad and pathetic.

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Trump To Conservatives: You’re Fired!

 

 

I had assumed that Trump was going to hold off running to the center until after the Republican convention, assuming he got the nomination.   However, Trump has such contempt for conservatives that the sellout is currently well under way.  Having already decided that abortion should remain legal after being savaged for his remark that women obtaining abortions should be punished, Trump is now all in favor of fake women using female rest rooms:

Via Legal Insurrection, something for the “but he fights!” file. Is this one of those answers, as with abortion, where he just doesn’t know what a conservative candidate’s supposed to say? Or is this him pivoting to a more “traditional” campaign for the general, staffed by Paul Manafort’s lobbyist cronies (rigged system!) and chock full of left-ish talking points for swing voters?

Mediaite has a transcript. Note Trump’s rationale: It’s not just that he thinks this issue is much ado about nothing (“there has been so little trouble”), it’s how heavily the risk of economic boycotts seems to weigh on him (“what they are going through with all of the business that’s leaving”). If, like many conservatives, you worry about corporate America smashing legislative backing for state RFRA laws designed to protect religious small-business owners from having to cater gay weddings, you’re getting a taste of what kind of support you can expect from President Trump.

“North Carolina did something that was very strong, and they are paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems,” responded Trump.

“North Carolina, what they are going through with all of the business that’s leaving and the strife– and that’s on both sides. Leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble,” he said.

Team Cruz, hearing this, saw their opportunity to needle Trump about political correctness and took it: Continue Reading

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Happy 90th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth

My sainted mother was a Newfie of pure Irish descent, with fiery red hair and a tempestuous, but lovable, temperament to match.  She had small use for the British monarchy except for the current reigning monarch who she adored.  My own fondness for Queen Elizabeth dates from the following:

 

 

Queen Elizabeth after 9-11, breaking with royal protocol, ordered the playing of The Star Spangled Banner at Buckingham Palace:

 

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Happy 90th Old Route 66

Texaco90thBdayInvite

Today is the 90th birthday of the Mother Road, Old Route 66, which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.  Long since made obsolete by the interstates, with many sections abandoned, Old Route 66 still attracts visitors from around the globe, and I have often sparked interest from foreigners when I have mentioned that I live on Old Route 66.  My bride and I will be taking the afternoon off from the law mines so that we can help fry up hot dogs at our local celebration here in Dwight to mark the occasion.  Go here for the details. Continue Reading

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An Ultramontanist Anthem for the Current Pontificate

 

Father Z directs our attention to this:

Over a First Things I spotted one worthy of passing along.

I AM THE VERY MODEL OF A MODERN ULTRAMONTANIST
by Clare Coffey

I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist
I’ve been congratulated as an excellent dialogist
I have degrees from all the best colleges of theology
I do not know quite what it means but I reject ontology
I understand the finer points both nuanced and theoretical
and when I go on twitter Ross Douthat calls me heretical
I’ve many sage remarks to make on what I call the Christ event
and just how many tragic deaths forbidden condoms could prevent

I much prefer to shun the works of any scholar scholastic
I find the very concept of forgiveness rather elastic
in short, as such an erudite and excellent dialogist
I am the very model of a modern ultramontanist

I’ve listed all the ways the church might deepen its humility
I send my kids to Jesuit factories of gentility
I’ve quoted bits of Newman and I’ve memorized my Bernardin
and when it comes right down to it I couldn’t name a mortal sin
I keep my Rahner library in an embossed ciborium
I purchase all my pinafores at a fair trade emporium
I sing a new church into life with quite a catchy guitar hook
And whistle all the airs from that infernal Haugen hymnal book Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 9

 

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Part 9 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

241.  Separation in marriage can sometimes be warranted, but must always be viewed as a last resort.

242.  Pastoral care must be shown to the separated, abandoned or divorced, especially those unjustly separated, abandoned or divorced.

243.  It is important that those who have entered into new marriages not be “discriminated” against by the Church.  (Probably the most foolish section thus far in the Exhortation.  The Church constantly discriminates in regard to people based upon their conduct and beliefs.  The Church should be far above the secular pieties currently in vogue at any particular time and place during her passage through this Vale of Tears.)

244.  Speed up the annulment process and make it free of charge.  (Wink, the fix is in when it comes to Catholic divorce annulments.)

