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Chinese Christians Standing Up

 

From Instapundit:

IF YOU STRIKE ME DOWN, I SHALL BECOME MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE: The Chinese Christian Crackdown:

Between 1,200 and 1,700 crosses have come crashing down over the past two years in China’s Zhejiang Province, where the brutal repression of Christians has also seen churches demolished and pastors imprisoned, all with the blessing of top party officials. . . .

Having recognized Christianity as a potential threat to the CCP’s grip on power, Xi could be test-driving religious persecution in China’s Christian heartland before taking the policy nationwide. As we’ve said before, the ongoing persecution is not in China’s national interest; if anything, it may make Christians stronger.

Repression is turning a largely placid Christian population into deeply unhappy one. So far in Zhejiang Christian leaders have sermonized against the new policies and their parishioners have organized protests, sometimes going as far as clashing with security forces and blockading churches slated for demolition. Take this policy nationwide, and China’s government may be in for a massive showdown with a Christian community that outnumbers the Communist Party.

Onward, Christian soldiers. Continue Reading

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Pope Lies to Kids

 

The Pope continues his propaganda effort in support of the muslim invasion flow immigration flow to Europe.

Francis invited all the children to pray the Hail Mary out loud together with him, in memory of all the migrants who have died at sea, especially in the memory of the six-year-old Syrian girl whose life jacket he was carrying.

The Pope then entered into a lively exchange with the students regarding the acceptance of immigrants.

During the conversation, the Pope urged everyone to awaken from indifference and, leaving aside excuses, to welcome others as brothers and sisters. Invoking the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Pope said that welcoming means taking care of others.

 

“Migrants are not a danger; they are in danger,” the Pope said. He then had the group repeat several times together with him: “They are not a danger, they are in danger.”

The stranger, Francis said, is not dangerous and bad. He should not scare us just because he has a different skin color, culture or religion, since we are all children of the same Father.

Asked by one of the children how someone can call himself a Christian and go to church, and then reject migrants, Francis spoke of hypocrisy, encouraging the children not to be selfish, but to have the courage to be generous.

Another ten-year-old child, named Antonio, said that people who do not welcome migrants “are beasts.” Continue Reading

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May 31, 1916: Battle of Jutland Begins

 

It is often said that generals usually are preparing to win the last war.  That was certainly the case with admirals during World War I.  They imagined a clash of mighty battleships, dreadnaughts, and auxiliaries, that would prove decisive like the battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.  Of course little thought was given about what would happen if the weaker side did not obligingly steam their fleet out to be obliterated.  That is just what happened in 1914-1918 where the British Grand Fleet kept the German High Seas Fleet bottled up in its ports, a bystander to the War.  One hundred years ago however, the High Seas Fleet made its major sortie of the War and the world held its breath for two days as these two mighty antagonists came to blows.

Admiral Reinhard Scheer had commanded the High Seas Fleet only since January of 1916.  Scheer reflected the general German opinion that the defensive stance of the fleet had to change in order for it to play a productive part in the War.  He hit upon the scheme of having the fleet sortie into the Skagerrak  that lay north of the Jutland peninsula that made up most of Denmark.  He planned to sink or capture many British cruisers and merchant ships and then retreat back to port.  It wasn’t a bad plan.  The problem for Scheer is that the British knew all about it.  The British code breaking wizards of Room 40 had broken the German naval code in 1914, and the British could decipher intercepted German radio communications swiftly, and thus the Grand Fleet knew precisely what the Germans were doing.  Here was a brilliant opportunity for the British to inflict a decisive defeat on their adversaries.  It did not turn out that way.

Over two days, May 31-June 1, a confused series of clashes took place during which the British lost 6,094 killed, 674 wounded, 177 captured, 3 battle cruisers, 3 armored cruisers and 8 destroyers to German losses of 2,551 killed, 511 wounded, 1 battle cruiser, 1 pre-dreadnaught, 4 light cruisers and 5 torpedo boats.  The German loss in tonnage was just over half what the British was.  The German fleet retired to its ports with the British losing a good opportunity to intercept them.  Jutland was a clear tactical defeat for the Grand Fleet and the British held plenty of commissions in the months and years following to figure out what went wrong. Continue Reading

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Memorial Day Thoughts

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Are you afraid of death?
Well, I can’t say that I have
any great affection for it.
Look below you, my friend.
For 70 years,
I’ve watched the seasons change.
I’ve seen the vibrant life of summer,
the brilliant death of fall…
the silent grave of winter.
And then, I’ve seen
the resurrection of spring
the glorious birth of new life.
And my father and my father’s father
have seen it before me.
Nothing ever dies, my friend.

Prince of Foxes Screenplay, 1949

Prior to my son Larry passing away three years ago I had never spent much time in cemeteries.  That of course has changed.  Over the past three years I have been a weekly visitor, except when the snow is too thick to get in (one time I got stuck at the gate in the snow making the attempt) to Mount Olivet Cemetery here in Dwight.  I have always been struck by the peace there as I talk to my son at his grave site and pray.  A train runs along a side of the cemetery, something Larry would have enjoyed, and no doubt his spirit does, as he was fascinated by trains during life.  Each season has a special grandeur at the cemetery:  spring with its new life, lush summer, brilliant fall, and silent winter.  However, without a doubt, the most beautiful time is Memorial Day where the graves of veterans in the cemetery are decorated with flags.

Going to the graves we see veterans who lived to old age and veterans who died young in war.  Graves dating from the Civil War and graves dating from recent conflicts.  Graves where the sorrow of the loss is dimmed with the passage of time and graves where the sorrow is a fresh wound.  All the graves have in common is a small American flag marking them on this day, a sign of respect and love for their service.

Remembering our dead is a tribute to the human capacities for memory and love.  It is all too easy to forget our dead in the hurly-burly of life, but it is essential that we do not do so.  God loves each man as if there was no other.  Each life is worthy of remembrance, for good or for ill.  We are not Mayflies that live brief lives and perish.  What we are echoes both in time and in eternity and no man’s life or death should be ignored.

In a cemetery we see the panoply of life spread out before us:  infants who died at birth to people who died beyond the century mark.  Beloved wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, sons and daughters.  Graves of the obscure and the famous.  Graves that are frequently visited and graves where the loved ones of the departed have long since departed themselves.  All alike waiting for the Final Day when their bodies will rejoin their souls when Christ comes to judge all. Continue Reading

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Black Jack Logan and Memorial Day

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience — almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad.

                                                         Pope Benedict, April 16, 2008

John A. Logan is the father of Memorial Day.  Today he is largely forgotten except to Civil War buffs and that is a shame.  He was a fascinating man and he is largely responsible for establishing the tradition of putting aside a day in the calendar to our nation’s war dead.

Logan began the Civil War as a Democrat congressman from southern Illinois.  He was ardently anti-War even after the firing on Fort Sumter, denouncing the Lincoln administration and calling for peace and compromise.  He was attacked as being disloyal to the Union and an almost advocate of the Confederacy.

This perception changed in the twinkling of an eye at the battle of Bull Run.  Like many another congressman he went out to view the Union army launch an attack on the Confederates.  Unlike the other congressmen, Logan picked up a musket and, attaching himself to a Michigan regiment, blazed away at the Confederates with that musket.  This experience transformed Logan into an ardent advocate of the War.

He returned to Southern Illinois and gave a fiery speech in Marion, Illinois for the Union that helped swing that section of the state in support of the War.  Resigning from Congress, he helped raise an infantry regiment from southern Illinois, and was made colonel of the regiment, the 31rst Illinois.

Logan quickly made a name for himself as a fighter.  At the battle of Belmont he led his regiment in a successful charge, and was noted for his exceptional courage.  He would eventually be promoted to major general and was one of the best corp commanders in the Union army, briefly commanding the Army of the Tennessee.  He was wounded three times in the war, one of the wounds being serious enough that he was erroneously reported as killed, a report that might have been proven to be accurate if he had not been nursed back  to health by his wife.

Logan was never beaten in any engagement that he fought in during the War.  He was popular with his men who affectionately called him “Black Jack”, and would often chant his name on the battlefield as he led them from the front.  On May 24th 1865, as a tribute to his brilliant war record, he commanded the Army of the Tennessee during the victory Grand Review of the Union armies in Washington.

After the War, Logan began his political career anew, serving as a congressman from Illinois and a senator.  He was now a radical Republican and fought ardently for civil rights for blacks.  He ran for Vice President in 1884 on the Republican ticket that was defeated by Grover Cleveland.  He was considered the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in 1888, and might well have been elected President that year, but for his untimely death in 1886 at the age of sixty.

From 1868 to 1871, Logan served three consecutive terms as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veteran’s association.  He started the custom of remembering the Union war dead on May 30th when he issued General Order Eleven on May 5, 1868: Continue Reading

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Bear Growls: Fighting Back

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Hmmm, apparently our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear is fighting back against the takeover of his blog by the sinister Rabbit.  Here is a cryptic post:

HACKED BY B34R TOP SECRET UMBRA//SI-GAMMA 4478-MANSION/TALENT KEYHOLE-LANTERN//NOFORN 164303MAY28 SECTOR PETER VICTOR KING RAW SIGINT POSS BEAR RELATED RESIST RABBIT END OF MESSAGE Continue Reading

Rocky Versace: The Bravest Man You Have Never Heard Of

Captain Versace

(Republishing this from 2014.  I can think of no man whose life better exemplifies Memorial Day than the Rock’s.)

 FOR THE ROCK and the children and sugar people of NamCan

Dedication of the book The Fifteenth Pelican by Marie Teresa Rios Versace

For his entire life Captain Humbert Roque ‘Rocky’ Versace was on a mission.  His first mission was as an Army Ranger.  His second mission was to be a Catholic priest and to work with orphan kids.  He had been accepted to a Maryknoll seminary but then fate intervened.  The son of Colonel Humbert  J. Versace from Puerto Rico and his wife Marie Teresa Rios Versace, a novelist and poet who, among many other books, wrote The Fifteenth Pelican on which the TV series The Flying Nun was based, Rocky was an unforgettable character.  A graduate of West Point in 1959, he was an Army Ranger and a soldier as tough as they come.  He had an intelligence of a high order as demonstrated by his fluency in French and Vietnamese.  He loved to laugh and have a good time.  At the same time he was deeply religious and a fervent Catholic.  In short, he was a complete man.

Volunteering for service in Vietnam, he began his tour as an intelligence advisor on May 12, 1962.

Rocky fell in love with the Vietnamese people, especially the kids.  In his free time he volunteered in a Vietnamese orphanage.  He believed in his mission and regarded it as a crusade to prevent the people he loved living under Communism.  During his tour he received news that his application to attend a Maryknoll seminary had been accepted.  He planned after ordination to return to Vietnam and work with Vietnam orphans as a priest.  He agreed to a six month extension of his tour since that fit in with his plans to attend the seminary.

On October 29, 1963 he was serving as an intelligence advisor with the 5th Special Forces Group (Green Berets).  He accompanied several companies of South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense (militia) that were seeking to remove a Viet Cong command post in the U Minh Forest.  They were ambushed and Rocky gave covering fire to allow the South Vietnamese to retreat and get away.  He was captured.  The Viet Cong murdered him on September 26, 1965.  What happened in between made Rocky a legend.  He was taken to a camp deep in the jungle along with Lieutenant Nick Rowe and Sergeant Dan Pitzer.  After their eventual release they told all and sundry what they witnessed Rocky do. Continue Reading

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Corpus Christi and Memorial Day

When Corpus Christi rolls around I always think of Saint Thomas Aquinas and his great eucharistic hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium written by Saint Thomas at the command of Pope Urban IV to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi instituted by the Pope in 1263.   It says something vastly significant about the Church that perhaps the greatest intellect of all time, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was not only a Doctor of the Church, but also capable of writing this magnificent hymn. 

