The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

Tuesday, August 18, AD 2015

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].
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4 Responses to The Many Faces of Dalton Trumbo

  • Stalin will always have his defenders.

    As recently as 2006, Alain Badiou, the long-serving professor of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, France’s leading teacher training college for university lecturers and high school principals, wrote in his Logiques des mondes that “Materialist dialectics assumes, without particular joy, that, till now, no political subject was able to arrive at the eternity of the truth it was deploying without moments of terror. Since, as Saint-Just asked: “What do those who want neither Virtue nor Terror want?” His answer is well-known: they want corruption – another name for the subject’s defeat.”

    The scourge of the French Socialist Party (the equivalent of the American Democratic Party), Badiou is tireless in insisting that “if you say A – equality, human rights and freedoms – you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A.”

    In 2014, at the age of 77, Badiou became president of The Global Center for Advanced Studies in Wyoming MI

  • Great post, Chris.
    ***
    The fact is that Hollywood is getting ready to beatify via cinema a man who was a vocal apologist for Hitler when it suited Stalin to ally himself to Hitler, who then, after the war, compared Winston Churchill to the Nazis for warning about Soviet expansionism.
    ***
    The irony. The man who stood virtually alone in defiantly battling the Nazis gets compared to the Nazis by a small, trifling man who actually propagandized on behalf of the Nazis and was an active apologist for their oppression of those whom they vanquished.
    ***
    And this small, trifling man who justified the worst deprivations of freedom by the worst monsters in history (in Stalin, Hitler, and Kim Il-Sung) is who Hollywood, unsurprisingly, has chosen to make a “hero”, “defender” of freedom, and “martyr” to “right-wing repression”.

  • Great. Hollywood, under the guise of celebrating freedom, will lionize a guy whose sympathies lay with a system built on anything but.
    .
    And the sheep will eat and they will be made glad.
    .
    “If you control the past, you control the present.” – George Orwell, 1984

The Vatican (re)discovers Humanitarian Intervention?

Tuesday, August 12, AD 2014

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”?

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39 Responses to The Vatican (re)discovers Humanitarian Intervention?

  • “But what’s the reason for this sudden ‘about face’?”

    Rediscovering the truth.

  • Mark Shea’s head will explode.

  • Excellent post. Thank you.
    .
    “Mark Shea’s head will explode.” – May God’s will be done.

  • Surely, a clear enough distinction can be drawn between Saddam Hussein 2003 and ISIS now.
    The overthrow of a government, in effective control of its territory, however harsh and repressive it may be is likely to result in mere anarchy with the unleashing of forces that can be neither predicted nor controlled. Opposition to insurgents trying to seize control of a territory, by contrast leaves the existing ordering of society intact.
    Throughout the 19th century, European statesmen sought to shore up the Ottoman power, not because its rule was particularly enlightened or benign, for it was not, but because they feared what might emerge from its collapse among its subject peoples, who were not ready, who, perhaps, never would be ready, for the great adventure of self-government. In this they were right; freed of Turkish suzerainty, the Balkans became the powder keg that ignited the First World War.

  • In this they were right; freed of Turkish suzerainty, the Balkans became the powder keg that ignited the First World War.

    Rubbish. Greece and Serbia had successfully detached themselves from the Ottoman Empire by 1833. The Roumanian provinces were functionally sovereign by 1859, and the northern Bulgarian provinces by 1878. The responsibility for the 1st World War decades later lies with the nine major powers who insisted on fighting it. The bill for any criminal activity by elements of the Serbian intelligence services doesn’t get stuck with the King of Roumania.

  • Hoping for a continuation of plain common sense spoken to this rampage of dark deeds by governments, religious organizations, educational institutions, social groups, and world organization (UN?).

    “No religion can justify such barbarity”
    ” … Opposition to insurgents trying to seize control of a territory, by contrast leaves the existing ordering of society intact. …”

    Life is not cheap and expendable simply by the declaration of extremists.

  • First sentence is disordered – spoken by the above mentioned bodies to the … .

  • Art Deco
    As you might have divined, I was referring, in particular to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, following the Congress of Berlin in 1878, remained under Ottoman sovereignty, although it was occupied and administered by the Dual Monarch, with the consent of the Sublime Porte. The Sanjak of Novi Pazar remained under Ottoman administration, although it was garrisoned by the Dual Monarchy.
    The Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated in its capital by a Serbian nationalist.
    Leaving the most backward peoples in Europe to their own devices would have been foolhardy; to leave them exposed to the intrigues of Russia was little short of criminal.

  • Leaving the most backward peoples in Europe to their own devices would have been foolhardy; to leave them exposed to the intrigues of Russia was little short of criminal.

    There were quite a mess of small states in Europe during the period running from 1833 to 1914. You would be hard put to find an example of one who was a protagonist in aught but localized problems, and you cannot find one in the Balkans prior to 1914. As for the ‘intrigues of Russia’, you’re talking about great powers during the long 19th century; intrigues ‘R’ us. You’re not offering an argument against national states in the Balkans. You’re offering an argument against small states, period, and not a well-crafted argument. That aside, you seem to fancy that when you have two sets of events in time and one precedes the other, the latter is an inevitable outgrowth of the former (at least if you can find some anxiety expressed in the correspondence of some dead Frenchman). That’s perfectly bizarre, as if there were no contingencies in political life (and, in this case, no possibility that seven powers with large armies could come to blows over anything but the Balkans).

    who were not ready, who, perhaps, never would be ready, for the great adventure of self-government.

    Parliamentary institutions of one sort or another were bog standard in Europe after 1860.

  • Francis’ worst canard however ends that above linked – Statement of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue….from yesterday. But first there is a slight implication favoring just violence here:

    ” Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to reestablish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced.”

    I’m sensing they would prefer that the Kurds use pepper spray because they describe it like it’s analagous to curtailing a much smaller group of people who did not just yesterday use a suicide bomber to kill ten Kurd soldiers.
    But shortly thereafter is Pope Francis’ worst proverb series cited as the ending to the whole statement:

    ” Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace. “

    Hitler and Japan were actually defeated by violence and now are beneficent actors. Christ used absolutely no dialogue as He made a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. No dialogue. Zero. Dialogue is irrelevant with law breakers and more so with people who behead little 7 year old girls as ISIS did in Mosul…the worst photo for me …with the forced engaged crying 7 year old girl next to an ISIS mutant…second. We should be bombing all of ISIS stolen US vehicles in Raqqa Syria right now. They’ll come here to the NY harbor no matter what you do or don’t do. People who fade back into all defense in a street fight lose because weakness is provocative to bullies. That’s how Mosul was lost to ISIS…through a lack of violence. Erbil is still free through violent airstrikes and Kurds with balls. But I wish we’d put snipers with the many still on Sinjar mountain.

  • The New York Times is reporting that Obama is considering US forces on the ground on Mt.Sinjar only to escort the Yazidis out into Syria where the Pesh Merga would then accompany them through Syria and back into Kurd territory.

  • I read this story over at Hot Air. Given that it is a secular news and opinion site, the usual bunch of anti-Catholics, ex-Catholics and blithering idiots have to spend time criticizing the Catholic Church. It’s the same old BS – the Church did nothing to help Jews, blah, blah, blah. I’m not registered there and it’s a good thing as I would waste far too much time trying to educate morons about the Catholic history of fighting and beating back Islam.

    Realizing that the Holy See did not want to aggravate Muslims into attacking the small remaining Catholic communities in the Middle East, one can somewhat understand their point of view. The problem is that the Holy See threw away their own experience in dealing with Islam – we are at war with it. Paleocons blame the Israeli state’s existence for Muslim “unrest” in Palestine. Interventionists think that Muslims can learn democracy, when we don’t have democracy here (we have a republic, if in name only).

    The Catholic Near East Welfare Organization is a charity that assists Eastern Christians from Ukraine to the Middle East to India, if anyone is interested.

    I read about this and I want to watch the movie The Day of the Siege. It reminds me that at one time Catholics knew how to deal with the mindless vicious heresy that is Islam.

  • Bill Bannon wrote, “Hitler and Japan were actually defeated by violence and now are beneficent actors…”

    Actually, both Germany and Japan appear doomed to extinction, exhibiting a demographic decline that is probably now irreversible, as the pool of women of childbearing age diminishes. In the case of Japan, half the population will be over 60 by mid-century. Germany will have lost a fifth of its population by the century’s end.

    World War II discredited their cultures in their own eyes and their peoples appear unconcerned with the prospect of national extinction. Cut off from their past, what can they hope to hand on to their children? If we do not continue the lives of those who preceded us, nor prepare the lives of those who will follow us, then we are defined by our physical existence and nothing more, conscious of our own mortality.

  • Michael PS,
    Doomed to extinction? Depressed about being themselves? They both make the best cars. That takes pride. How depressed can they be. Ford never again….I was in the repair shop so often, I had my own key to the rest room.

  • “Doomed to extinction?” – Their total fertility rates tell their own story: Germany’s is 1.42 and Japan’s is 1.42, with replacement being 2.1. In Germany, this has been, in some degree, masked by immigration. In Japan, with little in the way of inward or outward migration, nothing can avert a precipitous decline in its population.

    As for cars, well, that is just what one would expect. An ageing population will spend less and save more for retirement. Demand will shift from present goods to future goods, that is, securities. The price level of present goods falls. The price of future goods rises and the rate of interest falls. The ageing population trades surplus present goods for future goods, that is, it exports goods and purchases securities with the proceeds, shifting the current account balance to surplus. If, like Japan, it has its own currency, the exchange rate will rise.

    That, by the by, is how Japan can sustain a public debt of 214% of GDP, compared to the US’s 72%: most of it is held by its own nationals.

  • “Mark Shea’s head will explode.” – May God’s will be done.

    Not quite. If you look at Shea’s blog of late he’s been banging the “we must do something” drum repeatedly because it’s all America’s fault you know. (the comments as they try and figure out what should be done are hilarious though – thankfully Shea never has to worry about internal consistency since all that matters is how he feels now, yesterday was so long ago)

    Actually, both Germany and Japan appear doomed to extinction, exhibiting a demographic decline that is probably now irreversible, as the pool of women of childbearing age diminishes. … World War II discredited their cultures in their own eyes and their peoples appear unconcerned with the prospect of national extinction. Cut off from their past, what can they hope to hand on to their children?

    Their cultures were barbaric! By that logic, we shouldn’t try to stop, hinder, or reform a serial killer because he finds killing to be such a part of his self-realization that he’d rather commit suicide than give it up. MPS, that’s such insanity I’m surprised you even went there. If your being/culture can only survive by the death and killing of others, then quite frankly you deserve to go extinct.

    Oh wait a minute, look at the fertility rates in the world:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_by_fertility_rate

    Man, Germany & Japan are low but look at all those countries even lower which… weren’t… really involved in any wars. Heck, Canada is only BARELY doing better than them (1.677 vs 1.39), which I’m sure is a consequence of that great Canadian war that… uh…

    In other words: your point is not only morally reprehensible but utter rubbish.

  • “Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace.”

    Pius V disagrees. He didn’t just pray for the Turks to turn away from their dreams of conquest. He asked Catholics to pray the rosary and put together a fleet to beat the Turks to the punch.

  • Nate Winchester wrote, “their cultures were barbaric…”
    An odd description of the culture of Kant and Hegel, of Bach, Beethoven and Wagner, of Goethe, Schiller and Herder, of Mommsen and Ranke, of Heine and Mann.
    As for Japan, Sir Harold Nicholson reminds us that “Readers of the Tale of Genji will recall the exquisite symbolism governing the thoughts and actions of a court lady, Murasaki no Shikibu, in a century when our own ancestors had not progressed beyond the crude table manners of the Anglo-Saxons. At a date when a young Samurai would be pondering whether it would be more seductive to send his love a branch of half-open blossom, or only a row of buds, indicating expectant reserve, our own Tostig, earl of the Northumbrians, would let the mutton-fat congeal upon his matted beard.

  • Bill Bannon wrote, ““Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace.” Pius V disagrees.Pius V disagrees. He didn’t just pray for the Turks to turn away from their dreams of conquest.”

    Yet statesmen just as astute, Bismark and Disraeli to name but two, believed the Ottoman Empire essential to the balance of power. The history of the Balkans and of the Middle East since 1918 suggests they may have been more far-sighted even than Pius V

  • “The history of the Balkans and of the Middle East since 1918 suggests they may have been more far-sighted even than Pius V.”

    Since the Ottomans were looking to use St. Peter’s as stables, I don’t think Pius V was worried about the balance of power in Europe at the time.

  • Michael PS,
    Watch your quotes. I wouldn’t say that quote in two lifetimes. Pope Francis said it and Francis literally copied a word ( “refined”) from sect.40 of JPII’s EV slighting of the OT death penalties…when Francis slighted it also in an interview. God gave thirty plus of them to the Jews and two Popes slight them in public. I think these last two Popes have done a conscious repetition ( Benedict only very late in life) of John Paul II’s pacifistic remarks in order to create a new three man hermeneutic of continuity in this new softer side of Catholicism. Meanwhile it aggravates a world atmosphere wherein six billion people on earth via the UN cannot muster an army to surround a criminal army who are about to defile hundreds of captured women whom neither the Church nor the world is even meeting about as to how to rescue them or buy them back then kill the ISIS horde. One month from now the world and the Church apparently will be talking about other things as 13 year old girls are being defiled by ISIS. It’s surreal. Two Amish girls were abducted last night in northern NY. Was that ISIS fellow travelers? Wouldn’t rule it out. They…ISIS… issued a pro rape fatwa.

  • Brian English,
    Apparently Christ making a whip and violently driving the moneychangers out of the temple without dialogue as a first resort was also a lack of farsightedness. Christ should have known the 70 AD Roman invasion would take care of all temple problems.

  • World War II discredited their cultures in their own eyes and their peoples appear unconcerned with the prospect of national extinction.

    Germany managed to reproduce at replacement rates up until about 1970 and Japan up until about 1975. Taiwan, Korea, Poland, and Spain are in just as wretched shape as Japan and Germany and Switzerland’s not much healthier. It would seem there are other vectors than ‘discredited culture’.

  • “People who fade back into all defense in a street fight lose because weakness is provocative to bullies”

    Ok. I have thought this before and never had the nerve to say it as it seems almost sacrilegious. However, I have gotten my nerve up, so here we go.

    I have wondered more than once if part of the cause of the loss of a grip on the reality on evil men & their actions by the Vatican’s upper eschelons–and the loss of a grip on what is necessary to stop an evil doer–(or a group of determined evil doers s.a. ISIS) is out of the reach of men who do not work directly with or have not raised children. There are stages with most children where only direct action affecting the children will change their behavior. The more immediately damaging the unwanted behavior is, the more immediate and drastic must be the response to that behavior in order to stop it. And there must be consistency consequences in response to children’s misbehavior, or the behavior will often be repeated. Dealing with children forces us to confront such realities of human nature on a regular basis. It might do these religious leaders some good in their attempted applications of spiritual principals to such matters to have to have actual experience with discipling children. Children generally respect action that directly impacts their ability to do as they wish–not just words. Just like terrorists.

    I also think the fact that the Vatican itself has been isolated from terrorist attacks has sway on these modern “peace at any cost” pronouncements coming from the some upper eschelons.

  • Art Deco wrote, “Germany managed to reproduce at replacement rates up until about 1970 and Japan up until about 1975.” Precisely; the decline began as the war-time generation came to the end of it childbearing years and the post-war generation failed to reproduce.
    I certainly would not suggest that the reason for a fall in TFR is everywhere the same. In places such as Ukraine and Moldova, emigration of young people plays a significant role; in those Muslim countries, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia that have seen a sharp decline in their TFR, there is a strong negative correlation between TFR and female literacy rates.

  • Barbara Gordon
    Perhaps, the Vatican realises that what we are witnessing is a Sunni-Shia conflict that, like the Thirty Years War in Europe, will only end through mutual exhaustion.
    The real enemy is Iran, whose nuclear ambitions do pose a threat to the existence of Israel. Anything that weakens, humiliates or destabilises Iran’s allies and proxies in the region – the Assad regime in Syria, the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon – is, to that extent, a good thing, however unpalatable one finds the various radical Sunni groups.
    If minorities can be protected by humanitarian relief or the establishment of safe havens, that is all to the good, but it should not be allowed to obscure the big picture.

    The West should follow Richelieu’s policy; he, one recalls, repressed Protestants at home, whilst supporting them against the Habsburg power abroad. This is precisely what Saudi Arabia appears to be doing with radical Islamists

  • “I have wondered more than once if part of the cause of the loss of a grip on the reality on evil men & their actions by the Vatican’s upper eschelons–and the loss of a grip on what is necessary to stop an evil doer–(or a group of determined evil doers s.a. ISIS) is out of the reach of men who do not work directly with or have not raised children.”

    Barbara Gordon: You are not the only one who has wondered that. (I’ll go further and say that I think the Vatican should consider drawing her priests from both unmarried men and married men, but that is a topic for another time.)

  • “…is out of the reach of men who do not work directly with or have not raised children.”

    I’m not so sure about that though it may in part be correct. I was single for a long time but realized the evil men can do through my work.

    That may be the problem. Once upon a time priests were tutored about real evil through the confessional. They could also see it in the streets they walked in a world racked by sin and ready death.

    Now there are few confessions and the streets (in much of the World) are clean, healthy and safe – particularly in the West. If you’re stationed in the Vatican, you’re surrounded by many who have never really experienced evil at any level. They have benefitted from a sixty plus year peace in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. They have seen the “success” of the social welfare state and even continue to push for an enlargement of it.

    Now history returns.

  • @Barbara, I agree, and I think you said it very well: Dealing with children forces us to confront such realities of human nature on a regular basis. It might do these religious leaders some good in their attempted applications of spiritual principals to such matters to have to have actual experience with disciplining children.

    Each child you care for confirms for you that 1. he has a precious soul, and 2. he is a fallen creature.

    @Phillip, very well said. Men (and women) used to deal more closely with children even when they had none of their own.

    Niall Ferguson got into terrible trouble recently for wondering aloud whether John Maynard Keynes’ economic conclusions were informed by his child-free lifestyle.

  • We seem bent on turning our soldiers into cops and our cops into soldiers. You have probably (unless you have been living under a rock for the past week) all heard about the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., by now. Without getting into all the racial, criminal justice, political, etc. issues involved, let’s just say that when a suburban police force is better armed and taking more aggressive postures than soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — there are numerous pictures and commentaries online by military veterans and other experts pointing this out — something ain’t right. In fact the two phenomena are related: as our military has been reduced to a mere international police force, the leftover military equipment has been filtering down to state and local police departments, with predictable results.

  • “There are testimonies of life under Saddam I could relay that are just as blood-curdling and noxious as any you would read today under ISIS. And yet, what comes to my mind with respect to the Church’s predominant stance vis-a-vis Saddam is not one of clear moral condemnation of Hussein’s regime at the time (did I miss it?), but rather the mental image of the smug, cigar-chomping Taraq Aziz, Saddam’s Deputy Prime Minister — shaking the elderly Pope John Paul II’s hand after receiving “red carpet treatment”; the latter’s resounding declaration of “NO TO WAR”. No doubt the Holy Father was genuine in his intentions, but I couldn’t help but think Saddam got the better of that particular photo-op, or what those persecuted Iraqis under him might have felt.”

    Imagine, just imagine, what the reaction today would have been if Pope Pius XII had been as protective of the Nazi regime as John Paul II, or rather I think in his latter days, various Vatican officials were of Saddam’s regime. The attitude seemed to be in regard to Saddam that as long as he treated Christians in Iraq no worse than he treated most Sunnis than the Vatican was opposed to his forcible removal. As Sandro Magister noted in this story from 2002, the Vatican had a deliberate policy of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses by Saddam:

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/6892?eng=y

  • Donald R. McClarey wrote, “The attitude seemed to be in regard to Saddam that as long as he treated Christians in Iraq no worse than he treated most Sunnis than the Vatican was opposed to his forcible removal.”

    Could it not be a case of « Et puis? » namely, that the results of his removal were likely to be both unpredictable and uncontrollable.

    History suggests that minorities often fare batter under authoritarian rulers (especially where those rulers belong to a minority themselves, like the Mughals in India)than under those that have to pander to the mob. Such governments wish, above all, to forestall or repress any widespread popular excitement and to see their subjects going quietly about their own business.

    Jewish communities have a long history of reaching accommodation with rulers in Moorish Spain, North Africa and the Middle East, who saw them as a valuable source of revenue and, sometimes as physicians and financial advisers, in places where, if the masses had had their way, they would have been expelled or slaughtered. The history of the Parsees, Jains and Sikhs in India is similar, where Muslim princes were, often enough, their protectors against the Hindu masses.

    One could add that Saddam was a check on Iran, which constituted (and constitutes) an existential threat to Israel, which he did not.

  • “History suggests that minorities often fare batter under authoritarian rulers”
    Not under Saddam as the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs would be happy to attest.

    “One could add that Saddam was a check on Iran”

    Rubbish when one considers his failed war against Iran. If anything he cemented the power of the mullahs in Iran by his failure, after spilling rivers of blood, to conquer the oil regions of Iran. The simple truth is that Saddam was a mortal threat to not only the people luckless to live under his rule but the entire Middle East as demonstrated by his Iraq-Iran war and his failed attempt to annex Kuwait, all in an attempt to make himself the controller of most of the oil on Earth. Saddam was a minor league Hitler who wished to enter the major leagues.

  • Needed is a smashing US military victory over ISIS. Else ISIS will mass-murder Americans in America.

  • Dealing with children forces us to confront such realities of human nature on a regular basis.
    –Barbara Gordon

    I learned a lot about dealing with women and children from training dogs.

    And dealing with women and children taught me a lot that was useful when teaching adults in a classroom.

    Barbara Gordon’s speculations about “men who do not work directly with or have not raised children” are, in my experience, much more applicable to men who suffer from too much concern for the opinion of females–a deep problem throughout Christendom since the Victorian Era.

  • Donald R. McClarey wrote, “”History suggests that minorities often fare batter under authoritarian rulers”
    Not under Saddam as the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs would be happy to attest. “

    But we should not overlook the prominent rôle of Tariq Aziz and other members of the Christian community in the Ba’ath party. Saddam used stern measures against dissidents and separatists; there is not a shred of evidence that he ever persecuted Christians, simply for being Christians. The same is true of Yarsanis, Yazidis, Zoroastrians and other religious minorities

    As for the Iran-Iraq war, this certainly weakened a régime that is confronted with a declining number of men of military age and diminishing oil revenues. We can only hope that conflicts arise between Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan over oil rights in the Caspian, especially as 25% of Iran’s population are ethnic Azeris.

    Of course, one cannot but welcome the destruction of the security apparatus in Iraq, along with its political and civil society (and in Syria, too). Anything that weakens Israel’s enemies by plunging their counties into chaos must be welcome to Christians everywhere.

  • “But we should not overlook the prominent rôle of Tariq Aziz and other members of the Christian community in the Ba’ath party. Saddam used stern measures against dissidents and separatists; there is not a shred of evidence that he ever persecuted Christians, simply for being Christians.”