245.  Bad impact of divorce and separation on kids.  (It teaches them early on that you can’t rely upon anyone in this Vale of Tears.)

246.  For this reason, Christian communities must not abandon divorced parents who have entered a new union, but should include and support them in their efforts to bring up their children. “How can we encourage those parents to do everything possible to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of committed and practical faith, if we keep them at arm’s length from the life of the community, as if they were somehow excommunicated? We must keep from acting in a way that adds even more to the burdens that children in these situations already have to bear!”  (Translation:  “Ignore the clear command of Christ.  Do it for the kids!”  This is a very mendacious argument.  I have never heard of priests “discriminating” against the children of the divorced or those born out of wedlock.  I have seen priests make extra efforts to make sure that such kids get to Church and catechism.  The idea that there are hordes of priests busily visiting the sins of the parents on kids is a typical example of beliefs that the Pope firmly clings to which simply are not true in reality.) Continue Reading

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Cruz For Life

 

If pro-lifers want a fighter when it comes to abortion, then Ted Cruz is their candidate:

Cruz was participating in a MSNBC town hall event. During a discussion of abortion, he noted that “virtually none of the network news would show the videos on air”(neither ABC, CBS, nor NBC covered the releases of any of the seven videos released after July 2015). To that, host Chuck Todd claimed “some of it was made up.”

“No it wasn’t,” Cruz shot back, going on to explain, “it is a federal crime – a felony with a 10-year prison term – to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit.” The videos, he continued, “show senior Planned Parenthood officials laughing, sipping Chardonnay, and bargaining, and apparently selling the body parts of unborn children. Listen, even if you’re pro-choice, selling the body parts of unborn children as a commercial endeavor is a horrifying thing.”

The videos reveal a number of officials from Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, a tissue procurement company the abortion giant works with, seemingly discussing multiple federal crimes relating to acquiring and profiting off organs from aborted babies. Despite pro-abortion claims the videos were deceptively edited, two separate forensic analyses (one of which was performed by a Democrat-aligned research firm and commissioned by Planned Parenthood themselves) confirmed the audio of their admissions was not manipulated.

Cruz then called the situation “one of the sad indictments of the Obama Administration.” Continue Reading

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Bear Growls: Of Bears and Bibles

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Our bruin friend over at Saint Corbinian’s Bear gives a useful overview of Catholic Bibles:

Recently, the Bear joined a Facebook Group called something like “Douay-Rheims Bible.” His first contribution was to note that St. Jerome started by correcting the “old Latin” Bible, which took people like 200 years to get over. What he got back was this:

THE BIBLE DOES NOT NEED TO BE “CORRECTED!!!” IT IS PERFECT FROM GOD IN THE ORIGINUL LATIN!!! SELL YOUR MODERNIST HEARESIES SOMEWHERE ELSE. AND HOW DARE TO CALL YORSELF A “SAINT.” YOR’ PROBLY NOT EVEN A REEL BARE!!!

The Bear still doesn’t know what to make of this. Except that he inadvertently turned over a rock. But it illustrates the fact that Catholics do not get Bible. Granted, they have the correct number of books, but we’re not spoiled for choice compared to our separated brethren.

