4

The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

Hollywood …



… and history:

Hollywood’s Trumbo appears to be something of a whitewash of Stalinist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Portrayed as a victim of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a closer investigation of history reveals that he did his fair share of censoring and “blacklisting” himself — against anti-Communists within the industry.

  • Hollywood’s Missing Movies: Why American films have ignored life under communism, by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsly. Reason June 2000:

    if Comintern fantasies of a Soviet Hollywood were never realized, party functionaries nevertheless played a significant role: They were sometimes able to prevent the production of movies they opposed. The party had not only helped organize the Screen Writers Guild, it had organized the Story Analysts Guild as well. Story analysts judge scripts and film treatments early in the decision making process. A dismissive report often means that a studio will pass on a proposed production. The party was thus well positioned to quash scripts and treatments with anti-Soviet content, along with stories that portrayed business and religion in a favorable light. In The Worker, Dalton Trumbo openly bragged that the following works had not reached the screen: Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and The Yogi and the Commissar; Victor Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom; and Bernard Clare by James T. Farrell, also author of Studs Lonigan and vilified by party enforcer Mike Gold as “a vicious, voluble Trotskyite.”

  • The Stalinist Ten–A True Story About Communists in the Movie Industry, by Allan H. Ryskind. [excerpt from the newly released book, Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler, by Allan H. Ryskind]:

    Trumbo is less well known for a script that never made it to the screen: An American Story, whose plot outline, in the words of film historian Bernard F. Dick, goes like this: North Korea finally decides “to put an end to the border warfare instigated by South Korea by embarking upon a war of independence in June 1950.” (In his papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Trumbo says he “dramatized” Kim Il-sung’s supposedly righteous war for a group of fellow Communist screenwriters, including at least two Hollywood Ten members.)

    Trumbo also seemed to think that Stalin needed a bit of a reputation upgrade. So one finds in his papers a proposed novel, apparently written in the 1950s, in which a wise old Russian defends Stalin’s murderous reign as necessary for the supposedly grand achievements of Soviet socialism.

    Those celebrating Trumbo today as a sort of saintly curmudgeon do not feel obligated to mention this aspect of his Red ideology, nor do they point to his writings during the Soviet-Nazi Pact, when he was excusing Hitler’s con- quests. “To the vanquished,” he airily dismissed the critics of Nazi brutality, “all conquerors are inhuman.” For good measure he demonized Hitler’s major enemy, Great Britain, insisting that England was not a democracy, because it had a king, and accused FDR of “treason” and “black treason” for attempting to assist the British in their life-and-death struggle against the despot in Berlin.

  • Hollywood Celebrates Another Stalinist, by Allan H. Ryskind. CNSNews.com 01/05/15:

    … The evidence of Trumbo’s Red activities is hardly secret. He came clean, sort of, to his biographer, Bruce Cook, a writer of the upcoming Trumbo screenplay. He told Cook in the 1970s that he joined the party in 1943 (some FBI informants think he joined in the 1930s), that some of his “very best friends” were Communists and that “I might as well have been a Communist 10 years earlier….” He also says, about joining the party: “But I’ve never regretted it. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to say I would have regretted not having done it….”

    He said he let his party membership lapse after his HUAC appearance, possibly finding it difficult to pay his party dues after he was blacklisted, but he never publicly turned his back on communism or Stalin. Indeed, in his private papers he admits that he “reaffiliated with the party in 1954,” apparently his passion for a Communist America burning brightly as ever. So, by the historical record and his own account, he was in tune with the Soviet Union for nearly a quarter of a century, when Stalin was in his prime killing years.

  • Will the new Trumbo movie rehash old myths?, by Ronald Radosh. National Review 11/02/13:

    [Trumbo] bragged how he had used his position to stop anti-Communist films from being made. Stalin, he said, was “one of the democratic leaders of the world,” so he used his position to stop Trotsky’s biography of the dictator from being filmed, and did the same with anti-Communist books by James T. Farrell, Victor Kravchenko, and Arthur Koestler, all of which he called “untrue” and “reactionary.” As he explained in 1954 to a fellow blacklisted writer, the Communist party had a “fine tradition . . . that whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class, that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.”

    Two years later, when many Communists learned some of the truth about Stalin from the Khrushchev speech, Trumbo wrote a comrade that he was not surprised. He explained that he had read the books by Koestler, George Orwell, James Burnham, Eugene Lyons, and Isaac Don Levine, who all had exposed the truth about the Soviet Union. These, of course, were the very books he had made sure would never be turned into movies. Trumbo supported Stalin, all the while knowing that he was a monster.

  • Flipping Hollywood’s Blacklist Narrative, by Ron Capshaw. Library of Law and Liberty 01/25/15:

    … All in all, Ryskind’s work is a welcome addition to the anticommunist corrections to the blacklist legend. He has written a convincing and well-sourced follow up to the pioneering effort of the Radoshes. Moreover, he has refused to play the warped victim son of a writer who was much maligned in his time and may have been black-listed (Morrie never got another script accepted after 1945). Instead he has focused on disputing how Hollywood then and now has rehabiliated what in essence were Stalinists.

  • Exclusive Author Interview with Allan Ryskind, Author of “Hollywood Traitors”, by Christopher N. Malagisi.
  • Who was Dalton Trumbo, Screenwriter and Stalinist?, by Ron Capshaw. The American Spectator 01/06/15.

  • Dalton Got His Gun, by Stefan Kanfer. City Journal 02/27/15. “The lodestar of the Hollywood blacklist was all that his fans said he was—and less.” [Review of Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo, and Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters, Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler by Allan H. Ryskind].
39

The Vatican (re)discovers Humanitarian Intervention?

In today’s news, the Vatican seems to be entertaining the notion of condoning military force in Iraq to stem the tide of Christian persecution at the hands of “The Islamic State” [“IS”], (formerly known as “ISIS”). John Allen Jr. explains:

For anyone familiar with the Vatican’s recent history of bitter opposition to any US use of military force in the Middle East, Rome’s increasingly vocal support for the recent American airstrikes in Iraq may seem, to say the least, a little disorienting.

On Monday, the Vatican’s previously tacit approval for the American intervention turned explicit, as two senior officials offered what amounts to a blessing through official communications channels.

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.”

In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.

Coming from the Vatican’s prior adoption of a functionally-pacifist and “abolitionist” stance on military action in modern times, this is huge. Compare the above with Cardinal Martino (of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)’s declaration in the National Catholic Register, circa 2003:

Question: “Are you suggesting there is no such thing as a just war anymore?”

Archbishop Martino: “Absolutely. I think with modern weaponry, there is no proportionality between the offense and the reply. It makes much more damage. War is so destructive now. It is not just a fight between one person and another.”

But what’s the reason for this sudden “about face”? Continue Reading

6

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on D-Day

On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe. What had happened? A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil. And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us. If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

To Europe was given, after 1945, a period of peace of such duration as our continent had never seen in its entire history. To no small degree, this was the accomplishment of the first generation of post-war politicians — Churchill, Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi – whom we have to thank at this hour: We are to give thanks that it was not punishment that was fixed upon, nor again revenge and the humiliation of the defeated, but rather that all should be accorded their rights.

Let us say it openly: These politicians took their moral ideas of state and right, peace and responsibility, from their Christian faith, a faith that had undergone the tests of the Enlightenment, and in opposing the perversion of justice and morality of the party-states, had emerged re-purified. They did not want to found a state upon religious faith, but rather a state informed by moral reason, yet it was their faith that helped them to raise up again a reason once distorted by, and held in thrall to ideological tyranny…. Read the rest

[Excerpt from “In Search of Freedom; Against Reason Fallen Ill and Religion Abused” Logos 4.2 Spring 2005.

2

Edward T. Oakes, S.J., RIP

[Via David Mills @ First Things Friday December 6, 2013]:

Father Edward Oakes, S.J., distinguished theologian, gifted writer and teacher, generous ecumenist, and our friend, has died, of pancreatic cancer, at 8:00 this morning. The announcement from the Academy of Catholic Theology, of which Father Oakes was president, reports:

Father Oakes entered the Society of Jesus in 1966, and was ordained a priest in 1979. He received his doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in 1987. He taught at New York University, Regis University, and Mundelein Seminary, where he was deeply loved and valued by his colleagues, students, and indeed everyone on the staff as well.