    That is incorrect. After the Gulf War Saddam liked to appear as a champion of Islam and persecution of Christians was ever increasing. Your citation of lickspittle Tariq Aziz is ironic. His real name is Mikhail Yuhanna. Saddam forced Assyrian Christians, the largest group of Christians in the country to adopt Arab names. The Assyrian written language was suppressed. When Michel Aflaq, the founder of Saddam’s Baath Party, died in 1989, Saddam falsely claimed that he had converted to Islam and had him buried as a Muslim, to the dismay of his family. Such persecutions do not fit the rosy picture that has been painted of life under Saddam since his fall.

    http://www.wnd.com/2004/08/25902/

    The Christians in Iraq of course also had to deal with the usual terrors of living in a police state that all Iraqis were subject to.

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on D-Day

Friday, June 6, AD 2014

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.

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6 Responses to Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on D-Day

  • I almost feel embarrassed reading that. It’s hard to explain. It’s like looking at childhood pictures of a family counselor and realizing that the abuse he grew up with made him the man he is today. You can practically see young Josef surrounded by the assault against reason, law, humanity, and God, and realizing that he had to dedicate his life to showing the value and interrelatedness of these things. How could anyone forced into the Hitler Youth not grow up to be a theologian?

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  • Thank you Pinky

  • “A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the [German] state.”

    Has a strangely familiar ring to it, does it not, my friends in USA ? 🙁

  • Very familiar! And as you know he wrote this 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary and before the current administration of U.S.A.
    I followed the link to B16’s writing Very worth reading.

    What he said about peace after the war:
    “.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.

    “Across Europe ran a frontier, and not just across our continent, but dividing the entire world. A great part of Central Europe and Eastern Europe came under the domination of an ideology that subjected state to party, in the end, effacing the difference. Here, again, the result was the rule of lies. Visible after the collapse of these dictatorships, was the enormous destruction – economic, ideological, and psychological – which followed from this rule. In the Balkans, there were the entanglements of belligerency, bringing, along with the admittedly ancient burdens of history, new explosions of violence.
    I
    And:
    ” Truly, the relationship between reason and religion is of the first importance in this situation, and the struggle for the right relationship belongs at the heart of our concern for the cause of peace. There are pathologies of religion – we see this; and there are pathologies of reason – we see this, too, and both pathologies are life threatening for peace – indeed, in an age of global power structures, for humanity as a whole.”

    And finally:
    ” Even a secular state may – indeed, must – find its support in the formative roots from which it grew, it may and must acknowledge the foundational values without which, it would not have come to be, and without which, it cannot survive. Upon an abstract, an a-historical reason, a state cannot endure. “

  • “A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the [German] state.”
    Has a strangely familiar ring to it, does it not, my friends in USA ? 🙁
    Yes it does Don the Kiwi.
    .
    The human being is church and state, religion and politics, body and soul. Man’s soul is reason to believe in God. The recently excommunicated group “We are church” usurps the authority and power of the church to hold sway over the hierarchy. The recently installed president denies the soul to hold sway over man’s conscience.
    .
    The consummate clarity with which Pope Benedict XVI speaks defines Hitler’s takeover of a legitimate government in Germany, his country. Benedict describes the situation precisely.

Edward T. Oakes, S.J., RIP

Saturday, December 7, AD 2013

[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

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

Tuesday, November 5, AD 2013

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. …

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

  • I sure do miss Cardinal Dulles.
    I grow weary at the extreme positions either recklessly taken or unfairly attributed in this debate. The truth is simple — we don’t know. The Church’s doctrine of Baptism of Desire is not fully developed, and therefore its precise boundaries are simply not known. The Holy Spirit has not seen fit to reveal those boundaries (at least yet). Accordingly, Catholics are free to hope for an expansive application of the doctrine, but are not free to assume it with confidence. This uncertainty may actually be a blessing to the extent it allows us to hope and pray for loved ones who died as non-believers while it simultaneously impels us to share the Gospel and evangelize so that others may be saved. Uncertainty is not always bad. God knows what he is doing.

  • Brilliant review, Christopher. This book goes on my “must” list.

  • Brilliant review, Christopher…
    &npbsp;

    I’ll second that. If the book is half as well-done as this review, it’s worth buying.

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  • This is a faith filled and reasoned reflection on a very important question: “”Will many be saved?” Ralph Martin has established himself as a major theological light in the Catholic Church in America. He joins a growing list of Catholic theologians who are tackling tough subjects and/or texts of the Second Vatican Council that up until this point have not interpreted well.

    Martin has tackled this tough issue/question because on it rests the real understanding of the Church’ mission, especially in the New Evangelization

  • Botolph, you get too upset with facts, so as you have said previously, please dont read my comments following: “For others (pro multis):
    Von Baltasar was instrumental in influencing many individuals at the V2 Council (Rahner; Schillebeeckx; Congar; others) and in the V2 Concilium commission on the liturgy in the subsequent years in radicalizing the translation of “this is cup [that]…will be shed for you and for all” Instead of the now-corrected version (“for you and for many”). At last a prima facie study of the theological break at Vat2 that tried, and to a great degree has succeeded, in a discontinuous “new theology”, one aspect of which is that “all will be saved” (a viewpoint with which Pope Francis’ recent statements are entirely consonant). Too bad it isnt in line with Catholic tradition. But I doubt Bergoglio worries much about that.

  • This question is as you all know, not academic. We have loved ones who are living in mortal sin, in peril. Taking our concern to bishop and priest we are given the advice to not worry about it “God won’t let him be lost”

    the universal call to holiness (salvation) includes a universal requirement to repentance.

  • Anzlyne,
    Yes, and it is because I seriously doubt that repentance is or will be universal (the pride of the fallen angels is sadly shared by fallen men) that I also doubt that salvation is or will be universal. But alas, we just don’t know. We can hope that our loved ones and neighbors, including those “living in mortal sin,” will eventually repent and share in the beatic vision. Just to be clear, we don’t even know with certainty if such repentance must occur in our life on earth. There is much we don’t know, and it is folly and arrogant for us to assume things we can not know. Hope is fine, as long as it is accompanied by an uncertainty grounded in humilty rather than certainty grounded in false confidence and arrogance.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t von Balthasar’s question (dare we hope that all be saved) related to the question “Was Christ’s sacrifice big enough to save all?”
    Since his sacrifice was infinitely enough, and since we cannot know a soul’s choice immediately after death, we can surely HOPE that all can be saved. THAT is the question. We can HOPE that this is so. But we have free will, and probably, some do not choose salvation. But , on this side of heaven, we must always hope…and pray …for the salvation of ALL. To do otherwise would be arrogant and vain, and we would risk the good of our OWN soul by the limits placed upon God’s grace and mercy. While it is true that it is possible for souls redeemed by Christ to be eternally lost, it is ALSO possible that all can be saved (albeit, as through fire)…the question is whether or not we believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, which opens this “possibility”.

  • I believe that you are 100% correct, Sari. While I seriously doubt all will be saved, I think it is hard to fathom why we wouldn’t hope for such. Certainly, Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient. Whether all will choose to cooperate through repentence is not for us to know.

  • “One can cease to believe in hell, without marching orders from a German-speaking theologian.”
    WE know that the devil is in hell. Persons who embrace the devil and reject almighty God are in hell with the devil. To say that there is no hell is to reject the free will that God has endowed to the sovereign human being, and the existence and immortality of the human soul.
    We know that the soul of Jesus Christ descended into hell. God, the Father and the God, the Holy Spirit accompanied Jesus. God, the Father created Hell out of necessity and pity over Lucifer’s betrayal. Jesus has Lordship over Hell, now and forever.
    Jesus is in perfect and pure conformity to the will of God, the Father. Jesus could no sooner reject Himself as to reject His Father and His Father’s love. It is Aquinas’s law of non-contradiction. God cannot and does not contradict Himself. Jesus descended into Hell. Hell rejected and rejects God and Jesus WHO is God. If Jesus was not rejected by Hell, then Hell would have become Heaven. If Jesus is not rejected by Hell, then Hell becomes Heaven. Needless to say, the devil’s free will would have been impugned and annihilated. Hell would have been annihilated and God would have contradicted HIMSELF. Therefore, God would be annihilated unless there is a Hell inhabited by Lucifer, Satan, Legion, and those who go there by choosing to reject God.
    Atheism is Hell.

  • Sari,Mike and Mary,

    I really enjoyed and fundamentally agree with your thoughts. What we are dealing with here is the Mystery of Salvation. It is a Mystery which means that while we can say what it doesn’t mean, what it really and fully mean will never be grasped and/or understood completely in this life. This is the reason Saint Thomas Aquinas urges us to go beyond the particulars of a dogma or doctrine into the Mystery it is revealing. We cannot cast the doctrine or dogma aside or treat it as “relative”. Instead we need to enter into the saving truth, allow ourselves to. Be grasped by it and brought into the deeper Mystery of our Triune God.

    This Mystery begins in our Triune God, “God so loved the world that He sent His Only Son that those who believe in Him might have life…” (John 3.17). The Mystery of salvation begins within the Mind and Heart of the Father Whobsends His Son and the Holy Spirit “for us men and for our salvation”

    Mankind and each human being finds its/our dignity in communion with the Blessed Trinity. This communion was and has been broken/divided from the very beginning of human history and the moment of our conception. Together, and individually we are in radical need of salvation: communion and participation in the very Life-Love of the Blessed Trinity.

    Jesus Christ has come revealing the Father’s love-mercy and just how much our need for salvation is. Through His whole Life, but especially His Death and Resurrection, Christ has been and continues to reconcile us to the Father and to one another in the grace of the Holy Spirit.

    Over the centuries the Church has guided us away from two extremes: that very few are saved (because this denies the saving will and power of the Trinity) and its opposite, that all are saved (because this denies both the freedom of the human will to actually and willingly reject God, His grace and salvation and it denies the depth and power of the mystery of iniquity-sin)

    We can indeed both hope and pray for the salvation of “all”, but match that with taking up, according to our own vocation and graces (charisms) the new evangelization as well as interceding for and doing penance (especially on Fridays) for sinners

  • Botolph: Yours is a very beautiful comment.

  • Thank you, Mary.

  • Into the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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

Wednesday, March 20, AD 2013

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.

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

  • Pope Francis has made it quite clear on his attitude to politicians who persue a liberal pro abortion, and pro anything else agenda that contravenes the Church’s teaching, that they should be excluded from Holy Communion until they recant their position.
    Who is her bishop, and what is he doing about it?

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi-D (CA-12) resides in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Her ordinary is Archbishop Cordileone.

    What is the Archbishop doing about the Pelosi scandal? Nothing in public, double-secret probation maybe?

    Also residing in the same diocese are Catholic but pro-abortionists Rep. Jackie Spier-D (CA-14), Rep. Anna Eshoo-D (CA-18), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey-D (CA-6). Woolsey retired from Congress this year and Eshoo is a Chaldean Catholic, her ordinary is Bishop Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo of the Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle (Western U.S.). Rep. Eshoo was, with Vice-President Biden, a delegate chosen by Obama to attend Pope Francis’s installation.

    Did I say “Pelosi scandal”? It’s the Pelosi et. al. scandal!

  • The delegation is, itself a scandal. It is as though the Administration intentionally sent those who masquerade as Catholic as a direct insult. (I am reminded of Blazing Saddles.)

    Does he really think that the Vatican doesn’t know precisely the public beliefs of these folks or that such an affront will not have an effect on the Vatican’s relationship with the Administration or is it that so many of our fellow Catholics accept “freedom of conscience” as the highest good that it no longer matters?

  • “Pelosi needs to be formally warned”

    Pelosi needs to be excommunicated. Not only does she vote pro-abort, she has long sought to confuse the public as to teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion and other issues. If she is not subject to the sanction of excommunication, than it truly has no more meaning.

  • Jesus the Christ who has chosen His Vicar on earth the Bishop of Rome and the college of bishops did not grant ME or YOU permission to judge the interior state of anyone’s soul. I have no idea what if any bishop or archbishop said or did with any US public figure in private or by letter, Except Archbishop Naumann of KC KS who publicly spoke about his communication with Secretary Sibelius former governor of KS. Moral theology distinguishes between different types of ignorance, vincible and invincible. Does Ms Pelosi know and ignore or not know. IF she was formed in her faith since the 1960’s in San Francisco, can we guess at what incense, bells or vestments she witnessed at Mass and what formation she had and in what school. A Demo POTUS picks his Party to represent the US at papal events a GOP his, “W” attended JP11’s funeral. HE sent a cardinal a friend of the Bush family, former papal nuncio to ask “W” as did his own Daddy not to invade Iraq. Some listen and act, some nail the Christ to the Cross. I for one dare not judge anyone’s inner thinking or her Archbishop’s or any Popes’ who are elected to SHEPHERD A BIG WORLD as they see it..

  • Lone Thinker, what are we to do when someone flaunts their own self worship and teaches lies to vulnerable Christians?

  • “Does Ms Pelosi know and ignore or not know. IF she was formed in her faith since the 1960′s in San Francisco, can we guess at what incense, bells or vestments she witnessed at Mass and what formation she had and in what school.”

    Rubbish. Pelosi is of pre-Vatican II vintage. Her father was the late Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., the corrupt former Democrat Mayor of Baltimore. She graduated from elite Catholic institutions, all pre-Vatican II. She knows better, she just doesn’t give a damn. Her true religion is left wing liberalism.

  • Still does not allow me to judge her soul. Neither does it explain what spiritual example she experienced in Baltimore. As to the other question posed to me, I caught heck from pro-aborts and pro-death penalty advocates in my active teaching and public life in the USA and still do in retirement in a secluded home surrounded by trees and a lovely garden in northern Europe. The snakes and rats get in through all media including the internet.
    JFK died fifty years ago this November. Dear GOP friends hate his name and family. I always say if the Right want to listen- compare what he may have done privately with his “man bits” to what RWR and “W” did and Barry O’ 8th cousin Irish citizen in JFK’s ancestral homeland did and do with their use of tax money and air force bombers and drones. GOD knows, I certainly do not.
    But I do try to have a weltenschaung. A global outlook. Popes do also with more grace and wisdom than I can only admire.

  • Lone Thinker,

    Actually, it’s pretty clear — Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”

  • Still does not allow me to judge her soul.

    We’re not judging her soul. She has very publicly proclaimed public policy positions that are opposed to Church teaching. In doing so, she has caused a grave scandal, and until she renounces those positions publicly, she is unworthy of receiving Holy Communion. From the Catechism:

    2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. the person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

    2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”85 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.86

    2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

    Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.”87 This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger,88 or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.

    2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”89

  • “Still does not allow me to judge her soul.”

    It sure allows us to judge her conduct and to assume that she was properly instructed in the Faith. When she publicly contradicts Church teaching she knows precisely what she is doing. That she has not yet been excommunicated is a grave scandal.

  • Thank all of you. It seems my plain objective teaching is still being perceived as YELLING and being JUDGMENTAL. I have long since tired of irrational discourse and being lectured by irrelevant and obvious facts that are not or never were in dispute.” Shalom All Y’all” as we said in Arkansas synagogues AND if you add “Come back y’all.” I aint gonna be here. Ya hear that Y’all?

  • “aint gonna be here. Ya hear that Y’all?”

    We will attempt to soldier on somehow LT.

  • No one is judging her soul. Not one person said, “She’s going to hell.” They’re saying that she shouldn’t receive communion. But the bible is quite clear that those who receive unworthily bring condemnation to themselves. Saying that out loud isn’t “judging” in the sense that it’s a human condemning someone, it’s observing the truth & pointing it out. Me saying, “the bible says she’ll probably end up in hell,” doesn’t make it so because God is all-merciful. She could have a death-bed conversion, who knows? And me saying that doesn’t make it so either. Me saying, “the bible says she’ll probably end up in hell,” could put me in the “lest you be judged” category, but pointing out someone else’s blatant sin is actually a work of mercy, not a “judgment” in the biblical sense.

  • The problem I have with lone thinkers lone thinking is that lone thinking is not thinking with the rest of the body of Christ. To be excommunicated is certainly to be denied holy Communion and all the Sacraments. But a certain very functional part over the centuries has been the earthly “effect” or consequences of being out of communion with the rest of the body. Ostracized. Anathema. Without that fellowship. Without even burial in the Church during ages when Death was perhaps a more present reality. Now there are so many Nancy Pelosi types ( look at the list of the Obama delegation) that they feel no social pressure, in fact they feel vindicated and superior.
    So they are forming their own group and think they will prevail.. and you know, they do have a certain unity among themselves. meanwhile all the “lone thinkers” we know keep firing their weapons into our circle of communio

  • that is supposed to read:
    all the “lone thinker” Catholics we know among us keep firing their weapons into our circle of communio.

  • If she is not excommunicated formally by her bishop, is there any recourse in canon law? Can the bishop conveniently turn a blind eye and that’s the end of the matter as far as the Church is concerned?

  • Pelosi, Biden, and their ilk have already excommunicated themselves from the Church. It is quite obvious that they are not believers, otherwise they would not have been willing to cheaply sell their souls.
    Certainly, they are an embarrassment to the Church and Archbishop Cordileone places his own soul in serious jeopardy by not showing solicitation for the souls of these heretics, but more importantly, for the souls who have been led astray, and will continue to be led astray by Pelosi’s example.
    Archbishop Cordileone and all other faithful bishops around the country must make a definitive and very public statement denouncing such politicians.
    Pelosi has emasculated Archbishop Cordileone. How much longer do we have to wait for authentic Church leadership?

  • Nothing of a disciplinary nature is going to happen to Pelosi this side of the veil. I’ll bet $50 that, after she shuffles off this mortal coil, she gets a Catholic funeral, too. Any takers?

  • After chucking a pale full of stones yesterday I believe lone-thinker has a valid and worthy view.
    Last weekends Gospel fits here.
    The trouble with admonishing sinners is you don’t know their hearts fully, nor do we know their last confession. We shouldn’t know.
    I apologize for my rant on what was suppose to be “good fun” at obama.
    May God have Mercy on All of us.

  • I remember when there was a “dirty” movie playing down at the Rivoli Theatre, our Pastor would stand outside and turn away his parishioners. Pelosi is a non-existent Catholic.

  • Her father was the late Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., the corrupt former Democrat Mayor of Baltimore.

    He was never indicted, but it would not surprise me as Maryland had a wretched political culture. (Spiro Agnew’s attorney later reported that Agnew had told him that bribery of the sort of which Agnew was accused had been going on ‘for a thousand years’.) That having been said, d’Alesandro was a decent chap in many respects, a local insurance agent with a large family who lived in an unremarkable row house in Baltimore to the end of his life. I doubt he ever in his life advocated vice and immorality. Even if he got on the wrong side of the law (or, more likely, provided a conduit for others to benefit from illicit activity), it is difficult to regard him as unappealing when compared to his gaudy daughter.

  • Jesus said to the adulteress, after saving her from stoning -and shaming her accusers: “Go and sin no more.” I ask myself: What if this same woman were caught again in adultery after Jesus’ display of mercy and rebuke to her accusers? What if those same accusers again confronted Jesus with the question whether the law should be applied so that she should be stoned after the repeated sin? Would Jesus then have condemned her and allowed the stoning? I think not – and believe that he would forgiven seven times – or seven times seventy times – so great is His mercy. What are the bishops to do? I think the answer is obvious.

  • Philip: Jesus Christ forgave the woman her sins because she appealed to Him, like every one of us does in confession. Jesus Christ is the only innocent man WHO ever lived. I can forgive my murderer, I cannot forgive your murderer, without becoming an accessory after the fact of a crime or sin. Pelosi has become a hardened sinner and unless Pelosi is chased down with a bucket of stones she may not appeal to confession. Being a constituent of a crooked politician is reason enough to demand recourse for injury. Our infant children must be protected from being seduced into the wasteland of Pelosi’s soul.

  • Maryland had a wretched political culture

    Had?

    Well, I guess it’s not as corrupt as it once was, it’s just wretched for other reasons.

  • Canons 712 and 916 do not require excommunication.

    Canon 712 provides that “Those who are publicly unworthy are forbidden from receiving the
    Divine Eucharist” and Canon 915 provides that “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

    Neither is a penal provision and they are designed for the protection of the sacrament and to avoid scandal. Canon 712 is directed to the individual and Canon 915 to the minister of the sacrament.

  • The thing about Maryland is that fully 30% of the population are residents of metropolitan Washington, which has a very unusual occupational mix. If the set of counties and municipalities which make up the federal metropolis were segregated from the surrounding territory, the politics of Maryland and Virginia would be quite different. The residuum of Maryland is almost evenly divided between big-city Rustbelt and Southern-lite. Clubhouse politics was still important in Baltimore into the 1980s.

  • Mary De Voe-
    I’m struggling with that fine line.
    I want to speak from the rooftops for the sake of the murdered unborn.
    However what good am I if I am a modern day Pharisee. If we are to be judged on love more than any other virtue, thwn

  • …then what! Tough love?

    opps….phone and thumbs this pm. Sorry.

  • It’s important to keep in mind that excommunication is not a punishment, or at least it is not principally a punishment. The ultimate goal of excommunication is actually to bring that person back to full communion through correction. If Pelosi is allowed to continue her public break from Catholic teaching and allowed to spread scandal as she has without censure, then she may never be brought to the truth. So for those who continue to push back against excommunication, I hope you realize you’re in a way pushing for a non-course of action that is as damaging if not more so to Ms. Pelosi’s soul than the status quo approach.

  • A lot has been said, with obvious merit, about Pelosi and Catholic pols like her who use their power to advocate policies that undermine core teachings of the Church. If this is the case, is it not also scandalous, of equal or perhaps greater degree, that the Catholic hierarchy has really done nothing about it?

    The purpose of excommunication is a spiritual work of mercy, as well as an act of justice, to admonish the sinner and protect those who might be scandalized by the conduct of the sinner.

    Certainly, one can question whether or not excommunication would have a positive effect on bringing Pelosi and others like her around get them to clean up their act. As to the scandalous effect of such behavior, Pelosi’s Catholic influence is practically nil. Even the most igorant of Catholics and even those hostile to the Church know and admit that Pelosi’s positions are seriously out of line with the teaching of the Church.

    So, would excommunication help? Maybe. Maybe not. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Anathema sit and be done with it, I say! Then maybe we won’t have to listen to people like Ed Peters bitch and moan about heterodox Catholic politicians while looking the other way at the scandalous behavior of their “orthodox” Catholic celeb buddies who slander or protect them with their silence.

    Then we can honestly say we have made a good faith attempt to pull the board out of own eye before removing the speck out of our bother’s.

  • Bishops please intervene if you haven’t already. Brothers and sisters in Christ pray for this blatant sacrilege to cease.
    For your Holy Church Father please assist us.

  • “I caught heck from pro-aborts and pro-death penalty advocates” “their Creator endows the newly begotten soul with unalienable rights” What God has joined togther let no man put asunder”. Man is composed of human body and rational soul at the will of God. Abortion puts God’s will asunder.
    I can forgive my murderer. I cannot forgive your murderer without becoming an accomplice after the fact. It is the duty of every citizen to bring a criminal to Justice. Judges in court are the personification of almighty God’s perfect Justice.

