Court Blocks Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Tuesday, August 24, AD 2010

3 Responses to Court Blocks Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Trouble with Real Catholic TV?

Thursday, August 19, AD 2010

[This is Tito Edwards, I have current updates on the status of RealCatholicTV here.]

According to CatholicCulture.com, “while thoroughly approving many of the fine videos made available through “RealCatholic TV” site,” caution is recommended to the viewer for two reasons:

An apparent animus against the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, contrary to the clear mind of the Church; and a tendency to over-simplify complex cultural, ecclesiastical and theological problems, leading sometimes to the assertion of mere opinion as the “real Catholic” position.

In a recent episode, Michael Voris lays out the “Real Catholic” position on “Jews and Judaism” — a rather complex theological topic, as most people are aware. According to Voris:

The Jews who accepted him became the Church. The Jews who rejected Him .. having voted themselves OUT of the covenant .. went off and started a man made religion. Rabbinical Judaism (today’s Jewish religion) is to authentic Judaism what Protestantism is to Catholicism.

Suffice to say Steven Kellmeyer has raised some questions about this simplified treatment.

What do our readers think?

(HT: Mark Shea).

Continue reading...

50 Responses to Trouble with Real Catholic TV?

  • I personally do not understand the warning.

    Mr Voris is presenting his opinion or rather conclusions after doing research on the matter of the Novus Ordo has found things that he does not like about it. Has found things that seem rather odd about its implementation, promulgation and its obvious short comings and what he believes to be the ramifications on the Church.

    Mr. Voris only has a limited amount of time in which to present his segments at least on his free site, if he does not engage in to long theological discussions is because, I believe he wants to keep short and simple, something which quite frankly we do not do enough when talking about the Faith.

    I find his approach refreshing, sure it may lack subtlety and refinement but sometimes you need a blunt instrument to get the job done, and boy Mr. Voris if anything is blunt.

  • I’m uncomfortable with them calling it “Real Catholic TV,” esp. since it’s obviously a slam against EWTN, for example, and there’s the whole issue of authorization of the Church to call themselves “Catholic.”

    That said, I don’t see why Voris’s explanation of the historical facts and his analysis of *Jewish theology* are relevant to *Catholic* theology. As I understand it, the Church tells us to recognize that Jews and Muslims also worship the God of Abraham, and to recognize that the Covenant is still in some theoretical way “intact.”

    Yet the Old Covenant never promised spiritual salvation; only worldly salvation. And the Old Covenant was based upon the Ark and Sacrifice. Sacrifice ended when the Temple was destroyed.

    I think Voris’s assessment is fairly accurate, since the Jews of today are not practicing sacrifice.

    It’s kind of like T. S. Eliot’s criticism of “free thinking Jews” that got him labeled “anti-Semitic.” He was criticizing liberal Jews for not following their own religion’s teachings, the way liberal Christians don’t follow the teachings of Christianity.

  • Pingback: The Lewis Crusade
  • People in the days of Judah’s last kings didn’t like the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw him down a cistren. People in the days of Obama don’t like Michael Voris. Oh what a surprise!

  • People in the days of Judah’s last kings didn’t like the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw him down a cistren. People in the days of Obama don’t like Michael Voris.

    Gee, how did I ever miss *that* parallel?

  • He has said nothing extreme or even wrong theologically or historically.

    what does not sit right emotionally with some should not be used as a pretext to tarnish others.

    I can see his points but as with all people, including this blog, i keep the critical filter on.

    lighten up!

  • To be a Christian one has to be baptised, implying a choice to be included in the community, while those who stood outside remained Jews. Those who did not become Christians do not therefore lose their rights as Jews under the old covenant, unless it is claimed that the advent of Christianity had abrograted the old covenant. Now it is an attribute of the Christian God that He cannot contradict Himself in the course of time, for that would imply that He is merely a contingent being unable to fully forsee the future. Given this, the promises that He made to Abraham and his descendants must logically retain their validity through all the vicissitudes of history including the rise of Christianity.

  • People in the days of Judah’s last kings didn’t like the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw him down a cistren. People in the days of Obama don’t like Michael Voris.

    I refuse to believe this isn’t satire. Well played, sir. Well played.

  • Ivan, yes the promises made to Abraham and his seed remain valid… but not efficacious via the Old Covenant which has been superseded by the New Covenant sealed in the Blood of Our Lord.