  • Vulgate — Bear forgot most his Latin
  • Douay-Rheims — archaic language, but Challoner’s version is useful, especially with Haydock’s semi-useful commentary. (You want to talk BIG; must be registered as a deadly weapon in Washington state and Maine.) Published back when Catholics were confident. Not a bad choice at all, although some words will leave you scratching your head. Currently available on sale for $95 from Catholic Treasures. You owe it to yourself to own this beautiful, illustrated edition. Of course, more portable versions are available, too, but without Haydock’s notes, from St. Benedict Press and Lepanto Press, which has an economical, illustrated hardcover. Note that just as Protestants have their KJV-Onlyists, Catholics have their Douay-Rheims Onlyists. Both harmless if you pass on the Kool-Aid.
  • Revised Standard Version (either Catholic edition) — people get upset that Isaiah 7:14 is accurately translated in the 1st Ed. 2nd Ed. panders a bit by trying to make Catholics happier, which fails, because everybody (even Protestants) just knows “it’s a liberal translation.” Even so, the RSV is one of the best all-around choices for Catholics, in the Bear’s opinion. 1st Ed. uses “thees and thous” when addressing the Deity, if you like that sort of thing. Not impressed with translation to “repent” in relation to Judas, though, which recently confused our dear old holy Father.
  • Navarre Bible — very nice, extensive, conservative Catholic commentary (even if St. Jose Maria Escrivá is overrepresented in some volumes). RSV translation with current official Latin on every page. While there is a lovely one-volume, oversized “expanded” New Testament, it otherwise comes in a multi-volume set, e.g. “Pentateuch,” “Minor Prophets,” etc. You won’t be taking this to Sunday School with you. Catholics just don’t do one-volume study Bibles. Otherwise best in show.
  • Ignatius Study Bible — another multi-volume publication done by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Nice; the NT volume is hardcover; others are paperback and the Bear has not read them. Probably the Catholic study Bible most like a Protestant study Bible in format and style, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Catholic Scripture Study International — a whole program designed for group study, with an RSV-CE 1st Ed. Bible. Apologetics material on glossy pages scattered throughout. The program drivers are obviously well-meaning, but the Bear was just not impressed. You might be.
  • Jerome or Collegeville commentaries — Bear calls Modernism, but officially state-of-the-art, Catholic-style, i.e. recycling century-old liberal Protestant theories that the Bible is a forgery written in 1829 by Wilbur T. Birkenback, of Augusta, Maine. (Collegeville? Really?)
  • New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) — the official Bible of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, one of two “officially approved” for private reading by Catholics in the U.S. The Bear doesn’t know about you, but he can’t think of a single body better qualified to publish an annotated translation of the Bible! Translation itself isn’t bad, but you can’t get it without the notes, in which you will learn things like: because St. Matthew had never heard of Hebrew parallelism, he had Jesus enter Jerusalem riding both an ass and a colt like a circus performer. “The ass and the colt are the same animal in the prophecy [we sure about that, smart guy?] mentioned twice in different ways, the common Hebrew literary device of poetic parallelism. That Matthew takes them as two is one of the reasons why some scholars think that he was a Gentile rather than a Jewish Christian who would presumably not make that mistake” [when he was making up his Gospel]. That’s right, St. Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, completely blew the whole Palm Sunday scene because he was an ignorant Gentile. Recommended for Catholics who aspire to become atheists. Plus the usual recycling of Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis (Darwin’s Origin of Species of Biblical scholarship) and other “assured results of higher criticism,” e.g. all books of the Bible were forged by people other than whose names they bear, and any prophecies had to have been made after the fact. (Sorry, Cyrus.)

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 8

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Part 8 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

211.  More on marriage prep.  (All of this is mostly well and good, but it fails to comprehend that the average parish priest has a lot more on his plate than just counseling couples who wish to be married.)

212.  Pope argues for simple rather than elaborate and expensive marriages.  (The Pope is completely correct on this.)

213.  Couples in marriage prep should be taught the meaning of each part of the marriage liturgy.

214.  The Pope lays stress on the phrase “till death do we part”.

215.  Quotes approvingly the Kenyon bishops who have complained about young people focused on their wedding day and forgetting about the life long commitment.

216.  Couples to be married should meditate upon the Bible readings and they should pray together.  (The last is very important indeed, and just not prior to the marriage.  In all marriages there are always some tears, and praying together at the end of the day is a great means to deal with the inevitable sorrows that confront us in this Vale of Tears.) Continue Reading

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Rise and Fall

John Adams letter to John Quincy Adams, May 18, 1781
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Knickerbocker Knock Down

 

That is how Cruz probably feels tonight coming in a distant third in the New York primary, with Trump at 63%, Kasich at 23% and Cruz at 14%.  Trump needed this victory after several weeks of bad news, mostly from the fact that at the state level where delegates are chosen the Trump organization is amateur hour and Cruz is succeeding in having “Trump” delegates picked who will be free to vote for Cruz if Trump does not win on the first ballot.  Trump has cried foul, but he has no one to blame but himself for his lack of state level organizations, and his inability to attract much support from conservative Republican activists, who make up the bulk of participants in the conventions in most states who pick the delegates.

On the Democrat side, Hillary will win her third home state, but the margin may not be very great.  Right now it is a sixty-forty split.

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 7

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Part 7 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

181.   Members of families should remember that they are called to do good in the world as well as in their family.

182.  No family can be fruitful if the members of the family see their family as different or set apart from other families. “Still, some Christian families, whether because of the language they use, the way they act or treat others, or their constant harping on the same two or three issues, end up being seen as remote and not really a part of the community.”  (PopeWatch wonders what “two or three issues” the Pope has in mind.  Perhaps environmentalism, income inequality and pacifism?)