  • In a January 2009 speech Pelosi said: ” We cannot afford these people. They have to be aborted.” More infamous than her: “Pass it (Obamacare) so we can learn what is in it.”, Pelosi said that the state owns the unborn to be aborted at will. Pelosi also said that she speaks for all of “WE”, the people.” Pelosi abandoned the unborn to abortion. Pelosi does not speak for the unborn. Pelosi did not listen to our Pope, her bishop or any pro-life constituents. Pelosi cannot speak for us. So, for Whom does Pelosi think she speaks? Why does Pelosi persecute the innocent virgins in the womb? Pelosi is good, the perfect mannequin.
    @ Philip: Do not call yourself a Pharisee, let others do it. Our founding principles are all you need. Those in the bottomless pit havn’t a leg to stand on. And its OK to fail.

  • I do not wish to be a Pilate. While I do not have the ability to forestall the slaughter of the unborn, cannot change anything, or save these babies, I can protest from the depth of my heart, which is encompassed with pity, indignation and anger. The consciousness of these feelings does not free me of the responsibility of condemning the crime. God, who does not allow murder, requires this protest from each of us. It is required of a Catholic conscience. Each human being has a right to life and brotherly love. The blood of the innocent calls for vengeance to the heavens. He who does not support this protest is not Catholic.

  • Mary De Voe-
    Jesus did open up on the money-changers in His Fathers house. Driving them OUT.
    Seems the den of thieves have camped out in Washington way to long.
    Are we getting what we deserve as nation?
    Is it an extreme case of apathy?
    I wonder how many million more fetuses will be sacrificed.
    God knows. I guess we must trust that our contribution, prayers and witness is enough, and ultimately He will set injustices right.
    When there seems to be no way, He makes a way.
    Thanks for your suggestion. ( pharisee )
    Blessings-
    Philip

  • Maryland has long been a bastion of Democrat political control, regardless of the base of population. Baltimore City is Democrat. When Baltimore and its suburbs had most of the state’s population it was run by Democrats. now the biggest share of the population is metro Washington, made up of the counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s with significant amounts of Washington area workers residing in Frederick, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. It is also not uncommon for people who live close to Baltimore to commute via MARC train. I did that when I worked in DC. Those people need a large federal government, whether or not they work for the federal government.

    The Democrat Party in Maryland , be it Baltimore city, one of the counties or the state government, is among the most corrupt in the country.

    Virginia is different. Much of Virginia is still the South, but Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, and much of Loudoun and Prince William are not. Obumbler’s wins in Virginia are, in my opinion, a fluke. Obumbler ran against two weak Republicans. Obumbler turned out the large black vote in Richmond and the tidewater. the Dems do not won virginia like they own Maryland, and they won’t. Maryland is politically much more like New Jersey.

    I am so glad I escaped the political cesspool that is the Washington area. Now I can go back to tuning out politics and can concentrate on how to survive the next 46 months of this pinhead dictator occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Nancy Pelosi’s religion is Democrat Party politics. The USCCB will NEVER stand up to the likes of Pelosi, just as they never stood up to Teddy Kennedy or others of that ilk. God will judge that woman, her actions and her words, whether or not she thinks God will do so.

  • “In a January 2009 speech Pelosi said: ” We cannot afford these people. They have to be aborted.”

    Mary,

    I can find no actual source for this exact phrase. If attributing such to Pelosi, do you have a source?

    This would be huge if it actually occurred, and I wouldn’t put it past Pelosi to THINK it — but in attributing such words to her, I’d like to read an actual transcript, or audio or video documentation, to believe Pelosi phrased it in exactly this manner in a public speech.

  • Christopher and Mary here is a link from South Dakota

    http://www.voicescarryblog.com/pelosi/

  • Thank you Anzlyne.

    So — the first citation is actual, and it is indeed different from the attributed phrase “we cannot afford these people, they have to be aborted.”

    The second “citation” in the article admits to being satire.

    Now — I recognize (and believe) that contraception is on an equatable level of evil as the abortion of a child. Both are offenses against the sanctity of life. But I can also understand how non-Catholics (or in Nancy Pelosi’s case, poorly-catechized and obstinately disobedient Catholics) might reason that it is better to prevent conception of children than abort them.

    My basic point is that there IS a distinction between what Pelosi actually said (“one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government”) and the phrase that has been attributed to her (“We cannot afford these people. They have to be aborted”) — and I don’t think we should be attributing to Pelosi something she didn’t actually say, however much we disagree.

  • “…every poor person prevented is like money in the bank.”
    From the voices carry blog that Analyze found.

    Prevented to live.
    Prevented to support future “stimulus” going to fund future Planned Parenthoods. Hummmm.

  • Anzlyne…accidentally misspelled your name. I apologize.

  • anzlyne: Pelosi gave this speech at the inauguration of Obama, or shortly thereafter. There was no Stephanopolous. It was the first speech she gave and I will find it and post it.

68 Responses to Can the Free Market Adequately Care for the Poor? — Rev. Robert Sirico and Mr. Michael Sean Winters

  • Well…the machine I’m no can’t play videos, but I’d argue with the phrasing of the question. It’s too flexible.

    If by “adequately care for the poor,” they mean anything along the lines of “raise everyone out of poverty”– obviously not, the poor you shall always have. (Arguably because “poor” tends to be defined in “bottom portion of whatever,” rather than absolute terms.)

    If they mean, rather, “is the free market the most effective way for people to help the poor,” or possibly “is the free market the best way for people to help the poor,” or “is the free market the best way for THE GOVERNMENT to help the poor… wildly different questions.

  • I can’t sit through a two-hour video. I watched the opening statements and its the same old debate. I trust Fr. Sirico more than adequately defended markets and addressed some of the wild fallacies and inaccuracies in Winter’s opening remarks.

    I’ll be posting a great deal on this topic myself as I review a few books in the coming weeks that deal with these questions.

  • As for the question of the night, the answer is no. Markets don’t care for the poor – they eradicate poverty as a permanent and widespread social condition.

    In those pockets of society that, for one reason or another, do not benefit from economic growth, the Church and other private organizations are more than sufficient to care for the poor.

  • Large amounts of actual, historical experience proves that collectivist, comand and control, centrally planned political/economic schemes have always magnified mankind’s miseries, and made slaves of the victims.

  • I do not have the patience to sit through the video either. I cannot see that the question is fruitful. Markets are merely the best practice for allocating goods and services and factors of production given a particular distribution of income, provided you are able to police property rights and ensure a wide distribution of salient information about choices available to parties in the market. When all is well, its workings tend toward pareto efficiency, not caring for anyone. Like any tool, it is useful for some purposes and not others. The thing is, that markets are not omnicompetant does not justify any of the tar babies (commercial and industrial cartels, public housing, rent control, open-ended doles for working aged women, compensatory education boondoggles, ever escalating subsidies for medical care and higher education, ever escalating subsidies for groceries and rent and utilities, job-training cum public employment boondoggles, patronage distribution to the non-profit blob) cooked up by elements within the Democratic Party since 1933, one of which MSW puts some effort into defending here.

  • Fr. Sirico is my pastor. Love his homilies. Good good man.

  • T. Shaw says:
    “Large amounts of actual, historical experience proves that collectivist, comand and control, centrally planned political/economic schemes have always magnified mankind’s miseries, and made slaves of the victims.”

    And on the global scale, governments take care of governments. Only the missionaries make sure that the poor are cared for.

  • A significant point made in the debate by Fr. Sirico, and denied by Mr. Winters, is that the free market is morally neutral. The market consists of the choices made by billions of people, using God’s precious gift, free will. While the choices may be either good or bad, the gift itself is good, and the market only records what choices are made.

    On the other hand, government interference in the market under the pretense of helping the poor, is anything but neutral. The social pathologies noted by Fr. Sirico are one of the obvious bad results. The taxation, often without constitutional authority, which makes the interference possible, may be properly viewed as theft. Acceptance of tax funds by Catholic Charities and welfare organizations run by many bishops, viewed in this manner as stolen
    funds, is a seriously ignored scandal in the Church.

    Mr. Winters can deny whatever he wishes, but he cannot change the fact that government involvement is on the wrong side of the moral argument. His blinders on this issue undercut all of his arguments. Cheers to Fr. Sirico!

  • The taxation, often without constitutional authority, which makes the interference possible, may be properly viewed as theft.

    The tax law as composed makes for wretched policy. It is, however, in accord with constitutional provisions.

  • I am afraid I must quibble here. Taxes can be unconstitutional if they are used to fund activities which are outside of congressional authority. I believe food stamps, Medicaid, and aid to dependent children, to name but a few programs nominally intended to help the poor, fall into this category.

    To Catholics, they violate the principle of subsidiarity as well, but they are first of all unconstitutional.

  • No. The tax collections are constitutional. There is explicit constitutional warrant for every kind of tax levied by the federal government with the possible exception of gift and estate taxes, which are contextually unimportant accounting as they do for < 1% of federal revenues. The uses to which taxes are put do not alter the character of tax collections.

    You can certainly make a valid argument that erecting and providing for a program of food subsidies is not a power delegated to Congress. I think Robert Bork has written that that sort of contention would not be adjudicated in your favor due to the principle of stare decisis. Whether or not it would violate a principle of subsidiarity is a murkier matter.

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  • Can the free market adequately care for the poor?

    Pray that it can for what is the alternative but the slave market and we know that has failed each time it has been tried.

  • AD: I think JD’s comment is two-fold.

    One, the government is not empowered to tax we the people and then spend the money on porgrams that are not listed in the Constitutional.

    Two, the government should not coercively tax some and give the money to others. Government programs, projects, and works should benefit every citizen, not take from producers and give to democrat voters.

    The Corporal Works of Mercy are done with your personal time and treasure, not with other people’s money.

  • One, the government is not empowered to tax we the people and then spend the money on porgrams that are not listed in the Constitutional.

    No, the government is empowered to tax; the power to tax is delegated and is not contingent on anything but legislative discretion. The government is also empowered to borrow.

    The spending programs are not invariably in accordance with the delegations listed in Article I (although the point is largely moot now, see Bork). That does not affect the government’s power to tax, just what use it makes of its tax money.

    If I followed the logic of what the two of you are saying, a taxypayer would have a cause of action and could demand a rebate ordered by a federal district judge. Not only would that make the process of appropriation and payments a hopeless mess, it would remove from the legislature the discretion to redeploy the idled funds to some activity within its constitutional warrant. In addition, the standing federal debt would have to be partitioned into portions contracted in support of ‘constitutional’ activities and ‘un-constitutional’ activities, and federal bond-holders given a haircut. That’s going to work real well.

  • AD is correct. The taxing power and spending power are distinct. The only limitation on the taxing power is the apportionment requirement for direct taxes. Congress may spend money consonant with its other powers including the combination of the commerce and necessary and proper clauses. These clauses have been interpreted to give Congress wide latitude on what it spends and regulates. While it is probably true that the Framers never envisioned or intended such latitude, they left us a Constitution with words that are difficult to interpret more narrowly in any principled way. Liberals have a habit of inventing individual rights that are nowhere in the Constitution simply because the think they should be and conservatives have a habit of inventing limits on federal powers that are nowhere in the Constitution simply because they think they should be. As a conservative I have the same temptation, but my knowledge of law and history prevents me from succumbing.

  • I will bow to superior knowledge on the part of AD about how the taxing
    power has been interpreted in the past. However, my point is that it
    should not be that way. There is no point to having authorized powers
    in the Constitution if Congress can ignore them, and then use the
    taxing power to do what it wants. I seriously doubt that the founding
    fathers intended this to occur.

    I appreciate the comment from TS about how the corporal works of mercy
    should be performed.

  • Since only the free market can create captial and capital is what you need to have to support the poor – through taxes, government programs and private charity – it is the sine qua non for assistance to others. Destroy the free market, do harm to the poor.

    Let’s remember that no government has ever created capital; it consumes capital and because power and politics motivates government, it works against the needs of the poor who have no power (unless they are being manipulated for votes through government handouts).

    Confiscating private capital with the intention of re-distributing it, simply destroys the very capital the poor rely upon.

  • The Free Market can’t adequately take care of itself, much less “the poor”. I think the most significant economic event of the past century is Alan Greenspan admitting on television to the House of Representatives that everything he’d thought true for 40 years was false; that Economists Have no Clothes.

    A “Free Market” along the lines Fr. Sirico defends soon becomes un-free — a slave economy. The proof is all around us. There must be limits; a trading economy that serves its purpose must needs be un-free on the definitions of the Free Marketeers. There must be limits on the scale, scope, and geographical reach of any business. There are some contracts that simply must be out of bounds — illegal. This preserves liberty. What Free Marketeers want is license. Every Pope for about 140 years has said it. Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton screamed it. The proof is all around us: economic liberalism is a failure in that it fails to support human dignity.

  • Education is what is needed to support the poor. Intelligence is handed down from generation to generation. If a parent does not have the “know how” to teach their children how to manage money, choices and abstaining from choices they cannot afford, then the children will not learn it, even from others. It might be possible for a child to learn these aspects later in life but doubtful.
    “Giving a person a fish will feed them for a meal. Giving the person a fishing pole will feed them forever!”

  • Deacon Ed Peitler, you are very correct, thank you. One point that should be added is that critics of the free market are very aware that free market activities CAN (not will) allow for acts that are in some way corrupt. Most such acts need not and should rise to the level of that requiring government intervention, rather they are at the level requiring properly formed moral consciences for persons engaged in such activities. Further, replace free market entities with the government (either de jure or de facto through intrusive regulation) and now the government becomes embroiled in these activities. Who then has a higher power to keep the corruption out of the government? Elected democratic oversight will not be enough.

  • Phyllis Poole, unfortunately in the modern Western world the poor are poor largely due to disabilities, either absolute (such as severe physical and mental illness) or relative (inability to deal with the increasing complexity of modern life, including the growing regulatory structure). Most poor people will not be able to fill out the forms for healthcare that the ACA Act requires of them, for example. You can teach someone to fish, but what if they cannot remember where they left their pole? That is the fundamental problem we now face. Free markets cannot meet the needs of such people, nor can government unless it grows to monsterous size.

  • Tom Leigh, I’m sorry, but you are making stram man arguments. No one today seriously argues in favor of totally free markets. Everyone is aware of the extreme situations you cite and so we all agree that government is necessary to aviod them. The issues are that all government actions impose a cost, and such costs can ultimately rob from those who need them. Impose a luxury tax on yachts, and boatbuilders get laid off. Demand that stockbrokers be denied their bonuses in hard economic times, and government loses millions in income tax revenue (it happened in NY a few years ago: one brokerage bowed to public pressure and cancelled the “exorbiant” bonuses, and the govenor announced that the state lost $80 million in taxes that could have been used for the poor). Economic fetters must be the absolute minimum necessary.

    Here is more proof: the international trade liberalization of the last few decades has lifted more people out of poverty (mainly in India and China) that in all of the rest of human history. Yes, it came at a cost: some in the West lost their employment in this new competition, including me. Should I have protected my wealth by denying these people a chance to escape poverty? NO! God willing I will do OK, and so will these people.

  • The Free Market can’t adequately take care of itself, much less “the poor”. I think the most significant economic event of the past century is Alan Greenspan admitting on television to the House of Representatives that everything he’d thought true for 40 years was false

    I think if you review his remarks, he was referring to his understanding of mechanisms at work in financial markets and the utility of regulatory regimes surrounding them, not ‘everything he’d thought true”.

    that Economists Have no Clothes.

    The article you link to is by an economist at George Mason, now deceased, referring to some deficiencies in theoretical economic modeling. He was not arguing that economics as a discipline is nonsense.

    A “Free Market” along the lines Fr. Sirico defends soon becomes un-free — a slave economy. The proof is all around us. There must be limits; a trading economy that serves its purpose must needs be un-free on the definitions of the Free Marketeers. There must be limits on the scale, scope, and geographical reach of any business. There are some contracts that simply must be out of bounds — illegal. This preserves liberty. What Free Marketeers want is license. Every Pope for about 140 years has said it. Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton screamed it. The proof is all around us: economic liberalism is a failure in that it fails to support human dignity.

    None of this makes the least bit of sense.

  • James Davies, your position on government programs to help the poor and the U.S. constitutional order are correct. The Federal government as designed should not be running these programs. They should be run and financed by the states.

    However, it is obvious that such programs often require some consistancy and coordination across state lines. Arguably, interstate compacts should have been set up so that these programs would be properly administered by the states. Such arrangements would have prevented some of the worst decisions in Washington (such as raiding the social security trust fund for Vietnam War expenses). This gets me back to a point I make to Deacon Ed: if the states mismanage an interstate program the Federal government can step in and force them to end the mismanagement, but if the Feds mismanage them who then steps in? Consider this and we see that Federalist ideals and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity are in accord.

  • Mr. Davis, I agree. While there is no guarantee that those generating the capital -either through entrepreurship or their own labor (yes, they DID build that) – can be counted on to discharge their moral and civic responsibilities toward their neighbor, the fact of the matter is that government is too obese to carry out this responsibility and their interest is in power, not in altruism. Government is no more a guarantee of possessing moral accountability than the producers of capital. The difference lies, therefore, in that one group is generating the capital and the other is not. We all know that if you do not generate the capital, you will necessarily be a poor steward of others’ resources.

  • Tom Leith,

    “The Free Market can’t adequately take care of itself, much less “the poor”.”

    Of course it can. There. One flat assertion for another.

    “I think the most significant economic event of the past century is Alan Greenspan admitting on television to the House of Representatives that everything he’d thought true for 40 years was false; that Economists Have no Clothes.”

    There’s quite an assumption here about economists and free markets. You seem to be under the impression that a) economists are responsible for the state of the economy and b) economists are partisans of laissez-faire markets. Both assumptions are false. The economists have been tied up with Keyensianism and monetarism for the last 100 years. These are not free-market ideologies, but rather interventionist ideologies. Mainstream economists and the Chicago school indeed have no clothes. Try the Austrian school, though. They’re still very well clothed in my opinion.

    “A “Free Market” along the lines Fr. Sirico defends soon becomes un-free — a slave economy. The proof is all around us.”

    The fallacies are all around you, perhaps. Free markets don’t make themselves un-free; interventionist policies do. There’s no proof whatsoever to substantiate your claims, though I understand why you think there is.

    “There must be limits; a trading economy that serves its purpose must needs be un-free on the definitions of the Free Marketeers. There must be limits on the scale, scope, and geographical reach of any business.”

    There will always be limits, determined by free competition. We don’t need bureaucrats who will never have enough information to make suboptimal and even disastrous decisions.

    “There are some contracts that simply must be out of bounds — illegal. This preserves liberty. What Free Marketeers want is license.”

    What contracts? If you mean contracts that violate basic natural rights, I agree. If you mean contracts that result in something that you just don’t like personally, you have no grounds to object.

    “Every Pope for about 140 years has said it. Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton screamed it. The proof is all around us: economic liberalism is a failure in that it fails to support human dignity.”

    Economic liberalism has fed and cured more people than any system in human history. If the existence of poverty is a failure, the entire human race and all of its civilizations were miserable failures for most of their existence until economic liberalism came along and virtually eliminated it in several societies and is on the way to doing so in others.

  • Bonchamps, that was Tom Leith who posted that, not me. I am in agreement with your post.

  • The economists have been tied up with Keyensianism and monetarism for the last 100 years. These are not free-market ideologies, but rather interventionist ideologies. Mainstream economists and the Chicago school indeed have no clothes. Try the Austrian school, though. They’re still very well clothed in my opinion.

    1. I wouldn’t drink the Austrian Kool-Aid. If you rummage through the papers of the prominent Austrians, you see they do very little empirical research.

    2. You are not distinguishing between microeconomic and macroeconomic policy when you categorize economists as ‘free market’ or ‘interventionist’, nor between the various elements of macroeconomic policy, nor between economists’ preferences about the social order and their assessment of economic behavior. The net effect is that you are classifying as ‘free market’ only economists associated with the von Mises Institute. That is fallacious and misleading.

  • Tom Davis,

    My sincere apologies.

  • AD,

    1. I don’t drink Kool-Aid. I study and contemplate. And I don’t see a lack of empirical research as a strike against them, since they explain why they don’t emphasize it theoretically. I am in agreement with their approach.

    2. “You are not distinguishing between microeconomic and macroeconomic policy when you categorize economists as ‘free market’ or ‘interventionist’”

    It is only your opinion that these are relevant distinctions. I hold a different opinion. Do your policy proposals infringe upon private property rights? If the answer is no, you are a free market economist. If the answer is yes, you aren’t. The free market is nothing but a social state in which individual property rights are recognized and respected culturally and protected institutionally. To whatever extent these conditions are met at any particular time or place, there is a free market.

    “The net effect is that you are classifying as ‘free market’ only economists associated with the von Mises Institute. That is fallacious and misleading.”

    I don’t rule out the existence of non-Austrian free market economists. Your net effect is the only fallacy here.

    No Fast Times references this time? Don’t let me down with your next reply. Its been far too long since someone compared me to Sean Penn.

  • If we don’t come up with some cool rules ourselves, we’ll be bogus too.

  • > No one today seriously argues in favor of totally free markets.

    Sure they do.

    Every time some regulation on scale, scope, reach, mere transparency, allowable contracts, environmental impacts or literally anything else is proposed, the howls go up across the land “ButButBut!! That’s interference with the Free Market!”

    What does this mean? I say it means that the howlers think The Totally Free Market is normative — that any regulation on it is evil. A necessary evil perhaps, but evil all the same. And that, friends, is a real howler.

    There is one exception I know of: when economic liberals want to outlaw one particular kind of contract and call it “Right to Work”, that’s just hunky-dory. A better name is “Right to Divide and Conquer”.

    > Do your policy proposals infringe upon private property rights? If the answer
    > is no, you are a free market economist. If the answer is yes, you aren’t. The
    > free market is nothing but a social state in which individual property rights are
    > recognized and respected culturally and protected institutionally. To whatever
    > extent these conditions are met at any particular time or place, there is a free
    > market.

    A classic and all-too-typical example of question-begging. You see, Mr. Bonchamps assumes that “Private Property Rights” are absolute by nature and then defines “Market Freedom” in terms of what he just assumed. For him, there is no connection between government and morality, and so the only political consideration is whether or not absolute rights in and to property are “respected”.

    Maybe Mr. Bonchamps is not a Catholic, I don’t know. But I presume most readers here are. I quite understand the attraction a Catholic might feel towards this way of thinking about social organization, but it is completely irreconcilable with the Gospel, and indeed with the whole Western Tradition.

  • Every time some regulation on scale, scope, reach, mere transparency, allowable contracts, environmental impacts or literally anything else is proposed, the howls go up across the land “ButButBut!! That’s interference with the Free Market!”

    How does it follow that opposing certain regulatory efforts translates into being a free market purist?

    A better name is “Right to Divide and Conquer”.

    This makes no logical sense. Conservatives are the ones arguing for workers to have the freedom to not join a union shop if one chooses not to.

    A classic and all-too-typical example of question-begging.