He was a major contributor to the ecumenical magazine First Things on theological and scientific topics, and a longtime close friend of Father Richard John Neuhaus. For close to two decades he was an influential member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was a founding member of the Academy of Catholic Theology and was elected president of the Academy in May 2013.

A deeply cultured man, Father Oakes enlivened everything of which he was a part by his penetrating intelligence and warm, friendly spirit. He was an esteemed translator of the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar and others. He was the author and editor of important works such as Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology, Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, and The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar.

To say that Father Oakes will be sorely missed is a profound understatement. Let us pray for his soul as he enters into the infinitely loving communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as an adopted son in Jesus Christ!

Goodbyes and Remembrances

Continue Reading

15

Balthasar, Universal Salvation, and Ralph Martin’s “Will Many Be Saved?”

The Catholic blogosphere is atwitter with discussion of a recent dustup between Mark Shea and Michael Voris regarding the latter’s criticism of Fr. Barron, over Barron’s continued receptivity toward a theory advanced by Hans Urs Von Balthasar that it is acceptable to have good hope that Hell may be empty. Boniface at Unam Sanctum has the blow-by-blow for those interested.

Appropos of the topic, I have just finished reading Ralph Martin’s Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization (Eerdmans, 2012).


The question of whether and how people who have not had the chance to hear the gospel can be saved goes back to the beginnings of Christian reflection. It has also become a much-debated topic in current theology. In Will Many Be Saved? Ralph Martin focuses primarily on the history of debate and the development of responses to this question within the Roman Catholic Church, but much of Martin’s discussion is also relevant to the wider debate happening in many churches around the world.

In particular, Martin analyzes the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the document from the Second Vatican Council that directly relates to this question. Contrary to popular opinion, Martin argues that according to this text, the conditions under which people who have not heard the gospel can be saved are very often, in fact, not fulfilled, with strong implications for evangelization.

I was very impressed by Martin’s survey of the subject and the praise from Timothy Dolan, Francis Cardinal George, Peter Cardinal Turkson and Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, O.P. seems to me warranted.

After a detailed explication of the doctrinal development and scriptural basis of section 16 of Lumen Gentium, Martin proceeds with a detailed analysis and criticism of Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” and the larger part of his book to Balthasar’s Dare we Hope that all may be saved?.

Martin’s negative evaluation of Rahner’s theology was to be expected, howbeit what I found interesting was how Rahner in his later years admitted to some critical reservations about his earlier position — as well as a “too euphoric” evaluation of humanity and the human condition at the Council. Likewise,

So the Council’s decree Gaudium et Spes can be blamed, despite all that is right in it, for underestimating sin, the social consequences of human guilt, the horrible possibilities of running into historical dead-ends, and so on.

Martin’s devastating critique of Balthasar, however, comes as more of a surprise. For even with figures as highly esteemed as Avery Dulles, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict giving a stamp of theological toleration (and/or approval) to Balthasar’s hope for universal salvation — Martin’s detailed exposition of Balthasar’s tendency to ignore, misquote or mischaracterize his sources (whether from the Scriptures, the Fathers or the mystics) as well as his questionable theological reasoning should give pause for all. …

Continue Reading

45

Dr. Ed Peters: “Nancy Pelosi will not change on her own”

Dr. Ed Peters’ response to the fact that Nancy Pelosi took communion at Pope Francis’ Mass bears quoting in full:

Communion time in St. Peter’s is, for the vast majority of lay persons (not heads of state, and not folks chosen to receive from the pope), pretty much a mob scene, so there is nothing to be gleaned from the fact that Nancy Pelosi took holy Communion at Pope Francis’ installation Mass — nothing, that is, except that either Pelosi suffers from one of the most malformed consciences in the annals of American Catholic politics or that she is simply hell bent on using her Catholic identity to attack Catholic values at pretty much every opportunity. Certainly, Pelosi’s taking the Sacrament is not, in the slightest, a Roma locuta on pro-abortion Catholics and Communion.

Nancy Pelosi is America’s problem, not Rome’s, and it is obvious that, if left to her own lights, she will never mend her ways. For her sake, therefore, and for those confused by the chronic scandal she gives, Pelosi needs to be formally warned against taking holy Communion for so long as she promotes, as consistent with our Catholic faith, a variety of gravely immoral policies (per cc. 916, 1339); ministers, meanwhile, in her environs need to be directed to withhold Communion from her till advised otherwise by the competent ecclesiastical authority (per c. 915).

Dr. Ed Peters, In the Light of the Law March 20, 2013.

7

On the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign (New York Times) February 11, 2012:

After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and on social media, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics. …While there had been questions about Benedict’s health, the timing of his announcement sent shock waves around the world, even though he had in the past endorsed the notion that an incapacitated pope could resign.

“The pope took us by surprise,” said Father Lombardi, who explained that many cardinals were in Rome on Monday for a ceremony at the Vatican and heard the pope’s address. Italy’s prime minister, Mario Monti, said he was “very shaken by the unexpected news.”

According to the Associated Press, “The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants.”

Continue Reading

4

A Ryan Roundup

Love him or hate him, the “future of the Republican party”, new poster-boy for conservative Catholic politics and vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan is in the news. A roundup of serious (and not-so-serious) commentary from recent days …

  • Assertion without Evidence Paul Zummo (The American Catholic) finds that “When it comes to Paul Ryan and his evil Randian ways,” the usual requirement to marshal evidence for a serious argument is cast aside.

    Benjamin Wiker (National Catholic Register): The Paul Ryan-Ayn Rand Connection: What’s a Catholic to Think examines Ryan on Rand, and Rand herself, and finds that:

    Ayn Rand’s philosophy, then, is a mix — good and bad. But the bad is really bad, so that whatever good there is would have to be carefully extracted.
    To be perfectly frank, I find Ayn Rand to be deeply repulsive — the dark side is, again, really dark. So, if Paul Ryan wants to attract Catholic voters, he’s going to have to make much clearer what he’s taking — and even more, what he’s leaving behind.

    As Ryan said recently in his own words:

    I am nothing close to an objectivist, but I do think Ayn Rand did a service, did a great job of outlining the morality of capitalism, of making the moral case for freedom, free enterprise and capitalism. You don’t have to buy into all the objectivist stuff to appreciate what she did on that front.”

    Personally, while Ryan’s professed appreciation of Ayn Rand extends well beyond “when he was young”, if he now repudiates Rand’s “objectivism” and atheism, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of a doubt. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last on this topic and it will be interesting to see what Ryan himself has to say in the months ahead.

  • Dolan: Ryan Is a ‘Great Public Servant’ Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review) talks with Cardinal Dolan of New York about his friendship and correspondence with Rep. Paul Ryan.
  • Responding to Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter), Linda Bridges (National Review) on Paul Ryan’s alleged “dissent” from Catholic social teaching.

  • Robert Costa on Paul Ryan’s Mentor. (NRO, 8-15-12). (And no, it’s not Ayn Rand).

Paul Ryan on Abortion

  • On the matter of abortion – here is Ryan himself: The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom (Paul Ryan’s congressional website, September 10, 2010):

    … after America has won the last century’s hard-fought struggles against unequal human rights in the forms of totalitarianism abroad and segregation at home, I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect. I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” The freedom to choose is pointless for someone who does not have the freedom to live. So the right of “choice” of one human being cannot trump the right to “life” of another. How long can we sustain our commitment to freedom if we continue to deny the very foundation of freedom—life—for the most vulnerable human beings?

  • And here is a detailed survey of Ryan’s voting record on abortion. (Ryan carries a 100% rating from the National Right to Life.

Presumptive vice presidential nominee for the Republican party Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hold a campaign event and makes a speech at The Villages in Florida, accompanied by his mother — a small business owner and Medicare recipient.