The last portion of the hymn, Tantum Ergo, has vast significance for my family.  My wife, who is a far better Catholic in my estimation than I am, is a convert.  A Methodist when we married, she converted to the Church a few years later.  She had questions regarding the real presence, and this line from Tantum Ergo resolved them:  Faith tells us that Christ is present,  When our human senses fail.  When our kids came along she would whisper at the Consecration to them:  First it’s bread, now it’s Jesus.  First it’s wine, now it’s Jesus. 

This year Corpus Christi falls on Memorial Day and that strikes me as appropriate when we recall these words of Christ:

Greater love hath no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

John 15: 13

Christ took on our flesh, our blood and our mortality.  He sacrificed His flesh and His blood to save us.  He gave us the great Sacrament so that just as He took on our flesh and blood, we might consume His flesh and His blood and draw close to Him through His grace.

On Memorial Day we honor our war dead.  They lost their flesh and blood in our service and to protect us.  Just as we owe Christ a debt that can never be repaid, so too do we owe a debt to those men who have died for us and that debt can never be repaid to them.  Christ gives us His body and blood to give us grace and His teachings to allow us to lead lives that attempt, oh so imperfectly, to follow in His footsteps.  Our war dead allow us to do this in more freedom and security than most of our ancestors possessed. Continue Reading

Remember Them

“I never moved into combat without having the feeling of a cold hand reaching into my guts and twisting them both into knots.”

Audie Murphy, most decorated American soldier of World War II

Something for the weekend.  A section of a speech of Ronald Reagan from 1964, known in Reagan lore as The Speech, set to the song Arrival to Earth.  The weather is quite nice around where I live this Memorial Day weekend and it is easy to forget why we have this three day weekend, and, indeed, to forget why we have our freedom.  The video is a nice reminder. Continue Reading

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Bear Growls: What Happened to the Bear?

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I suspect that our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear is being held captive by sinister forces.  Some impostor Rabbit has proclaimed this at his website:

 

Hi. I’m St. Corbinian’s Bunny Rabbit. (And not that kind of rabbit!) What, you’ve never heard of me? Figures. Leave it to a bear to hog all the attention. Someday I’ll tell you all about it. And notice that I don’t say anything stupid like “the Bunny Rabbit” thinks this, or “the Bunny Rabbit” believes that. I always hated that.

Anyway, management has decided that settling for 15% of Catholics who aren’t exactly in love with Pope Francis, while alienating the 85% of Catholics (and 50%+ of atheists) who worship him, is a bad business model. You don’t continually complain about the most popular man in the world. (Think there might be a reason for that?) So from now on, you can expect lots of fluffy news about the wonderful things Pope Francis is doing every day. I think you’ll find that the bear has been too negative. It’s time for the truth!

So, sorry, malcontents, but your precious bear is gone.

Come back home. Everybody’s joining us. We are the winning team. You can be happy. You just need to put your negativity aside and read some good news for a change. Continue Reading

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British World War II Sub Found

An appropriate story for a Memorial Day weekend.

 

“It is 100 per cent the P311, as this was the only submarine with those very special characteristics that set it apart,” said Ms Pegararo. 

“He went down Sunday with a go-pro on his helmet, but decided to go down again today with lights to take better quality video. He has made all the announcements to the competent authorities.”

Mr Bondone dove to a depth of 103 meters to explore the submarine, which he reported as intact, with some damage to the bow believed to be from a mine, but otherwise “hermetically sealed.” 

“When it sunk, it went straight down as it is intact on the seabed, and still very well preserved, with a lot of crustaceans and colourful marine life,” Ms Pegararo said. 

“It looks like it probably went down with air sealed inside, leaving the crew to die eventually of oxygen deprivation,” Mr Bondone told La Nuova Sardegna.

HMS P 311  was lost while engaged in Operation Principle, the Chariot attack on Italian cruisers at La Maddalena.

HMS P 311 left Scotland in November 1942 with sister-boats HMS Thunderbold and HMS Trooper after addition of human torpedo deck-mounted watertight containers, direct for Malta.

P 311 departed from Malta on 28 December 1942. She sent her last signal on 31 December 1942 from position 38º10’N, 11º30’E.

After this signal she was not heard from again and she is presumed sunk by Italian mines in the approaches to Maddalena on or around 2 January 1943.

 

 

 

 

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Remember: Movies For a Memorial Day Weekend

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

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

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is a time of fun here in the US.  However, it should also be a time of memory.  Memorial day is derived from the Latin “memoria”, memory, and we are duty bound this weekend to remember those who died in our defense, and who left us with a debt which can never be repaid.  One aid to memory can be films, and here are a few suggestions for films to watch this weekend.

 1.   Sergeant York (1941)-A film biopic of Sergeant Alvin C. York, who, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive  on October 8,  1918 , took 32 German machine guns, killed 28 German soldiers and captured another 132.  Viewers who came to see the movie in 1941 must have been initially puzzled.  With a title like Sergeant York, movie goers could have been forgiven for thinking that Sergeant York’s experiences in World War I would be the focus, but such was not the case.  Most of the film is focused on York’s life in Tennessee from 1916-1917 before American entry into the war.  Like most masterpieces, the film has a strong religious theme as we witness York’s conversion to Christ.  The film is full of big questions:  How are we to live?  Why are we here?  What role should religion play in our lives?  How does someone gain faith?  What should we do if we perceive our duty to God and to Country to be in conflict?  It poses possible answers to these questions with a skillful mixture of humor and drama.  The entertainment value of Sergeant York conceals the fact that it is a very deep film intellectually as it addresses issues as old as Man.

The film was clearly a message film and made no bones about it.  The paper of the film industry Variety noted at the time:  “In Sergeant York the screen has spoken for national defense. Not in propaganda, but in theater.”

The film was a huge success upon release in 1941, the top grossing film of the year.  Gary Cooper justly earned the Oscar for his stellar performance as Alvin C. York.  It was Cooper’s favorite of his pictures.  “Sergeant York and I had quite a few things in common, even before I played him in screen. We both were raised in the mountains – Tennessee for him, Montana for me – and learned to ride and shoot as a natural part of growing up. Sergeant York won me an Academy Award, but that’s not why it’s my favorite film. I liked the role because of the background of the picture, and because I was portraying a good, sound American character.”

The film portrays a devout Christian who had to reconcile the command to “Love thy Neighbor” with fighting for his country in a war.  This is not an easy question and the film does not give easy answers, although I do find this clip compelling.

2.   Saving Private Ryan (1998)-  “Earn this….Earn it”.  A message for us all to remember this Memorial Day and every day.

3.  The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)-This film earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor.  (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.)   Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Stryker as initially written in the screen play.  (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.) 

Wayne was convinced to take the role because the film had the enthusiastic backing of the Marine Corps, which viewed it as a fitting tribute to the Marines who fought in the Pacific, and to help combat a move in Congress to abolish the Corps.  Marine Commandant Clifton B. Cates went to see Wayne to request that he take the role and Wayne immediately agreed.  (Thus began a long association of John Wayne with the Marine Corps, including Wayne narrating a tribute to Marine Lieutenant General Chesty Puller.)

Appearing in the film were several Marine veterans of the Pacific, including Colonel David Shoup, who earned a Medal of Honor for his heroism at Tarawa, and who would later serve as a Commandant of the Corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Crow who led a Marine battalion at Tarawa.  The Marine Corp hymn is sung in the film after the death of Wayne’s character, one of ten films in which a Wayne character died, and as the raising of the flag is recreated.

Taking part in the flag raising were Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the six flag raisers who survived the battle.  (The three men who raised the flag and subsequently died in the battle were Franklin Sousely, Harlon Block and Michael Strank.)  (First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, who led the flag raising party that raised the first, smaller, flag on Mount Suribachi, and who was awarded a Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his heroism on Iwo Jima, also appeared in the film.)  The flag on top of Mount Suribachi could be seen across the island, and was greeted with cheers by the Marines and blaring horns by the ships of the Navy.  A mass was said on Mount Suribachi at the time of the flag raising and I have written about that here.  Go here to see the ending of the Sands of Iwo Jima and listen to the Marines’ Hymn.

4.  The Horse Soldiers (1959)-In 1959 John Ford and John Wayne, in the last of their “cavalry collaborations”, made The Horse Soldiers, a film based on Harold Sinclair’s novel of the same name published in 1956, which is a wonderful fictionalized account of Grierson’s Raid.

Perhaps the most daring and successful Union cavaly raid of the war, Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a former music teacher and band leader from Jacksonville, Illinois, who, after being bitten by a horse at a young age, hated horses, led from April 17-May 2, 1863 1700 Illinois and Iowa troopers through 600 miles of Confederate territory from southern Tennessee to the Union held Baton Rouge in Louisiana.  Grierson and his men ripped up railroads, burned Confederate supplies and tied down many times their number of Confederate troops and succeeded in giving Grant a valuable diversion as he began his movement against Vicksburg.  The film is a fine remembrance of the courage of the soldiers North and South who fought in our war without an enemy.

 

5.  American Sniper (2015)- A grand tribute to the late Chris Kyle and to all the other troops who served in Iraq.

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
Chis Kyle

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PopeWatch: Two Persons One Pope? Two Popes One Papacy?

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Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register has a report on some fairly confusing remarks by the personal secretary of the Pope Emeritus, Archbishop Gänswein:

 

But in his speech, Gänswein insisted “it was fitting” for Benedict to resign because he “was aware that the necessary strength for such a very heavy office was lessening. He could do it [resign], because he had long thought through, from a theological point of view, the possibility of a pope emeritus in the future. So he did it.”

Drawing on the Latin words “munus petrinum” — “Petrine ministry” — Gänswein pointed out the word “munus” has many meanings such as “service, duty, guide or gift”. He said that “before and after his resignation” Benedict has viewed his task as “participation in such a ‘Petrine ministry’.

“He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step he took on 11 February 2013, he has not abandoned this ministry,” Gänswein explained, something “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.“

Instead, he said, “he has built a personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a communal ministry, as if he had wanted to reiterate once again the invitation contained in the motto that the then-Joseph Ratzinger had as Archbishop of Munich and Freising and naturally maintained as Bishop of Rome: “cooperatores veritatis”, which means ‘co-workers of the truth’.”

Archbishop Gänswein pointed out that the motto is not in the singular but in the plural, and taken from the Third Letter of John, in which it is written in verse 8: “We must welcome these people to become co-workers for the truth”.

He therefore stressed that since Francis’ election, there are not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member.” He added that this is why Benedict XVI “has not given up his name”, unlike Pope Celestine V who reverted to his name Pietro da Marrone, “nor the white cassock.”

“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.”

Archbishop Gänswein repeated that Benedict’s resignation was “quite different” to that of Pope Celestine V.

“So it is not surprising,” he said, “that some have seen it as revolutionary, or otherwise as entirely consistent with the gospel,  while still others see in this way a secularized papacy as never before, and thus more collegial and functional, or even simply more humane and less sacred. And still others are of the opinion that Benedict XVI, with this step, has almost — speaking in theological and historical-critical terms — demythologized the papacy.”