    Considering the strawmen you’ve erected I would steer clear from accusing others of committing logical fallacies.

    I quite understand the attraction a Catholic might feel towards this way of thinking about social organization, but it is completely irreconcilable with the Gospel,

    Yes, yes, we have been informed of our supposed heresy on economic matters before. It doesn’t make it any truer the more it is repeated.

  • Every time some regulation on scale, scope, reach, mere transparency, allowable contracts, environmental impacts or literally anything else is proposed, the howls go up across the land “ButButBut!! That’s interference with the Free Market!”

    If the regulation promotes rent-seeking or inhibits considered decisions, of course they do.

    I have a suggestion less complicated to formulate and enforce. ‘Ere we enact legislation to strangle enterprises so they remain of appropriate size, why not a character limit on the length of the Code of Federal Regulations and its state counterparts like the New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations? Add a line, delete a line. It might just promote Strunkian concision if nothing else.

  • Every time some regulation on scale, scope, reach, mere transparency, allowable contracts, environmental impacts or literally anything else is proposed, the howls go up across the land “ButButBut!! That’s interference with the Free Market!”

    What does this mean? I say it means that the howlers think The Totally Free Market is normative

    Does not follow. It’s far more likely that they believe a free market is a good that shouldn’t be interefered with without a really good reason.
    As a general principles go, “don’t make rules unless there is a reason that outweighs the cost” is an important one.

    There is one exception I know of: when economic liberals want to outlaw one particular kind of contract and call it “Right to Work”, that’s just hunky-dory.

    False. Right to work does not outlaw unions, it outlaws unions being able to force people to join.
    It makes the contract voluntary.
    That so many union supporters dislike that speaks volumes about what value they believe membership brings….

  • AD,

    Touchy touchy? That’s it? Come on. I know you have more in you than that.

  • Tom Leith,

    “Every time some regulation on scale, scope, reach, mere transparency, allowable contracts, environmental impacts or literally anything else is proposed, the howls go up across the land “ButButBut!! That’s interference with the Free Market!”

    What does this mean? I say it means that the howlers think The Totally Free Market is normative — that any regulation on it is evil. A necessary evil perhaps, but evil all the same. And that, friends, is a real howler.”

    I don’t howl. Usually. I offer reasons for the things I believe. Regulations often cause more harm than good, and have the opposite effect than what was intended. This is because there are almost always too many variables to measure and control for, and because people involved in voluntary transactions are in a better position to know their interests than government bureaucrats.

    Opposing regulation, however, is not the same as opposing the rule of law. A laissez-faire economy is not anarchy. It depends upon a body of law that upholds individual natural rights, punishing and prohibiting the use of force and fraud.

    ” You see, Mr. Bonchamps assumes that “Private Property Rights” are absolute by nature”

    I don’t know what you mean by “absolute.” But I do know that Pope Leo XIII considered them inviolable. Please read Rerum Novarum, paragraph 9.

    “and then defines “Market Freedom” in terms of what he just assumed”

    Yes, I do use the understanding of individual natural property rights outlined by Pope Leo XIII. Based on that understanding, I further develop the definition of a free market. What is wrong with this process, exactly? If you reject Leo’s definition of private property rights, please offer an alternative one. Otherwise, I’m not sure what your objection really is here.

    ” For him, there is no connection between government and morality”

    False. I certainly believe it is immoral to violate a person’s natural rights, and that governments exist to protect natural rights.

    “and so the only political consideration is whether or not absolute rights in and to property are “respected”.”

    That is a moral issue.

    “Maybe Mr. Bonchamps is not a Catholic, I don’t know.”

    Not only am I a Catholic, I’m one of those rad-trads you hear about whom wild horses couldn’t drag to a Novus Ordo if there is a Latin Mass within a hundred miles. Maybe even then, depending on how sacrilegious the options are.

    All of my opinions are based upon the political philosophy of Pope Leo XIII, who was amicable to the best strands of classical liberal thought (while rightly condemning its excesses, as I also do).

    ” but it is completely irreconcilable with the Gospel, and indeed with the whole Western Tradition.”

    Classical liberal economics arises out of the Western thought and is as much a part of it as anything else.

    As for the Gospel, there is no incompatibility at all. Jesus did not call for a welfare state or a regulatory regime. A society in which everyone followed the Gospels would not need such things, it ought to go without saying, so it seems absurd to propose that they are called for by the Gospels. Even a society that doesn’t shouldn’t have them, since the violate natural rights and limit human potential.

  • > Conservatives are the ones arguing for workers to have the freedom
    > to not join a union shop if one chooses not to.

    It would make sense, Mr. Zummo, if you had the fact of the matter straight. Nobody was ever forced to join a Union or a Union Shop, and certainly not “forced” in a way that Libertarians would consider unjust. Nevertheless, Political Conservatives in many States have made Union Shops illegal, in the name of “freedom” and “rights”, of course, and “Jobs! Jobs!! JOBS!!!” – at least that’s the public reason. It boggles the mind that American Conservatives would make it illegal for a business owner to have an exclusive contract with a corporate supplier of mere inputs to a production process, but there it is.

    > How does it follow that opposing certain regulatory efforts
    > translates into being a free market purist?

    It isn’t the fact of opposition to this or that, it is the grounds of the opposition that gives away the objector’s underlying assumptions about the Common Good, or (as Lord Acton put it) “the highest political end”.

  • It would make sense, Mr. Zummo, if you had the fact of the matter straight. Nobody was ever forced to join a Union or a Union Shop, and certainly not “forced” in a way that Libertarians would consider unjust.

    You are flatly incorrect.

    My husband, my mother (when she taught), all of my uncles who are not retired, my nurse aunt… all are required to be members of a union.

    If you are required to give them money and to use their services, you are forced to be a member; I am aware of the misleading claim that someone is “not a member” because they, in theory, they are entitled to a refund of dues that would have gone to political actives.

  • Well, Mr. Rad Trad Bonchamps, the political philosophy of Pope Leo XIII, upon whom all your opinions are based, says quite explicitly that the role of government extends far beyond suppressing force and fraud. If we’re doing the Protestant Proof-text thing, I’ll point you to 45 & 46 and hope you will contrast Leo’s meaning with what a Libertarian means when he uses very similar words.

    There is more to being a Rad Trad than praying in Latin. Look also further back into the tradition, indeed to the 12th & 13th centuries especially. Look at the traditional condemnation of usury, even when agreed to by the parties involved. And look especially at the confiscation of monastic property, enclosure of common lands in England and Scotland, and and at the way these lands were used before that. Then look at the violent suppression of the Guilds, which was finally completed about the time of the French Revolution. I don’t claim there was no sin during the Middle Ages, but the ideals of the Middle Ages point to a Catholic understanding of property and mutual duties of men under a bond of charity. What would all this kind of understanding look like today?

    Read Catholic interpreters of Leo — Chesterton, Belloc, Penty, McNabb, Dorthy Day and Peter Maurin, every pope after Leo (I’m expecting great things on this from Francis), the list goes on. As much as I hate recommending anything from Remnant Press, read Christopher Ferrara’s book-length reply to Thomas Woods. This is all good stuff and comes from the heart of the tradition. A Catholic Rad Trad could become truly rad — an American Political Conservative who reads integrally will retch. I hope you read integrally and don’t retch.

  • No, Ms. Foxfier, they weren’t required to be members of a union, at least not on grounds a Libertarian would regard as “coerced”. If they wanted to work in a company that had an exclusive labor contract with a union, then a condition of employment was participation in the union. In a way, the company has outsourced some of its HR functions to the union — the union is an extension of the company in some ways. But as nobody forced them to work there, nobody forced them to join a union.

    I don’t know whether you’re a Catholic, but if you are you may be interested to learn Pope Leo XIII considered union membership something of a duty for workingmen. It is true he had in mind something more like a Guild (many of today’s construction unions operate something like Guilds) than like (say) the UAW, but a union is what its members make it and any union can make itself more Guild-like when its members learn the value to themselves of doing so.

  • Tom L,

    ” the political philosophy of Pope Leo XIII, upon whom all your opinions are based, says quite explicitly that the role of government extends far beyond suppressing force and fraud”

    It isn’t explicit about that at all. It is explicit about freedom. Let’s examine the text (unless that’s too Protestant for you)

    “Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages”

    Free. Freely. That is explicit. Yes, I know what it says next. Continuing:

    “nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner”

    This is a relative standard that varies from time to time and place to place. It is clear that this is not something that can be arbitrarily determined by the state. Whatever you decide is sufficient today may be insufficient tomorrow. Moreover, arbitrarily tampering with wages can and often does lead to unemployment. Is it a satisfactory outcome if raising wage rates leads to unemployment? What do you tell the workers who had to be let go so that the rest could obtain a higher wage? What do you tell their families?

    All actions have consequences, and every economic intervention has a cost. This is not the equivalent of handing out candy, and you aren’t simply inconveniencing the evil capitalist, but other workers and consumers as well.

    “If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.”

    I don’t disagree with this. Paying someone less than what they need to live is exploitative. This does not happen in a truly free market, for reasons I will be happy to explain in detail if you like.

    As for paragraph 46, I have no problem with it whatsoever. Leo makes it clear that this is private initiative which the state might support. Given what he sets down about the inviolability of private property, this cannot include expropriating legitimate property owners and redistributing property. It clearly means that individual workers should save – they should practice frugality and good behavior so that THEY THEMSELVES can become capitalists. There is nothing here about the state imposing a Distributist regime.

    “And look especially at the confiscation of monastic property, enclosure of common lands in England and Scotland, and and at the way these lands were used before that. ”

    This has nothing to do with free markets. That was theft, plain and simple.

    “Then look at the violent suppression of the Guilds, which was finally completed about the time of the French Revolution.”

    The guilds, like the modern unions, rely upon the use of force to restrict the flow of labor and keep wages artificially high. Do you ever stop to think of the effect that this has on poor consumers, who have to pay higher prices for basic necessities? To promote policies that benefit skilled workers at the expense of poor consumers is not to promote the common good or the interests of the poor. I accept that such policies were adopted with a sincere desire to do both, but the objective reality, apart from good intentions, is that more poor people suffer from higher prices than they ever have from lower wages.

    “I don’t claim there was no sin during the Middle Ages,

    You’d be insane if you did.

    ” but the ideals of the Middle Ages point to a Catholic understanding of property and mutual duties of men under a bond of charity. What would all this kind of understanding look like today?”

    It would be great. I have nothing against the ideals of the Middle Ages, if they are implemented voluntarily by people who really care about them. If you try to impose them, however, you will court disaster, meet legitimate and justified resistance, and lose all credibility with the very people you intend to help.

    “Read Catholic interpreters of Leo — Chesterton, Belloc, Penty, McNabb, Dorthy Day and Peter Maurin, every pope after Leo (I’m expecting great things on this from Francis), the list goes on. ”

    I am a Catholic interpreter of Leo. And I have read them. I disagree with them. I believe their understanding of free market capitalism is flawed and fallacious, and I can demonstrate this via reasoned argument. Unfortunately most people are only interested in self-righteous bluster and condemnations.

    “As much as I hate recommending anything from Remnant Press, read Christopher Ferrara’s book-length reply to Thomas Woods.”

    I’ve got it on my bookshelf. Needless to say, I believe it is a deeply flawed work.

    “A Catholic Rad Trad could become truly rad — an American Political Conservative who reads integrally will retch. I hope you read integrally and don’t retch.”

    Cute. I consider myself a paleolibertarian, though. Probably worse from your point of view.

    I’m happy to debate facts and logic and discuss these issues amicably. Unfortunately, you seem to be of the sort of temperament which presumes bad will on the part of those who disagree with you. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong by a substantive, fact-based, well-reasoned rebuttal to the points I have raised here.

  • Mr. Zummo,

    You can call me Dr. Zummo.

    I don’t know whether you’re a Catholic,

    Your propensity to question the Catholicity of everyone who disagrees with you is rather tiring.

    In a way, the company has outsourced some of its HR functions to the union — the union is an extension of the company in some ways. But as nobody forced them to work there, nobody forced them to join a union.

    Get it Foxfier – you’re not really forced to join a Union, you’re just forced to join a union if you want to work. That’s just absolutely fantastic logic.

  • Tom Leith

    As regards the dissolution of the guilds during the French Revolution, Had the Le Chapelier Law of 14 June 1791 been seen as a way of protecting the rich against the poor, or the propertied against the property-less, it would have met with strenuous opposition by one of the Assembly’s defenders of the poor. But the law was passed without opposition because it seemed evidence to the entire National Assembly that the reconstitution of corporations in any form was a fundamental threat to the nation and its free constitution. The law made it clear that no intermediary body could stand between the individual – now armed with his natural rights – and the nation – now the guarantor of those same natural rights.

    As Le Chapelier himself put it, “The guild no longer exists in the state. There exist only the particular interests of each individual and the general interest. No one is permitted to encourage an intermediate interest that separates citizens from the common interest through a corporate spirit.”

    In addition, the Allarde Decree of 17 March 1791 had already provided that “every individual can freely engage in any trade or carry on any occupation, business activity or craft of their own choosing,” subject only to police regulation.

  • 1. Any regulatory scheme incorporates compliance costs. If the costs have a threshhold value or they can be finessed with the aid of sophisticated legal counsel, the regulatory scheme will cause more injury to smaller enterprises than larger.

    2. You want the regulation to contain collusion among producers, contain the despoilation of common property resources, contain the imposition of costs on third parties, to promote transparency and contain exploitation derived from asymmetric information between contracting parties, to contain exploitation derived from the differences in the effective freedom of action of the several contracting parties, and to contain the injuries done principals by agents with divergent interests. The point here, if done correctly, is to attempt to shape actual social conditions in a way such that economic decisions are made in a matrix that better approaches the ideal typical free market. Of course, the devil’s in the details.

    3. One can also impose regulation to embody certain social norms. (The penal code would be an example). Habituated violations of these norms is also injurious to economic development; not many people wish to do business in Detroit. There is a sociological as well as an economic dimension to commerce and labor, and satisficing as well as optimizing decisions. (I think you do see this in the labor market as regards customary working hours and leave times and also in the disinclination which appeared in the 1920s to ever cut anyone’s nominal compensation).

    4. Trade and industrial unions in our time are as often as not associations of public employees organized to extract resources from taxpayers (with the connivance of sociopathic politicians like George Pataki or Marion Barry). The fat broad who runs the Chicago teachers union is the exemplary contemporary union boss. Others organize state-regulated natural monopolies (e.g. gas and electric companies). Still others organize capital intensive industries vulnerable to strikes; if you seek their monument, look at General Motors: a vast welfare agency (> 900,000 legatee beneficiaries) with a loss-making commercial subsidiary (< 100,000 workers). Still others are run by gangsters (the longshoremens' union, and, until fairly recently, the building trades unions). What you seldom see are mutual aid associations battling industry standards which incorporate godawful working conditions – what the Teamsters and the Mineworkers were about 90 years ago.

    5. The financial sector is a special case, inasmuch as the effects of ill-considered decisions do not tend to be contained to a discrete set of contracting parties and their dependents.

  • To Tom Davis and Deacon Ed

    I sense you recognize the danger in expecting politicians at any level to be responsible for charity. They can never be trusted to care about anyone’s interests except their own. The state level is no better than the federal, only nearer to the recipients of charity. We should not give any government
    officials an excuse to interfere in charity, as it is none of their business.

    Coordination across state lines is not necessary. The individuals are different, and have unique needs that are best handled by church members in parishes. This is precisely what subsidiarity requires.

    To the rest of you concerning “regulation”.

    We have gone much to far down this road. We should know by now that
    government regulators are not omniscient. Their decisions are no better than the mass of free people making their own choices, and often worse since their motives are suspect. I always trust my neighbors to make better decisions for themselves than bureaucrats do.

    I think all of us need to re-read Pope Leo’s encyclical. It clearly indicates that human freedom is the norm. It is mandatory reading for all in government and the news media.

  • James Davies, there are 1.8 million people resident in nursing homes. That aside, there are the clientele of state and county welfare departments in various sorts of custodial arrangements: asylums, day programs, orphanages, foster care, group homes, supervised apartment buildings, halfway houses, &c. I am not sure of the collective census of these programs, but I think it might be in the range of 1 million. In addition, you have around 45 million youngsters registered in the public schools. Then you have your local public defenders’ office, responsible for the bulk of the man-hours the legal profession in any area devotes to the task of representing accused criminals. Did I mention that a third of the country’s medical expenses are met by public purchase? One could attempt in short order to replace this edifice with voluntary philanthropy. The transition costs would make for interesting times for us all.

  • Yes, I agree the transition would not be easy. We did not abandon our freedom to government agencies overnight, and we cannot recover it quickly either. Christianity took many centuries to impact the pagan world too, but it did succeed.

    It would be a significant change in direction if our society recognized that government is not the answer to these problems, and the news media got on board as well. The free market always does a better job. We have an opportunity to go in that direction, since the welfare state has become so unwieldly it is starting to collapse of its own weight.

  • I have no illusion that the return to a market driven structure in our society will be a conscious, concerted effort on the part of ‘rational man.’ For the most part, ‘rational man’ has disappeared from the scene. Rather, his place has been taken by ’emotional man’ – those who make economic, social, moral and poltical decisions based on ‘how they feel.’ It is the only plausible explanation for how our country could elect as president an incompetent.

    No, the transition away from government-regulated life will be because it collapsed from its own weight and inefficiencies. Man was created by God with freedom as his natural birthright. It is the only possible means by which love can be exchanged between persons i.e. in the context of freedom. Government and large bureacracries intrude on man’s freedom and hence will disintegrate because they are ‘unnatural states.’

    “Rational man’ will then find ways to allow market forces to work because the market allows man maximum opportunity to express himself freely – in soial and economic terms – but never outside of the natural moral law. That is why we are hearing more and more in civic discussion about the importance of freedom and why, too, we need to not shy away from promoting what we know is natural moral law as well.

  • Tom Leith –
    You are wrong– to a level which is dangerously close to dishonest. If I hold someone under water, I cannot say that I did not force them to breath it and drown because they could have simply not breathed. You falsely imply that the company had a choice in the matter of employing the union, and you keep making claims that are not only unsupported but actually directly counter to easily noticed facts. Most obvious is the continued claim about what Libertarians can’t say, in the face of at the very least one on this very post who not only can but does say.

    I’m sure that your tactics work wonderfully face to face, but they’re just rather sad when force of personality isn’t a factor to overcome what you actually say.

    I would suggest that someone so fond of questioning the Catholicism of others for disagreeing with himself should do a bit of soul searching, though I’m fully aware that’s unlikely to happen. Everything’s a hammer to the guy fixated on a nail.

  • Trade and industrial unions in our time are as often as not associations of public employees organized to extract resources from taxpayers

    Most of the folks I listed were exactly that.

    Not to try to make an argument from sympathy, but my husband didn’t have a lot of choice about taking his DoD civilian job; I suppose he could have decided to let our family go hungry and depend on gov’t programs and the charity of family, but it’s as much a “choice” as the infamous company store that is trotted out as justification for forced unions.

  • No, the transition away from government-regulated life will be because it collapsed from its own weight and inefficiencies.

    Deacon Ed., I believe near on the closest the occidental world has come to a political economy of laissez-faire in the modern period was in the British Isles between the repeal of the Corn Laws and the first tentative steps toward constructing social insurance programs in the Edwardian period (that would be from about 1846 to about 1909). I think you still had in Britain an edifice of statutory corporation law, bankruptcy law, commercial law, banking law, insurance law, labor law, admiralty law, and patent and copyright law; commercial and civil codes; and the common law in contracts, estates and trusts, and torts. You are not going to get away from a ‘government-regulated society’ unless you live some place like the frontier west, ca. 1875 (which is to say in circumstances where there is little in the way of government or society).

  • Yes, I agree the transition would not be easy. We did not abandon our freedom to government agencies overnight, and we cannot recover it quickly either. Christianity took many centuries to impact the pagan world too, but it did succeed.

    Why not work out in your own head the steps one might take to get from here to there, figuring costs and benefits and what not.

  • “Get it Foxfier – you’re not really forced to join a Union, you’re just forced to join a union if you want to work”

    what’s the issue with one company in a field using union labor and another one not

  • Foxfier, I do not think collective bargaining is a sustainable institution without mandatory dues and membership or mandatory agency fees. The process by which the union is voted in has to be clean and transparent and reversible at some later date. The difficulty you get is that the public sector unionism effectively delegates discretion properly housed in the legislature to a negotiating process and that the transactions can be rendered less than arms length by the political activities of the public-sector unions. As a rule, Democratic pols are their bitches, and few Republican pols challenge them. Another difficulty you get is unions like the UAW which loot the companies they organize for the benefit of those of their members who get to keep their jobs or benefits. I think company unions have a different incentive structure, but they have been prohibited by federal law since 1935. If we limited collective bargaining rights to all-encompassing company unions in the private sector only and did away with allowing federal regulators to gerrymander the bargaining unit, we would be better off.

  • JDP-
    Depending on the field, it may not be legally allowed. In those places it is allowed, the unions work very, very hard to get them unionized– the grocery worker’s union (can’t remember the actual name) paid protesters to stand around the local WinCo for over a year, because that company is employee owned and thus not union. Once a company is unionized, it’s not going to be un-unionized.

    Tellingly, when I asked the ladies at the checkout counter at WinCo what they thought of the protests, they got really heated about how they’d chosen WinCo because the union had screwed them over so badly.

    More to the point, the companies don’t get to choose if they are going to use a union– a small number of people can decide that they will form a union, then every employee of that company is forced to be a member.

    The theoretical perfect “right to work” situation would be that any people who work for a company who wish to form a union would be able to join, and those who did not wish to use the union to make their deals would not be bound by them. Union as a bargaining group, rather than a monopoly on labor. (The employers would be free to choose if they would wish to only hire union or not.)

    The “non-union members” that I mentioned who are theoretically entitled to a refund are still forced to use the contract that the unions make, even if both the employee and employer do not want that contract.

    As it is, forced unionization is a monopoly on labor.

    Oh, if someone wonders why I keep calling a theoretical right– here are a couple of posts about someone trying to get that right respected.

  • Foxfier, I do not think collective bargaining is a sustainable institution without mandatory dues and membership or mandatory agency fees.

    I agree that people would not voluntarily hire unions to do the job they are currently doing unless they had no other option.

    That a monopoly can’t survive unless people are forced to both provide for it and buy it is also not an argument I’d support for keeping it.

  • “The theoretical perfect “right to work” situation would be that any people who work for a company who wish to form a union would be able to join, and those who did not wish to use the union to make their deals would not be bound by them”

    don’t you get the problem in this situation though of some people benefiting from any successful collective bargaining without paying any dues. maybe i’m misreading you

  • “Everything’s a hammer to the guy fixated on a nail.”

    Good way to sum up Chris Ferrara and his nauseating book too.

  • don’t you get the problem in this situation though of some people benefiting from any successful collective bargaining without paying any dues.

    How do I benefit if that group over there makes a contract for their own members, to which I am not party? If an employer wants to only hire from a single group of negotiators, that would be fair enough.