183.  A call for family members to be the most annoying type of social justice warriors.

184.  More of the same.

185. 1 Cor 11:17-34 interpreted as rich v. poor, an interpretation completely alien to the text, but that is how Pope Francis sees the world.

186.  Pope tries the trick of interpreting worthiness to receive communion as to whether you sign on to his leftist view of the world.  (Like most leftists, the Pope tends to regard morality as having the “correct” beliefs on a laundry list of current social justice issues rather  than morality as traditionally understood by the Church.) Continue Reading

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April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1837) Continue Reading

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Cardinal Burke’s Strange Commentary on Amoris Laetitia

 
(Guest post by commenter Greg Mockeridge)

I remember watching a documentary on Michael Jackson shortly after his death. In this documentary, a journalist had said regarding Jackson’s ever-changing facial appearance, ” Just when I thought Michael couldn’t look any weirder, he would look weirder.” Likewise, Just when I thought the pontificate of Pope Francis couldn’t get any more bizarre, it gets more bizarre.

And the release of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) added another bizarre twist to the disaster that is this pontificate. I’m not really surprised by the document itself. From what precious little I have read, it seems to be standard Pope Francis writ, some beautiful statements along with incoherent gibberish and laced with a poison pill or two.
What I really find bizarre is this essay from former prefect of the  Apostolic Signatura and now Patron of the Knights of Malta Cardinal Raymond Burke that appeared on the National Catholic Register’s website on Monday April 11th. The first two paragraphs state:

The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.

Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful and potentially a source of scandal, not only for the faithful but for others of goodwill who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.

As to what His Eminence means by “even some Catholic media” is not all together clear. Some have tried to say that the Cardinal is merely referring to the National Catholic Reporter/America Magazine crowd. Regardless of who the good cardinal had in mind by that statement, the upshot of it is that the Pope Francis shills in the orthodox Catholic Media Complex have used Burke’s essay as a club to beat the pope’s orthodox critics over the head. One such example is this attack on Steve Skojec (of One Peter Five fame) from blogger Dave Armstrong. 

 
But contrary to what Mr. Armstrong asserts in his post, the Cardinal has not come out “strongly in support” of the apostolic exhortation. He utters not a word of praise (or criticism for that matter) of AL. He merely says, repeatedly, that the document is not magisterial. 

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 6

 

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Part 6 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

151.  Sexuality is only enhanced by the training of passions that go on in a good marriage.

152.  Erotic love in marriage is a gift from God that enhances the relationship of husband and wife.

153.  Sexuality is poisoned by the mentality of use and discard.  (“I’m going to trade in a forty for two twenties.”)

154.  The physical act of sex in marriage unaccompanied  by love can become a source of misery and manipulation.

155.  Sex as a goal by itself within marriage is destructive of the marriage unless it is accompanied by love.

156.  The Bible rejects every form of sexual submission.  (The Pope does his best to make the Biblical statements on marriage mesh with 21rst Century ideas of equality of the sexes.  The Sacred Authors of course weren’t interested in egalitarianism, one of the central shibboleths of our time, but rather in giving instructions for living a Christian life that would endure in the face of changing societal fads and intellectual prejudices.)

157.  Sexuality is an essential element of a marriage.

158.  A nod to Christian virgins.

159.  Virginity is a form of love and a foreshadowing of how we will live in Heaven, where people are not married or given in marriage.

160.  No basis for playing marriage off against virginity in determining which is more pleasing to God.

161.  Virginity and marriage are complementary in highlighting different aspects of the Christian message.

162.  Celibacy can risk becoming a comfortable single life, while married couples can display heroic virtues.  (Several priests that I have talked to over the years have rejoiced that Catholic parishioners  are unable to subject them to the indignity of trying to set them up with a date with single women in the parish, something that single Protestant ministers are frequently subject to, often with darkly humorous outcomes.) Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Milton Friedman

 

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.