    If anyone wishes to be saved, it will only happen by way of participation in some way in the New Covenant. Jews are not saved by Judaism or its sterile practices. Protestants and pagans are not saved by any practices of their sects.

    Jews, Protestants, and pagans may indeed be saved, but only by way of some form of participation in the salvific work of Christ and His Church, the only Ark of salvation.

  • “and a tendency to over-simplify complex cultural, ecclesiastical and theological problems,”

    Well, no s*** (Please no profanity – TAC Editors). I think that part of this problem is due to Voris–he really doesn’t, at times, seem to know what he is talking about–and at other times it’s due to the medium.

  • This is insulting. It’s Michael Voris S.T.B. Those letters give him authority.

    In all seriousness, the sooner his bishop hauls Voris into his office and tells Voris to stop it, the better. I honestly cringe every time I’m reminded of their existence. If you’re going to speak on behalf of the Church, you better be prudent and well-read/informed. Voris strikes me as neither.

  • The problem with the video on Judaism is that it ignores the biblical data–e.g., St. Paul in Romans–in favor of a hyper-simplified historical argument.

    And I was flat out agog at the video arguing the “only” appropriate form of government for Catholics was the “benevolent dictatorship” (his words) of a Catholic monarch. Then there was the argument that democratic government can’t work because the franchise cannot be limited to faithful Catholics alone.

    I know the Republic has its ailments, but I’m not interested in his cure.

  • I honestly cringe every time I’m reminded of their existence. If you’re going to speak on behalf of the Church, you better be prudent and well-read/informed. Voris strikes me as neither.

    Right. Voris is reckless and opinionated (which can be ok), but he’s not knowledgeable or particularly thoughtful. It’s a bad combination.

  • I stopped watching when Michael tried to convince us that Amazing Grace was an anti-Catholic hymn because it speaks of the unjustified as wretches. Last I checked, dying unjustified leads one to hell, a pretty wretched state.

    Christopher Burgwald S.T.D. 😉

  • Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic and also quite heretical. To sing such a hymn in a Catholic Church (something which I have seen personally) is a slap of relativism.

    To Michael Denton,

    Why would he do that? To my knowledge he has said nothing untrue or wrong.

    To the rest of the posters,

    Look at Ivan’s response to this thread do you think that may be we not putting things simply enough for people like him? He believes that the Jews are saved by the old covenant for God’s sake.

    The reason many do not like Mr. Voris is simply his attitude and directness. Sure you can be nuance and call it “simplistic” but in reality the reason is being direct something we don’t do because we need to be nice.

    Well there is a time and place for nice, but we live in dire times when we need brave people to stand up for the Church to those inside of it. I for one I am very glad that at least one lay person is doing it and that is Mr. Voris.

  • Voris is right about 50% of the time.

    I actually agree with him 100% on the so-called “ordinary form.” That message needs to be heard more often. What is derided as an “oversimplification” is really the complaint of those who prefer to obfuscate with complexity matters that are really are quite simple, in order to conceal their true intent.

    As for the Jew video, since I don’t believe in thought-crimes, unless he is calling for Jews to be rounded up and killed, I don’t care. I don’t believe that the road to the Holocaust begins 10 years prior with a few anti-semitic remarks (if that is what they indeed are), and claims that it does are nothing but emotional attempts to control and stifle independent thought.

    Like others though, I thought his video calling for a Catholic dictatorship/monarchy was off the rails. It was elitist, politically ignorant, and embarrassing.

  • Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic and also quite heretical.

    Well, the 3rd verse does say the Pope is the whore of Babylon, but I would imagine that is usually skipped when sung at mass.

    What on earth are you talking about?

  • This notion that Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic is just myth. At most it can be described as non-Catholic in origin. There is only one potentially offending passage, but it can easily be interpreted in keeping with orthodoxy. People really need to do some research before posting whatever hearsay they happened to have read. There is good reason that this hymn has been approved for Catholic hymnals. Now weather one likes it or not, that is another question entirely.

  • Do you really want to know what I think?

    I apologize in advance.

    The “animus” thing alleges Voris is 100% against the ordinary form, and is EVIL. That seems to be a false generalization. The “oversimplification” thing seems to say he’s too freaking stupid to understand the complexities or to agree with the “enlightened.”