    Look at Hostess. The folks who may have exercised their right to not pay for the political actions of the union were still charged for the “benefit” of the union demanding a deal that put everyone out of work, even though there were many people who wanted to make a deal and keep the company going.

    If a bargaining group offers benefits to membership that are worth the cost– including “I just don’t want to bother with all this stuff, YOU set up the contract!”, which is not to be sniffed at– then people will join.

    To drag Catholicism into it, I believe there’s a parable about people complaining to the boss about someone being hired on different terms than themselves?

  • More to the point, the companies don’t get to choose if they are going to use a union– a small number of people can decide that they will form a union, then every employee of that company is forced to be a member.

    Not what happened at my work site. Enough people signed cards to force an election. There was some back and forth between the personnel office, the union and the National Labor Relations Board and it was decided by the last (quite ironically) that the bargaining unit would not include the people who initiated the union drive. The remaining set voted in the union in a perfectly forthright way, and it was a union that represented other slices of the workforce there. What happened was that after a mess of negotiation the bargaining unit ended up with the same benefits package the personnel office offered as a matter of course to company employees. The one thing that changed was that annual evaluations were eliminated, merit pay was eliminated, and future wage increases were to be negotiated rather than subject to system-wide policy. The folks who voted in the union were real embarrassed by it all.

    It was all perfectly democratic and a big waste of time and effort.

    I think if there is a value in unions it is to set up some systematized lines of communication between wage earners and management and come to some sort of mutual understanding about working conditions and some of the specs on fringes. Of course, if management does not care to listen (and where I worked, wage earners were cosseted in some respects but not taken seriously), it does not do much good. The personnel office was never a problem and had , regularized procedures for hearing from people, but of the four vice presidents in charge of that section of the company over the years, I think only one gave much thought to people not of the professional-managerial stratum and the institutional politics swirling around them. The last chap was particularly disgusting. One wretched manager had her multi-year contract renewed in spite of all the people waving red flags in front of his face and his predecessors face about her incompetence (as well as the outflow of skilled people getting away from her). Not his problem. The union does not help with that type of thing.

  • The problem you get with grocery stores is that they have quite slim signature profit margins. I cannot figure how the United Food and Commercial Workers thrive in an environment where no one can mark up their costs that much. The airline unions have survived in that environment, but they covered most of the industry and were established within it when airline travel was still a federally supervised cartel. Cannot figure about grocery stores.

  • The free market cannot adequately care for the poor because it is neither designed nor equipped for that. But we know the church from its inception made it their business to remember the poor. Diaconal caritas drew many people in the direction of the church and lent it great credibility.

  • Art-
    I would guess the answer lies in answering the question of why they’re willing to spend so much money to hire protesters

  • “The free market cannot adequately care for the poor because it is neither designed nor equipped for that. But we know the church from its inception made it their business to remember the poor. Diaconal caritas drew many people in the direction of the church and lent it great credibility.”

    While it is true that the free markert wasn’t designed specifically to care for the poor as such, the wealth created by it make resources more widely availible to the diaconal caritas’ to do just that. Furthermore, caring for the poor must include ways to lift these people out of poverty. And the free market is by far been proven the best, imperfect though it may be, economic system to do that.

  • Mr. Mockeridge,

    You are absolutely, 100% correct.

    The government cannot give to poor people unless it has taken from producers.

    This government could not increase poor people’s wealth. It decreased nearly everybody’s (except guys like Warren Buffett, Jon Corzine, Jamie Dimond, Al Gore) wealth.

    The government has been hindering the free market at least since 1913.

    Since late 2008, the government bailed out large, Wall Street banks, GM and Chrysler; the Fed printed about $2 trillion and flooded it into the economy (well Wall Street . . .); the Federal government spent $5 trillion more than it should have.

    And yet, the median household income has declined, in real terms, almost 8% from 2000; 47,000,000 Americans need food stamps to eat; the propaganda unemployment rate is 7.7%; millions of fewer Americans are in the job market; about 8,000,000 more Americans are on disability pensions; etc.

    While Main Street languishes, the Dow daily hits historic, all-time record highs.

On the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, February 11, AD 2013

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.”

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7 Responses to On the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

  • Good link Foxfier. Top quote:
    “There is no way I’m prepared for the ignorance about to be on display in the media”

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  • Why don’t we just accept he rightly felt with his failing health, he would serve Mother Church better by resigning to give way for a more healthier and active Holy Father to steer the Barque of Peter during these challenging times. There is no need to look for other reasons because THERE ARE NONE. Bless you Holy Father, Benedict XVI for you wise decision. You are truly a loving Father and the Holy Spirit is with you.

  • Hats off to one courageous leader who will be forever known for his love,joy and
    writings.Blessings always!

  • In my opinion this is an admirable gesture on the part of the pope. Most importantly, it shows that he is committed to the good of the community over himself. In fact, Benedict XVI was much more than the head of the Catholic Church. He was also an intellectual with an extensive knowledge of a variety of subjects whose thoughtful remarks often made us think about the world’s most daunting problems. What I loved about him was his keen interest in the protection of the environment. He spoke openly about the threats such as global warming and other challenges we’ll have to face in the years to come. In my native Vancouver there’s now a project called Greenest City 2020 Action Plan whose aim is to eliminate the negative impact that our actions often have on the environment and it seems to me that those in power are reluctant to speak about these problems or support the activities carried out by various environmental movements. And I have to say Pope Benedict was never afraid to raise his voice to warn against the possible disastrous consequences in this particular area. I think he should be a source of inspiration for a number of leaders and that’s why he will definitely be missed by many here in Canada.

A Ryan Roundup

Tuesday, August 21, AD 2012

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.
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4 Responses to A Ryan Roundup

  • I suppose what people find disturbing about Paul Ryan’s admiration for Ayn Rand’s writings is that they are, in fact, the antithesis of traditional Catholic Conservatism. The source of her philosophy is to be found in the Enlightenment thinkers, which Catholic Conservatives like Boland, Chateaubriand and Joseph de Maistre (the “Throne and Altar” or Counter-Revolutionary party) detested as the source of liberalism

    It was a fundamental principle of the Enlightenment that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships. A person’s relations with others, even if important, are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to one’s being what one is. This principle underlies all their talk about the “state of nature” and the “social contract,” and from it is derived the notion that the only obligations are those voluntarily assumed.

    Later writers like Bentham developed this idea. He describes the idea of “relation” as but a “fictitious entity,” though necessary for “convenience of discourse.” And, more specifically, he remarks that “the community is a fictitious body,” and it is but “the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.” Rand, like Nietzsche before her, merely carries this idea to its logical conclusion and it is one that vitiates her ethics, politics and economics.

    Aristotle, the philosopher of common sense, as Newman calls him, anticipates and demolishes this idea in half a sentence in the Eudemian Ethics Book 7] – ??? ?? ????? ?????? ????? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ????????? ??? ??????? – “Hence in the household are first found the origins and springs of friendship, of political organization and of justice.” [my translation] In other words, human beings are, by nature, social animals, not the solitary savages of Hobbes or Rousseau. In modern times, Wittgenstein’s demolition of the notion of a “private language” is to the same effect, for reason itself is only mimic discourse.

    There is a reason that the “body politic” was the favourite metaphor of Conservatives.

  • Good roundup. However, not everything Ayn Rand said was wrong.

  • I wonder why George Gilder doesn’t get more attention. He was also influential in Ryan’s intellectual development. Gilder lays out an argument for capitalism based on virtue.

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22 Responses to Paul Ryan and Catholic Social Teaching (Roundup)

  • It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.

  • While not perfect, Ryan offers a vision that is not contrary to CST. He does seem to get it wrong when he equates subsidiarity with Federalism. However, Federalism does not seem contrary to the concept of solidarity or subsidiarity and so seems a reasonable position to hold. In fact his error seems less eggregious than the one of equating solidarity with increased state involvement, increased taxes etc. So perhaps a B+ in his understanding. (Perhaps a good a grade as most clerics unfortunately would receive.)

    A solid A however, for offering a position which is consistent with CST and challenges those who believe CST is merely a theological formulation of leftist programs or fringe, quasi-economic theories.

  • In Ayn Rand more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.

    Yeah, because those are two points that are really popular to defend outside of the libertarian circles and the standard Crazy Old Uncle….

    If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better? Not like ‘capitalism’ as a label is all that old; it’s not like the religious calls to groups over individuals haven’t been co-opted for political aims.

    I’m not going to hold my breath for a Bishop to defend the dignity of the poor when it comes to not being treated like house pets.

  • The best defense of the Ryan budget is this quote from Adam Smith:

    “When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree, there is scarce, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid. The liberation of the public revenue,if it has ever been brought about at all, has always been brought about by bankruptcy; sometimes by an avowed one, but always by a real one, though frequently by a pretend payment.”

    We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.

  • “We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.”

    This is one way to state the obvious. There is saying I used to hear all the time during my Navy days was that” S@#t rolls down hill.” I would have to say that principle applies here.

  • Note that it is possible to be guided by Catholic social teaching (which, as far as I can tell, is all that Ryan actually claimed) yet arrive at a conclusion the bishops find unsatisfactory.
    This is Ryan’s job – he undoubtably knows more about the facts and constraints of the problems than do the bishops. Many would like a solution that continues to fund entitlements as they are, but actual facts and constraints dictate that it is not possible to do that.
    The comments about ‘failing to protect the dignity of the poor’ sounds like a reflexive response. Many government programs erode that dignity; we are long overdue for an examination of the harmful effects that result. For example, school-lunch programs have expanded so much that they now cover multiple meals per day and almost everyone is eligible. Doesn’t this erode the dignity of parenthood, by removing the responsibility of feeding your own children?
    Many objected to welfare reform, too, decades ago…

  • Well, they didn’t exactly say Ryan is starving little children.

    The bishops don’t understand. The government is the problem.

    Case in point: in the first quarter 2012, the national debt expanded to $15.6 trillion. That is higher than the US gross domestic product for that date; and 1.5-times the percentage growth rate growth rate of the evil, unjust private sector GDP for which the Obama regime needs four more years to compete its destruction. Add to that unfunded commitments at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels and it’s HUGE.

    The national debt and local requirements will impoverish our children and grandchildren.

    Additionally, Re: Matthew 25 (it’s only in Matthew) doesn’t read: “I was hungry and you voted for Obama (fed me), I was thirsty and you attacked a Catholic Congressman (gave me to drink), . . . You get it.

    At the Final Judgment (Matt. 25): if you did it with other people’s money, it was not Charity.

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  • It’s precisely the way he has handled the Ayn Rand story that gives me pause on defending him. It appears to me that he wants to pretend that he never held her up as a model, but the record shows otherwise. When I see Paul Ryan defending life and marriage with as much passion as he defends the dollar, I’ll be more apt to be convinced.

  • [Foxfier] “If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better?”

    The problem for me is that there’s too much baggage attached to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to see a Catholic politician promoting it to the extent that Ryan has. Recalling my tortured reading, I found it to be thinly-veiled propaganda piece in which Rand’s own Objectivism is piled on pretty heavily. Egoism reigns supreme. For me, it’s difficult to extract from Rand’s book a “morality of capitalism” that isn’t already tainted by her own philosophy and anthropology. It wasn’t just the left that opposed Rand’s philosophy, but mainstream conservatism as well

    As far as individuals who Ryan might have praised as having articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism, Ryan would have made a better impression if he mentioned F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, or better yet, Michael Novak (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism) and John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus.

    For Ryan to consistently wax evangelical about Ayn Rand’s and Atlas Shrugged through the past decade, only to suddenly in the past week have an about-face and disclaim that her philosophy is wholly “anti-thetical to his own” strikes me as a bit … “opportune”. Why now? — well, if genuine I’m happy about his sudden revelation.

    That said, with respect to Paul Ryan’s work in Washingon — his budget proposals, his spearheading the critique of Obamacare at the health care summit, et al., I’m supportive. Clearly, he’s one of the few who actually gives a damn about where this country is headed and wants to do something about it. To those who criticize his efforts on the budget, I agree with Professor Garnet: the onus is on them to respond to the challenges that he identifies.

    [Greg] “It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.”

    Thanks. Work has been crazy, but I’m appreciative to still have the opportunity. =)

  • Fully agreed, Don (on Ryan’s pro-life record).

  • Agreed with Lisa and Christopher on their qualms re: Ryan and Atlas Shrugged. I’ve written about the book before, and there is little redeeming about the tome. As Christopher said above, there are plenty of other great works that defend capitalism much more concisely and thoroughly without being morally objectionable. That said, Ryan’s record demonstrates a solid commitment to social issues as well.

  • All I know is that letting capitalism work and a free market system seemed to create enough income for our fairly large family with enough to share with those less fortunate, the pro-life cause, Native American needs. Now since the sewage of government intervention continually seeps into every aspect of our operation we have less money, therefore less time as we have to work more off the farm jobs, longer hours for much less and are so tired we are having a hard time keeping up with any of it.
    surely you cannot think that Paul Ryan’s plan would not take care of those truly in need. That’s what the goal should be. It might be hard for people at first but if the country could get back to work and real earned income came back into the system we might be able to pull out of this. As long as we continue to be socially engineered we haven’t got a chance. I still don’t understand how BO got elected in the first place. Gotta go, have to change light bulbs in the barn, and put soap in the milkhouse sink or we’ll get kicked off Grade A. “rules” ya better not break or the “inspectors” will make your life miserable.

  • Christopher B-
    I didn’t say “articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism,” I specifically quoted the explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.

    Others may do a better job in covering the technicalities and whys and all the things that are important once you have the idea, but Rand is accessible to those who don’t already agree.
    Terry Pratchett has a running joke about “That is a very graphic analogy which aids understanding wonderfully while being, strictly speaking, wrong in every possible way”. The more I teach folks, the more that makes perfect sense.

    Incidentally? Searching on Bing for “The Spirit of Democratic Populism” brings up zero results.

    The other examples that come to mind are Animal Farm and the various movies that have clones as main characters who are going to be killed for their organs. Inaccurate. Drama over accuracy, and world view taints them…but they humanize a view enough for people to consider the reality.

  • Yes, Rep. Ryan’s about-face is peculiar (to put it gently), but here’s hoping.

    It’s probably giving Rand entirely too much credit to call her “philosophy” a philosophy, though her enthusiasts certainly wax flatulent in their praise of her “insights.” One called her the “corrector of Aristotle,” which makes me profusely thank God that I did not have a beverage making its way to my innards at the time.

    In fact, it’s best to think of Rand as the distaff half of the coin to L. Ron Hubbard, as I said to the misguided Rand groupie. The parallels are interesting:

    both were moderately talented (if woefully unedited) writers. Each wrote science fiction, or at least future-oriented fiction, and each enjoyed considerable success in the 50s. Both developed grandiose notions about their competence outside of the field of fiction writing, and each developed what they regarded as systematic wholistic philosophies for living and interacting with fellow humans. Both still have significant, if decidedly minority, followings today, and have followers who make unsupportable claims about their intellectual legacies and the applicability of their legacies to the problems of today.

    That said (and there was more than the simple motivation to zing Rand), I think it’s a little overblown to worry about someone getting ensnared into an objectivist worldview. It’s idiosyncratic, and only seems to have worked for an egotistical horny Russian emigre’ pulp writer of the female persuasion. Most will cull from it a few bits regarding the dangers of collectivism and move on. The rest can be ignored as they toil away in their cubicles.

  • Christopher B-
    found it, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism;” a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong, and the emotional impact of a story tends to do that. (Side note: haven’t read any of Rand’s stuff, I can’t stand stories that are sermons before they’re stories, and folks whose taste I trust have told me that’s what she wrote. I just know that’s a strange turn of taste, and I know a large number of formerly unthinkingly leftist folks who are now slightly less unthinking libertarians because of Rand, and some who already went through that stage and are now fairly conservative, or at least think about why they think what they think.)

  • “a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong”

    Perhaps. (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected). But to give some credit to Novak’s work — despite it being non-fiction, it has gone through a number of underground printings and being an inin then-socialist nations in the 80’s (Communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.) and changed a few minds.

    I agree with your point — giving credit where it’s due, Atlas Shrugged has probably change quite a few minds from the left-wing socialist persuasion. Even so, Rand’s “capitalist ethic” insofar as it manifests itself in her fiction seems to me too irretrievably tainted by her pure egoism and materialism, leaving no room for altruisim (or even religion). There’s a reason why mainstream conservativism sought to distance itself from it upon publication (ex. Big sister is Watching You, Whittaker Chambers National Review 1957; or more recently, Paul’s own review).

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Hence not the kind of work I’d envision a professed Catholic peddling to the degree that Ryan has done over the years, so I’m relieved at hearing of his “repudiation” and hope for the best.

  • (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected).

    I insert totally different words related to a topic all the time, especially when I’m talking. Part of why I love typing instead– I can go back over and re-read in hopes of catching really bad examples. Probably some kind of diagnosable thingie, if I wasn’t just fine calling it me being all flutter-brains.

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Agreed– but it does so in a sympathetic way. I really wish that most folks my age were objective enough to not believe the worst stereotype of “the other side” was accurate, but that isn’t so; having a book that appeals to their existing tendencies while being Kabuki Heartless Capitalism is pretty effective. College libertarians aren’t great to be around, but they beat college anarchists.

  • The World cannot embrace the truth. If it could, capitalism would need no defense.

    Capitalism may be the worst economic system, except for all the others.

    Go to the historical record. Capitalism stands apart from other so-called economic systems. Anti-capitalist nations devolved into hell holes of universal envy and mass brigandage. They had one common denominator: command economy/socialism.

    Capitalism is the cure for poverty.

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  • I believe the criticisms of Paul Ryan and his admiration for Ayn Rand are examples of jumping to false conclusions or at least jumping to “false concerns.”

    Ryan is not inconsistent when he states being influenced by Rand’s economics, yet does not accept her philosophy in toto. Moreover, based upon what Ryan proposes, it should be obvious to even the casual reader that he goes way beyond anything that Rand would approve. How about letting these actions speak for themselves instead of lamenting over Ryan’s appreciation of Randian economic principles?

    As Aquinas was said to have “baptized” Aristotle, if you take all of what Ryan proposes, plus his pro-life and other Catholic stances, etc., you don’t have to conclude that he “baptizes” Rand, but he does find ways to take what Rand teaches (as well as others) and incorporate some of those insights into an approach consistent with Catholic teaching.

    But similar to the fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum, some are jumping all over Paul Ryan in what might be called Reductio ad Ayn Rand despite the fact that Paul Ryan has distanced himself from many aspects of Randian philosophy that does not square with Catholic teaching. Ryan has made the distinctions clear, his actions illustrate this, and yet some people see his admiration for Ayn Rand economics as his defining characteristic, or it is considered to be very troubling.

    Here’s a logic-type question for all those who do not believe Ryan is “Catholic enough” in his economic philosophy because of his admiration for Randian economic libertarianism, and he “should” distance himself more from Rand:

    If Ryan’s appreciation for Ayn Rand is problematic because of some Randian views that do not square with Catholic teaching, then why is it not equally problematic to accept and even praise government involvement in various programs that help the poor to some extent, since the government champions many views that don’t square with Catholic teaching?

    Double Standard?

    DB
    Omnia Vincit Veritas

    P.S. I set forth a series of questions regarding “Moralnomics and the US Bishops” at my blog. If interested, you can check it out at:

    http://vlogicusinsight.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/moralnomics-what-the-us-bishops-fail-to-realize/

A question.

Thursday, March 1, AD 2012

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?

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13 Responses to A question.

  • As a fellow child of God the baby is of infinite worth. We hope to see the child in Heaven and are moved by the baby’s fate to redouble our efforts to battle the evils which led to his early death. Without God it would be much too easy to view the unfortunate baby as a fellow animal now out of its sad misery. When Man attempts to remove God from His world Man quickly makes that world into a very dark place indeed.

  • A question: Is their true motive to save themselves from suffering?

    Mac is correct: finite suffering can lead to infinite joy in Heaven.

    We need to recognize that these people believe they have only this world and they need to make it as good for themselves as they can.

  • I have experience of this same situation.

    Here the courageous and loving young couple is dealing with much the same as Ronan’s parents and they have the love, faith and courage to live with it in hope and to carry on their loving family life.

    I envy their courage and faith.

    Without Christ we are nothing.

  • Here’s another question, or maybe just an observation: I’m under the impression the pro-life movement has basically declared that aborted/”post-partum aborted” (it’s all just murder, isn’t it?) go to Heaven (baptism is waived in this case). Well, Heaven is the greatest goal, what we should all be aspiring to and aiming at. And bonus: moms who repent their abortion will get to meet their child in Heaven. I ever heard of abortion facilities helping their “patients”/victims make “sorry cards” or “valentines card” or something like that so that there is “closure” with the abortion and some reassurance that the woman did the right thing, everyone will be united in Heaven, etc, etc, etc.

    So…doesn’t that make abortion easier then? I was pro-abortion (and yes, it IS pro-abortion, not pro-choice) for quite a number of years, in part because of diseases like Tay-Sachs.

  • I had a recent conversation with my dad on the subject of Iraq. He asked if there was a better way of handling situations like Iraq, with the war and subsequent nation-building. I answered that if you’re looking for a proven historical method, you should go in and kill all the men, take the women, make the children slaves, burn the cities, and salt the earth on your way out. That works.

    In like manner, I can’t fault the logic of the Australian article. Infanticide works. It’s more accurate than genetic testing for abnormalities. It’s the logic of the world.

  • DJ – There isn’t really a unified theology of the pro-life movement. Even the Catholic Church hasn’t pronounced anything on the fate of aborted babies. On the one hand, there’s the fact that Jesus provided us with the sacraments (including baptism) for our salvation, and was very specific about it. On the other hand, we’d be wrong to believe that God is limited by the sacraments.

    I tend to think of it as taking I-95 versus Route 1. They both go in the same directions, but I-95 is well-marked and designed for interstate travel. On Route 1, it’s going to take a lot longer, and you can easily end up on the wrong road or fail to make it your destination entirely. That analogy makes sense to me, but I don’t know if it’s theologically correct.

  • They can rationalize any evil. They do not believe in The Eternal, Ominpotent God, the Father Almighty. They don’t believe in objective truth.

    Does the question of whether a murder vic is in Heaven or Hell matter with regard to the crime? Hamlet lamented that his father was unshriven. I doubt many in 2012 think in those terms.

    God alone knows whether the murdered unborn is in Heaven or Limbo or . . .

    What we know is that the baby murderer usurps God’s power to determine when his creations live and die. Man is created by God in His image.

  • Pinky: I’m simply following what I believe to be the mainstream pro-life belief to its logical conclustion, just as those who are advocating infanticide have done with abortion. It is pretty rare to hear about Limbo in the Church these days, except on orthodox/conservative (catholic) websites. And most (all?) Protestants reject Limbo and Purgatory. I think only the very “fundamentalists” types would say that the unbaptised and aborted babies go to Hell.

    This uncertainy may not make a difference to those who are strong in their faith, who accept God and Lord and Master of life,etc., but it may be making an impact on those who have a weak faith, or no faith at all, people who see no value in suffering.