On Reforming Medicare

  • The Return of Mediscare (The Editors, National Review)
  • Grasping the Medicare Distortion, by Yuvan Levin (NRO, 8-12-12):

    Medicare will not be the central issue of this fall’s campaign — economic growth and jobs are far more important to voters. But President Obama and his supporters seem intent on distracting voters from the failed economic policies of the past four years by scaring them about the Romney-Ryan Medicare reform. And it is already perfectly clear that their criticisms of that reform are based on either a misapprehension or an intentional misrepresentation of the actual proposal, and of the very significant ways in which it differs from past Medicare-reform ideas (including those proposed by Ryan in the past). So it is worth taking a moment to understand the proposal — generally known as the Ryan-Wyden reform after its originators, Paul Ryan and Democratic senator Ron Wyden of Oregon — and to see what its critics are missing or misrepresenting. …

  • Fact-Checking the Obama Campaign’s Defense of its $716 Billion Cut to Medicare, by Avik Roy (The Apothecary). Avik’s blog has been a recent discovery and proven to be interesting reading, unpacking — for the non-statistically and economically minded like myself — the difficult topics of Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and consumer-driven health care. (Full disclosure: he’s a fellow of the Manhattan Institute and an outside consultant to the Romney campaign).
  • More Mediscare, by James Capretta and Yuval Levin. (Weekly Standard) A Harvard Journal of the American Medical Association study “turns out to offer one of the strongest cases yet published in favor of premium support.”
  • The $6,400 Myth: Breaking down a false Obama Medicare claim (Wall Street Journal 8-19-12):

    One of President Obama’s regular attacks on Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform is that it would force seniors to pay $6,400 a year more for health care. But merely because he keeps repeating this doesn’t mean it’s in the same area code of accurate.

  • The Republican Medicare Equation: The Best Defense = A Good Offense + Lots of Paul Ryan – Pete Spiliakos (Postmodern Conservative) believes the best thing the GOP can do to counter Democrat criticism is to let Ryan be Ryan.

… and on a comical note

  • Admit It, I Scare The Ever-Loving S*** Out Of You, Don’t I? – a faux-editorial to The Onion 8-13-2012 . . . cutting a little too close to reality for some Democrats. [Warning: profanity]:

    Face it: I’m not some catastrophe waiting to happen, like a Sarah Palin or a Dan Quayle. On the contrary, you have the exact opposite fear. I’m a solid, competent, some might say exceptional, politician.

  • Democrat Erskine Bowles praises Paul Ryan And His Budget Plan – A video of former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Democratic co-chair of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, praising Ryan’s budget plan.
  • HEY GIRL … IT’S PAUL RYAN.
13

A question.

In an article for Slate.com, a mother — herself born with and survivor of a physical disability — expresses the wish that her son, stricken with an incurable disease, had never been born:

If I had known Ronan had Tay-Sachs … I would have found out what the disease meant for my then unborn child; I would have talked to parents who are raising (and burying) children with this disease, and then I would have had an abortion. Without question and without regret, although this would have been a different kind of loss to mourn and would by no means have been a cavalier or uncomplicated, heartless decision. I’m so grateful that Ronan is my child. I also wish he’d never been born; no person should suffer in this way—daily seizures, blindness, lack of movement, inability to swallow, a devastated brain—with no hope for a cure.

(Emily Rapp: Rick Santorum and prenatal testing: I would have saved my son from his suffering Slate.com. February 27, 2012.

* * *

In Australia, Academic philosophers Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva have written a peer-reviewed paper, published in a journal of “medical ethics”, advocating the murder of newly born babies, substituting for infanticide the kinder, gentler euphemism, “after-birth abortion”. They assert that:

“If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.”

Source: “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” is in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

* * *

There was something in the confluence of those two news items in recent days that brought to mind a passage from That Strange Divine Sea: Reflections on Being a Catholic by Christopher Derrick, which — so aptly capturing “the Catholic perspective” contra that of the “modern world” — floored me upon reading it as an inquiring agnostic in college, and sticks with me to this day:

Human existence always involves suffering, and this can sometimes be bitter indeed, inescapable too: the life of man can certainly be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” But with the first words of the Bible in mind, in the first words of the Creed as well, we believe in the goodness of the Creator, and we therefore see all human existence and in fact all ‘being’ as an absolute and unquantifiable good. . . . it makes no sense at all to speak of some point (of poverty or cancer or whatever) beyond which life simply isn’t worth living.

This is the first principle and paradox of the Faith. It can be stated apothegmatically. It is not a good thing to be diseased and starving. But it is a good thing to be, even when diseased and starving.

A dear and terrible principle, and it’s what divides the Church from the world most centrally — most crucially.

A more specific picture will throw it into sharper relief, and (if considered carefully) may help you to decide which side you’re really on.

Imagine a young girl who lives alone in a tar-paper shack, in some frightful shanty town on the outskirts of the big city in — say — Latin America. She lives, of course, by prostitution; and eventually she has a baby whom she cannot feed. The big jets go fuming up from the airport nearby, tight-packed with steaks and martinis for the Beautiful People — that is, for you and me. But there’s little for this girl to eat, so she has no milk; and in any case, the baby has inherited some of her diseases. So he looks out, briefly and with unfocused eyes, upon God’s world, and then he curls up and dies. His mother borrows a spade, buries him somewhere, and goes back to work.

As you know, I am not being fanciful or morbid in outlining such a story: things of that sort happen all the time and in many places.

Was it a bad thing for that bay to die? It was an abomination, a blot on the entire human conscience: if you and I have any share in the responsibility for it, we must fear the Lord’s anger.

But was it a bad thing for that baby to live?

16

“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” – a roundup of reactions

On Monday, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace published a statement on the global economic crisis: “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” [click link for full text]

Suffice to say, reactions were spirited (and in many cases, predictable), reflecting “a tired pattern”, to quote Zach (Civics Geeks)

Everyone once and a while there is a news story about “the Vatican”. “The Vatican” issues a document of some sort. The document says something about current affairs. Immediately there are two very predictable reactions, depending on whether the person is inclined to agree with the Church or not.

  1. “Look! The Church teaches that Catholics have to think like I think! My opinions have acquired divine authority. The world would be a better place, and the Church would be a better Church, if every Catholic just obeyed Church teaching like I do.”
  2. “I don’t have to obey the Church – I can think for myself. It’s fine if some old white men in Rome think that, but I don’t have to and I am still a good Catholic.”

These are, of course, caricatures, but I think they express two attitudes that are quite common. They are alike in that they are both dogmatic and reactionary.

What follows then are some mostly thoughtful responses — fodder for a discussion here at American Catholic).

  • “The Pope, Chaplain to OWS? Rubbish!” – George Weigel in a characteristic clarification from National Review‘s The Corner, on those who would imbue the document with too much authority:

    The truth of the matter is that “the Vatican” — whether that phrase is intended to mean the Pope, the Holy See, the Church’s teaching authority, or the Church’s central structures of governance — called for precisely nothing in this document. The document is a “Note” from a rather small office in the Roman Curia. The document’s specific recommendations do not necessarily reflect the settled views of the senior authorities of the Holy See; indeed, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the press spokesman for the Vatican, was noticeably circumspect in his comments on the document and its weight. As indeed he ought to have been. The document doesn’t speak for the Pope, it doesn’t speak for “the Vatican,” and it doesn’t speak for the Catholic Church.

  • Pope Benedict Calls For “Central World Bank” … Only He Didn’t. Here’s Why – Thomas Peters (American Papist) counters the spin of Fr. Tom Reese, who “seems perfectly happy to help the mainstream media fundamentally misunderstand the authority of teaching this document enjoys, [claiming] that the pope has “more in common with the people at occupy wallstreet” than the tea party.”
  • “while economists are learning from the Vatican, perhaps the Vatican might learn a few lessons from economic analysts” muses Phil Lawler (Catholic Culture): “If you want to promote Catholic social teaching, don’t wander beyond your expertise. Stick to moral principles, and leave economic analysis to the economists.”
  • Also weighing in from “The Corner”, Dr. Samuel Gregg with Catholics, Finance, and the Perils of Conventional Wisdom:

    Plenty of other critiques could — and no doubt will — be made of some of the economic claims advanced in this PCJP document. As if in anticipation of this criticism, the document states, “We should not be afraid to propose new ideas.” That is most certainly true. Unfortunately, many of its authors’ ideas reflect an uncritical assimilation of the views of many of the very same individuals and institutions that helped generate the world’s most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. For a church with a long tradition of thinking seriously about finance centuries before anyone had ever heard of John Maynard Keynes or Friedrich Hayek, we can surely do better.