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USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

 

A film is being released today on the final voyage of the USS Indianapolis.  I will be seeing it on the first weekend in June, to be followed by a review from me.

 

 

The USS Indianapolis, was immortalized in popular culture by the Jaws video clip above.  The cruiser delivered Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, to Tinian on July 26, 1945.  On July 30, 1945 it was sunk by Japanese sub I-58.  900 of the crew made it into the water.  SOS signals, contrary to the Jaws video clip, were sent off.  Three Navy stations received the SOS signal.  At the first station the commander was drunk.  At the second station the commander had left orders not to be disturbed.    The third station wrote off the SOS signal as a Japanese prank.  The Navy denied that the SOS signals had been received for years, and only the release of declassified material revealed the criminal negligence involved.  When the ship failed to dock at Leyte as expected on July 31, 1945, the port operations director Lieutenant Stuart B. Gibson inexplicably failed to report that the Indianapolis had gone missing.

This resulted in the men of the Indianapolis being in the water for 3 and a half days until they were spotted by a routine air patrol.  Heroic efforts were then undertaken to rescue the survivors.  321 men were rescued, four of whom died soon thereafter.  Most of the almost 600 men who escaped the ship and died in the water had been killed by hundreds of sharks who swarmed about the survivors.    Among the dead was Lieutenant Thomas Conway, the ship’s Catholic chaplain.  He spent his time in the water swimming from group to group, praying with the men, encouraging them, and reasoning with men driven to despair.  When Father Conway died on August 2, 1945, he was the last American chaplain killed in World War II.

Captain Charles B. McVay III, the skipper of the Indianapolis, had been wounded in the sinking and was among those who survived to be rescued.  He repeatedly asked why it took so long for the Navy to rescue his men, a question the Navy did not answer.  Instead McVay  was court-martialed, a scapegoat for an episode that had tarnished the image of the Navy.  He was convicted for not zigzagging, which was farcical since he had been told to use his discretion in regard to zigzagging, and with high-speed torpedoes and improved aiming devices aboard subs, zigzagging was not an effective technique for a ship to avoid being torpedoed by the end of World War II.  Admiral Chester Nimitz, the commander of the Pacific Fleet, recognizing the fundamental injustice of the court-martial, restored McVay to duty and he retired as a Rear Admiral in 1949.  Although most of the surviving crewmen of the Indianapolis regarded him as a hero, McVay was eaten away by guilt over the deaths of his crewmen, guilt that was exacerbated by hate mail and hate phone calls he periodically revealed from a few of the families of some of the men who died in the sinking and its aftermath.

After the death of his wife in 1966, McVay took his own life, clutching in his hand a toy sailor given to him by his father.  In 1996 a twelve year old school boy, Hunter Scott, launched a campaign to clear McVay’s name.  The campaign to clear McVay was supported by former Lieutenant Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto who had commanded the I-58 and who noted in a letter that zigzagging would have had no impact on his torpedo attack.

In 2000 Congress passed a resolution calling for the Navy to exonerate McVay.  The resolution stated in part: Continue Reading

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Hiroshima Regrets

 

 

The White House has stressed Obama will not apologize for America’s use of the bombs when he visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park — the first sitting president to do so.

An apology would please some in Japan.

Related: The State of Nuclear Weapons 70 Years After Hiroshima

“Of course everyone wants to hear an apology. Our families were killed,” Hiroshi Shimizu, general secretary of the Hiroshima Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, told The Associated Press.

However, it would risk alienating Americans back home — especially giving the trip’s timing just ahead of Memorial Day.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Lester Tenney, 95, spent more than three years in Japanese prison camps, and still has the blood-stained, bamboo stick Japanese troops used to beat him across the face.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Here is a proposed apology :

 

To the people and government of Japan,

It is a pleasure to visit your beautiful land, a nation the United States has enjoyed good relations with since 1945.  The events of 1945 are upper most in my mind as I stand here in the city of Hiroshima.  It is a grand city today, a tribute to the hard work of the Japanese people and a tribute to the role that Japan has played in the world since 1945.  Hiroshima of course was largely destroyed by the United States on August 6, 1945 due to the blindness of the Imperial government in not surrendering prior to that time.  Then Nagasaki was largely destroyed by the United States on August 9, 1945 when Japan still hadn’t surrendered.  Japan finally did surrender on August 15, 1945 and the great blood letting that goes by the name of World War II finally came to a close.  Thinking about all this I have a few regrets:

 

  1.  I regret the loss of innocent lives in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  2. I regret the necessity of Japan and the US going to war at all, caused by Japan waging a war of imperial expansion and making a dastardly sneak attack on the US on December 7, 1941.
  3. I regret that millions of my countrymen had to put their lives on hold for years in order to repel Japanese aggression and I especially regret those who paid the ultimate price in stopping your nation’s march of conquest.
  4. I regret that Japan in its war of aggression slew some twenty million innocent civilians.
  5. I regret that Japan treated with unprecedented savagery my countrymen luckless enough to be guests of the Emperor during the War, along with all other Allied POWs, many of whom died in captivity due to forced starvation, brutality and casual murder by their Japanese guards.
  6. I regret that your former Emperor was so drunk with power that he approved of Japan attempting to conquer Asia, that he was so blind as to think that Japan could possibly win a war against the United States and that he was so cowardly as to lack the will to call publicly for peace until after both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  7. I regret that the Japanese government has never forthrightly admitted the shameful record of Japan during World War II and has instead told lies to its students for generations, seeking to paint Japan as a victim rather than as the aggressor state that the historical record reveals.
  8. I regret that too many of my fellow countrymen are focused only on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and are blind as to the events that made Hiroshima and Nagasaki the sad final notes in a symphony of blood begun by Japan.
  9. I regret that blunt, honest talk such as this is so rarely engaged in between nations and peoples.
  10. I regret that truth is always in short supply in this world.
1

PopeWatch: Ghostwriter

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us a look at the chief Papal ghostwriter:

 

 

 

ROME, May 25, 2016 – They are the key paragraphs of the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.” And they are also the most intentionally ambiguous, as proven by the multiple and contrasting interpretations and practical applications that they immediately received.

They are the paragraphs of chapter eight that in point of fact give the go-ahead for communion for the divorced and remarried.

That this is where Pope Francis would like to arrive is by now evident to all. And besides, he was already doing it when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

But now it is being discovered that some key formulations of “Amoris Laetitia” also have an Argentine prehistory, based as they are on a pair of articles from 2005 and 2006 by Víctor Manuel Fernández, already back then and even more today a thinker of reference for Pope Francis and the ghostwriter of his major texts.

Further below some passages of “Amoris Laetitia” are compared with selections from those two articles by Fernández. The resemblance between the two is very strong.

But first it is helpful to get the broad picture.

*

During those years Fernández was professor of theology at the Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires.

And at that same university in 2004 an international theological conference was held on “Veritatis Splendor,” the encyclical of John Paul II on “certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine,” decisively critical of “situational” ethics, the permissive tendency already present among the Jesuits in the 17th century and today more widespread than ever in the Church.

Attention. “Veritatis Splendor” is not a minor encyclical. In March of 2014, in one of his rare and deeply pondered writings as pope emeritus, indicating the encyclicals out of the fourteen published by John Paul II that in his judgment are “most important for the Church,” Joseph Ratzinger cited four of these, with a few lines for each, but then he added a fifth, which was precisely “Veritatis Splendor,” to which he dedicated an entire page, calling it “of unchanged relevance” and concluding that “studying and assimilating this encyclical remains a great and important duty.”

In “Veritatis Splendor” the pope emeritus saw the restoration to Catholic morality of its metaphysical and Christological foundation, the only one capable of overcoming the pragmatic drift of current morality, “in which there no longer exists that which is truly evil and that which is truly good, but only that which, from the point of view of efficacy, is better or worse.”

So then, that 2004 conference in Buenos Aires, dedicated in particular to the theology of the family, moved in the same direction later examined by Ratzinger. And it was precisely in order to react to that conference that Fernández wrote the two articles cited here, practically in defense of situational ethics. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Secular and Confessional States

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Dave Griffey at his blog Daffey Thoughts takes a look at this statement by the Pope in his recent La Croix interview:

 

– The significance of Islam in France today, like the nation’s Christian historical foundation, raises recurring questions concerning the place of religion in the public arena. How would you characterize a positive form of laicity (Editor: ‘laicity’ refers to the French system of separation of Church and state)?

Pope Francis: States must be secular. Confessional states end badly. That goes against the grain of History. I believe that a version of laicity accompanied by a solid law guaranteeing religious freedom offers a framework for going forward. We are all equal as sons (and daughters) of God and with our personal dignity. However, everyone must have the freedom to externalize his or her own faith. If a Muslim woman wishes to wear a veil, she must be able to do so. Similarly, if a Catholic wishes to wear a cross. People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture not merely at its margins.

The modest critique that I would address to France in this regard is that it exaggerates laicity. This arises from a way of considering religions as sub-cultures rather than as fully-fledged cultures in their own right. I fear that this approach, which is understandable as part of the heritage of the Enlightenment, continues to exist. France needs to take a step forward on this issue in order to accept that openness to transcendence is a right for everyone.
In 2004, Sam Harris, a radical proponent of the new, aggressive evangelical atheism, published a book titled “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason.”  Of course there were a million problems with the book, and greater minds than mine had no problem unpacking those problems and pretty much skinning the thing and leaving it out to dry. Despite its problems and its premise – that it’s high damn time non religious types get aggressive and start being open about their desire to eradicate religion from the planet – it was met with much praise and adoration by many in the Christian community who were, shall we say, left of center. The president of Union Theological Seminary famously gave the book two thumbs up.

One of the most often referenced points of agreement between Harris and those liberal Christian leaders I knew was his insistence that only by embracing secularized societies can the world have hope.  The more secular, the more peaceful.  The more religious, the more horrible, violent, and oppressive.  Even folks like me didn’t take more than a minute to say ‘The Soviet Union?  North Korea?  The Khmer Rouge?’  Eventually Harris did back down and drop that as part of his stump speech.

Enter Pope Francis.  His latest interview is, once again, drawing attention to say the least.  The idea that converting people to Christianity and jihad might be the same thing has found stunned reactions by many in the Christian community.  Likewise the idea, much embraced by Western liberals, that Christianity and Islam are two of many sides of the same coin, just like any other religion, seems to have gotten a jolt from him, especially when he added his praise to London for electing a Muslim mayor and seemed open to a potentially Islamic dominated Europe.

Over at The Catholic World Report, Carl Olson takes apart some of this, pondering why Pope Francis seemed so reluctant to ascribe Christian influence to the roots of European Civilization.  If Pope Francis is a child of Latin American liberation theology, that’s easy.  I don’t know Catholic liberation theology, but the Protestant brand was a simple nut to crack. Basically, there is no Satan or Hell, there’s only the Democratic, Capitalist West.  That is pretty much the source of all evil and suffering in the world.  A child of Latin American theology might well chafe at the idea of associating Christianity too closely to the Western Tradition.  In the same way Gnostics chafed at the idea of an Incarnation.  What is by definition evil can’t possibly have a spark of the divine.

Perhaps Pope Francis means to distance Europe from exclusively Christian origins in order to separate the Church from always bearing the brunt of Europe’s sins.  There were, after all, other historical ingredients in the soupy mix that would become the European stew.  Charity suggests I might take that approach to understanding his statement.  His follow up statements, however, suggesting that appealing to Christian roots equated to triumphalism and even colonialism make that interpretation difficult.