Milton Friedman, 2004

The Year Of the Missing Federal Income Tax

1942 was the year of the 1942 revenue bill, perhaps the largest tax increase in American history.  Thirteen million more Americans would find themselves paying federal income tax.  This was out of a population of 130,000,000 and where, prior to the War, most families had only the father of the family as a breadwinner.  Only the War made such a radical expansion of the federal income tax politically feasible.  In 1943 wage withholding of taxes would begin.  The problem was that all of these new federal taxpayers would be trying to meet their 1942 tax obligations as their checks were being subject to federal income tax withholding, a train wreck in the making.  Beardsley Ruml, chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and chairman of R.H. Macy and Co. hit upon an ingenious solution:  forgive the federal income tax owed for 1942!  Ruml compared it to daylight savings time, moving”the tax clock forward, and cost the Treasury nothing until Judgment Day.  One  wag completed the thought that on Judgment Day, “no one will give a damn.”  President Roosevelt was reluctant, viewing the forgiveness as a windfall to wealthy Americans used to paying income tax, but the idea was overwhelmingly, unsurprisingly popular in Congress and with the American people, and the tax debt for 1942 was duly forgiven.

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The Pope’s Candidate

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Well, Bernie Sanders, pro-abortion Senator from the Peoples Republic of Vermont,  has had his moment at the Vatican, courtesy of the fact that he and the Pope both embrace the pernicious superstition known as socialism:

 

Someone was listening. On Friday, Mr. Sanders was scheduled to fly to Rome to address the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, in effect the Vatican’s in-house think tank on social, economic and environmental issues.

“We invited the candidate who cites the pope the most in his campaign, and that is Senator Bernie Sanders,” said Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the academy’s chancellor.

Monsignor Sánchez Sorondo, an Argentine who is close to the pope, said that Mr. Sanders’s focus on climate change and his attention to poor people on the margins of society were “very analogous to that of the pope.” He said that made the Vermont senator an obvious person to invite to Friday’s conference, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of an encyclical by Pope John Paul II about the potential pitfalls of the market economy after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In his speech Sanders wrapped his socialist politics in a patina of Catholicism, something highly congenial to the powers that be at the Vatican:

But as both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have warned us and the world, the consequences have been even direr than the disastrous effects of financial bubbles and falling living standards of working-class families. Our very soul as a nation has suffered as the public lost faith in political and social institutions. As Pope Francis has stated: “Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules.” And the Pope has also stated: “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”

And further: “While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.”

Pope Francis has called on the world to say: “No to a financial system that rules rather than serves” in Evangeli Gaudium. And he called upon financial executives and political leaders to pursue financial reform that is informed by ethical considerations. He stated plainly and powerfully that the role of wealth and resources in a moral economy must be that of servant, not master.

 

 

 

Go here to read the rest.  After giving this speech, Sanders had a brief meeting with the Pope.  The Pope, with his usual charm, attacked critics who thought it political that he would meet with a presidential candidate during a presidential election year:

Pope Francis says a brief meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just “good manners” and not political interference.

They met early in the lobby of the Pope’s residence before he left to meet migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos.

“If anyone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics, I recommend that he look for a psychiatrist,” Pope Francis added.

 

Like much that has gone on in this Vatican, this type of overt involvement by a Pope in an American presidential election is unprecedented.  It is also hilarious as the economic policies embraced by Sanders, like those of the Pope, would only produce disaster if he managed to get elected.  It is not an accident that the State which sends him to Washington has a very poor economic outlook: Continue Reading

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Bear Growls: Saint Skank?

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear has a bone to pick with the Pope and his use of a famous passage in scripture:

 

Fortified by a cheap-vodka martini and ten milligrams of diazepam (note to self: do NOT run out of tranquilizer darts before tackling another episode of Amoris Laetitia) let’s do one more briefly. Paragraph 38:

Yet we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness. Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery. 

By now you know how to play this game at home. The good news is that marriage is doing okay in Africa. The bad news is that everywhere else we’ve been “wasting pastoral energy” (the Bear suspects this is a euphemism for something not mentioned in polite company, but isn’t sure). Anyway, for the slow learners, on one hand we have the terrible tragedy of being on the defensive, and wasting our precious bodily fluids, or whatever, and, on the other hand, “finding true happiness.” (See Gospel according to Disney.)

Helen Keller said “true happiness is found in fidelity to a noble purpose.” Pope Francis says true happiness is found in trading up.