    (Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty: A Treatise on the Free Society, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future).

  • Mark Brumley, President and CEO of Ignatius Press, on “Going the way of World Government” (Catholic World Report):

    If the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is trying to make the Catholic Church sound as if she’s living in a fantasy world or trying to portray Catholic social teaching as completely irrelevant to real world problems, I’d say, “Mission accomplished.” If, on the other hand, the council wants people seriously to think about the problems of globalization, it’s going to have to demonstrate a much better grasp of political and economic practicalities, as well as the limits and dangers of international solutions. At the risk of sounding like an End of the World visionary, I suggest we should temper our enthusiasm for world-authority solutions by re-reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 675-677, and by consulting the Book of Revelation, chapter 13.

    By all means, let’s discuss global problems and possible solutions. Let’s recognize the dangers of nationalism and the imbalances that exist between rich and poor nations. Let’s not overlook the weakness of international capitalism or pretend the free market has all the solutions. Let’s have a good philosophical discussion about world government, and its long-term prospects, if the world endures for a few more centuries. But let’s remember that, historically speaking, those who have tried to act on their talk about a world political order have wound up being tyrants.

  • Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of the Mises Institute, author of Sing Like a Catholic (2009) and Bourbon for Breakfast
    (2010), and (familiar to many readers) as a daily contributor to The New Liturgical Movement“Right Diagnosis, Deadly Cure”:

    … the document’s identification of loose credit with market liberty is the beginning of the end of the good sense here. From this point, we plunge straight away into a full endorsement of a world central bank, a world political authority, taxes on financial trading, and heavy regulations. The document doesn’t actually call for an end to the free market. On the contrary, it imagines that enlightened world planners will protect, guard, and even “create” what it calls “free and stable markets.”

    This is beyond naive. It seems to illustrate a near total absence of clear thinking. Centralization of money and credit caused this problem. Centralization of political authority caused this problem. Why would anyone imagine that more centralization is therefore the answer? This approach takes a terrible situation and makes it much worse.

  • Over at Commonweal, “unagidon” asks “do we need a Global Public Authority to fix the economy?” — and answers in the negative.
  • “The Vatican Renders Unto Caesar”, by Nicholas G. Hahn III (Real Clear Religion) 10/25/11:

    Any sane person can recognize that the notion of another global civil authority flies in the face of subsidiarity. Simply because the Council says subsidiarity should regulate the relationships of authority, doesn’t mean it actually will.

    In fact, global institutions do not often respect autonomy or individual freedom of their memberships. Perhaps even Pius XI, for all his griping against the “greed” of financial systems, might consider the creation of a new “supranational Institution” a “grave evil and disturbance of right order.”

    And so, a question that must be asked is: does Rome want a king?

    Dr. Robert Moynihan (editor, Inside the Vatican):

    The positive thing: this document, in keeping with all of the Church’s social teaching, wishes to defend honesty, transparency, truthfulness and justice in financial dealings over against dishonesty, opacity false representations and injustice.

    In this, the document is to be praised, and praised highly. We need honesty and truth-telling in a global economy that is seemingly careening toward a train wreck which will inevitably hurt the poor and weak most of all.

    The negative thing: the global economy, and especially the global derivatives market, is big, enormous, in fact, so big, so opaque, so complex, that literally no one knows what the situation really is, or what measures to take to undo the financial detonator that seems ready soon to go off.

    In this sense, the Vatican office’s policy recommendations are inevitably insufficient.

  • John Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter), counters the critics by calling attention to “a southern consensus”:

    Focusing on how much papal muscle the note can flex, however, risks ignoring what is at least an equally revealing question: Whatever you make of it, does the note seem to reflect important currents in Catholic social and political thought anywhere in the world?

    The answer is yes, and it happens to be where two-thirds of the Catholics on the planet today live: the southern hemisphere, also known as the developing world.

    It’s fitting that the Vatican official responsible for the document is an African, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, because it articulates key elements of what almost might be called a “southern consensus.” One way of sizing up the note’s significance, therefore, is as an indication that the demographic transition long under way in Catholicism, with the center of gravity shifting from north to south, is being felt in Rome.

  • Disputations reflects on lessons of the Tower of Babel in the concluding paragraphs of the document:

    … the story of Babel not only warns us that we are bound to lack concord if we don’t speak the same language, but — reading it in parallel with the story of Pentecost — that the concord upon which any global authority must be founded to thrive in virtue is nothing less than the peace of Jesus Christ.

    As a practical matter, the world is some way away from establishing that foundation. Whether Christians possess the peace of Jesus Christ in sufficient fullness to serve as the cement which, when mixed with the world’s crushed stone, can form a concrete of sufficient strength to bear the weight of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s proposals is, I suppose, open to question.

  • Notes on the Vatican Statement on Global Financial Reform – solid, section-by-section analysis by DarwinCatholic (American Catholic 10/26/11), revealing points that are congenial to both ends of the political spectrum (“There’s much in here that American conservatives and libertarians are not going to like, but there’s just as much that leftist Catholics (particularly populist ones) aren’t going to like either (if they read it.)”).

See additional responses from Rick Garnett @ Mirror of Justice (“many are (perhaps strategically and tactically) mis- and over-reading the Note in order to overstate the consonance between its vision and the current policies of the Democratic Party in the United States and its special-interest constituencies”); Michael Brendan Dougherty @ Business Insider (“WHOOPS! Vatican Lets Slip Plans For One World Government”); Fr. John Zuhlsdorf; Sean P. Daily of Gilbert magazine (“if there is one institution that could unite us, even if it unites [distributists and followers of the ‘Austrian’ school] only in opposition, it is the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace”) — and, now blogging for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher hosts a vigorous discussion on his blog here; here; here and here.

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War and the Eclipse of Moral Reason

This post was prompted by Kyle Cupp’s recent reflections on the “inviolability of human life” (Vox Nova October 6, 2011). Insofar as it concerns a republication of an essay pertinent to the topic of Kyle’s post, I will confine my own introduction to three responses that came to my mind during the course of reading.

First, with regards to the assertion that “any direct killing is not only an attack on the creature but an attack on God, which is always and everywhere evil” — I have often wondered how do advocates of this line of thought address God’s summary execution of Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament (Acts Chapter 5)?

Secondly, it seems to me that the adoption of a stance of absolute pacifism in some Christian circles flirts dangerously with the heresy of Marcionism — in that its adherents seem all too willing to draw a sharp divide between the God if the Israelites in the Old Testament (who was not above ordering Israel’s kings, prophets and judges to use lethal force, to say nothing of His own actions) and the by-and-large peaceful and nonviolent God of the New Testament (to which, again, the story of Ananias and Saphira might constitute an unsightly and conflicting blemish). This is exemplified in one reader’s comment:

More proof, if any were needed, that the so-called “Old Testament” should be consigned to the literature shelf, along with Homer and the rest of the primitive, pre-Christian texts. The “O.T.” can be cited to justify virtually any kind of homicide one should want to commit, including genocide. All one needs do is think that he’s channeling God’s will and he can kill with guilt-free abandon. Some call it piety; some call it pathology.

Cardinal Dulles once observed that the Old Testament the Mosaic Law specifies no less than thirty-six capital offenses calling for execution, and that while Jesus refrained from using force in most cases (a notable exeption being driving the money-changers from the temple with a whip), “at no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment.” While he argued in opposition to the death penalty, he wisely saw that one could not do so in ignorance of, or opposition to, Catholic tradition. His example is worth emulating.

My third and final point has to do with the “dirty hands” perspective — the assertion that even in situations where killing is warranted (as a defensive measure), the mere act of taking human life itself is intrinsically immoral, the equasion of armed force with violance, and lethal force to murder, such that any resort to such is deemed necessarily sinful. Or as Kyle says: “Killing is always wrong, even when it’s right.” Curiously, I find this stance indicative of a distinctly Protestant mentality that dispenses with centuries of Catholic thought and tradition. (That said, we are in an age now where it seems that Protestant and Catholic voices have become indistinguishable on this very subject, with multiple fronts voicing indiscriminate condemnation of armed force without qualification).