But on the factual level, his subsequent dismissal of confessional states in preference to secular states is even more baffling.  Again, Pope Francis seems to say it doesn’t really matter.  Things like Global Warming, open borders for immigrants, Socialized economies and tolerance and mercy for liberal sexual norms are the key positions to have regarding life and death, blessings and curses.    Other things don’t seem to be much more than opinions with which we can respectfully disagree, and as a result, it doesn’t really matter what religion is running the ship or what religious ship people want to board.

As I looked at the interview a couple more times, his preference for a secularized society was most troubling.  Assuming Pope Francis isn’t hardcore to the Left and speaking the words of his heart, then he seems almost tone deaf to the majority of the secularized world that hears his words and rejoices to hear a leader of one of the world’s largest religions conceding the superiority of secularization.

Beyond that, you have the basic problem that he is wrong.  There is absolutely nothing historically to suggest that going secular is the key to happiness and embracing religious confessional states will kill an empire.  In fact, after the 20th century, you would be hard pressed to find a more wrong statement to make.  And given the track record that arguably could be attributed to secularized nations, it goes beyond just wrong to being dangerously wrong. It is so wrong that even Sam Harris finally had to concede and change his spiel to acknowledge the facts.  And yet, it is something of which our Pope appears convinced.  If he is not a liberal Catholic child of Marxist inspired Latin American liberation theology, he makes less and less sense every day.  For it to make sense, well, you know. Continue Reading

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May 25, 1738: Ending of the Conojocular War

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Boundary disputes were quite common between the colonies, but few got as violent as the boundary line war between Pennsylvania and Maryland from 1730-1738.  Pennsylvania’s charter (1681) provided for its southern boundary as follows:  “on the South by a Circle drawne at twelve miles’ distance from New Castle Northward and Westward unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of Northern Latitude, and then by a streight Line Westward”.  Subsequent surveys established that Dover was a full twenty-five miles south of the 40th Parallel.  Maryland insisted on the 40th Parallel which would have made Philadelphia a Maryland town.  Pennsylvania pushed for a boundary at 39 degrees, 36 minutes which would have taken a strip out of what is northern Maryland.  The dispute simmered for decades breaking out into open conflict in the 1730s with the settlement of the Conejohela Valley west of the  Susquehanna River.  Maryland and Pennsylvania settlers in the disputed territory quickly came into conflict with raids and counter raids by the militias of the two colonies.  The leader of the Maryland settlers was Thomas Cresap, a tough and fearless man as the French would later have reason to attest during the French and Indian War.  Cresap was captured by the Pennsylvanians.  Upon being paraded through the streets of Philadelphia prior to being imprisoned, Cresap remarked:   “Damn it, this is one of the prettiest towns in Maryland!”. Continue Reading

5

Venezuela and the Grand Duchy of Fenwick

 

As his socialist regime is circling the toilet, Venezuela strongman Nicolas Maduro is raising the specter of US invasion:

 

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has been claiming for months that most of his country’s problems are the result of an economic war being waged against Venezuela by the United States. Now, with the country collapsing into chaos and opposition figures turning in nearly two million signatures for a recall referendum, Maduro is taking his invasion conspiracy theory to a new level. The NY Times reports:

Venezuela’s military is ready for the looming invasion by the United States.

That was the message President Nicolás Maduro seemed eager to convey over the weekend as he presided over a military exercise that put his country’s troops and weaponry center stage in the midst of a political crisis.

“We’re as ready for an invasion as we’ve ever been,” Mr. Maduro said during a speech, standing in front of an armored vehicle…

Mr. Maduro’s government has been hyping the threat of an American invasion for several weeks. In April, propaganda outlets controlled by the state reported on a supposedly leaked document from the American military that detailed the invasion plan. The document, titled “Venezuela Freedom-2 Operation,” is bogus, a said Col. Lisa Garcia, a spokeswoman for the United States Southern Command.

Needless to say, America is not about to invade Venezuela. This is classic strongman behavior, i.e. find a foreign threat to distract people from their own worsening misery. Continue Reading

9

Rapist Clinton Trump Ad

 

As I have noted, in the general election campaign Trump will start with Hillary’s jugular and go from there.  Hillary’s cackle at the end was a nice touch.  One would never know from the ad that the Donald and the Clintons were best buds just a few brief years ago.  In any case the Democrats are now running against a Democrat, Trump, who will campaign in precisely the same filthy manner as most Democrats.  We will see how much they like it.

8

The Middle Kingdom’s Travails

 

 

One of the most under covered stories today is what is going on in China, a land where great change is afoot including the rapid growth of Christianity.  China has entered a period of internal political instability and external bellicosity, apparently trying to pick a fight with Japan and the US in the Pacific.  Gordon Chang at The National Interest has a look at the internal strife beginning to rock China.

China may be the fastest changing place anywhere, with a people sophisticated, confident, energized and ambitious. When the one-party state stands between them and their aspirations, which is often, they usually find a way to work around obstacles, but sometimes this rambunctious people will leave the safety of homes and confront officials, even in this day of the police state.

Because of the closing of factories, the poor have started a wave of labor protests. Yet the rich also air grievances at a time of heightened sensitivity. These days, almost no complaint is too small to attract a crowd—or spread from province to province. In the middle of this month, in Nanjing and at least five other cities in Jiangsu province and in Wuhan in Hubei, parents defied riot police and took to the streets to protest the reduction in number of spots for local students in universities.

Fifty years ago, the Chinese people followed Mao onto the streets, to “learn revolution by making revolution” as he exhorted them to do. Today, Xi Jinping glorifies the Great Helmsman and demands “ideological purification,” but few are prepared to follow him into a future that looks like the past and is therefore not relevant or attractive to them. The Chinese people are not yet fearless—that could come soon—but they now think and act for themselves, often moving in directions without permission from the Communist Party.

Today, if there is any revolution in China, it is not one promoted by the new Mao, Xi Jinping. It is the one started by the Chinese people, who on their own are remaking society, outside the realm of the orthodoxy of the Communist Party and its feuding leaders. Continue Reading

May 24, 1830: Mary Had a Little Lamb Published

 

 

 

Mary Sawyer was born in 1806.  The daughter of a farmer who lived near Sterling, Massachusetts, in March of 1816 she became close to a lamb who had been rejected by her mother.  At age 83 she wrote about the incident.

I went out to the barn with father; and after the cows had been fed, we went to the sheep pen, and found two lambs which had been born in the night. One had been forsaken by its mother, and through neglect, cold and lack of food was nearly dead. I saw it had still a little life, and asked to take it into the house; but father said, No, it was almost dead, anyway, and at the best could live but a short time. But I couldn’t bear to see the poor little thing suffer, so I teased until I got it into the house. Then I worked upon mother’s sympathies. At first the little creature could not swallow, and the catnip tea mother made it could not take for a long time.

I got the lamb warm by wrapping it in an old garment and holding it in my arms beside the fireplace. All day long I nursed the lamb, and at night it could swallow just a little. Oh, how pleased I was! But even then I wasn’t sure it would live; so I sat up all night with it, fearing it wouldn’t be warm enough if there was not someone at hand to look out for its comfort. In the morning, much to my girlish delight, it could stand; and from that time it improved rapidly. It soon learned to drink milk; and from the time it would walk about, it would follow me anywhere if I only called it.

One day the lamb was following Mary as she and her brother walked to school:

The day the lamb went to school, I hadn’t seen her before starting off; and not wanting to go without seeing her, I called. She recognized my voice, and soon I heard a faint bleating far down the field. More and more distinctly I heard it, and I knew my pet was coming to greet me. My brother Nat said, “Let’s take the lamb to school with us.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Populism

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Dr. Samuel Gregg has a fascinating look at The Catholic World Report on Pope Francis and left wing Latin American populism:

 

Politically-speaking, Venezuela is now one of the world’s most polarized and repressed societies. The government regularly uses the police and its own “national militia” to terrorize its critics. Most of the press has been muzzled and the judiciary’s independence severely compromised. Civil society has, for all intents and purposes, been pulverized—all in the name of the people’s socialist revolution.

The one institution that’s maintained its integrity in this midst of Venezuela’s disarray is the Catholic Church. Catholic university students have played a central role in bringing the regime’s abuses to international attention. Likewise, Venezuela’s Catholic bishops have been unstinting in their criticism of the Chavistas’ economic and political experimentation. In January 2015, for instance, the Venezuelan bishops’ conference formally denounced the nation’s economic crisis as the result of “a “politico-economic system of a socialist, Marxist, or Communist nature.” That’s strong language. The bishops also condemned the regime’s demonization of its opponents, its demagogic language, its systematic violation of human rights, the imprisonment of thousands of government opponents, and the torture of political prisoners.

Venezuela isn’t the only Latin American country to embrace populist politics over the last decade. Other notable examples include Ecuador, Bolivia, and Pope Francis’ own Argentina. And the results have been the same: economic destruction, deep political and social fractures, and a distinctly authoritarian style of government. Much of this has been justified by reference to the will of “the people” and the need to combat that all-purpose contemporary bogeyman—“neoliberalismo.” Venezuela is simply the most extreme example of this populist model and its lamentable consequences.

The Church and the populists

Given these facts, many have wondered why, of all the Latin American heads of states who could have attended the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences recent conference to mark the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus, the only two present were left-wing populists: Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. Are we to believe that not a single other serving Latin American head of state was able and willing to attend?

Since Pope Francis often states that realities are more important than ideas, let’s recall some basic realities about presidents Correa and Morales. Both are professed admirers of Chávez and committed to what Correa calls “socialism of the 21st century” or what Morales describes as “communitarian socialism.”

Both men have also followed the classic populist playbook. This involves (1) dismantling constitutional restraints on power; (2) blaming their nations’ problems on foreigners and foreign interests; (3) following a political logic of internal confrontation with those designated as “enemies of the people”; (4) fostering a cult of personality around a charismatic leader; and (5) creating large constituencies of supporters through disbursement of state largesse. The result has not only been political oppression. The economies of Bolivia and Ecuador are now formally classified as “repressed” in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom. That means they are among the least free, most corrupt, and statist in the world.

The fact, however, that Correa and Morales were invited to speak at a conference at the Holy See reflects the Church’s ambiguous relationship with left-populist movements and governments in recent years. The Venezuelan bishops’ willingness, for instance, to name and shame a populist regime so directly for its destructive policies is the exception rather than the rule. Continue Reading

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Hillary’s America

 

Dinesh D’Souza, convicted felon in a donation bundling scandal when a friend of his was running for the Senate from New York , (as liberal Harvard Professor of Law Alan Dershowitz  has noted: “charging him with a felony for this doesn’t sound like a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion…. I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it…. It smacks of selective prosecution.” ), has a new film out in July which will focus on the history of the Democrat Party.   From the trailer it should be worth watching.

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Trump and the Mob

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I expect the Democrats to highlight Trump’s well known connections to the Mafia and various independent gangsters and swindlers. Reporter David Cay Johnston outlines what is known about such contacts:

These questions ate at me as I wrote about Atlantic City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then went more deeply into the issues in a book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business. In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.