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  • When the parent makes a decision that is not in the best interest of another living person who is a human being, that person becomes a ward of the court. The court must appoint a guardian to defend the endangered person’s civil rights. Being told that one ought not to have been born is insulting to the child and his Creator.

  • “In like manner, I can’t fault the logic of the Australian article. Infanticide works. It’s more accurate than genetic testing for abnormalities. It’s the logic of the world.”
    One person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.

  • Although this subject should be simple, we as human beings make it difficult.
    All life is precious and all mistakes can be redeemed…if this is true, which I believe it is, then we should not have abortion and we should not have the death penalty – a human paradox.
    I hope and pray for this war for life to continue after the baby is born to the parent(s) that a) does not want the child, b) cannot afford the child, c) raises the child with anger and hatred and/or ineptness, etc…that means programs, taxes, and more that many on the right do not believe in…let’s take on the entire war, not just the one battle.
    Let’s fight for the unborn and for the child of God after she’s born!

  • francodrummer says:
    Although this subject should be simple, we as human beings make it difficult.
    All life is precious and all mistakes can be redeemed…if this is true, which I believe it is, then we should not have abortion and we should not have the death penalty – a human paradox.
    A condemned capital one murderer must expire with grief over his crime. Should the capital one murderer continue to live, he represents double jeopardy of life, while he lives, to every person alive since he has taken human life. The jail guards, the warden and his family, the contractors, the doctors and nurses and professionals in the prison are in jeopardy of life. If the capital one murderer kills again, the state is responsible for enabling the murder.
    The unborn, whom I prefer to call the newly begotten, are all innocent virgins, sovereign in their person.

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

Wednesday, October 26, AD 2011

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

  • I’d like to suggest, in addition, that we notice the results of this sort of thing.

  • “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.”

    This basically sums up my view, along with the assumption that it has as much chance of being carried out as does Michael Moore of making a truthful movie. My other reactions are that Vatican bureaucrats have way too much time on their hands obviously if they can waste it putting together such Cloud Kukooland proposals, and “My Peter’s Pence collection money helped pay for this drivel?”. The saving grace for me is remembering other initiatives throughout history that have emananted from Vatican bureaucrats and which are now, mercifully, forgotten except for people like me of an antiquarian bent.

  • From Phil Lawler’s comment on this dog’s breakfast of a proposal:

    “However, while economists are learning from the Vatican, perhaps the Vatican might learn a few lessons from economic analysts. Just for instance:
    •that government does not create anything, and therefore does not have funds unless it obtains those funds from ordinary people: taxpayers;
    •that the world’s financial system is currently endangered because of the soaring level of government debt;
    •that regulatory agencies have an abysmal record of failure in protecting the public from market fluctuations, speculative bubbles, and even outright fraud—and it is only reasonable to expect that a worldwide authority would reproduce those failures on a global scale;
    •that government interventions in the markets invariably produce unintended consequences, many of them deleterious;
    •that government regulation invariably furnishes opportunities for powerful corporations to manipulate the market for their own purposes, to the detriment of the general welfare.

    Those are the economic lessons. There are some political realities that the Vatican might eventually recognize, too. Say:
    •that the UN, the World Bank, the European Union, and other international organizations are not friends of the Catholic Church, and probably never will be;
    •that any international agency empowered to regulate financial markets will—following a pattern that is now well established—be exploited by social engineers to promote contraception, legal abortion, and legal recognition of same-sex marriage;
    •that liberal politicians will gladly accept and exploit the Vatican’s statements on economic affairs, while continuing to work assiduously to promote the culture of death;

    Oh, yes, and most important of all:
    •When an obscure Vatican agency issues a statement that contains 50% solid Catholic social teaching, and 50% flaky leftist theory, the world’s media will ignore the distinctively Catholic content—what the Church should say, what the world should learn—and concentrate exclusively on the leftist theory. So for the great mass of ordinary readers, who will never read the full document, but only scan the headlines, the important message will be lost. What will register, instead, is that the Vatican has not learned its lessons about economic affairs and political realities.”

    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=856

  • The document is worth a read. Section 1 is a largely unobjectionable historical summary. Section 2 is good teaching if you get past the politically-charged terminology. Section 3 is the most important IMO. It’s orthodox teaching often ignored by the hyper-subsidiarists. Centralization need not violate subsidiarity! Section 4 contains the controversial prescriptions, namely a central monetary and financial authority.

    Given that centralization doesn’t necessarily violate subsidiarity, is there is a need for an international monetary and/or financial authority?

    We had a voluntary international monetary convention in the Bretton Woods system. I’m no expert but from a distance, a global monetary authority seems like a good idea. Specifically, a global reserve currency like the IMF’s SDRs. Countries wouldn’t have to abandon their own currencies.

    The global financial authority envisioned in the document is more problematic. There are three suggestions mentioned: (1) A Tobin tax, (2) a bank bailout fund, and (3) Glass-Steagall. Sweden had to abandon its Tobin tax. If you want to raise revenue, there are better ways. I was going to dismiss the other two points but remembered the whole reason the document is addressing this subject in the first place, i.e., to promote the common good. Imagine a poor farmer in a nation with a weak government. He’s drawn in by a bank’s promises. How do we protect him from getting screwed? I don’t know if bailout funds and bank regulations are the answer but they do speak to a real problem that probably requires a global authority. My preliminary thoughts are some kind of minimal financial standards backed up by trade sanctions against offending nations. Like a Universal Declaration of Human Rights for economic rights.

  • I am preparing a fisk on the entire document RR, so our faithful readers will get an opportunity to review the entire thing with my color commentary.

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  • Oh yes! Donald is going to fisk the Vatican! Look out world, here Donald lays out all the trumps!

  • And I assure you Karlson that each and every contribution that you wish to make on my fisk will be allowed to go through by me on that thread. I look forward to it!

  • The word “moral” is mentioned five times in this short paper. My comment on that is here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2011/10/deeper-examination-of-moral-dimensions.html

  • The re-presentation of Phil Lawler’s comments actually seem to demonstrate his lack of familiarity with the financial situations that put the economy in peril — at least with regard to the American economy.

    Primarily what jumps out of Lawler’s comments is regarding regulation. While a central regulatory agency might present problems of its own, the problem in American finance was due to a significant de-regulatory environment; namely, the creation of previously outlawed derivative instruments, primarily backed by toxic credit products, that created artificial capital assets in financial institutions.

    In the case of what spurred the American crisis, it was not the failure of regulatory agencies, but instead the deregulation by governmental/political forces that allowed the system to be put at risk. That risk became peril when a small sector of credit backing these derivatives folded, and the phony capital was lost … causing credit tightening, closing of business lines of credit, etc., which spiraled into the other areas of the economy.

    This type of behavior, and similar, by investment banks has led the SEC to fine several hundreds of millions of dollars each. But, no one’s put a stop to this type of behavior. Recently, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch moved huge amounts of toxic derivatives to its depository arm, so if they go belly up … Merrill Lynch is protected, while the FDIC will have to come to the rescue of depositors — in other words, another taxpayer bailout.

    But, that’s the financial side of this. To turn to the moral side … well, there is no morality and ethics in what the “free markets” are churning out these days. There’s no concern about what it means for growing global and national poverty. And I would hope that the PCJP would take on those types of issues, speaking to the duty businesses, markets, financial institutions, and society in general has to promoted, protect and defend the common good and general welfare of the poor, sick, elderly, young, and unemployed. It is in their failure to do that, that I think this document really fails the Church and all the aforementioned segments of our society.

  • Deregulation did not cause this mess Catholicsphere, but rather a willingness on the part of too many in government not to let businesses that made dumb decisions fail. Unlike the Pope, and bloggers (: , business men and women are not infallible and make dumb decisions every day and normally, in a free market, if enough dumb decisions are made, the enterprise fails. This is precisely what should have happened here.

    Politicians by and large are certainly not smarter or more honest than the average business man or woman, so the idea that regulatory regimes will save us is illusory. What will save us is a robust market where losers end up as vulture bait and winners thrive. So long as government bails out losers in the economy, we will not come out of the current recession/depression. There is no substitute for the free market if economic prosperity for the greatest number of people possible is the goal.

  • Donald–

    Isn’t the common good the goal? Not simply economic propserity?

    Has the market ever truly been free?

    And to everyone, shouldn’t we read what the Popes have actually said about a global authority and global relations in general before inserting our own interpretations about what an economist at the Vatican said?

  • Define common good for me Alex. It is a term that is often tossed around but it fails to recognize that goods often clash. In regard to economics I think economic prosperity for the greatest number is far preferable to equality in poverty.

    Market freedom has varied throughout history. As a rule, I believe there is a fairly high correlation between market freedom and economic prosperity.

    “And to everyone, shouldn’t we read what the Popes have actually said about a global authority and global relations in general before inserting our own interpretations about what an economist at the Vatican said?”

    I have done so.

  • Donald-
    an illustration of your point, perhaps; ask folks if it’s better if everyone is a two on a scale of one to five on wealth, or that the majority be a three or four and there be a few fives. You may or may not be surprised to see how many think the prior is superior to the latter….

  • Everyone is in favor of equality Foxfier until they need something done, and then everyone wants the best: lawyer, doctor, plumber, you name it. I think Americans are more tolerant than many other peoples of the idea that we all have different abilities and that some people are going to excel in some facets of life. In my experience most people are usually willing to pay a high price for good quality when it counts.

    In regard to economics and history I rather like this Robert Heinlein, perverse jerk though he could be at times, quote:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded – here and there, now and then – are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.””

  • A slight detour:
    this morning during my routine, I had a chance to marvel: really hot water in the shower, a cup of inexpensive but very drinkable coffee, two healthy little girls who either wouldn’t have survived birth a century back or I wouldn’t have survived the saving of them, in a house that’s just a bit chill for the first ten minutes out of thrift instead of picking ice out of the washbasin for the first hour, we’re all in really good health without serious risk of that changing and my husband works inside, being away from home for less than ten hours on a normal day, five days a week.

    This is what comes of people being able to strive to improve their lot. I like it. Disposable income means that you can help.
    Maybe the very richest back then could afford enough servants to live something like this– the bulk of my time is spent with correspondence or “managing” household affairs without a lot of work involved. (Yeah, laundry is a drag… unless you realize how hard it is to get baby poo out of cloth by hand.)

War and the Eclipse of Moral Reason

Wednesday, October 12, AD 2011

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

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64 Responses to War and the Eclipse of Moral Reason

  • Oh Lord, Phil and Chris, you have gone and done it! You have crossed the Shavian line in the sand. You’re now (gasp!) death penalty maxiumists! God’s prophet will thunder from Seattle to solemnly damm you for your blood lust! Repent, or face the prospect of your comboxes of being flooded with ani-death penalty tirades1 LOL!

  • How does John 8:10 fit?

    At first glance, Christ abrogates the Mosaic law. In essence, He says that only the sinless (i.e. God) can righteously stone the woman for her sins.

    As for the proposition that the death penalty does not contravene Charity, I have to respectfully disagree.

    The death penalty is sometimes necessary. Indeed, through much of history, it was the only choice that would protect society from further injury. However, where alternatives exist, surely Charity demands that we choose the alternative.

    I believe that all men can turn to God and accept His mercy. This capacity exists in the most sinful as much as in the least. If this be so, then more time may be of great benefit to those deserving of capital punishment. SS Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler’s story illustrates my point I think.

    It is probably uncommon that men who justly face death for their assault against society turn towards God. Doesn’t the possibility that a soul, starved of the evil influences that brought him to death’s door, might one night see himself for who he is and God for who He is and, so, repent, justify the abolition of the death penalty?

  • What in heck is a vox nova?

    “Some would say, ‘Well Father, what about those people who support the war in Iraq, or the death penalty, or oppose undocumented aliens? Aren’t those just as important, and aren’t Catholic politicians who support those “bad Catholics” too?’

    “Simple answer: ‘No. Not one of those issues, or any other similar issues, except for the attack on traditional marriage is a matter of absolute intrinsic evil in itself.'”
    Father John De Celles, 9/1/2008

    And so, if they vote for abortion, contraception, euthanasia, gay marriage, etc. because the candidate opposes the DP and proposes socialism [fill in the blank].

  • G-Veg, Jesus was responding to Pharisees who had caught a woman in the act and wanted Him to pass judgement. What they did was illegal, according to the Mosaic Law, because both the woman and the man involved had to be tried (So the Pharisees actually abrogated that law). Besides, they were trying to trap Jesus. If He said that she shouldn’t be executed, they could say that He opposed the Law. If He said that she should, not only would they accuse him of lacking compassion but fomenting rebellions against Rome, since the Romans were the only authority that could perform executions in first-century Palestine (that’s why the Pharisees went to Pilate to crucify Jesus; they couldn’t do it themselves).

    Jesus’ answer did not excuse the sin. It pointed out the Pharisees’ own trechery…and the Pharisees knew it; just look at their immediate reaction.

    Not even Sister Helen Prejean, one of the most popular opponents of capital punishment, contends that the abolitionist position has biblical roots, or that John 8 condemns capital punishment, as she admitted in her book, Dead Man Walking:

    “It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical ‘proof text’ in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) – the Mosaic Law prescribed death – should be read in its proper context.

    This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment.”

    Besides, adultery no longer is considered a capital offense by any nation outside of the Muslim world.

  • Besides, the whole concept of “the inviolability of human life” denies the fact that God, as the Author of life, has the prerogative to outline conditions under which that life must be taken — and also effectively makes life itself a kind of idol. That last statement is pretty strong, I admit, but eminently logical.

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  • I have disagreed more often than I have agreed with Joseph over the years, but I think his last comment is spot on correct. Catholics can have a disordered understanding of the importance of life in much the same way as Protestants can have a disordered understanding of the importance of Scripture. These disorders can lead to the worship of life or Scripture instead of God.

  • I hadn’t considered the NT passage in that context before so I appreciate the response.

    My larger point about the death penalty stands unanswered though. (I’m not sure whether the allegation that some Catholics idolize life was meant to answer it or not. If so, I need something further to understand the point.)

    I trust that you will humor my response to the point that justice demands death as a punishment for some crimes.

    It may be that justice demands certain punishments for certain crimes. God made all and His destruction of anything He created is eminently just. This is a simple truth. However, men presume too much when they declare themselves the righteous hands of God. Frankly Man doesn’t have that great a track record on justice so it is a bit of a farce to declare that so-and-so deserves death but another does not.

    The justness of the death penalty as a general punishment is somewhat distinct from the justness of a particular sentence but it is not entirely separate. I don’t think it quite right to suggest that a society so poor at determining guilt is equipped to dispense so final a punishment. Even if it were, even if we got it right all of the time, it still doesn’t answer the charge that killing a man cuts him off from the opportunity to be saved.

    It isn’t that life is valuable in and of itself, it is that being alive is the precondition to accepting God’s mercy. That’s not idolatry, it is Charity for a fellow sinner.

  • G-Veg, here’s a commentary I wrote for Front Page Magazine on the Catholic view of capital punishment, exemplified by the Vatican’s condemnation of Saddam Hussein’s execution: http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1463

  • In regard to the death penalty, Pius XII set forth well the traditional Catholic view in a speech on March 13, 1943 to parish priests in Rome:

    “Human life is untouchable except for legitimate individual self-defense, a just war carried out with just methods, and the death penalty meted out by public authority for extremely grave and very specific and proven crimes.”

    The papal states had the death penalty and executions were not infrequent. The Vatican had the death penalty from 1929 to 1969 which was reserved as a punishment for assassination of the Pope.

    Here is a good wikipedia article on Giovanni Battista Bugatti, the official executioner of Pius IX, who carried out some 516 executions between 1796 and 1865:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Battista_Bugatti

  • I thought the later movies about veitnam you mention were made well after Vietnamese War, not at its end?

    The issue with Vietnam, as it is with many of our skirmishes of late, is the very mixed motives for which we get involved. WWII seemed pretty straightforward. Vietnam, as well as many of our forays into Latin America and elsewhere have much more cynical motives. Thus, it is not that Just War is rejected for pacificism, but that Just War, when applied, demonstrates many of our excursions are seriously lacking. That, and for good reason, people trust the gubmint far less in these matters than they used to.

  • “WWII seemed pretty straightforward.”

    Only after Pearl Harbor cmatt. Before Pearl Harbor quite a few Americans, probably a majority, were quite willing to see the rest of the world go to hell as long as the US could stay out of it. In regard to Vietnam the problem was that most Americans eventually concluded it wasn’t worth it. Other than the idiot Leftists like Jane Fonda who actively supported the enemy, most Americans had no illusions about what the Communists would do once they won. However, the death toll for Americans was simply too high to maintain the war effort where the existence of America wasn’t at stake. War weariness historically sets in for the US at about the third year of a conflict, and it takes a very great threat to the US itself for the US to stay the course, unless casualties are relatively minor. (Certainly of course casualties are never minor to the wounded and the dead and their grieving families.)

  • Christopher

    Y0ur fathers article was one of the best I read at the time. Still one of the best I read from any time.

    I was coming home from the dentist about that time and as idea for a satire came into my head. “Root Canals and the Decline of Moral Reasoning”. Following the logic of those being criticized, dentists should not do root canals because the patient feels pain for the dentist’s instrumtnerts. Better to take the moral high road and leave them with and intolorable tooth ache. After the pain killer wore off it did not seem as funny.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • Permit me the risk of sounding even more distinctly Protestant by explaining my statement a bit further. I said killing is always wrong, even when it’s right. I stand by that, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the wrongness of killing is necessarily sinful or detrimental to the soul. In my perhaps muddled way of thinking, killing presents us with an act that defies our moral categories. Even though I see good reason to think of killing as justifiable in some circumstances, I cannot escape the lingering sense that even these acts of killing are evils to be avoided. The Church itself calls for all war (emphasis on “all”) to be outlawed by international consent. Never again war, pontiffs have spoken. Why does the Church desire an end to deeds that can be just? Perhaps because even just killing is a moral evil of sorts.

  • Kyle, the Vatican cannot be seen as taking sides in any war because doing so would sabotage its diplomatic credibility, let alone its moral credibility (though some of us believe the Vatican has no moral credibility, but that’s a discussion for another day). In addition, there’s a strong sense of appeasement within the Vatican, as exempllified by its stance not only on the 2003 invasion of Iraq but also by its stance on the 1990-91 invasion of Iraq, which the UN approved to get Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait, which Iraq attacked without provocation and tried to annex.

    If the Vatican believes that “just killing is a moral evil of sorts,” then it’s clashing headlong with, for example, the OT’s divine pronouncements against the Canaanites (because of barbaric religious practices) and the Amalekites (for attacking the Israelites when they were at their most vulnerable during the Exodus). Granted, we no longer live in OT times. But anything “just” cannot be considered a “moral evil;” doing so is not only a logical contradiction but also an ethical one.

  • Kyle is correct in that killing men is an evil to be avoided if possible. I have talked to many combat veterans over the years and few of them have expressed animosity towards the men they were fighting, as opposed to the causes those men fought for. The veterans I have spoken to viewed their combat opponents as simply men like them fighting for their country and their deaths as a sad thing, although far prefererable to the veteran and his buddies dying.

    I think it was Wellington after Waterloo who said that the only thing half as melacholy as a battle lost is a battle won. Combat veterans often have a bond going through that searing experience that civilians, thankfully, never know. That is why in the 1880s, for example, Union and Confederate veterans began holding joint reunions. Killing is a very sad thing, but in this fallen world it is often a very necessary thing, lest far worse things occur.

  • Donald
    You know this but it needs to be added….fighting is an ontic evil of being so to speak but it must be done with spirit, energy, committment and belief. If a combatant is filled with present regret about fighting, he will lose. The Kuomintang really gave their second best in the defense of Nanking against the Japanese which turned into their tenth best when soldiers fleeing Shanghai quit and dressed like civilians….leading to a contempt by Japanese which led to tens of thousands of poorer Chinese women of every conceivable age being raped and killed in the tens of thousands for 6 weeks by an army that Mitsui had repeatedly ordered to treat civilians with respect because the world was watching.
    Second Timothy 3:1 says, “In the last days, dangerous times will come.”. Christ said there will be wars and the rumors of wars but such would be the beginning of sorrows. Outlawing war by international agreement simply doesn’t have credibility in a world where the apostasy must take place. I don’t look at quixotic statements of two Popes…minus 263 other Popes. I look at their bodyguards and what those bodyguards are carrying….SIG pistols and H&K submachine
    guns…top of the line. Don’t look at words; look at choices in the everyday.

  • I do not disagree Bill. One can be sick at the idea of killing other people, while still being filled with pride in one’s unit and believing that it it can overcome anything it confronts. Fortunately we humans are complicated creations of a loving God and can hold various thoughts and emotions at the same time.

  • Don, The Church hasn’t always been on the side of right in its dealings in the world. Sometimes the all too human aspects of the institution overwhelm its divine mandate. It strikes me that, with regards to executions of condemned criminals, the Church Temporal did what was common and prudent at that point in history. The Church acted as a sovereign and, as such, exacted Man’s justice. If I have it right, then I don’t believe that the response addresses the underlying concern: that cutting a man off from the opportunity to accept God’s mercy is a grave evil and could only be the right choice where there are no reasonable alternatives.

    Joseph, Thank you for pointing me to the articles and papal statements on the matter. I had not heard or read them before – my catechesis being woefully inadequate. I rather think though that our Popes and Bishops have the better of the argument and that your take on the matter lacks the cohesiveness and a concordance with scripture and tradition requisite to prevail over the official position of the Church.

    Aquinas’ critique is far more cogent and persuasive. This is hardly surprising and it is worth pondering his position that the imminence of death for one’s crimes makes stark the connection between life’s choices and the consequences. He is arguing that if staring death in the face for one’s sins doesn’t turn the hart, nothing will. I don’t argue that this may be true. We can imagine a theocracy in which punishment is meted out based upon a concern for the soul of the condemned. We can conceive of a tribunal as much concerned with reclaiming lost souls as man’s justice, sentencing one to death and another to a lifetime in jail based upon their receptiveness to correction. However, I suspect that such conjecture is purely utopian – that it is not likely to work as intended.

    Man’s justice is terribly flawed precisely because Man is terribly flawed. Our self interest, prejudices, and imaginings intervene in our perception of Truth to create confusion. Our conclusions are riddled with fault and uncertainty.

    We are pretty good at dispensing justice on a broad spectrum of law. There may be many individual cases that reach an un-just result but the law, as a whole, finds guilt where there is guilt and acquits where there isn’t. So long as we are talking about other than punishment that terminates life, this may be good enough. It may be the best we are capable of. However, I am arguing that it isn’t good enough when we are talking about capital punishment. It is evident from your article that the Church agrees and fills in my sophomoric arguments with a great depth of learned opinions. Against this backdrop, your defense of death lacks sufficient substance to convince.

    I hope you will not misunderstand my response to be in any sense scoffing. Your article betrays a fine intellect. I appreciate your entertaining my thoughts on the matter. I am just not convinced that 1) because the Church executed people in the past that the death penalty is right or 2) because man’s sense of what is just or concern for the victims and their families is of greater importance than salvation.