This last and final point is best argued in the following essay, “War and the Eclipse of Moral Reasoning”, by Dr. Philip Blosser. (Republished here by kind permission of the author) — a discussion of which I hope will bear much fruit.

— Christopher Blosser Continue Reading

7

Occupy America!!!

Certainly some of the issues raises by the ongoing protests at Wall Street and various cities across America are worthy of serious discussion and debate: the disparity between economic classes, the government bailouts to the financial industry and cushy severance packages to failed CEO’s vs the majority of those who can barely scrape by month-to-month, or might have lost their jobs (and homes, and savings) with no such financial safety net (a discussion of such here with Rod Dreher).

If you want serious analysis of the events, I recommend this excellent coverage by Robert David Graham (Errata Security), providing the quality coverage lacking in the mainstream media.

At the same time, it’s hard not to see the whole gamut of political-ideological factions — anarchist, marxist, libertarian, “tea party” (although the latter are branded as infiltrators wishing to “co-opt” the demonstration) — assemble to voice to their righteous indignation, and observe the moments of unintentional comedy and occasional irony that result . . . if not for which we might take their message just a little more seriously: Continue Reading

15

Jesus vs. the Department for Health and Human Services

Proposed HHS regulations for “Required Health Plan Coverage” to be implemented next year will compel every employer to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and abortifacients, which Catholics (and perhaps other religious organizations) will judge as morally-reprehensible.

The Obama administration in their graciousness has provided some form of “conscience-exemption”:

Group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers, and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services. A religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii). 45 C.F.R. §147.130(a)(1)(iv)(B).

but the guidelines here are drawn so narrowly that few, if any, religious organizations will actually qualify for exemption.

As Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB notes, in framing the definition of “religious employer” thus “the HHS has plunked itself right in the middle of the sanctuary. It is trying to define what a religion does and does not do.”:

Catholic hospitals, charities and educational institutions provide about $30 billion worth of service annually in this country. No one presents a baptismal certificate at the emergency room. The hungry do not recite the Creed to get groceries at the food pantry. Students can pursue learning at The Catholic University of America, Villanova or any other Catholic college without passing a catechism admissions test. The commitment to serve those in need, the sick, the hungry, the uneducated, is intrinsic to Catholicism. No federal rule (except now HHS’s) says the church must limit its service to Catholics if it is to be true to its teaching. HHS doesn’t get the parable of the Good Samaritan, who helped the stranger simply because he was in need.

Look at the numbers. Catholic hospitals admit about 5.6 million people annually. That’s one out of every six persons seeking hospital care in the United States. Catholic Charities serves more than 9 million people annually. Catholic colleges and universities teach 850,000 students annually. Among those served are Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics and members of any other religious or irreligious group you can name.

Indeed, it seems as though Jesus himself wouldn’t pass muster at the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services.

(HT: Wheat & Weeds).

2

Pope Benedict on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11


To my Venerable Brother
The Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the further attacks in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mourn the loss of loved ones.

The tragedy of that day is compounded by the perpetrators’ claim to be acting in God’s name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God’s sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere.

The American people are to be commended for the courage and generosity that they showed in the rescue operations and for their resilience in moving forward with hope and confidence. It is my fervent prayer that a firm commitment to justice and a global culture of solidarity will help rid the world of the grievances that so often give rise to acts of violence and will create the conditions for greater peace and prosperity, offering a brighter and more secure future.

With these sentiments, I extend my most affectionate greetings to you, your brother Bishops and all those entrusted to your pastoral care, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and serenity in the Lord,

From the Vatican, September 11, 2011

6

Happy Independence Day!

John Trumbull’s Declaration of Indepenence, commissioned 1817.

1

In anticipation of Corpus Christi

A stirring account from Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York:

Last week, we bishops met for our annual Spring Meeting, this year in Seattle. We had a lot of business: liturgical matters, revision of the Charter to Protect Youth, approval of a defense of fragile human life against physician-assisted suicide, a decision to issue a document to help our priests, deacons, and ourselves preach better . . . plus a lot more.

But the most productive session came on Friday morning. As usual, we began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But then we gathered as the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the monstrance on the altar. There we prayed: morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours; silence; an excellent conference by a brother bishop; silence; opportunity for confession; and closing Benediction.

It was, in my mind, the most productive part of our meeting. Nearly two hundred bishops, on their knees, in silent prayer, before Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist.

As I tip-toed out of the room to stand in line for confession, I heard two of the young hotel workers chatting.

“It’s sure quiet in there,” whispered one of them. “What are they doing?”

“It’s weird,” replied the other. “They’re not doing nothing. They’re all just kneeling there quietly looking at this flat piece of bread in this fancy gold holder.”

He almost got it right . . . except that we believe, with all our heart and soul, that it’s not a “flat piece of bread,” but the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, really and truly present in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

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SOLT Statement Regarding Fr. John Corapi

Official Statement of SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) regarding Fr. John Corapi:

As the Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), I issue the following statement on behalf of the Society.

On 16 March 2011, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the SOLT received a complaint against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. As is normal procedure and due to the gravity of the accusation alleging conduct not in concert with the priestly state or his promises as a member of a society of apostolic life of diocesan right, Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry (put on administrative leave) until such a time that the complaint could be fully investigated and due process given to Fr. Corapi. In the midst of the investigation, the SOLT received a letter from Fr. Corapi, dated June 3, 2011, indicating that, because of the physical, emotional and spiritual distress he has endured over the past few years, he could no longer continue to function as a priest or a member of the SOLT. Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation.

At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT to not only proceed with the policies outlined in their own constitutions, but also with the proper canonical procedures to determine the credibility of the allegations against Fr. Corapi. We reiterate that Fr. Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes. If the allegations had been found to be credible, the proper canonical due process would have been offered to Fr. Corapi, including his right to defense, to know his accuser and the complaint lodged, and a fair canonical trial with the right of recourse to the Holy See. On June 17, 2011, Fr. John Corapi issued a public statement indicating that he has chosen to cease functioning as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. We request your prayers and the intercession of the Blessed Mother for the healing of Fr. Corapi and for any who have been negatively affected by Fr. Corapi’s decision to end his ministry as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

Fr Gerrard Sheehan, SOLT
Regional Priest Servant

Related

3

Memorial Day 2011


Almighty God, our heavenly Father, let thy protection be upon all those who are in the service of our country; guard them from all harm and danger of body and soul; sustain and comfort those as home, especially in their hours of loneliness, anxiety, and sorrow; prepare the dying for death and the living for your service; give success to our arms on land and sea and in the air; and grant unto us and all nations a speedy, just and lasting peace. Amen.

— Prayer in Time of War

11

Waterboarding is for pansies.

‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’ [George Orwell’s 1984 Part III, Chapter 5.]

Those familiar with Orwell’s 1984 know what happens next. And if you haven’t, here’s the final scene of the movie adaptation (embedding disabled).

* * *

A scene which struck me, appropos of the following remarks from a recent exchange here at @ American Catholic:

“What John McCain suffered actually was torture. His bones were broken, for example. Induced panic isn’t torture.”

“I don’t base the definition of torture on subjective determinations. Clearly it’s an issue of prudential judgment and it is certainly clear to me, someone who has severe panic attacks, that panic is not torture.”

“If we cannot induce panic in our enemies with the intention of saving millions of lives, we can’t go to war at all. It’s as simple as that.”

Waterboarding is for pansies. If Ab? Zubaydah could withstand being waterboarded 83 times during August 2002, we’re clearly not doing it right. Let’s turn up the panic a few notches. Let’s take it one step further. Let’s put the fear of God almighty in these pathetic excuses for humanity.

Let’s go Orwellian — “Room 101” style.