This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service. Continue Reading

17

PopeWatch: Memory Lane

 

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When Pope Francis was first elected, Rorate Caeli received an opinion on the election from an Argentinian reporter, Marcelo González:

 

Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and morals seem to have been irrelevant to him.
A sworn enemy of the Traditional Mass, he has only allowed imitations of it in the hands of declared enemies of the ancient liturgy. He has persecuted every single priest who made an effort to wear a cassock, preach with firmness, or that was simply interested in Summorum Pontificum.
Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is.
His entourage in the Buenos Aires Curia, with the exception of a few clerics, has not been characterized by the virtue of their actions. Several are under grave suspicion of moral misbehavior.
He has not missed any occasion for holding acts in which he lent his Cathedral to Protestants, Muslims, Jews, and even to partisan groups in the name of an impossible and unnecessary interreligious dialogue. He is famous for his meetings with Protestants in the Luna Park arena where, together with preacher of the Pontifical House, Raniero Cantalamessa, he was “blessed” by Protestant ministers, in a common act of worship in which he, in practice, accepted the validity of the “powers” of the TV-pastors.
This election is incomprehensible: he is not a polyglot, he has no Curial experience, he does not shine for his sanctity, he is loose in doctrine and liturgy, he has not fought against abortion and only very weakly against homosexual “marriage” [approved with practically no opposition from the episcopate], he has no manners to honor the Pontifical Throne. He has never fought for anything else than to remain in positions of power.
It really cannot be what Benedict wanted for the Church. And he does not seem to have any of the conditions required to continue his work.
May God help His Church. One can never dismiss, as humanly hard as it may seem, the possibility of a conversion… and, nonetheless, the future terrifies us.

Continue Reading

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May 23, 1934: Frank Hamer Takes Down Bonnie and Clyde

 

 

Frank “Pancho” Hamer was the archetypal Texas Ranger:  tough, incorruptible, laconic and resourceful.  He despised criminals and had even less love for corrupt politicians.  Born in 1884 he joined the Texas Rangers at age 22 after capturing a horse thief while working as a wrangler on a ranch.  He would be in and out of the Rangers for the rest of his life, frequently resigning if a challenging law enforcement position was offered him.  He developed a reputation of rapidly being able to impose law and order on the most lawless communities, often to the dismay of corrupt local politicians.  He compared criminals to coyotes and crooked politicians to crawfish.

Hamer developed an uncanny ability to get inside of the minds of his criminal adversaries and defeat them by out-thinking them.  Having said that, he also survived about fifty gunfights during his career, although being wounded 17 times and left for dead four times.  He killed 53-70 criminals during these battles.

He retired from the Rangers as a Senior Captain in 1932, but he received an unprecedented Special Ranger commission after he left the ranks.

After the criminals Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker had achieved blood stained national renown for a series of robberies in the Midwest, Texas and the Great Plains, the Texas Department of Corrections called Hamer out of retirement on February 12, 1934 to track down Bonnie and Clyde.  Compiling a meticulous map of all sightings of the Barrow gang, Hamer trailed them, living out of his car.  He noted that the travels of the Barrow gang often centered on quick visits to family members.  Gang member Henry Methvin’s father Ivan lived near Arcardia, Louisiana and Hamer decided that he was about due for a visit from the gang.  Harassed by local lawmen, Ivan Methvin told the local sheriff that his son was coming to visit and the sheriff passed this news on to Hamer.

The Barrow Gang had slain nine lawmen, and Hamer took no chances with them.  He staged an ambush of Bonnie and Clyde at 9:15 AM on May 23, 1934, using Ivan Methvin as bait.  After Clyde Barrow drove up along with Bonnie Parker and stopped to talk to Methvin, Hamer and the other five officers with him jumped from ambush and riddled the car with 130 rounds.  Both of the gangsters received more than fifty shots, any one of which would likely have been fatal.  Upon inspection the vehicle proved to be an arsenal on wheels:  three BARs, Winchester 1887 10 gauge shotgun, Remington Model 11 20 gauge shotgun, and ten pistols, along with 1000 rounds of BAR ammunition and 2000 rounds of other ammunition.  Bonnie was armed with the Remington, a pistol taped to her thigh and a pistol in her purse.  Clyde was clutching a pistol with another stuck in his belt and a BAR and the Winchester in easy reach.

Hamer refused to write his memoirs, thinking that it was improper for him to reap a financial reward for merely doing his duty.  He continued to work in law enforcement. Continue Reading

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CS Lewis on the Trinity

 

 

 

You know that in space you can move in three ways – to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three Dimensions. Now notice this. If you are using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you are using two, you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say, a cube – a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.

Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways – in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.

Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings – just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal – something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already. Continue Reading

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What if Red Dawn Had Happened?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was watching Red Dawn when it came out in 1984 I was thinking to myself whether this type of partisan resistance to an invasion of the United States would take place.  I concluded that almost certainly it would.  In the Revolution, after the Continental Army in South Carolina surrendered at Charleston, partisan bands under Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens, and many lesser know figures, sprang up, and made life hell for the occupying British.  When Washington sent troops to take back South Carolina, the partisans gave valuable intelligence and acted as force multipliers for the Continental troops and state militias.  During the Civil War, similar partisan bands fought for the Confederacy and forced the Union to tie down huge amounts of troops guarding supply lines.  After the Japanese invaded the Philippines, American and Filipino guerillas made certain that the Japanese had little control out in the countryside.  The strategic situation set forth in the movie was fanciful, but the partisan war it depicted would have been a likely consequence of such an invasion.

 

Doubtless the occupying enemy would have tried an extensive propaganda effort: Continue Reading

2

May 22, 1819: SS Savannah Begins First Trans-Atlantic Trip by a Steam Ship

 

 

Cutting edge technology is always risky to use.  And therefore it was not certain what would happen when on May 22, 1819 the SS Savannah began a three week journey across the Atlantic, becoming the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic.  The Savannah was equipped with sails and only used its boilers for eighty hours during the crossing.  During its twenty five days stay in Liverpool the ship and crew were celebrities and were visited by thousands including influential members of the British government and Roayl Navy. Upon its return to the US from its journey, the fate of the Savannah was not happy.  Unable to make a profit, the ship was converted to sails only, and was broken up after running aground on Long Island on November 5, 1821.  However, the fact remains that the Savannah blazed a path.  Regular steam ship traffic across the Atlantic would not occur for another twenty years.  Her legacy was remembered in 1959 when the first nuclear powered merchant vessel bore the name Savannah.

11

Speculation That the Pope Doesn’t Like Americans

 

John Allen speculates that the Pope simply does not like Americans:

 

At one stage, Pentin asked Fellay about the pope’s repeated denunciations of “doctors of the law” and “fundamentalists,” wondering if Fellay takes those jibes as directed at his society or traditionalists generally. In response, Fellay said he’s asked around Rome what the pope means by that language.

“The answer I got most was ‘conservative Americans!’” Fellay, who’s Swiss, laughingly told Pentin. “So really, frankly, I don’t know.”

One might suspect Fellay was deflecting, except for this: He’s absolutely, one hundred percent right about what one typically hears in Rome on the subject of who leaves this pope cold.

By now, it’s clear that one defining feature both of Francis’ personality and his approach to governance – which shouldn’t be at all surprising, when you think about it – is a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans. Continue Reading

8

B-Movie Catechism: Plagues of Egypt

I’m almost positive I’ve linked it before.

I’m going to do it again, because in the middle of a lovely movie review, EegahInc said this:

Not that there were slowly contracting frog masks in the Bible, mind you. The aforementioned murders may have taken their inspiration from the plague of toads, plague of hailstones, and plague of locusts respectively, but did so very loosely. In fact, up until the final plague, most of the curses visited upon Egypt resulted in inconvenience and/or terror rather than the loss of human life. It makes you wonder why God bothered to send so many plagues rather than just skip ahead until the end to achieve what he wanted. Sure, there was the whole hardening of Pharaoh’s heart thing (which, as we discussed previously, was done entirely with Pharaoh’s consent), but the final plague upon the first born of Egypt put an end to that quite readily. So, why not just go straight there instead of wasting time with frogs and flies and such?

Well, there’s a theory about that (of course). Because the ancient Egyptians believed that all natural phenomena, as well as any number of abstract concepts, were actually sentient divine forces, they had a rather sizable pantheon of gods, over 2,000 by some accounts. But if you just wanted to stick to the biggies, you could knock it down to a handful or two. So the idea is that each of the plagues corresponds to one of these major Egyptian deities and their complete inability to stand up to the power of the God of the Israelites. You could easily make a few substitutions here and there, but a basic list goes something like this:

  1. Hapi, god of the Nile, couldn’t stop his river from turning to blood.
  2. Heqet, frog-goddess of fertility, couldn’t control her hopping kin.
  3. Geb, god of the earth, couldn’t prevent gnats from rising out of the dirt.
  4. Khepri, god of insects, couldn’t call off all of the biting flies.
  5. Hathor, bovine-goddess of motherhood, couldn’t save a single cow.
  6. Thoth, god of medicine, couldn’t cure a single boil.
  7. Nut, goddess of the sky, couldn’t put an end to the pummeling hail storms.
  8. Isis, goddess of nature, couldn’t save a single crop from the locusts.
  9. Ra, god of the sun, couldn’t banish the darkness.
  10. Osiris, god of the afterlife and resurrection, couldn’t prevent a single death.

If you think that sounds like the kind of theory that would be right up my alley, you’re right– but I never even though about it; it’s like the Egyptians of the Bible and the Egyptians of the history books were in two different boxes in my mind.

…Kind of like most folks are with scifi and theology. 😀

His summary of what small-g gods are is a good ‘in’ on figuring out how they related to them, too.  (Probably better than my ‘eternal junior high, and you’re the new kid who is also a runt’ version.)

1

Paramount Drops Lawsuit Against Axanar

 

 

Paramount finally admitted that the lawsuit against the makers of Prelude to Axanar for copyright infringement was idiotic and is in the process of dropping it.

 

At last night’s Star Trek fan event, the latest trailer for Star Trek Beyond wasn’t the only newsworthy event: J.J. Abrams, announced that Paramount Pictures’ lawsuit against Axanar Productions was “going away.”

Speaking at the fan event, Abrams noted that Star Trek Beyond’s director, Justin Lin, was outraged at the legal situation that had arisen: “Justin was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan. We started talking about it and realized this wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans of Star Trek are part of this world.”

Lin had a direct role in helping to end the lawsuit: “[Justin] went to the studio and pushed them stop this lawsuit, and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced that this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project.” Continue Reading

17

Bear Growls: Father Rosica

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear sets his sights upon the recent charitable musings of Father Tom Rosica.  Go here and here to read about this credit to the priesthood.  Here are the comments of our bruin friend:

 

Fr. Rosica: Jesus Brand Out, Francis Brand In

The frightening and unusually meaty face of Fr. Rosica
Catholic Bloggers Holy Executioners Strewing Corpses All Around

The Pope’s PR flack and head of Salt and Light Media Foundation has excoriated Catholic ephemerists. On May 17, Fr. Rosica had these charitable words for the Bear and other Catholic ephemerists who are having none of Pope Francis’ Kool-Aid. The Bear would just point out that the beginning of the first sentence unwittingly states the problem. This from the ever-reliable CRUX.

Although Pope Francis has succeeded in rebranding the public profile of the Church, according to a Vatican PR aide, his positive tone isn’t always reflected when Catholics themselves take to the use of social media. 

On the contrary, to hear Father Thomas Rosica tell it, sometimes Catholic conversation on-line is more “culture of death” than “culture of life.” 

“Many of my non-Christian and non-believing friends have remarked to me that we ‘Catholics’ have turned the Internet into a cesspool of hatred, venom and vitriol, all in the name of defending the faith!” he said. 