  • G- Veg
    In the process of reading the recent Popes, I would suggest you first read God in Genesis 9:6 because John Paul II not only read it but throughout Evangelium Vitae, he quotes the half of it that was consonant with his personal proclivity and he sequesters or removes from view the half that he dislikes:

    ” Anyone who sheds the blood of a human being,
    by a human being shall that one’s blood be shed;
    For in the image of God
    have human beings been made.”

    Read Evangelium Vitae which positions itself against the death penalty. JPII cites the last two lines repeatedly and never shows the reader the first two lines. Likewise no where in EV does JPII quote Romans 13:4. He’d rather you not see it but it is the NT echo of the first two lines of Genesis 9:6. He saw both quotes and effectively hides them from the reader. That kind of editing of the word of God on a topic would get a very low mark as an essay in any good university.

  • Mr. Bannon,

    I respectfully disagree with your approach to resolving complex moral questions.

    I am not a protestant. I do not reserve to myself the authority to determine what the Word means when doing so would directly conflict with the Church or, worse yet, lead me to conclude that the Church is lying.

    You are entirely too bold in your critique of our Popes.

  • G-Veg
    So in 1455 after Romanus Pontifex, you if Portuguese would have felt free to enslave natives who resisted the gospel ( mid 4th large paragraph) and after Exsurge Domine in 1520 (art.33), you would have supported burning heretics against Luther’s objections and in line with Leo X. That means that educated laity go in any direction whatsoever based on non infallible texts of Popes.

  • We all approach moral problems in different ways. I can only speak for myself.

    I first ask if I know something to be clearly true – not in some amorphous way but with a very human certainty. Then I ask if what I know matches what the Church teaches. If it does, end of dilemma.

    If I am uncertain, and I often am, I yield to the Church’s clear and specific guidance.

    If the particular problem presents me with uncertainties and the Church has not specifically spoken to the issues, I seek advice from my betters and incorporate the different answers into what I know. I then run that result against what the Church teaches to make sure the answer doesn’t contradict the Truth and, if it doesn’t, I go with it and hope for the best.

    I pray about such things quite a lot and would really appreciate it if God would just give me the answer in sort of a burning bush moment. That hasn’t happened yet.

    What is your approach?

  • My approach was to actually read the Scriptures cover to cover and memorize much, then I read Aquinas’ Summa Theologica almost cover to cover, then I read almost all of Augustine. That gave me the scriptures with the commentary of the two minds who were the best on it. Then I read Rahner and the extreme modern biblical scholar who was on the Pontifical Biblical Commission under JPII and under Benedict as Cardinal…..Raymond Brown. I interwove that with doing intimate Christian social work through caring for the twins of a heroin dealer and the daughter of a prositute for years in Newark. Thus when John Paul wrote EV, I had much background to know what he was leaving out. I submitted to his infallible passage condemning euthanasia despite my proclivity in favor of it in extreme situations like my mom’s; and I will always see his non infallible passages on the death penalty as deceptive but well intentioned…but deceptive. Were he interested in prisons, he would have noticed that Catholic dominant countries sans death penalties are in the forefront of high murder rate countries of the world. He never noticed. Neither he nor Benedict accepts the first person imperative nature of God giving death penalties or war orders (see EV sect.40 and Verbum Domine sect.42)….and there they part company with 263 other Popes you apparently would have followed in their time. That means if God did not give the war orders and death penalty orders in the first person imperative that scripture says He did…..then guess what….all of His first person imperatives like the Ten Commandments are now vulnerable. The anti gay action directives it can be argued were never really from God either just as the death penalties were not. Men can covet their neighbors wife or Japanese Maple. Who knows if God really opposed sloth?
    Can you see then why Christ quoted scripture (often out of context like Aquinas and Billy Graham)…. and why Christ said in John 10:35….”the scriptures cannot be broken”.
    John Paul and Benedict abided Raymond Brown who didn’t even believe that Mary said the Magnificat (page 349 “Birth of the Messiah”). It is no great wonder that they used his example to subtract God giving death penalties or war orders.

  • Kyle and Blosser can both agree, can’t they, with Augustine: that even just wars and executions should be occasions for wailing, lamentations, and prayers for the Christian. I take it only that Kyle is emphasizing this last aspect–that even just wars are to be lamented–and that Blosser is emphasizing the prior aspect–that there could in principle be a just war or a just execution. Is there really a difference in principle here?

    If you agree with Weigel’s claim that just war theory does not contain within it a presumption against violence, then you have a hard time making sense of Augustine’s description of just war. But Weigel’s reading of the tradition is not accurate; hence we can say, with Augustine, that just wars exist, and that they should nonetheless be lamented, with groans and tears. There’s a both/and here, not an either/or.

  • Mr. Bannon,

    I am very sorry that your mother suffered and appreciate your charity. In so many ways, a Christianity without action is no Christianity at all.

    Consciences and intellects are not formed equally. Some are sufficiently formed to determine for themselves what scripture says and means and to incorporate those ideas into the broader fabric of their experience and learning. I submit that most men are not up to this task and here state that I am one of these.

    The road to Luther and rebellion begins with well intentioned and intelligent men who favor their views over the Church’s. Lesser men look at a dilemma and say “I do not know and the Church has spoken so the Church is presumably right.” Men of greater knowledge and deeper intellects look at a dilemma and say “I can figure this out and, if the Church and I are in agreement, so be it. If not, I will reject the Church’s position in favor of my own.”

    Many who adopt that line of reasoning are not really up to the challenge. Their views are mere substitutions of their wishes and conceits for Truth.

    I cannot agree that the Church’s positions are as nothing and that a loose linking of writers and scripture should supplant the Church’s position. I will not become accustomed to narrowing my trust in the Church’s teaching to only that which is declared infallible. If that makes me a bit of a rube, so be it.

  • G-Veg
    Luther actually agreed with John Paul II’s sect.80 of Splendor of the Truth on torture at least in 1520; and Calvin had our 1830 answer on usury in 1545.
    Peace….and at minimum, carry pepper spray because Ephesians 5:16 says “the days are evil”….the Pope is carrying much more than pepper spray through his body guards…..this inter alia:

    http://www.hk-usa.com/military_products/mp7a1_general.asp

  • I don’t look at quixotic statements of two Popes…minus 263 other Popes. I look at their bodyguards and what those bodyguards are carrying….SIG pistols and H&K submachine guns…top of the line. Don’t look at words; look at choices in the everyday.

    Bill, that is probably the most intelligent comment on this thread. Good on ‘ya!

  • …I will always see (John Paul II’s) non infallible passages on the death penalty as deceptive but well intentioned…but deceptive. Were he interested in prisons, he would have noticed that Catholic dominant countries sans death penalties are in the forefront of high murder rate countries of the world. He never noticed. Neither he nor Benedict accepts the first person imperative nature of God giving death penalties or war orders (see EV sect.40 and Verbum Domine sect.42)….and there they part company with 263 other Popes you apparently would have followed in their time. That means if God did not give the war orders and death penalty orders in the first person imperative that scripture says He did…..then guess what….all of His first person imperatives like the Ten Commandments are now vulnerable.

    Bill, I wish you would write more about this subject in Catholic outlets. Too many Catholics favor the current revisionist policy either because they personally oppose capital punishment or do not have the intellectual courage to challenge the writings of any Pope, let alone an extremely popular Pope.

  • I hope you will not misunderstand my response to be in any sense scoffing. Your article betrays a fine intellect. I appreciate your entertaining my thoughts on the matter. I am just not convinced that 1) because the Church executed people in the past that the death penalty is right or 2) because man’s sense of what is just or concern for the victims and their families is of greater importance than salvation.

    G-Veg, thank you so much for your compliments. Please re-read my article because my opposition isn’t based on whether the Vatican City State performed executions or on man’s sense of what is just. My opposition is based on the fact that the Church’s revisionist policy directly contradicts divine revelation when it comes to dealing with murderers (as Bill Bannon addressed in previous posts).

    Regarding salvation and concern for victims, those are two different categories. Accepting salvation is the responsibility of the perpetrator; that responsibility doesn’t change because of the nature or length of the sentence. St. Paul said that “now is the day of salvation!” Showing concern for victims is one of the Church’s moral and spiritual duties — one it doesn’t perform very well, btw. That doesn’t mean that the victims have no responsibility for their reactions. But if you have ever lost a loved one (as I have, twice), you know that grief can be powerful and overwhelming. The contemporary Church’s focus on the perpetrators of evil effectively not only ignores the suffering of the victims but, essentially, mocks it (as McCarrick’s comments demonstrated). That should be an abomination to anybody who has even a modicum of compassion.

    One more thing, and this came to me after I wrote the piece: JPII’s revisionism essentially changes the fundamental focus of the argument. Before, the focus was placed on offending the inviolability of the divine image in humanity. Now, the focus is placed on the state’s ability to protect society, which varies with the its ability to fund prisons and other penal measures. Given this nation’s current economic problems, many states may find it necessary to cut such expenditures, thus increasing the risk of putting dangerous criminals back on the street.

    I’m not arguing that capital criminals should be executed as a cost-cutting measure; that would be immoral. I am saying, however, that relying on the state’s ability to provide penal measures as a fundamental thrust of Church policy carries its own set of societal problems.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito,
    Dissent against the papal non infallible is hidden in Catholic moral theology tomes which few buy or even know of; and such dissent is obscured by Lumen Gentium 25’s partial truth on religious submission of mind and will. Left to itself Lumen Gentium 25 ( if read partially the way it’s quoted) orders one to obey the pro slavery injunction of Pope Nicholas V and three successors and obey the pro burning at the stake idea of Pope Leo X. So how could a Catholic avoid two alleged intrinsic evils in the 15th and 16th centuries if they gave religious submission to acts now consideted inrinsic evils? But theologian Fr. Yves Congar noted that Councils often make partial truths whose completion,I add, can be found in LG 25’s case in conservative
    Germain Grisez’s “Christian Moral Principles” page 854…allowing dissent that is studious inter alia and against the non infallible. Put LG 25’s religious submission of mind and will together with the studious prayerful dissent clause hidden in moral theology tomes and you have a complete healthy idea that is thoroughly Catholic but unknown especially to converts on the net whose clergy contacts are not inclined to reveal freedom aspects but only restriction aspects….which the catechism also does by giving a “read until you believe what we said” concept of conscience which is contradicted by the moral theology permission of thoughtful dissent in the very conservative Grisez book mentioned above.

  • Bill, what you just said reflects the ultimate failing of Catholicism, if you will: The institutional tendency toward enforcing collective control instead of stimulating faith. Part of that tendency is an approach to truth that reflects the philosophy of Oceania’s Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984: “We were always at war with East Asia…I mean, with Eurasia….I mean….” In such a context, intellectual vanity often gets substituted for serious, profound, sensible discussion of theology.

    One of the more popular apologists, Mark Shea, even suggested that “docility” is the appropriate response to the Magisterium’s approach to capital punishment: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/the-death-penalty-and-docility/ . That approach, despite what he says, is merely another way of saying, “capitulate to authority, even if it might be wrong.”

    With Catholics such as Shea, who needs L. Ron Hubbard?

    Any religion that calls itself “Christian” must dedicate itself to the honest transmission of divinely revealed truth and not substitute its own intellectual vanity. Far too often, Catholicism has failed to do this….and I was baptized, raised as a Catholic and have worshipped as a Catholic for the vast majority of my life.

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  • Joseph,
    Return to Catholicism. You could be wounded by the fact that LG25’s submission concept taken in isolation is the law vis a vis fathers and older brothers in some Italian families. Much of Catholic authority nuances come from 343 straight years of Italian Popes. (The Church might have feared other groups after Pope Alexander VI (Spanish) and the Borgias in general.)

    I believe it was Karl Adam who said there were always problems in the outer crust of Catholicism due to human failings…. but not in the core…..where Holy are the sacraments, de fide
    dogmas, and the descent from the apostles. St. Antoninus in the 15th century said that at his
    time most of the curia had mistresses. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else. I liken it to one of
    those geodes you buy in a nature store wherein the center of the stone formation is these
    gorgeous milky colorful mineral deposits and the outer rock crust is very plain and here and there
    ugly. Convert writers have rarely encountered moral theology tomes and the issue I just
    broached though I would think Jimmy Akin knows his stuff but may not say it…noticing that the
    clergy never broach that topic. Career and one’s next meal influences Catholic-speak….whether within the clergy or within lay writers. You simply do not earn money from the active Catholic audience if you diverge from their exact knowledge level and borders by too much. Paul in Galatians “withstood Peter to his face”…and he could financially do so because he was a tent maker. Now…..Cardinals and Bishops and lay writers are not as independent as Paul. I’ll leave it at that. Return. We need you in….not out….and think on the Italian link. It was commonplace at Vatican II that generally Italian and Spanish clergy were found on the authoritarian side of issues while northern Europeans were on the other less authoritarian side….one can sometimes see it in comboxes. Go back to Rome and the Stoics believing that a father could execute his own children until the age of reason..14 for them. Extreme power. Then centuries later the mafia had similar tendencies for the godfather. Extreme power. Some of that nuanced itself into the Church. And it is that which could affect you more than it would me because it is close to you.
    Peace. My brother and his wife just got back from Venice and I’m stunned by how few photos he took from the gondola….stunned.

  • I did not, until today, understand the Reformation.

    I am not a learned man. In some ways, this is a blessing for “much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” I bah contentedly as I follow my shepherds.

    Between work, a full home life, Knights of Columbus, scouting, and RCIA, there isn’t the time to do more than struggle with the next Sunday’s readings and do my hour at perpetual adoration. I am not complaining. I have a good life and am grateful for all that I have. I have been given much in this world and struggle to give back a full measure.

    The challenge of the learned is to remain more like Erasmus than Luther.

    It is a great burden to have a bright intellect and the opportunity to consume information. Remaining humble and trusting of God and His Church is no small achievement.

  • G-Veg, back to your concerns about capital punishment, I heartily recommend this piece from RenewAmerica:

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/verrecchio/111013

  • Joe D:

    “Forgive all injuries.”

    You have a beef with Mark Shea, take it up with Mark.

    I am a true ignoramus on philosophy and theology. I know accounting and finance. That feeds and clothes my family. But, I minimally read and take in commentaries on the issues.

    My take: The intrinsic evils Catholics MUST confront are abortion, gay marriage, artificial birth control, government schools brainwashing children into amoral slugs, . . .
    See the Four non-negotiabl;es of the Pope in 2008 which were roundly ignored.

    In the military, the first thing they teach in tactics is you fight the most dangerous opponent/thrreat first. That is if you are facing a mortar and a platoon of infantry, you need to neutralize the mortar first, or you lose. Today, the intrinsic evils are the “mortar” and DP/war are the pea shooters. And, that could be the reason the Church is losing souls.

  • What are the “Four non-negotiables of the Pope in 2008?” I haven’t heard of this and would like a point.

  • I think it was the three non-negotionables:

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2008/02/catholics-and-politics-papal-reminders.html

    [FIRST NON-NEGOTIABLE]

    – protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

    [SECOND NON-NEGOTIABLE]

    – recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    [THIRD NON-NEGOTIABLE]

    – the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

  • “In the military, the first thing they teach in tactics is you fight the most dangerous opponent/thrreat first.”

    Hah! Apparently they stopped teaching this round 2003!!! 🙂 (More plausible is that they kept teaching it, but politicians and DOD stopped listening.)

  • T. Shaw, Why don’t you see the death penalty as being encompassed by the first non-negotiable?

  • I am not T. Shaw, but……the exception to the first non-negotionable is Romans 13:1-7 and Genesis 9:6.

  • I don’t make up stuff about God. A noted theologian penned the following,

    “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    That noted theologian that wrote the above is now Pope Benedict XVI

    I apologize in advance. I hope I’m not wrong here.

    How can the following be true, “any direct killing is not only an attack on the creature but an attack on God, which is always and everywhere evil.”? We believe that God the Father Almighty willed that Jesus Christ (True God and true man, like us in all things except sin; all loving, all redeeming, all saving, all courageous, all forgiving, all obedient, . . . ) must by His Life, Death (on a cross), and Resurrection purchase for us the rewards of eternal life.

    PS: God is eternally perfect. God did not change His “mind” about the DP in 1993, or whenever they rewrote the Catechism.

  • St. Peter expressed his shock that Our Lord must suffer and die for us.

    Jesus’ response,

    “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

    Matthew 16:23

    “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.”

    I think as he was dying: “Being reminded of all he had suffered, he replied with these remarkable words: ‘Padre, this is not the time to be thinking of that; it is by the merits of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ that I hope to be saved.'” – Saint John of the Cross

  • T Shaw
    You are reminding us that had Pope John Paul II gotten his personal way with the death penalty when Christ was starting His ministry…….we would not be saved at all….because our salvation required an unjust use of a good thing. That calls for a Bacardi Dark. I’ll think of other abstinences or other works to cover Friday.
    On another note, I am aware of three cases in the past several years of little girls being raped and strangled both in Canada and the US. In one the little girl took her tooth brush because she trusted the kidnappers lies. In another video showed the girl holding the shoulder of the man because she too trusted her kidnapper’s lies as to what they were about to do in the motel room.
    Would G-veg be satisfied with life sentences if that were his daughter? You give such men
    counseling on the particular judgement and God’s love for them and then shoot them as my wife
    says on those kinds of murders of children. She’s Beijing dangerous….being from there…..and more sensible about such matters than an auditorium filled with high clergy….who in 1520, would have been following Leo X in burning heretics…..from docility.

  • T. Shaw, if we had taken Mark’s advice regarding “docility” on this subject, this thread wouldn’t exist. Being a Christian, let alone a Catholic, does not mean acting like a Scientologist.

  • I was always taught to add “God forbid” after using an example like that. The comment should have read “[w]ould G-veg be satisfied with life sentences if that were his daughter? God forbid,” which, given the fact that I have two beautiful daughters, would have been courteous. Courtesy, courtesy, courtesy. It goes a long way.

    We are getting off track.

    Surely you agree that whether something is just or not does not depend upon the feelings of the injured. If justice were whatever the injured party demanded, then “justice” would be nothing more than a synonym for “vengeance.” I assume that this is not what you are saying and that your passions got the best of you.

    I have not heard any disagreement with the statement that “Catholics are bound by Ex Cathedra teachings.” I think we can dispense with that point as one answered.

    There is, however, substantial disagreement with the significance of teachings not bound by infallibility. I maintain that it is reasonable for a man to apply a two prong approach to moral dilemmas: 1) where the Church has specifically spoken, that teaching controls, 2) where the Church has not spoken with specificity, a man may seek guidance, mesh the advice together into something articulable and reasonable and then put that conclusion up against Church teaching to see if it passes muster.

    I am hearing variations on a theme from you guys. If I read it right, you are saying that ONLY Ex Cathedra teaching can be entirely trusted, that all other matters should be analyzed through the study of scripture, the teachings of Church doctors and fathers, the application of experience, and the application of reason.

    (Please correct me if I’m misstating the various positions.)

    If I am fairly stating the common thread to your positions, I have to ask whether there is all that much difference between your approaches and those of our high Protestant brothers. It sure seems like the only difference between your articulation and that of an Orthodox Metropolitan, an Anglican Bishop, or a Lutheran Pastor is that they would probably not concede that Ex Cathedra teachings could be trusted.

    This is well and good for learned men but, as alluded to before, it carries with it a frightening duty to be right. This is to say that encouraging others to abandon what the Church teaches in favor of what a Bannon teaches is to take the burden of their souls on one’s own head.

    You are braver men than I.

    And what if you ARE so confident. Indeed, what if you are right?

    Are you doing a service to Man by creating yet another area for men to scoff and mock the Church? Is it so awful a thing for your fellow Catholics to accept as a truth that life is precious from conception until natural death, that, where there is an option to preserve a life and, with it, a salvific opportunity, Christians should prefer that option?

    It may indeed be that the Church was in error in the past. Do you deny this is so? Do you reject the notion that the all-too-human temporal institution is sometimes in error and that the error might have been in too readily allowing man’s sense of justice to lop off the heads of the condemned?

    No… You have not carried the day. You have simply stated your opinion and, if I have to pick an opinion to follow, I will pick that of our Holy Father.

  • G- Veg
          Let’s note what you conveniently left out about how the Pope got to a novel view of the death penalty which would have struck all Popes from 1253 AD til Pius XII in 1952 as oddball (the death penalty was affirmed that long and used by Popes almost that long and there were life sentences all that time since the Inquisition used it.
          Several days ago you did not know the following about Evangelium Vitae but you do now but you are pretending you don’t.  And the following is easily checkable by you…the encyclical is online.  You could have checked it by now…..or just prior to your post.
         This is not a normal encyclical but one in which the death penalty is treated and the two classic death penalty passages (Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13:4) are totally absent while a piece of the Genesis passage is cited repeatedly and it’s the reason God gave for the death penalty part but John Paul put it to an entirely different use while not showing the reader the death penalty part.  That is not normal since the encyclical quotes the Bible throughout it’s sections on a host of matters.  What I think you want is to never read God’s word extensively so that you can simply get it through Popes and put the whole onus as to what you believe on them.  Had you lived in various centuries with that shortcut, you would have been a slaver under Pope Nicholas V and three of his successors and you would have burned heretics at the stake under a series of Popes beginning with Innocent IV who made it mandatory for secular rulers whereas prior to him, they did it as a purely secular law.
          You know something odd happened in Evangelium Vitae with this editing of God by a Pope.  It is not hidden in a Vatican archive….it’s on the net and totally cheackable by you but it requires not a child’s relationship to the Pope but an adult’s relationship to the Pope.  You might ve holding onto the former because it saves you from feading the Bible….an unfortunate propensity of millions of Catholics who however have read thousands upon thousands of pages of their favorite books by the time they die…..but about 150 pages of God’s word on their own by the time they die.  Now to the question you dismissed on a technicality.

          I’ll ask again in my words not your family’s… the question you avoided with an etiquette tour of a  prayer tradition of your family.  Transactional analysis people (I’m ok,you’re ok) would say you jumped into your “parent” script to avoid the question.  And I’ll ask because that physician-father in New England whose wife and daughter were raped and killed and burned two years ago simply wanted the death penalty for the two men who destroyed his family.  He did not want the two men burned or sodomized so as to match the crime.  He wanted less than what they did.  Augustine noted that men usually want more than an eye for an eye…..knock out someone’s eye and see if they do not seek more than one of your eyes in civil court…..so the doctor- father asking for the death penalty in the New England case was measured and more relevant than a sentence constructed by someone who is insensitive due to little experience with offspring… like a Pope with no daughters.  
    These last two Popes had a lot of inertia just rallying up anger about priest pervs in 20 years.  Even their biggest fan, George Weigel, doesn’t suggest that either will go down in history as heroes in that matter.