21

“the Gaga-who-walks-among-us”

Blogging for the Jesuit national weekly America, Tom Beaudoin (associate professor of theology in the Graduate School of Religion at Fordham) indulges in speculation about the theological and cultural significance of … Lady Gaga, soliciting reflections from a new generation of budding scholars and theologians on Lady Gaga’s “ethos of ‘authenticity'” — as in the following, from a faculty member of Marymount School in NY:

But to think about incarnation in another way, imagine Gaga performing unplugged and sans makeup as her natural-born self. She would then be not the Gaga sanctified and worshipped as “Mother Monster” on a (media) pedestal, but the Gaga-who-walks-among-us, the one who knows and understands the pain of being freak, outcast, and reject.

Recall the furor back in 2005 when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the direction of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, gave the order to dismiss Fr. Thomas J. Reese, former editor of America. The CDF has been long concerned about the Jesuit publication’s promotion of positions on moral issues often in conflict with Catholic teaching. And insofar as the heterodox theological output of America was taken seriously, the Vatican’s concerns seemed warranted.

But in this case, I would encourage Mr. Beaudoin and company to keep up the good work.

9

Resurrection: The Rock Video

Robert Holmes “Rob” Bell Jr. is an American “megachurch” pastor and author of such trendy books as Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, and Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality. His latest book, Love Wins, which from what I can tell is an exploration of Christian universalism, has caused quite a stir of late.

I don’t know a great deal about Rob Bell, save for my stumbling on this video this morning of Rob Bell preaching on the Resurrection.

Now — ordinarily, you might think the the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead would be sufficient enough to provoke some stirring of human wonder in the listener.

Not so.

Rather, the resurrection (or Rob Bell’s speculations on the meaning of such) has to be accompanied by a hip modern rock soundtrack and a streaming psychedelic light show such as I might have enjoyed — oh, perhaps two decades ago, at a Grateful Dead concert, “under the influence.” To such an extent that, at least from my perspective, the content of his message is repressed, obscured by the barrage of the senses.

What is it with these modern, megachurch televangelists?

What does this say about the attention span of the intended audience?

Has the gospel become so boring that we really have to be entertained by it?

4

He is Risen! ~ Happy Easter!

Yes, we believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth. And we celebrate the God who was made man, who suffered, died, was buried and rose again.

We celebrate the definitive victory of the Creator and of his creation.

We celebrate this day as the origin and the goal of our existence.

We celebrate it because now, thanks to the risen Lord, it is definitively established that reason is stronger than unreason, truth stronger than lies, love stronger than death.

We celebrate the first day because we know that the black line drawn across creation does not last for ever.

We celebrate it because we know that those words from the end of the creation account have now been definitively fulfilled: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Amen.

Easter Vigil: Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
St. Peter’s Basilica. 23 April 2011.

7

Terror on the Ivory Coast

The blogger Gateway Pundit relays the news that Muslim Troops have slaughtered 1,000 Christians on the Ivory Coast:

Early reports suggested that more than 800 people, largely from the Gbagbo-supporting Gueré tribe, were killed in a single day at the sprawling Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue, 300 miles west of Abidjan towards the Liberian border. The attackers seem to have been largely soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara.

Late yesterday the Roman Catholic charity Caritas said more than 1000 people were massacred in Duekoue. A Caritas spokesman said Caritas workers visited the town and reported seeing a neighbourhood filled with bodies of people who had been shot and hacked to death with machetes.

The perpetrators of the massacre are troops loyal to the Muslim President Alassane Ouattara, rebels attempting to forcefully remove Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent President refusing to step down after allegedly losing the vote in November 2010.

As Gateway Pundit notes, “the conflict has been brewing for years,” with a country divided between the Muslim North and Christian South and a disputed election of a Muslim president against a Christian incumbent who has remained in office since 2000.

Further reading is required to grasp the true horror (and nature) of the conflict: Continue Reading

34

On the Muslim response to Terry Jones’ Qu’ran Burning (a reply to Rick Sanchez @ Huffington Post)

[A reply to “Burning the Quran Is No Childish Game”, by Rick Sanchez (Huffington Post April 1, 2011; republished at Defend The Prophet) ~ Christopher]

With respect to Terry Jones’ burning of the Qu’ran, my position (as a Catholic) is to echo the statement of the Vatican: it is “an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community,” and an unnecessary provocation (if even to make a point). A peaceful dialogue between communities is not advanced by such a direct attack on the other. Likewise, with respect to caricatures of Mohammed by the Western press:

In addition, coexistence calls for a climate of mutual respect to favor peace among men and nations. Moreover, these forms of exasperated criticism or derision of others manifest a lack of human sensitivity and may constitute in some cases an inadmissible provocation. A reading of history shows that wounds that exist in the life of peoples are not cured this way.

I said as much last year (“Lars Vilks, Gay Muhammad and Freedom of Expression” (American Catholic May 16, 2010) — Lars Vilks may endorse his right to depict a gay Mohammed or a paedophile Jesus. We might countenance his First Amendment “right” to sacrilege as Americans, but I believe as Catholics we should protest such offenses, not only to ourselves but to our fellow Muslims.

However, what I think also merits comment is exactly that which is noted by Rich Sanchez in his column: when a Qur’an happens to be vandalized, such an action is “not only offensive, but also dangerous — especially to our troops.” In fact, Terry Jones’ sacrilege “can have dire consequences for all of us.”

But why would it — why should it — be considered dangerous, even lethal, to our troops?

Surely this fact is a travesty as well?

In the past several days, a Muslim mob protesting the actions of Terry Jones in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, culminated in an attack on the United Nations headquarters, the murder of six Nepalese guards and 3 foreign staff members, “hunted down and shot, some in the back, as they ran from a bunker where they had tried to hide. One person’s throat was also slit.” [“Koran Burning Prompts Third Day of Rage” Globe and Mail April 3, 2011.] Two US soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan border policeman in Maymana, northern Afghanistan (The Telegraph April 5, 2011).

By no means am I equating all Muslims with the mob in Afghanistan. We do not see this level of violent protest here in the United States by American Muslims. But surely those Muslims protesting the actions of Terry Jones, and Mr. Rick Sanchez as well, can agree that there is something seriously amiss when the vandalization of a religious icon — or cartoons published in a newspaper — result in a violent mob and the slaughter of innocents.

Christians, much to our dismay, suffer similar incidents of abuse and vandalization of that which we hold sacred here in America: the Holy Mother smeared with feces, the Crucifix dipped in urine, funded with taxpayer dollars and labled “art” to boot.

And yet, has the media ever reported mobs of Christians hunting down and killing the perpetrators of such sacrilege? — Speaking from personal experience, by and large when such incidents occur, the result is the congregation of Christians in prayer and silent, nonviolent protest.

What is it about Muslims in other nations that we see them react in this manner? Is this a religious thing? — Can it be so readily dismissed as a ethnic or cultural thing?

When critics of Islam depict it as a “violent religion”, why do so Muslim reactions have a tendency to lend credence to the very characterization they are protesting against?

I ask this with all respect, as a reader, as a Christian, and as a friend to the Muslim community.

9

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus on Islam and Reform

Commenting on a prior post by Paul Zummo on “Religious Egalitarianism”, I had cited the provocative comment of the late Fr. James Neuhaus:

Yet more troubling is the message that Islam, in order to become less of a threat to the world, must relativize its claim to possess the truth. That plays directly into the hands of Muslim rigorists who pose as the defenders of the uncompromised and uncompromisible truth and who call for death to the infidels. If Islam is to become tolerant and respectful of other religions, it must be as the result of a development that comes from within the truth of Islam, not as a result of relativizing or abandoning that truth. Is Islam capable of such a religious development? Nobody knows. But, if the choice is between compromising Islamic truth or a war of civilizations, it is almost certain that the winner among Muslims will be the hard-core Islamism that [Bernard] Lewis rightly views as such a great threat.

Christianity is more, not less, vibrantly Christian as a result of coming to understand more fully the mysterious and loving ways of God in His dealings also with non-Christians. Although the story of this development is complex, the important truth is that tolerance and mutual respect are religious, not secular, achievements. I will say it again: the reason we do not kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God is that we believe it is against the will of God to kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God. Christians have come to believe that. We must hope that more and more Muslims will come to believe that. That will not happen, however, if they are told that coming to believe that will make them less faithful Muslims.