“The character assassination on the Internet by those claiming to be Catholic and Christian has turned it into a graveyard of corpses strewn all around,” said Rosica, who assists the Vatican Press Office with English-speaking media, on May 11 as he delivered the keynote address at the Brooklyn Diocese’s observance of World Communications Day. 

“Often times the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!” Rosica said. 

“In reality they are deeply troubled, sad and angry people,” he said. “We must pray for them, for their healing and conversion!”

Mixing humor and invective can be done. The Bear does it nearly every day. But, Fr. Rosica, the humor should be intentional. Sadly, for Fr. Rosica, the Bear is laughing at him, not with him. Not the best thing for a liar-for-hire. “Trolling pontiffs and holy executioners?” “Corpses strewn all around?” A bit purple, don’t you think?

Even funnier is absolutely ripping the heart out of Catholic ephemerists then faux-piously saying, “In reality they are deeply troubled, sad and angry people. We must pray for them, for their healing and conversion!” A good PR flack should stay on message and avoid blatant insincerity.

This “disturbed, broken and angry” (alright, disturbed and angry) Bear for one takes comfort in the fact that someone filled with such contempt for him nevertheless manages to pray for this unworthy Bear’s healing and conversion. However, the Bear thinks Fr. Rosica is mainly going after traddies here. The Bear merely wants Pope Francis to go away and never come back.

The Infamously Litigious Fr. Rosica

Now, the Bear realizes that he is taking a big risk criticizing this pompous asshat. [Note: edit out “asshat” before pub] Fr. Rosica doesn’t always just pray for erring ephemerists. Sometimes he sues them. Or possibly, he both prays for them and sues them; the Bear does not know.

Fr. Rosica sued one-man ephemeris Vox Cantoris. If Fr. Rosica wishes to sue the Bear, the Bear would be delighted to match his public relations instincts with Fr. Rosica’s, which appear to be nil. “Pope’s PR Priest Sues Disabled Veteran Blogger for Calling Him ‘Asshat.'” [Note: sub. “asshat” before pub.] “Rosica Strikes Again: Sues Adorable Bear Who Hurt His Feelings.”

“[Francis] Has Rebranded Catholicism and the Papacy”

Fr. Rosica gained infamy during the Synod on the Family. He also promoted Pope Francis to “Prince of Peace.” Now, that’s the kind of publicity you can only buy. Here’s what Fr. Rosica had to say about his client, Pope Francis. The occasion: Fr. Rosica received some award in Brooklyn, covered by his very own media outlet! 

“After three years at the helm of the Church, we must ask ourselves: What is the most important achievement of Pope Francis? He has rebranded Catholicism and the papacy.” [Emphasis in original.]

He also said this:

Many of my colleagues in the “secular” media industry have said that Francis has made it fun to be a religion reporter and journalist again. He has changed the image of the church so much that prestigious graduate schools of business and management are now using him as a case study in rebranding. 

Note that Fr. Rosica and the Bear agree with all this rebranding of the Catholic Church and the Papacy. It’s just that Fr. Rosica thinks this is a good thing. Why wouldn’t he? As long as the reporters are having fun. Heck, the Bear would have fun in the back of the plane, too. No doubt Fr. Rosica, as PR flack, enjoys having a hand in this rebranding. And it’s comforting to know that big corporations, maybe Target, who get themselves into trouble are using Pope Francis as a model to “rebrand” themselves. What kind of dope uses “rebrand” in a religious context, anyway?

The Bear has one question for Fr. Rosica. What was wrong with the Jesus brand?

Any way, nice to know we humble ephemerists, the francs-tireur of this war for the soul of the Church, are getting to people like Fr. Rosica, and, it may be assumed, image-conscious Pope Francis.

Continue Reading

5

I am Shocked! Shocked! Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Engaging in Vote Fraud in Primaries!

 

Who could possibly have thought, even in his wildest imaginings, that Hillary Clinton, of all people, married to that paragon of rectitude Bill Clinton, would have engaged in vote fraud?

Most infuriating is the Nevada primary, where Hillary Clinton won by only 700 votes. Among the issues reported there were shortages of ballots as well as ballots already pre-printed with Hillary Clinton’s logo. Also, several Clinton supporters were shown on video walking past poll workers while wearing Clinton T-shirts, which is illegal. One of the voters was heard to say that they weren’t registered, but would do so after they voted, which is also not allowed.

Which brings us to Kentucky, where the Attorney General’s office fielded 76 calls to the election fraud hotline. Fox 19 states that the calls came from 31 different counties and included issues with voting machines, illegal electioneering, buying and selling votes, and poll disruption as well as voter registration issues and procedural and legal questions.

Even more concerning are the discrepancies between the exit polls and the actual results of the elections. According to Money Morning, Edison Reporting is responsible for conducting the exit polls, and they are considered to be incredibly accurate as they are conducted at polling stations on the day of the election. This year, the results have been far beyond the expected margin of error in 17 primaries. Of those, nine had a margin of error of greater than 7 percent. In each case, the margin of error was in Clinton’s favor, and the cases with the highest margin were also the cases where the voting machines were over 10-years-old and therefore susceptible to hacking and other forms of tampering.

One should be able to expect his or her commander-in-chief to act within the bounds of the law and with respect to their constituents. Should Hillary win the presidency, if the primaries are any indication, this will not be the case.

Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Confusion Uber Alles

 

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

 

Pope Francis said today that he would set up a commission to study whether or not he can find more ways to confuse and frustrate the living crap out of people, revealing an openness to re-examining the church’s long-held insistence on not speaking off-the-cuff.

His move was hailed as a breakthrough by those in the media who have clamored for years to be given more stuff to speculate on, and who cite research showing that a pope whose speeches were scripted and thought out produced nothing for the media to report on, and therefore, pointless.

But the idea will face stiff resistance from some who believe that finding out whether he can indeed find more ways to confuse people is the first step toward drinking during a General Audience, which recent popes have ruled out.

 

During a discussion at the Vatican on Thursday, which at one point touched on the fact that just saying that a completely absurd idea is a possibility just because you’re put on the spot is in itself absurd, Francis was asked about the possibility of an official commission to study the issue. His response was, in essence, “Why not?”

“Constituting an official commission that might study the question of how I can make the lives of Catholics defending the Church from misinformed Catholics annoying?” Pope Francis said out loud. “I believe yes. It would do good for the Church to clarify this point.”

“I accept,” the pope said later. “It seems useful to me to have a commission that would clarify whether all of my successors should also be obliged to speak without regard to already resolved matters.” Continue Reading

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Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’

 

Something for the weekend.  Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’.  A historical curiosity of 1943.  The only gospel song that I am aware of that praises Joseph Stalin, it was inspired by this remark in a speech by FDR:

The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self sacrifice, that have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin.  The song was performed a cappella by the gospel group Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet.  The song was a moderate success in 1943 and has mercifully been largely forgotten since that.  A tribute to war time tunnel vision and the delusional view of Stalin firmly embraced by President Roosevelt and many other liberal Americans, inside and outside of his administration, at the time.

5

PopeWatch: Never Mind

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Father Z wonders how the Pope might cure the problems with Amoris Laetitia:

 

I am trying to think back through the Church’s long history for an instance in which a Pope has withdrawn one of his own teaching documents, on faith and morals.

Of course Popes have superseded previous documents by issuing their own.

But has a Pope ever withdrawn one?  How would that work?  In my mind’s eye I see a Pope giving a presser on an airplane (which in the future may become the Roman Pontiff’s official cathedra):

POPE WITH MICROPHONE: Okay, everyone, listen up!  That document I issued a while back… you know the one… okay, that’s all over now.  No more document, okay?  It’s gone. I’m withdrawing it.  It’s like… like an annulment, a rendering of something that was something into nothing, right?  Got it?  It’s not going to be on the website anymore.  We are not going to twitter about… tweet?… tweet about it.  We are asking everyone to just, like, throw it away.  If you love Vatican II, just stop talking about it.  Okay?  Thanks in advance everyone.

PRESS SECRETARY: Okay, folks, that’s it for today. Continue Reading

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Mark Shea and Donald Trump: Two of a Kind

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runners

Festung Shea

 

Oh, not in regard to having orange hair or in possessing several billion dollars, but rather in their mode of operation in matters of controversy.  Dave Griffey at his blog Daffey Thoughts nailed this back in March, and now that Shea has given his blessing to votes for the pro-abort Cruella de Ville Hillary Clinton in pursuit of his crusade against the Trumpster, I thought the readers of TAC would be interested in Griffey’s sharp observations on the subject:

 

Donald Trump, Mark Shea and the Facebook Generation

 

By that, I don’t mean Mark supports or likes Donald Trump. Quite the contrary.  Mark routinely takes on Trump and Trump’s supporters the way Mark does most things: in the same manner as Donald Trump.  In fact, that’s my point.  If you want to be brutally honest, you’ll admit that Mark Shea is simply a Catholic Internet version of Donald Trump.  If you visit Facebook or similar Social Media sites, you’ll see that Mark is far from the glaring exception.  Go onto most Internet sites, including major media outlets, read the comments and you’ll see Donald Trump all over.  And in some cases, such as Daily Kos or Salon.com or even such esteemed sites as the Huffington Post, you might find published editorials that aren’t much different.

I hate to say it, but my boys are correct.  Donald Trump is the candidate that the Facebook generation deserves.  And it isn’t because of a few radical exceptions to the rule.  It is the rule.  We are the generation that liberal society has been striving for over the decades.  From the 50s through the 60s and 70s and beyond, Trump is what we’ve been aiming at.

Just look at Mark Shea as an obvious example. Mark is familiar to most Catholics on the Internet and is highly regarded by many. And yet, not only does he resemble Trump in his approach to topics and interaction on his various sites, he does so as a representative of the Catholic Church.  At least Trump just represents politics.  And yet Mark is quite the hero for many Catholics.  For many non-Catholics, too.  Including those who are quick to attack and bemoan the Trump phenomenon.

How can I be so heartless and judgmental to compare Mark to Trump?  Or compare others on Social Media to Trump?  Easy.  I read.  I listen to Trump and what people criticize him for, and then visit various Facebook pages, including Mark’s, and I see no difference.   Trump, beyond the policies he advocates – when we can figure them out – is brash, crude, rude, vulgar, sinful, mean spirited, ill-informed and simply a lousy person because of how he interacts with others and treats others who dare disagree with him.

So how is that different than Mark, or even Mark’s own followers?  Or the followers on any one of a million sites?  For instance, Mark’s own lack of substance and knowledge of topics he comments on outside of Catholicism is legendary.  Even those who support him and agree with him have hung their heads over his approach to such topics as the Death Penalty or Gun Control.  The same is a common complaint about Trump.  Mark thinks nothing of using the same language Trump is condemned for using.  Mark attacks through name calling and condescension and scorn any who dare disagree, unless Mark happens to be friends with the violators.  Mark isn’t even above making false and slanderous accusations against people, even to the point of libel.

But Trump says horrible things!  He mocks people for things they can’t help.  He made fun of Carly Fiorina’s looks.  He talks about killing people.  He talks about destroying other countries.  So does Mark.  One of his Facebook followers recently said that things would be better off if America was burned to ashes.  Mark only disagreed because he said Americans, being the murderous barbarians that we are, would take millions of innocent lives with us.  Mark justified his view of America by reminding us of the millions of Indians and Slaves who fell to our murderous, barbaric ancestors.  Imagine if Trump or a Trump supporter produced the same dialogue about another country, like Mexico or China.  Imagine the outrage and anger.