Welcome to the new patroness of marriage, St. Skank. Yeah, the Bear knows Jesus forgave her and he’s okay with that, but when you make it into the Bible as “the woman caught in adultery,” people aren’t going to remember you for your wonderful goat sausage recipe. Maybe she really didn’t sin anymore — sorry, Bear means fail to lead an even more worthy life. The Bear hopes so. But whether she did or didn’t is beside the point, isn’t it? Of course she committed adultery. She was frail. She had limitations. Jesus doesn’t really care that much, and neither should we.

Is the Bear the only one to realize that — contrary to artistic representations of a chastened and disheveled woman — the whole point of the story is not to feel sorry for her, like she had just got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? The point is that Jesus was willing and able even to forgive what was, in those days, an almost unimaginably horrible offense and betrayal. A capital offense like murder today. Think about her poor husband, if you want to feel sorry for someone. The rest of his life he was known as “that guy whose wife committed adultery with Abner, poor schmuck.” Maybe that’s why Jesus warned her not to sin any more (a fact conveniently omitted from your Pope’s accounts). Continue Reading

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James Otis: Forgotten Founding Father

 

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, March 1763, in his speech against warrantless searches allowed under the proposed Excise Bill before the British Parliament.

James Otis had a glittering career ahead of him.  At the age of 35 in 1760 he was Advocate General for the Admiralty Court in Boston.  His wife Ruth was heiress to a fortune worth ten thousand pounds.  He threw it all away and resigned his post to represent pro bono, he refused the fee they wished to pay him saying that in such a great cause he despised all fees, colonial merchants subject to writs of assistance.  A writ of assistance was a court order that allowed British officials to search at whim houses and businesses of those suspected of smuggling without obtaining a search warrant.  These writs were in effect for the lifetime of the King during whose reign the writ was issued.  Bearers of writs of assistance were not responsible for any damage caused by their searches.  Otis viewed the writs to be a violation of Magna Carta, English case law and the traditional English legal doctrine that an Englishman’s home was his castle.

In a  five hour address that captivated listeners at the Boston State House on February 24, 1761, James Otis denounced the writs of assistance:

Your Honors will find in the old books concerning the office of a justice of the peace precedents of general warrants to search suspected houses. But in more modern books you will find only special warrants to search such and such houses, specially named, in which the complainant has before sworn that he suspects his goods are concealed; and will find it adjudged that special warrants only are legal. In the same manner I rely on it, that the writ prayed for in this petition, being general, is illegal. It is a power that places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer. I say I admit that special Writs of Assistance, to search special places, may be granted to certain persons on oath; but I deny that the writ now prayed for can be granted, for I beg leave to make some observations on the writ itself, before I proceed to other Acts of Parliament.

In the first place, the writ is universal, being directed “to all and singular justices, sheriffs, constables, and all other officers and subjects”; so that, in short, it is directed to every subject in the King’s dominions. Every one with this writ may be a tyrant; if this commission be legal, a tyrant in a legal manner, also, may control, imprison, or murder any one within the realm. In the next place, it is perpetual; there is no return. A man is accountable to no person for his doings. Every man may reign secure in his petty tyranny, and spread terror and desolation around him, until the trump of the Archangel shall excite different emotions in his soul. In the third place, a person with this writ, in the daytime, may enter all houses, shops, etc., at will, and command all to assist him. Fourthly, by this writ not only deputies, etc., but even their menial servants, are allowed to lord it over us. What is this but to have the curse of Canaan with a witness on us: to be the servants of servants, the most despicable of God’s creation?

Now, one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court can inquire. Bare suspicion without oath is sufficient.

Otis lost the case, but his bold stand was considered the start of the American independence movement.  John Adams was present during the speech and later wrote:

“The child independence was then and there born,[for] every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.”

In the years to come he helped popularize the phrase, “No taxation without representation.”  Mental illness cut short his services to the American cause, illness exacerbated by his receiving a blow to his head from a British customs inspector in 1769.  In years to come he would have alternating periods of madness and lucidity.  His wife Ruth, although her personal political sympathies were Tory, loyally stood by her husband and cared for him.

Otis did not let his madness stop him from bearing arms.  Hearing the artillery bombardment preparatory to the battle of Bunker Hill, he snuck out of his house, got a rifle, and joined the American troops on Breed’s Hill.  After the battle he walked home. Continue Reading

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Happy 89th Your Holiness!

Pope Benedict Miss Me Yet

“I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator…leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us…. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined. There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have picked.”

Cardinal Ratzinger, 1997