I was asked by a reader to expand on Neuhaus’ remarks, and as I’ve no wish to hijack Paul’s post (particularly as it wasn’t about Islam per se), here’s some further food for thought.

What does Neuhaus mean? Continue Reading

1

The Monk-Martyrs of Tibhirine

On the night of 26-27 March 1996, seven Trappist monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria — Dom Christian de Chergé, Brother Luc Dochier, Father Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Father Bruno Lemarchand, Father Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville — were kidnapped. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996.

The actual cause of their death remains in dispute. Their captors, the Armed Islamic Group, initially lay claim to the murders — but a French military attaché, retired General Francois Buchwalter, later reported that the deaths were accidental in a botched rescue attempt by the Algerian army. [Source: Wikipedia]

The fate of these monks was the subject of a book by John Kiser, The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (2003). A new film has been made — “Of Gods and Men” — recipient of many awards and glowing reviews. America‘s Fr. James Martin SJ has lauded it “the greatest film I’ve ever seen on faith.”

In 1996, First Things published an English translation of a letter by the superior of the monastery, Father Christian de Chergé, “to be opened in the event of my death”. In light of the movie it seems appropos to re-post it here, as food for thought: Continue Reading

7

“Carlos” (2010)

Carlos, the film, chronicles the life, and often-bungled operations, of infamous Venezualan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka. ‘Carlos the Jackal’ in service to various Marxist and Islamicist fronts (bankrolled by Syria, Libya and oh, yes — Iraq).

For one so fervently committed to “anti-imperialism”, the end of the Cold War must have been quite disillusioning. The toppling of the Berlin Wall and unification of Germany, the downfall of the Soviet Union, the implosion of the Socialist bloc, the mass revolt sweeping across Europe — the culmination of these events left the once proud, once feared, once notorious “Carlos the Jackal” a relic of ages past, now bereft of support and shelter. You almost feel sorry for the guy: Continue Reading

2

“Settle for Nothing Less.” (Walker Percy)

Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
A: Bad.
Q: No, I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behavioralism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism or Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer, “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact, I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less.

Conversations with Walker Percy (1985)

6

Former Planned Parenthood director tells her story.

Next Tuesday, January 11th, Ignatius Press will launch a new book by former Planned Parenthood director and 2008 “employee of the year” Abby Johnson.

Unplanned is a behind-closed-doors expose of one of the biggest providers in the abortion industry, and a testimony of how Mrs. Johnson went from directing an abortion facility to working for the prolife cause. (And not just any abortion facility but the place at which the first 40 Days for Life campaign was launched in 2004).

As expected, Planned Parenthood isn’t taking this lightly. They filed a lawsuit to shut her up — but had their case dismissed.

Get all the details here, and purchase Unplanned from Ignatius Press at 35% off. You can also read the first chapter of Abby’s story in its entirety.

Abby also blogs at: http://www.abbyjohnson.org/.

Please join her prayer campaign for the conversion of Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the most experienced second & third trimester abortion providers.

2

Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address to the Roman Curia

On December 20, 2010, Pope Benedict gave his traditional annual speech and exchange of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia in the Regia Hall of the Vatican. Here is the full text of the address.

Photo Credit: Reuters December 20, 2010

To assist in my own belated reading of the document, I found it helpful to break down his talk into various bulleted thoughts/subjects (which might prove helpful for others). Continue Reading

5

Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

In his book-length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict emphasized that, with respect to Muslims:

“The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the current within Islam that are open to, and capable of dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.”

Earlier in November, he renewed his call for religious freedom in Muslim countries Continue Reading

3

So many books! So little time!

So many books! So little time! And, unfortunately, not enough to afford them all. Erasmus’ motto, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes” worked during college, but is hard to get away with once you’re married with children and have a spouse to answer to. =)

We’ve heard much lately of Pope Benedict’s interview with Peter Seewald: Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, regarding which Ignatius Press’ Carl Olson has been doing a magnificent job rounding up reviews and discussion across the web; and George Weigel’s “sequel” to his reknowned autobiography of John Paul II: The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, and Patrick W. Carey’s biography Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian.

Here are a few more on the horizon that might be of interest to our readers (and which are definitely on my “to read” list from 2010). Continue Reading

1

New biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles

As if one didn’t have enough books to read already. From Paulist Press, a new biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles, America’s most distinguished Catholic theologian, who passed away in December 2008. (And at 736 pages, it sounds like quite a read).

Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian, 1918-2008
by Patrick W. Carey. Paulist Press. 736p.

Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, is the foremost American Catholic theologian of the post-Vatican II era. This book is a religious and intellectual biography that focuses on his contributions to the development of American Catholic theology and to the larger arena of American Catholic life. The book traces his life and thought from his childhood in a prominent American Presbyterian and political family to his days as a student at Harvard where he converted to Catholicism, to his World War II experience in the Navy, to his ordination as a Jesuit, and then to his career as a theologian in the post-Vatican II era. In the entire twentieth century, no other theologian, with the possible exception of John Courtney Murray, SJ, has had as important an impact upon American Catholic thought. Dulles, though, is unmatched in the twentieth century because of his prolific publications and the wide distribution and reading of his published theology. More bishops, priests, and religious, as well as large numbers of laity, have been influenced by his writings and by any other single American theologian. This book will put his contributions to theology within the wider context of his religious life and the cultural and religious transformations in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century.

Reviews and Related Info

Seminarians make a music video …

It all started in Dr. Blosser’s philosophy class …:

It all started with an off-hand remark I made at the beginning of the semester this fall while talking about the challenges of reading Aristotle and St. Thomas. Students today might find it preferable, I joked lamely, if somebody could come up with a different medium for communicating metaphysics, like, say, a MUSIC VIDEO!

The students politely laughed. But two of them approached me after class with the idea of undertaking precisely such a project. For a moment, I wasn’t sure whether they were joking or serious. They were serious. [more].

The Messiah in the Food Court

SOURCE: On November.13, 2010 unsuspecting shoppers got a big surprise while enjoying their lunch. Over 100 participants in this awesome Christmas Flash Mob. This flash mob was organized by http://www.AlphabetPhotography.com to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Personally, what I found equally impressive was the beautiful display of public (and explicitly Christian) religiosity — and the complete absence of disgruntled atheist loons protesting it. 😉

HT: The Anchoress

9

Pope Benedict and the Great Condom Conundrum

As far as the Great Catholic Condom Conumdrum of 2010 goes (prompted by an excerpt of no more than 2 out of a nearly 200 page book-length interview God and the World), the myriad reactions among Catholic circles, seems to me largely (perhaps loosely) divided among two camps. But this is not simply a division between “progressives” and “conservatives”. Even those who would consider themselves orthodox, faithful adherents to Church teaching and admirers of Pope Benedict are divided.

On one side you have Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, Dr. Austen Ivereigh and even Fr. Lombardi himself. On the other side, you have Janet Smith, Fr. Joseph Fessio, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Consider… Continue Reading

2

Notable Catholic news stories (I mean, besides condoms)

Providing a moment’s respite from what George Weigel dubs the media obsession with “Salvation by Latex”, here are some other notable (and/or interesting) Catholic stories that caught my attention:

3

Thomas Wenski – “hard charging, hog-driving” Archbishop of Miami

Michael E. Miller (Miami New Times) provides a detailed — and fascinating — profile of Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski:

Dressed all in black, the biker roars his 1,800-cc Harley-Davidson Street Glide to a halt on the gravely shoulder of Florida Avenue in Lakeland. Ray-Bans hide his eyes. With his spike-topped black helmet glinting in the South Florida sun, he more closely resembles a Prussian soldier than Easy Rider.

Lucas Benitez spots the motorcyclist and his palms begin to sweat. All day, the stocky Mexican with a buzzcut has led a thousand Latino tomato pickers on the 11-mile march from Plant City to Lakeland to protest the stingy pay of $50 per two tons of fruit torn off the vine. When he looks at the biker, all he can think is: Not another pinche redneck picking a fight.

Then the heavyset motorcyclist steps from his machine and ambles toward the marchers. “Buenas tardes,” he says, holding out a hand. “I’m Bishop Thomas Wenski.” Continue Reading

4

"The New Evangelization"?