And Mark not only uses death and suffering to advance his opinions, he even has begun to mock people murdered by guns – if those same people were hard right wing activists.  That might seem understandable to some.  But remember, Mark and many others were shocked at how many celebrated the death of Osama bin Ladin or Hugo Chavez, saying that the only appropriate Christian response was to pray for their souls.  Yet many of those same Catholics are rightly shocked when Trump appears so callous and cruel to other people in the world.  Notice a trend?   What about making fun of others like Trump does?  Last election cycle Mark was forced by his own readers to remove a post he had submitted that made fun of Michelle Bachmann’s eyes and facial features.  Sound familiar? Continue Reading

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In Praise of Carl E. Olson

Carl E. Olson

 

 

I have never met Carl E. Olson, but if I did I would be happy to shake his hand.  Under the current Pontificate too many Catholic commenters either ignore the frequently baffling things that Pope Francis says, or make excuses for him.  Olson does not.  He deals with the situation straight on.  A prime example of this is his examination of the La Croix interview this week with the Pope:

 

4) Here is the most controversial section of the interview:

– The fear of accepting migrants is partly based on a fear of Islam. In your view, is the fear that this religion sparks in Europe justified?

Pope Francis: Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.

I find it refreshing that Francis admits that “the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam” because he has previously insisted that true Islam has nothing to do with violence. But, in fact, many people in the West are fearful of Islam, in part because they recognize that while the majority of Muslims are not terrorists, the vast majority of terrorists claim to be truly Muslim and—this is essential—there is no basis on which their claim can be denied. Secondly, the “well, Christians do bad stuff too!” argument is not only facile, it is insulting. Of course Christians have done bad things. But saying that the Great Commission—”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20)—to jihad  and the consistent record of violent and coercive expansion by Islam is simply ludicrous. No, it is not the same idea of conquest, and that sort of evasive equivalence is a disservice to the historical record and to the truth about Christianity.

Unfortunately, Francis has often taken this sort of straw man approach to this topic, as when he said in November 2014, “And I sincerely believe that we cannot say all Muslims are terrorists, just as we cannot say that all Christians are fundamentalists – we also have fundamentalists among us, all religions have these small groups.” That is equally facile, because no serious person is making such expansive claims; rather, the issue is the inherent vision and logic of a particular religion, combined with the means by which it regulates itself and interprets its doctrines, combined with the structures by which it controls and directs its actions. That said, I think he is correct in noting the implications of trying to plant some sort of democratic structure in certain countries; it simply doesn’t work and it often has very bad consequences. But that still is separate from the inner dynamism and goals of Islam, which is not only fractures, but quite theologically schizophrenic and disfunctional..

5) Finally, Francis says, “States must be secular. Confessional states end badly. That goes against the grain of History.” My initial response is: “And non-confessional states end well?” Let’s be honest: the end of any nation is almost always bad; nations rise and fall for a variety of reasons, but the falls are rarely pleasant or enjoyable. The Soviet Union is a good case in point. On the other hand, this insistence that confessional states are simply bad is dubious, to put it mildly. The Byzantine Empire lasted for—wait for it—a thousand years, and it was, on the whole, an impressive and great culture. (Of course, no one knows anything about it, so it’s a moot point, right?) Oh, and it was conquered by, yes, Muslims. And as a recent and important book explains, the Andalusian Paradise was not, in fact, paradise. And, please, can be stop invoking “History” and the “grain of History”? It’s both lazy and meaningless; history is what men have done, using their free will, for good or ill. Invoking vaguely Hegelian concepts only confuses matters.

Francis is right, of course, to defend religious freedom; he says many good things. But, at the end of day, those who wish to understand the place, purpose, and possible future of Europe will be better served in seeking out the writings of Joseph Ratzinger. Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: The Church Deserves Better

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Magisterium as guessing game, that is the essence of the papacy of Pope Francis.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us examples:

Yes, No, I Don’t Know, You Figure It Out. The Fluid Magisterium of Pope Francis

ROME, May 13, 2016 – How the magisterium of Pope Francis works was explained a few days ago by one of his pupils, Archbishop Bruno Forte. He recounted that during the synod on the family, for which he was special secretary, the pope said to him:

“If we talk explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried, you have no idea what a mess these guys will make for us. So let’s not talk about it directly, you get the premises in place and then I will draw the conclusions.”

And so, thanks to this “wise” advice – Forte continued – matters came to “fruition” and the papal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” arrived. In which the reformers have found what they wanted.

Forte’s is not a confidence snatched by betrayal. He said it from the stage of the theater in the city of Vasto, of which he is archbishop, in front of a packed crowd. “Typical of a Jesuit,” he commented afterward with a smile.

Because that’s just what Francis does. He never says everything that he has in mind. He just leaves it to guesswork. And he lets the interpretations run, even the most disparate, over what he says and writes.

That this approach should be used in private conversations is understandable. But Jorge Mario Bergoglio exercises it in systematically in public, in his official acts of magisterium, even when everyone is expecting him to add it all up and give a clear and definitive response.

With respect to the magisterium of previous popes, carved in stone, polished word by word, unmistakeble, that of Francis is an epochal transformation.

“Amoris Laetitia” is glaring proof of this. In reading it, the German cardinal and theologian Walter Kasper, who for decades has been the most combative proponent of communion for the divorced and remarried, had no doubts: reformers like him, he declared exultantly, now have “the wind at our backs to resolve such situations in a humane way.”

But another cardinal theologian and fellow countryman, Gerhard Müller, has read the contrary in it. He has said that there is nothing in “Amoris Laetitia” that clearly overturns the magisterium of the perennial Church, which forbids that communion. And Müller is not just anyone, he is the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, the supreme court in the supervision of doctrine.

But anyone who believes that at this point Francis should clearly say where he stands is sure to be disappointed. Because meanwhile the pope has promoted a third cardinal, the Austrian Christoph Schönborn, as his most trusted interpreter of the post-synodal exhortation. A role that Schönborn is playing to perfection, with explanations also in the style of Bergoglio, all to be interpreted anew, on the ambiguous border between doctrine presented as unchanged and pastoral applications that must be new and changing.

No to barred gates, no to revolutions. But the third way conceived by Francis is anything but unyielding. Just the opposite.

By bringing back into discussion what appeared definitive before him, he has opened a process that gives equal citizenship to the most irreconcilable opinions, and therefore also to the most fiery reformers.

The unparalleled example of this inventiveness of Bergoglio’s may have come last February, when he went to visit the Lutheran Church in Rome (see photo).

A Protestant married to a Catholic asked him if she too could receive communion, together with her husband. And he replied to her with such a roundabout yes, no, and I don’t know as to give no understanding, in the end, what conclusion to draw, if not this: “It is a problem to which everyone must respond.”

It was to no use that Cardinal Müller, in the subsequent days, exerted himself to reiterate that the doctrine of the Church on this point had not changed. Because what was certain was that the pope had made it a matter of opinion, he in the first place, with his statements, denials, and contradictions.

They have their work cut out for them, the bishops and cardinals of Africa, or of Eastern Europe, or of the school of Wojtyla and Ratzinger. Cardinal Kasper has understood very well how things stand: “There is freedom for all. In Germany that can be permitted which in Africa is prohibited.”

With Pope Bergoglio a new model of Church is advancing, fluid, multicultural. Continue Reading

8

Lawrence Charles McClarey: In Memoriam

Larry McClarey

Lawrence Charles McClarey

Birth:  September 5, 1991

(Feast day of Saint Lawrence Justinian)

Death:  May 19, 2013

(Pentecost)

12 Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead?  13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. 14 And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up, if the dead rise not again.  16 For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again. 17 And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins.   18 Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished.  19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep :  21 For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead.  22 And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.  23 But every one in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.  24 Afterwards the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, when he shall have brought to nought all principality, and power, and virtue.  25 For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet.  26 And the enemy death shall be destroyed last.

1 Corinthians:  12-26 Continue Reading

May 19, 1780: New England’s Dark Day

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May 19, 1780 was a memorable one in the history of New England.  Darkness descended for several hours in New England and parts of New York.  The cause of the darkness has been blamed on everything from volcanoes to dust storms.  The most commonly accepted explanation today is that the darkness was caused by forest fires.  An excellent overview of the Dark Day and its possible causes is presented by John Horrigan here.

Darkness in the middle of the day of course caused quite a bit of alarm, with more than a few people thinking that the Day of Judgment had arrived.  In the Connecticut legislature a motion to adjourn was proposed and passed.  Members of the Council of Safety of the legislature wanted to go to their homes.  Senator Abraham Davenport would have none of it.  “The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause of an adjournment: if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”  John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized this archetypal stubborn Yankee with this poem:

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Mark Shea Hearts Hillary Clinton

 

Well, Mark Shea has restarted his old blog and is giving a big thumbs up to Catholics who want to vote for the complete pro-abort Hillary Clinton in order to stop Donald Trump:

 

you do not have to say a word in praise of Hillary’s evil policies.  You can bash them all you like (and I do).  Her support for abortion is evil (just like Trump’s).  Her cynical ease with lying is repellent (just like Trump’s).  Her bellicose ease with violence and war is wicked (just like Trump’s).  Her shady  associations are creepy (just like Trump’s).

But if you support Trump, you also are supporting evil she does not advocate such as torture, racism, misogyny, mockery of the disabled, mockery of POWs, and fiscal fantasism.  You have to, like Mike Huckabee, say stuff like “We’re electing a President, not a pope” and chuck overboard your claims to be thinking with the mind of Christ in order to pretend that Trump has “grown in virtue” and “evolved” on abortion when the reality is that he has not changed a bit.  You need to back him on *his* “non-negotiables” while abandoning your own.

I will be voting third party since Hillary won’t need my help to win Washington and the goal is to stop Trump, not help Hillary.  But I will not fault any Catholic who takes Benedict XVI’s permission and votes to lessen the clearly greater evil posed by Trump.

The greatest of those evils is the fact that every single “prolife” Christian who supports him will invariably find that they must immediately abandon the fight against abortion and devote all their *real* energies to *his* non-negotiables of racism, misogyny, Mammon-worship, violence, and grinding the faces of the poor.

 

Go here to read the comments.  Now as faithful readers of this blog know I am not going to be voting for Trump because I view him as a liberal Democrat in Republican disguise.  However, I can understand people who decide to support Trump in order to stop an unprincipled crook like Clinton from running the nation, especially due to the fact that while I am dubious about Trump’s conversion to the pro-life cause, I have no doubt that Clinton is an ardent pro-abort.  However, it is truly laughable for an ostensible pro-lifer like Shea to champion Clinton.  His arguments in her behalf are delusional.  She revels in anti-white racism in order to whip up the black vote;   she supports partial birth abortion which is torture as well as murder;   in regard to misogyny, anything Trump has done on that score pales in comparison to her rapist hubbie Bill, who she has assiduously shielded from such charges;   she supports abortion for unwanted disabled kids;   she was partially responsible for our men in Benghazi being left to die and then lied to their parents about it;   and as for fiscal fantasism, I guess Shea has been asleep for the last eight years in regard to the administration that Clinton was a proud part of.  Shea’s arguments are rubbish and he is intelligent enough I trust to realize they are rubbish.  The simple truth is that Shea has gone hard left, and on that score, and only on that score, Clinton would be preferable to Trump.

 

Back in 2009 Shea referred to the Catholic leftists of Vox Nova as the debate club at Auschwitz, because of their downplaying of the fight against abortion in order to support Obama.  Go here to read that post.  Well boys and girls, welcome the newest member of the Catholics Who Don’t Really Give a Damn About Abortion Club.  Give a big hand for Mark Shea!