    Again to the question:
          Would it suffice for you to know that the murderer-rapist of your family member has a life sentence which here in the US means he gets guaranteed three meals a day ( unknown to half the world), sports facilities, medical and dental, and no worry as to the ups and downs of employment or of paying bills.  By court order, he gets visits and phone contact and you have an abyss within you about her abscence everyday for the rest of your life.  As to his possible 
    repentance, that will happen if he cooperates with God…and he’ll have ample time even under the death appeals time period (20 years in CA…10 probably in many states.  Judas began to do that cooperation with Gid then he stopped according to Augustine and Chrysostom who greatly disagreed with these two last Popes about Judas’ fate being in doubt. A murderer-rapist may just as likely commit sexual sins….be it masturbation to TV…. for the next 30 years whereas imminent death may have freightened him away from that and towards God.  Oddly the new papal position may be enabling rapist murderers to do countless more mortal sins so that they not only go to hell….but go to a deeper part.
    Again….a theological possibility that goes unmentioned in the Catholic press…..a saccharine outlook unsupported by Eccesiastes which says, “The number of fools is infinite.”. Adding up mortal sins within a life sentence seems more probable than repentance for the majority of criminals until we look at the two crosses to Christ’s sides.  A 50% success rate of death penalty repentance.  Many Popes would have considered that quite a wonderful rate of salvation.

  • For all those people whio oppose the death penalty, would they support a truly just alternative? This is what my Dad (a very religious man) proposed as the alternative to the death penalty:

    Solitary confinement in a cell no bigger than what’s needed for a bed, a sink and a toilet bowl. No TV. No books except the Bible. A single 60 watt incandescent bulb continuously lit night and day (ok – make it flourescent for the greenie weenies). No visitors ever. Continuous Gospel music – hymns and what not – piped over a loud speaker 16 hours per day with 8 hours of silence a day for sleep. 3 meals per day – bread and water – that’s it. Let the capital offender live like that till God takes him home. Let him sit or lay in his stink for whatever remains of his life in this world. Now that would be REAL justice.

    Yet weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless, spineless, cowardly liberal nit wits who would say, “That’s inhumane!” Well, what the guy did – murder, rape, etc. – was inhumane!

    For some strange reason there is this idiotic idea that we can re-educate a rabid animal such as a serial killer or a pedophile, and that we have to be nice and kind and tolerant to these freaks whie supplying themn with free housing, free food, free sanitation, free TV, and free education. Are we nuts!? No, we don’t have to do these things. We can do what my Dad suggested or we can send them to Jesus for final judgment. Romans 13:1-7 allows the later. Genesis 9:6 demands the later. And no one can overturn that.

  • Conversation ceases and we throw mud at one another… There is a point in most conversations where one side can’t answer the other and, out of frustration, slips into name calling, misrepresentation, and assumption.

    I believe that I have clearly stated my position. I have stated my view of your positions as well and asked if I understand you rightly. Have you answered any of that?

    It would surprise those who know me to hear me called a “weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless, spineless, cowardly liberal nit wit.” You assume that, because I oppose the death penalty, I am a Lefty. Weird… Taking the Church’s official position makes one a Liberal? I thought this was a Catholic space and I don’t think most readers would call it a Liberal one.

    The short of it is that you have no answer and, so, strike out like a viper, at any passing shadow.

    I assure you, there is something more Christian in the Amish approach to tragedy (see http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-07-24-amish-tragedy_n.htm) than I am hearing here. Instead of forgiveness and acceptance of God’s right to judge and punish, you advocate man’s justice as a replacement. Again and again I hear you saying “I’ll bet you wouldn’t feel that way if it were your child” and “If you actually suffered from violence, you would want the perpetrator to die.”

    Maybe. Maybe my faith would fail. Maybe I would lose my mind and take vengeance. Maybe I would accept God’s just demand that I spend eternity in Hell in exchange for seeing the same pain and horror on the perpetrator’s face and that of his family as I suffered. Maybe. God forbid.

    All of this is a smokescreen for you. The core arguments: that cutting man off from salvation is wrong where there are alternatives and the wisdom of accepting the Church’s teaching, even on matters not declared ex cathedra, remain unanswered.

    You throw out paragraph after paragraph of venom. You call the Popes liars and deceivers. Surely you didn’t think you could do that here and not get a response.

    What troubles me is that so few stepped up to the plate to declare their allegiance to the Church, to declare that it is fundamentally wrong to slander JPII and our German Shepherd. So strike away at character but know that none of that will get you one iota closer to being right.

  • G-Veg,

    Do you support solitary confinement for the capital offender as I described above, or would you rather these criminals get free TV and free college education on the tax payer dime? Do rapists, pedophiles, serial killers, etc., deserve anything more than bread and water? Should they be treated better than the poor who have not committed any crime are treated? Do you disregard what most Popes previous to JP II and B XVI said regarding the death penalty? Do you throw out Romans 13:1-7 and Genesis 9:6 because they aren’t convenient to your liberal sentiments?

    If it talks like a duck and walks like a duck and acts like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

  • G-Veg
    Try using a real name and you’ll take more pride in documentation in your posts which are almost all subjective opinion and display no reading familiarity even with the encyclical you are defending.
    I have to stop responding to most of the faux moniker people. Their family name is never at stake in their posts. I’ll never learn. Yours looks like a vegetable juice drink one drinks after running. Your accusation of slandering two Popes is slander. Please let your daughters point out your faults even if only on Sundays at a family meeting. If you’re excessively protecting Popes from rational criticism, you are excessively protecting Pope G-Veg in the home from criticism.

  • All right, that is quite enough back and forth between commenters in this thread. To quote a judge at a hearing I was at this week, “Everyone is going to be nice!”

  • Well, I shouldn’t have been so nasty. I apologize to G-Veg. But I just don’t understand why some people think that if we just treat capital criminals nice and kind and are tolerant and support diveristy and all that crap, then we can cure them. It’s ridiculous.

    Now yes, I do NOT prefer the death penalty (I really don’t), but St. Paul did say that the wages of sin are death. Furthermore, while I do prefer the punishment for capital criminals to be solitary confinement on bread and water for life, God gave the State the authority to execute these criminals and neither JP II nor B XVI, whose motives are certainly laudable, can take that authority away. One other thing: I would wager (though perhaps G-Veg is the exception – he hasn’t, however, indicated so) that all those anti-death penalty folks would be equally appalled at the alternative of solitary confinement on bread and water for life.

    If one is a pedophile or a rapist or a spouse or child abuser or serial killer or a cop murderer, then one deserves a punishment fitting the crime and society deserves to be protected from one’s behavior.

    In simple terms, a rabid dog is taken out into the field and shot dead in the head. There’s no cure for rabidness. There’s no rehabilitation. Rather, the people threatened by the rabid dog are protected. Now that’s going to make me no friends here. To them I say the alternative: solitary confinement on bread and water for life. Will they support that?

  • There are several ideas moving through this thread and I’d like to take them separately for clarity’s sake.

    Thank you for the apology. I am sorry for any unintentional offense.

    If I have restated positions unfairly, I am sorry for having done so. I called it like I saw it. I request though that you state your position more clearly though with regards to what you are claiming JPII and Benedict XVI have done. Reading your comments again, I get the same impression – that you are saying they intentionally misquoted scripture and redefined sacred tradition to support their position on the death penalty. That sounds like you are saying that the last two popes are lying and deceiving. If you mean otherwise, please clarify. If you do not, then I do not see that I have anything to apologize for.

  • Paul
    I think you’re suggesting that the body does not need a host of vitamins and minerals and proteins that are not found in bread and water….or you are thinking of a one a day vitamin which district courts would rule insufficient.
    The official Bible of the Catholic Church is the Vulgate. Here it is on Romans 13:4

    ” Dei enim minister est tibi in bonum si autem male feceris time non enim sine causa gladium portat Dei enim minister est vindex in iram ei qui malum agit.”
    starting at non enim: not without cause does it (the State) carry the sword for it is the minister of God…a vindicator in His anger toward he who does evil.

    A vindicator in His wrath. CCC#2266 honors that passage and CCC#2267 in the opinion of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia….let’s that function vanish. If a life sentence satisfies for one victim’s life, it can’t possibly satisfy for two dead victims. The state is not a rehabilitator primarily but a vindicator in His wrath. If a person becomes good while waiting for execution, the
    state can stay the execution but is better morally if it carries it out because future felons will tell
    themselves they just need to get good on death row and the state will switch them to life.

  • Mr. Bannon,

    With regards to my use of G-Veg, this is a reasoned choice.

    I am a civil servant and a conservative one at that. I am a civil servant working for the most liberal administration in my lifetime: one wed to forces allied against the Church.

    My job does not often require me to address social issues. This is good because my career would be in jeopardy if the many far-left people I work for knew I oppose abortion, same sex unions, adoption by homosexuals, etc. I leave out of the workplace discussions that have nothing to do with the workplace. However, I am not so naïve as to think that personnel decisions are made without searching the web.

    For the most part, I have kept my name off of the web. I don’t have any social networking accounts. Granted, some of this is due to security concerns (law enforcement) but much of it is protection from scrutiny by the Administration.

    I am curious though why you think knowing someone’s name makes a difference.

    I am active in my parish, scouting, the Knights of Columbus, RCIA… Were you a member of my parish, knowing that G-Veg and I are the same guy might make a difference. However, we will probably never meet so knowing my thoughts as coming from “Bob Smith” strikes me as no more illuminating than knowing them to be from “G-Veg.”

    G-Veg will do just fine. If you don’t want to talk to me, it is both of our losses.

    I have said before and here affirm that I respect your intellect. I want to hear your arguments and have been trying to give them a fair hearing. I’m sorry that you do not see this as an opportunity to fine-tune your positions. I surely see it as so for me.

    If this is the end of the conversation between us, go with Christ.

    Your Brother in Christ, G-Veg

  • Mr. Primavera,

    You raise fair questions as to what constitutes justice for terrible crimes if not death.

    This is a different question than whether the death penalty is right where it isn’t necessary.

    I regularly go to prisons. They suck. Crowded, smelly, hostile, loud… The food is lousy and I can’t describe the unpleasant sensation of doors clanging behind you as you move from one section to the other. Everyone around you is engaged in some kind of scam and scheme. Even the pallet is unpleasant: orange jump suits, white walls, grey-blue doors and bars.

    The thing is, prisons have to be unpleasant or they cannot possibly be a deterrent. It can’t be just that one is losing one’s freedom. It must be oppressive for it to salvific. It is a small taste of hell here on earth so that one can learn and avoid the permanent condition. It is like swatting your kid’s but so that they can avoid prison later.

    Callous killers should never be let out. A “life sentence” should be a life sentence and the sentence of heinous crimes like rape should be a life sentence.

    I see no merit in providing prisoners with television or workout facilities. I see no value in training courses that don’t lead to occupations that they will likely use. I don’t much feel like paying for computer access for prisoners. They deserve what We the People feel like giving them and nothing more.

  • Mr. Primavera, you write “[d]o you disregard what most Popes previous to JP II and B XVI said regarding the death penalty?”

    The short answer is “yes.”

    This is a reasoned choice.

    I don’t know what y’all do for a living. I’ve imagined it would be cool to be a professor, to be able to read and research, and then post what I thought. But I’m not a professor.

    I post when I have time. At work, I post while on teleconferences and such. (Speaking of punishment.)

    I read my RCIA stuff and help my kids with their Catechism. I do the breviary on the train (were it not for my train ride each day, I certainly wouldn’t get to it). I am able to get through the Rosary every morning while doing my chores.

    I say all of this, not because I’m proud of it, but to illustrate a reality: that many of us are doing all we can to live the faith but that there is a limit to what we can do. Reading posts on line can be helpful. Reading pointed to articles and encyclicals (for the record, I read it, I just don’t agree with the analysis and, to be fair, the analysis encompasses much that is outside of the corners of the document) is a great blessing to me because it opens up another layer of religious knowledge. However, the truth is that I am not going to be able to get to more than a smattering of the rich tradition of our faith.

    For those in my position, the best that we can do is to take the Faith where and in the time that we find it. As applied to the instant discussion, this is actually a pretty good approach because the men speaking to the issue are icons for my generation. Benedict XVI is a renown scholar. More importantly, we are talking about an encyclical, not a speech or homily. It is a document that was subjected to a robust process of review. I really don’t think it unreasonable for a Catholic to rely upon it.

  • G- Veg
    I can see the difference in posts where there is a real name….though you’re reason is good. I’m out of the interchange. Read the Connecticut Petit case online for your daughters’ sakes and your wife’s. A family relaxed about criminal dangers in modern life. A family gone. The state deputes to each of us the right to kill home invaders who threaten our lives. I had one a year ago but I let him live because he was unarmed but I subdued him. If I get another one who is carrying a gun, I’ll shoot him straight through the heart with a magnum shotgun shell. After Jehu killed the house of Ahab, God…the Trinity…said to him, “You did well what I deem right.”
    2 Kgs.10:30. The last two Popes expressed chagrin at that side of the Bible (EV sect.40/ VD sect.42). Plato in bk3 of the Republic said males become feminized from too much culture….he was correct….and I say that as a painter. God be near you four.

  • Mr. Bannon,

    I owe you an apology.

    I assumed this was theoretical. I think I understand better your visceral response to being told “killing is wrong, even where the condemned deserves it.”

    I’m sorry you faced that situation and glad that it ended as it did.

    I used to sleep with my Ithaca side by side above the bed. Then my eldest discovered there was a world beyond her nursery and I had to put it away in the safe. Now I keep a baseball bat behind my bedroom door.

    Again, I’m sorry if all this theory was so dismissive of your experience.

    David

  • G-veg
    Peace..I grew up in violence with two friends murdered yards from our house. One murderer served 5 years because he was young. He got out and bragged. An Irish gang overheard him and removed all his teeth from his mouth in a bar the hard way because they liked the Irish girl he killed. A life sentence of soup and no more seductions for the cassanova.

Occupy America!!!

Monday, October 10, AD 2011

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:

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7 Responses to Occupy America!!!

  • That citation from America is priceless Chris. It is hard to be a parody of a parody but Mr. Beaudoin manages that considerable feat. The first comment to his post however is a masterpiece!

    “I completely agree; to the barricades!!

    However, why stop at the the Church? Why aim so low when we can “Occupy Heaven”! Who is God to lord over us – the 99%! Who does he think he – the 1% – is up there above it all just lording over us!

    Rebels unite! I know this has been tried before but I am sure that we have a good shot!”

  • That anyone** takes seriously these imbeciles . . .

    Anyway, add up all (in every city on which they descended) of them and they could not fill 99% of the seats the new Yankee Stadium.

    In other words, there are about 310,000,000 Americans occupied with surviving until November 2012 when we stop Obama, Holder, Bill Ayres, et al from wrecking the most peaceful and prosperous nation in God’s Creation.

    I saw a bumper sticker: “Anarchists Unite!” The bumper sticker is a joke. And, especially unwashed , trust fund hippies are farce.

    Some of the right-wing (** left-wing radio is extinct but the obama-worshiping, lap dog main street BS-artists carry on!) talk radio hosts have extensively interviewed selected maroons: infallible ignorance . . . “We are the hope we have been waiting for!” BARF

    Yes! Some genius with a PhD in Pre-Colombian, Meso-American Indigenous Lesbian Literature is equipped to reform the (once) greatest economy on Earth!

  • the government bailouts to the financial industry and cushy severance packages to failed CEO’s

    The ‘bailouts’ for most parties consisted of bridge loans (now mostly repaid), guarantees of commercial paper issue (arguably unavoidable) and bond issues (arguably unnecessary and imprudent). Making bridge loans (though not in the form of purchasing preferred stock) is integral to the Federal Reserve’s foundational raison d’etre. The companies truly ‘bailed out’ were the mortgage maws (and that would be K Street, not Wall Street) and one insurance company (whose headquarters are on Pine Street in lower Manhattan and whose business is largely in the Far East). Also getting a sweet deal was the United Auto Workers (headquartered in Detroit).

    The principal-agent problem which leads to Brobdignagian executive compensation may be most extreme in the financial sector but is found just about everywhere and is far more severe in its manifestations than it was 30 years ago.

  • Darn it! America Mag stole my parody idea! And they were serious.

  • “necessarily imperfect and unruly … continued open-ended articulations of visions of a different Catholic Church”

    That phrase in particular gave me chills — and visions of a perpetual committee meeting of progressive Catholics attempting to establish “consensus”. Fortunately, judging by the comments on the post, few readers apart from The Catholic Anarchist seemed particularly enthused about the idea.

  • ” … without prematurely forcing the movement to take on a specific agenda. And yes, in the form of consciousness-raising and of direct action.”

    Right. Geniuses getting the me’s to babble about what the me’s want and to see what direct action happens. God pleasing? Understand the heart and mind of God through God’s Word? Oh, boy.
    Chaos inspiring Truth? Babble away morals, virtues, beauty, education, art, economies, self-evident truths, America the beautiful, the rest of the world. Temper tantrums adult-style. Make a mess. Point fingers. Pout. Pass laws.
    Then, what will you do when you have nothing good, are miserable, hungry spiritually and physically, and looking for someone to listen to the babble about direct action to clean up the mess? Or, if you see St. Michael, Archangel and Protector of the Church? Or not see?

  • I was in downtown Chicago today for an important meeting. Afterward I happened to pass by the “Occupy” protest outside the Federal Reserve Bank. Looked like noisy but harmless street theater to me, nobody was being particularly disruptive, didn’t see any obvious police presence, and most people not taking part in the protest seemed to regard it as more a curiosity than anything else. Turnout was respectable but not huge, and they could have done without the constant drumming. Some people had signs saying “Honk if you are one of the 99 percent” or something similar; it appeared that most of the vehicles honking were taxis 🙂 Not quite as exciting as the nightly news would have one believe, but… your mileage may vary, depending on where you are.

Jesus vs. the Department for Health and Human Services

Monday, September 26, AD 2011

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).

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15 Responses to Jesus vs. the Department for Health and Human Services

  • And not just those employed by the Catholic Church or Catholic Charitable organizations, but those faithful Catholic businessmen and women who now face the choice of going against their faith of closing their business because they refuse to go along with Obamacare.

  • A number of organizations, ostensibly speaking on behalf of American Catholics, asserting that voting for candidate Obama was not a vote for abortion. We were told again and again that our concerns about electing an abortion advocate were silly and unreasoned because 1) the “real” fight over abortion was in the courts and state houses and 2) because candidate Obama could do no more than maintain the Clinton-era status quo. Yet, here we are in the opening salvos of the 2012 General Election season with this pandering move to shore up pro-choice support.

    The question is, how can our fellow Catholics reason their way to voting for President Obama in 2012 now that he has betrayed his hand on abortion?

  • Obama is the MOST pro death candidate we have had EVER! He was a cheerleader for partial birth abortion. To all Catholics who voted for this man, great job! What is next, the reincarnation of Stalin for health and wellness tzar.

  • In 2008, it was licit for Caholics to vote Obama because . . .

    And, in 2012 . . .

    In 2008, I knew Obama was the most rabid pro-abortion candidate in US history.

  • Beyond a doubt the most anti-Catholic administration in our nation’s history, and placed into power with the help of a lot of Catholic votes. Of course with a “Catholic” pro-abort like Sebelius at the head of HHS, the discerning among us knew what to expect from the beginning of this administration.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/03/02/sebelius-for-hhs-fitting/

  • The persecution is coming – and the Obamaniac is leading the charge. The Irish are following suit.

  • This proposed reg. tells me that this administration is intent on making the
    Church either become the willing tool of the federal bureaucracy or retreat to
    a ghetto. My impression is that our betters in DC would prefer not to have
    the ever-expanding number of citizens receiving aid/charity/welfare/services
    to be receiving from any hands but theirs.

    I read recently that the president’s proposed jobs bill contains a section that
    would reduce the amount of deductions one could claim for charitable con-
    tributions. Should I be sizing tinfoil hats, or is there a pattern emerging?

  • I think we are giving the Administration too much credit.

    This isn’t diabolical, it is slimy, political pandering.

    Does the President want an expansion of federal programs with secukar oversight? Of course, but I don’t think there is much reflection on what that would mean going on at the White House. It is a want, nothing more.

    At this particular moment, the President wants, more than anything, to feel supported and loved. The timing of the end of Don’t ask, Don’t tell, the strike at the DOMA, the assault on No Child Left Behind, all of the immigration forays into legislative prerogatives… All of this is pandering, nothing more.

    The problem is that he has no clue what to do on a host of fronts and, so, is stepping in solely to draw attention away from his incompetence.

    His Middle East plan failed. Remember that “if we engage in self-loathing and fawning apologies for the existence of the West, they’ll love us.” How’d that work out? His economic plans are a failure too, though, in fairness, he played the Keanesian book to its limits. He has no idea how to get things moving. His healthcare plan is mired in legal problems and can’t be funded. His military doesn’t trust him and his intelligence services are without direction. Afghanistan is a slow-moving train wreck and Iran went nuclear despite all assurances from the President thAt “engagement” would bring them to heal. Israel and Turkey are no longer trusted allies and Europe sees no reason to heed anything we say. Putin rises, Obama falls. China holds our tether and international corporations flee US shores.

    All of the Administrations actions over the last three months are merely rear guard actions to cover wholesale retreat.

  • Perceptive G-Veg. As his popularity sinks Obama is playing to his base and only to his base. A man who has been hailed and applauded all his adult life is now widely regarded as incompetent and thus he goes where the remaining applause is.

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  • Mary Ann Walsh and the Bishops promoted national health care for Obama nearly all along the way. Now the scorpion is doing what it was born to do.

  • An old and appropriate fable Jerry.

  • Don, this isn’t my area of law. Perhaps you have a more versed opinion.

    I see another piece of this that is troubling: HHS is, in essence, requiring that religious groups claim direct control over entities in order to bring them under the exemption.

    What I mean is that the regulation suggests that the exemption applies if entities come under the umbrella of, for example, a diocese. Thus, a diocese could take over direct management of a Catholic hospital or university and, so, bring them under the exemption. However, many religious organizations, not only the Catholic Church, are loathe to do this because the liability would attach – because doing so creates a monolith that can be toppled in one go.

    Using the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as an example: Supposing the Philadelphia Archdiocese took Mercy Healthcare, Villanova University, St. Joseph’s University, and a bunch of private, Catholic elementary and high schools under its wing in order to apply the HHS exemption. Then a jury finds against the Archdiocese in one of the suits and grants a ruinous award to the plaintiff. All of the entities under that umbrella would be liable for a plaintiff would argue that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has direct control over them. In essence, claiming the prerogative in the HHS context would be evidence of control in the liability context.

    Ugh. Am I reading this right?

  • Oh yes G-Veg. I have done enough personal injury work to be familiar with the ceaseless search for a deep pocket, and I cannot conceive how a diocese could establish an effective firewall in such a cirumstance to prevent liability from attaching.

Pope Benedict on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Sunday, September 11, AD 2011


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

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  • Dearest Holy Father, Thank you most ardently for your great diligence in shepherding the flock of Christ. Your kind words on this 10th anniversary of 9/11 provide much needed clarity and hope. May Mary bless you and your apostolate with her Son Jesus. Thank you for your apostolic blessing, thank you for your yes to Christ daily, and thank you for your faithfulness and sacrifice. Please be assured of my prayers and thank you for yours. Sincerely in Christ Jesus, Mrs. Therese Chidlow

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 4, AD 2011

John Trumbull’s Declaration of Indepenence, commissioned 1817.

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