Carrying on the mission of his predecessor, Pope Benedict announced in June 2010 a pontifical council for the “the new evangelization”, the principle task of which was to:

[promote] a renewed evangelization in the countries where the first proclamation of faith has already resounded and where there are churches of ancient foundation present, but which are living through a progressive secularization of society and a kind of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.

Fr. Mirilli of Rome seems to have interpreted the Holy Father’s directive in a rather novel manner:A section of the crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso near St. Peter’s Square has boasted tombs of cardinals for centuries, has been turned into a nightclub by Rome’s Catholic Church.

Image Source: The Beerean

Continue Reading

1

Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of the season, Taylor Marshall (Called to Communion) offers “top ten ways to have a Catholic Halloween:

This time of year introduces several debates. Among conservative Protestants it’s “Halloween or no Halloween?” which sometimes becomes “Halloween vs. Reformation Day,” the latter being the celebration of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on Oct 31. Even some Catholics are concerned that Halloween has become “evil.” Well, here are ten ways to keep good ol’ Halloween fun and sacred. …

Secondly, a great reflection by John Zmirak (InsideCatholic) on “the brightest, best moment of the whole liturgical year.”

And speaking of our Protestant brethren, John Mark Reynolds (First Things‘ “Evangel”) asks: Is Reformation Day the new Kwanzaa? 😉

29

A Catholic Ghost Story

What are Catholics to make of supernatural phenomena? and ghosts in particular?

There is little question that the Catholic Church believes in the reality of the spiritual realm — St. Paul in Ephesians speaks of “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” But it is a realm inhabited by angels, demons, and of course, Satan himself. (And, if you’re an enlightened “post-Vatican II” Catholic like Fr. Richard McBrien, you can scoff at the very mention of the latter).

As far as ghosts are concerned, the prevailing tendency among Catholics is to look askance at the concept of “lost souls”, trapped in this life and waiting to cross over. There is scarce mention of “ghosts” in the Catechism and judging by the absence of clear, definitive teaching — the Church has refrained from adopting a firm position on their existence.

According to Gary Jansen, a contemporary Catholic from Rockville Centre, Long Island, ghosts simply didn’t exist. For him, “heaven, hell, angels were basic tenents of my Catholic faith, but never basic tenents of my life. . . . these topics were never discused during my twelve years of attending parochial school.” While his devout Catholic mother would mention strange occurrences, he prided himself on his rationality.

Until, that is, when he had an unsettling encounter in his son’s bedroom in 2007. Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night is an account of one Catholic’s real-life haunting: Continue Reading

20

Woody Guthrie vs. Joseph Ratzinger ;-)

Communist Liberation TheologianOver at Vox Nova, Henry Karlson draws our attention to a video of Bono, expounding on why U2 felt compelled to cover Woody Guthrie’s song “Jesus Christ”. In short, “it’s more relevant today than when he wrote it.”

But why is it more relevant? — For Bono, “we decided to do it because of the line, “the bankers and the preachers, they nailed him in the air.”

Curiousity provoked, I took a look at the complete lyrics:

Continue Reading

1

Praying the Holy Rosary in October

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary — by personal recommendation of Pope Leo XIII:

In a letter of September 1, 1883, mindful of the Rosary’s power to strengthen faith and foster a life of virtue, he outlined the triumphs of the Rosary in past times and admonished the faithful to dedicate the month of October to the Blessed Virgin through the daily recitation of her Rosary in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, in order to obtain through her intercession the grace that God would console and defend His Church in her sufferings.

Beginning on September 1, 1883, with SUPREMO APOSTOLATUS OFFICIO, Pope Leo wrote a total of eleven encyclicals on the Rosary, ending with DIUTURNI TEMPORIS in 1898. (Source: Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello, Catholic.net).

The spread of the devotion of the rosary is attributed to the revelation of Mary to St. Dominic, who sought her help in battling the heresy of the Albigenses. Robert Feeney’s “St. Dominic and the Rosary” gives a detailed account,

Continue Reading

6

"The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II" — George Weigel's sequel to "Witness to Hope"

George Weigel’s new book, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, which was published by Doubleday on September 14, is the fulfillment of a promise the author made to Pope John Paul II less than four months before the pope died. In “A Promise To Pope John Paul II” (“The Catholic Difference” 9/17/10), Weigel gives his account of his parting words to the late Pope before his death:

The conversation over dinner was wide-ranging, and at one point, after the usual papal kidding about my having written “a very big book,” John Paul asked about the international reception of Witness to Hope, his biography, which I had published five years earlier. He was particularly happy when I told him that a Chinese edition was in the works, as he knew he would never get to that vast land himself. As that part of the conversation was winding down, I looked across the table and, referring to the fact that Witness to Hope had only taken the John Paul II story up to early 1999, I made the Pope a promise: “Holy Father,” I said, “if you don’t bury me, I want you to know that I’ll finish your story.”

It was the last time we saw each other, this side of the Kingdom of God.

The End and the Beginning covers the last six years of John Paul II’s life, including:

  • Karol Wojtyla’s epic battle with communism through the prism of previously classified and top-secret communist files
  • the Great Jubilee of 2000 and his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land
  • September 11th, and the Pope’s efforts to frustrate Osama bin Laden’s insistence that his war with the West was a religious crusade
  • the Long Lent of 2002, when the Church in America grappled with the twin crises of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal misgovernance;
  • John Paul’s ongoing efforts to build bridges of dialogue and reconciliation with the Churches of the Christian East
  • his struggle with illness, “which brought him into at least one ‘dark night’ spiritually; and his heroic last months, in which his priestly death became, metaphorically, his last encyclical”

(Given that Weigel was personally engaged in the Catholic just war debate over the war in Iraq, it will be interesting to see the extent to which he covers this aspect of John Paul II’s pontificate).

Related

8

Are you ready for Pope Benedict's next gig?

Preparing for Pope Benedict’s journey to England and Scotland later this week, Catholic bishops have likened the Pope to the headline act at a series of gigs in a ‘cringe-worthy’ guide, exposing the Church to new heights of ridicule.

The Daily Mail reports (September 12, 2010):

In a list of ‘useful terms’ in the official booklet, the three open-air Papal masses – the most solemn occasions of the historic trip – are referred to as ‘shows’ or ‘gigs’, terms normally associated with rock concerts.The document also compares the clergy who organise services – known as liturgists – to ‘performers’ or ‘artists’ …

The unusual glossary raises fresh questions over the handling of Pope Benedict XVI’s four-day visit, which starts on Thursday and has already been mired in controversy.

The Church is distributing thousands of copies of the glossy, eight-page booklet produced by the Papal Visit Team, overseen by Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols. Its cover carries the official slogan of the visit – the first to Britain since 1982 – Heart Speaks Unto Heart.

Insiders said the pamphlet is aimed at workers from companies arranging events, police officers, broadcasters and journalists who may not be Catholics and are unsure about the Church’s rituals and beliefs.

Thomas Peters (The American Papist) puts the Bishop’s phrasing in the most charitable light:

Continue Reading

7

Understanding Pope Benedict XVI on the Liturgy

Assessing Benedict’s views of the liturgy

In “Where Truth and Beauty Meet”: Understanding Benedict (The Tablet August 14, 2010) – Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity, and Fellow and Director of Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, aptly summarizes Pope Benedict’s view of the liturgy and his calls for reform

[Pope Benedict] believes that behind many celebrations of the new liturgy lie a raft of disastrous theological, cultural, sociological and aesthetic assumptions, linked to the unsettled time in which the liturgical reforms were carried out. In particular, he believes that twentieth-century theologies of the Eucharist place far too much emphasis on the notion that the fundamental form of the Eucharist is that of a meal, at the cost of underplaying the cosmic, redemptive, and sacrificial character of the Mass.

The Pope, of course, himself calls the Mass the “Feast of Faith”, “the Banquet of the reconciled”. Nevertheless Calvary and the empty tomb, rather than the Upper Room, are for him the proper symbolic locations of Christian liturgy. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist has to be evident in the manner of its celebration, and the failure to embody this adequately in the actual performance of the new liturgy seems to him one of the central problems of the post-conciliar reforms. … Continue Reading