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Marxism: The Most Destructive Superstition

 

 

As we watch yet another Marxist nation, Venezuela, near complete economic collapse, it is a good time to recall that this is all occurring because so many intellectuals around the globe, including our current Pope, embrace, in part or in full, the nineteenth century superstition dreamed up by Karl Marx.  Presented ostensibly as a description of how economics and history works, Marxism in practice served as an excuse for tyrants and would be tyrants to create regimes that would impose regimes of slavery on populations that would put to shame every other form of tyranny dreamed up in the lamentable chronicles of human crime and folly.  Richard Fernandez in a brilliant post at PJ Media takes a look at the destructive power of Marxism:

 

A German friend once remarked that Hitler was only the second most destructive thing his country had unleashed upon the world.  Worse by far, he said, were the ideas of Karl Marx. The notion  an idea could be more destructive than fleets of bombers and Panzer divisions is a large claim but there is evidence in support of it.  John Walters says that in sheer destructiveness Hitler beats Marx only if you add the Kaiser’s war.  If you add famine into the equation, Marx beats Hitler, Tojo and the Kaiser put together.

According to a disturbingly pleasant graphic from Information is Beautiful entitled simply 20th Century Death, communism was the leading ideological cause of death between 1900 and 2000. The 94 million that perished in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Eastern Europe easily (and tragically) trump the 28 million that died under fascist regimes during the same period.During the century measured, more people died as a result of communism than from homicide (58 million) and genocide (30 million) put together. The combined death tolls of WWI (37 million) and WWII (66 million) exceed communism’s total by only 9 million.

It gets worse when you look at the … Natural World … famine (101 million). Curiously, all of the world’s worst famines during the 20th century were in communist countries: China (twice!), the Soviet Union, and North Korea.

Yet despite this unparalleled record of destructiveness Walters notes that Communism retains enormously good press. “According to a 2011 Rasmussen poll, 11% of Americans think that communism would better serve this country’s needs than our current system.” Its core ideas are popular with Bernie Sanders’ followers. Only 3 years ago Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of Britain’s Labor Party, expressed satisfaction with the program of the Venezuelan Bolivarian revolutionists. He tweeted “thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.” David Sirota writing in Salon at almost the same time as Corbyn’s tweet fulsomely praised “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle.”

Miracle: for there was no other word for it.
according to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez’s first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez’s brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardian reports that its “extreme poverty” rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, “college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.”

How this “miracle” crashed down into ruin is something yet to be explained. Suffice it so say there is unexpectedly no food, no electricity, nor even gasoline in this oil-rich nation. In the ultimate irony “gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking units … are currently down … with critics blaming shortages of spare parts, lack of maintenance, and a shaky electrical grid for outages and unplanned stoppages.” Looting is epidemic. Trucks are being swarmed by mobs on the highway. Army troops — crucial for regime survival — have been reduced to foraging to make up a meal. The Atlantic, hardly a right-wing publication, writes “Venezuela is falling apart”.

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PopeWatch: La Croix

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The Pope has given an interview to the French paper La Croix.  In that interview he sounds themes familiar to PopeWatch readers:

 

– In your speeches in Europe, you refer to the “roots” of the continent without ever describing them as Christian. Rather, you define “European identity” as “dynamic and multicultural.” In your view, is the expression “Christian roots” inappropriate for Europe ?

Pope Francis : We need to speak of roots in the plural because there are so many. In this sense, when I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones. John Paul II, however, spoke about it in a tranquil manner.

Yes, Europe has Christian roots and it is Christianity’s responsibility to water those roots. But this must be done in a spirit of service as in the washing of the feet. Christianity’s duty to Europe is one of service. As Erich Przywara, the great master of Romano Guardini and Hans Urs von Balthasar, teaches us, Christianity’s contribution to a culture is that of Christ in the washing of the feet. In other words, service and the gift of life. It must not become a colonial enterprise.

 

 

On April 16, you made a powerful gesture by bringing back the refugees from Lesbos to Rome. However, does Europe have the capacity to accept so many migrants ?

Pope Francis : That is a fair and responsible question because one cannot open the gates wide unreasonably. However, the deeper question is why there are so many migrants now. When I went to Lampedusa three years ago, this phenomenon had already started.

The initial problems are the wars in the Middle East and in Africa as well as the underdevelopment of the African continent, which causes hunger. If there are wars, it is because there exist arms manufacturers – which can be justified for defensive purposes – and above all arms traffickers. If there is so much unemployment, it is because of a lack of investment capable of providing employment, of which Africa has such a great need.

More generally, this raises the question of a world economic system that has descended into the idolatry of money. The great majority of humanity’s wealth has fallen into the hands of a minority of the population.

A completely free market does not work. Markets in themselves are good but they also require a fulcrum, a third party, or a state to monitor and balance them. In other words, [what is needed is] a social market economy.

Coming back to the migrant issue, the worst form of welcome is to ‘ghettoize’them. On the contrary, it’s necessary to integrate them. In Brussels, the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they grew up in a ghetto. In London, the new mayor (Editor: Sadiq Khan, the son of Muslim Pakistanis) took his oath of office in a cathedral and will undoubtedly meet the queen. This illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate.

I am thinking here of Pope Gregory the Great (Editor: Pope from 590 – 604), who negotiated with the people known as barbarians, who were subsequently integrated. This integration is all the more necessary today since, as a result of a selfish search for well-being, Europe is experiencing the grave problem of a declining birth rate. A demographic emptiness is developing. In France, at least, this trend is less marked because of family-oriented policies.

– The fear of accepting migrants is partly based on a fear of Islam. In your view, is the fear that this religion sparks in Europe justified?

Pope Francis: Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.

In the face of Islamic terrorism, it would therefore be better to question ourselves about the way in an overly Western model of democracy has been exported to countries such as Iraq, where a strong government previously existed. Or in Libya, where a tribal structure exists. We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account. As a Libyan said recently, “We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have fifty.”

Ultimately, co-existence between Christians and Muslims is still possible. I come from a country where they co-habit on good terms. Muslims come to venerate the Virgin Mary and St George. Similarly, they tell me that for the Jubilee Year Muslims in one African country formed a long queue at the cathedral to enter through the holy door and pray to the Virgin Mary. In Central Africa, before the war, Christians and Muslims used to live together and must learn to do so again. Lebanon also shows that this is possible. Continue Reading

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Trump, the Anti-Reagan

 

 

In all my voting life there is only one candidate I have voted for, rather than as the lesser of two evils:  Ronald Wilson Reagan.  Reagan biographer Paul Kengor explains why Trump is the anti-Reagan:

I have published six major books on Reagan, several of them bestsellers, ranging from (the first) God and Ronald Reagan (HarperCollins, 2004) to Reagan’s Legacy in a World Transformed (Harvard University Press, 2015). Some of those in between include The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2006) and 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative (2014). Two of these books are the basis for the Reagan/film bio-pic, Reagan: The Movie. That film, like my books, are positive affirmations of Reagan. I am and have long been a Reagan conservative. I am hardly an “establishment RINO.” In fact, I literally wrote the book on Reagan conservatism. And my next book, scheduled for release next spring, is a 1,000-page-plus Cold War work on Reagan.

I have done thousands of articles, speeches, and radio and TV and print interviews on Ronald Reagan. I have personally interviewed hundreds of people who lived with or knew or worked with the man and I’ve spent endless days in the Reagan Library, at the Reagan Ranch, at Reagan’s Eureka College, in his hometown, at the river where he lifeguarded, in nursing homes talking to elderly women who were baptized with Reagan in the summer of 1922, etc., etc., etc. I have read countless letters written by Reagan, and still far more pages of words scribbled by others. It’s quite possible that I’ve read more by or about Ronald Reagan than any living person on the planet. I assure you I’m in the top 10.

This is very much a short list (two paragraphs) of my (embarrassing) amount of life activities dedicated to illuminating the person, life, and mind of Ronald Reagan.

My point in presenting this isn’t to toot my own horn. (Quite the contrary — all of this Reagan focus makes me seem rather strange, I think.) The point is that this is what I study. I have some credibility on the matter of Ronald Reagan. If someone wants to try to compare Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan, my opinion ought to have at least some degree of informed merit.

So, with that said, let me state unequivocally and undeniably that not only is Donald Trump not the “next Reagan,” but he is the anti-Reagan. Really, I find not only that the two men have preciously little in common, from their policies to their person, but I think there may be no two men more glaringly different. Donald Trump is a polar opposite of Ronald Reagan. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Pope Francis and the Poor

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Maureen Mullarkey takes a look at Pope Francis and his attitude towards the poor:

 

 

The English language press is ill-equipped to grasp this distortion. But the irrationality of the papal love affair with the poor has not been lost on Loris Zanatta, an eminent Argentine historian at the University of Bologna. His study “The Catholic Nation: Church and Dictatorship in the Argentina of Bergoglio” was published in Italy last year.

Zanetta’s recent essay, “The Chosen People” appears in the April issue of Italy’s prestigious Il Mulino. It was excerpted April 20 by Sandro Magister, leading Vaticanist and journalist with L’Espresso. The essay takes an informed look at the angle of this pontificate’s hold on reality. His essay confirms existing insights into the nature of Bergoglio’s pontificate. These are intuitions outside the ken of mainstream media, and ones Catholics themselves would like to wish away.

Pope Francis Means Poorer Is Holier

Is Bergoglio a Peronist? Zanatta answers: “Absolutely he is.” And not solely because of the air he breathed in his youth. Add his conviction that Personism embodies an alliance between a people and a nation that defends “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.” The statist bond will restore to the Catholic Church its lost stature.

By “Protestant liberalism,” Zanatta refers to the antinomian individualism that challenges the ecclesial authority which, in papal eyes, is the heart of Latin American identity. Is Bergolio, then, also a populist? Again, absolutely. Zanatta looks to the pope’s language to understand the tonal quality of his populism:

On his great journeys of 2015—Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, the United States, Kenya, Uganda, Central Africa—Francis used the word ‘pueblo’ 356 times. . . . He said ‘democracy’ only 10 times, ‘individual’ 14 times, mostly with a negative connotation. {These numbers] confirm for us what could also be guessed: that the notion of ‘pueblo’ is the keystone of his social consciousness.

Populism inhabits the pope’s vocabulary and shapes his politics. In his lexicon, “pueblo” means la gente común y humilde. Francis extols the piety of “the poor and simple.” Popular piety—“the memory of a people”—contains that germ of conversion with which the humilidades will evangelize the non-poor. (“Evangelii Gaudium”: “We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them.”) Zanatta explains:

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

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 . . . an eternal identity impervious to the unfolding of history, on which the ‘pueblo’ has a monopoly. [This is] an identity to which every human institution or constitution must bend in order not to lose the legitimacy conferred on it by the ‘pueblo.’

Populism, in the form of an idealized people, simplifies the complexity of the world:

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, [becomes] the essence of evil, the pagan devotee of the god money: consumption is consumerism, the individual is selfish, attention to money is soulless worship.

Concern for the poor is as old as the church itself. What is new in this mystique of the pueblo is its other-worldly intoxication with poverty, as if material deprivation conferred holiness. An unacknowledged strain of cruelty runs through it. The poor are revered insofar as they play the role of the People, actors in a paternalistic drama directed by marxisant superiors inclined to interpret affluence as a signal of moral defect. Added, then, to the burdens of the poor is the servitude of personifying the sufferings of Christ.

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