    So, as it now seems acceptable: the lefty, professional catholic (much like his Obama-worshipping, liberal cousin) resorts to ad hominems, detractions, distractions, exaggerations, misdirections, etc. to stifle anyone so EVIL as to disagree with the TRUTH.

    I think Pope Mark is a jerk, anyhow. Voris isn’t here to defend himself.

    Again, I apologize!

  • I’m sorry did someone just accuse a “lefty, professional catholic (much like his Obama-worshipping liberal cousin)” of resorting to ad hominems?!?!?

    I’m not even sure who is being attacked here, but I do know what an ad hominem attack is. Yeesh.

  • Heh. Yes, well we know only terrible people who injure puppies for fun use ad hominems.

  • “Real” Catholic is real heresy.

  • Mr. Voris has issued an apology regarding the Catholic Government video. He never claimed to be perfect, and is doing what every responsible person should do, apologize when he’s wrong. Calling this extremely faithful man a heretic is so insulting it is beyond belief. He is doing what no one else seems to have the guts to do – say it like it is. For some reason people are intimidated by that, and calling him and his staff names seems to make them feel better. I just don’t get that.

  • With-A-Z,

    I concur wholeheartedly.

    Mr. Voris has above and beyond done more for the Catholic faith than many of us have done.

    He certainly represents many Catholics that obediently dealt with much of what the Spirit of Vatican II crowd brow-beated into us such as these cultural gems like: guitar masses, liturgical dancing, and many other blasphemies that are so still prevalent in the Catholic Church in America.

  • Here’s what I know about Amazing Grace, other than it is campy and has a very annoying, pitchy melody:
    Marcus Grodi has said that “Amazing Grace” perfectly sums up what he *used* to believe when he was a Calvinist.

  • Amazing Grace is anti-Catholic only in the sense that some vanishingly few Catholics wish that the clergyman, John Newton who wrote that hymn after participating in the slave trade was a Catholic himself. Its pure jealousy, nothing else.

  • I have a Catholic friend who sounds like this when he talks about the Jews. Whenever he starts talking about Rabbinical Judaism (which is often) is a man-made religion and then went on to talk about how communism is entirely based on the Talmud, the Jews control everything, etc. So I ran a diagnostic test. I asked him what he thought about the Muslims. He said, “I have no problem with the other Semitic people.” In other words, some man-made religions are fine. It’s OK that they have a world wide religion based on half-truths spouted by a lunatic, but it’s not OK for Jews to believe in something based on books that the Roman Catholic church considers to be divinely inspired. I don’t know how this kind of thinking could not be identified as prejudice toward the Jews, if not full-blown antisemitism.

    Coincidentally, or not so, my friend has the same views as Voris on the Novus Ordo Mass.

  • “I don’t know how this kind of thinking could not be identified as prejudice toward the Jews, if not full-blown antisemitism.”

    Bingo. Anti-Semitism is a poison that harms not only the Jews, but those who harbor it.

  • Go, Michael go!

    Btw, I hope his next vid is a commentary on Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos.

  • Sorry about the grammatical errors. The second sentence should read as follows:

    Whenever he starts talking about Rabbinical Judaism–which is often–he first notes that it is a man-made religion, then he goes on to talk about how communism is entirely based on the Talmud, the Jews control everything, etc.

  • Mr. Voris has above and beyond done more for the Catholic faith than many of us have done

    That he has done much for the faith is undeniable. Whether what he has done has been for good or ill is not.

  • I think Voris means well, and I’m glad he manned up on the Catholic government post.

    The problem is, I think his format forces him into an “attack on all fronts” approach which is only going to lead to more gaffes in the future. Complex subjects don’t lend themselves to five minute video essays. The format he’s aping–O’Reilly’s “no-spin zone”–is more of a mini-fisk of 3 or so “news of the day” items. As opposed to, say, the division between Christianity and Judaism and the development of the two post-split. You’re throwing yourself into an elephant trap doing that sort of thing.

  • The problem is, I think his format forces him into an “attack on all fronts” approach which is only going to lead to more gaffes in the future.

    That’s probably a good point. You can only present so much at a time. You either have to get a different more extended format to talk about certain issues or just limit the issues you treat with the shorter format.

    A good example of this is the talk show hosts who write books. Nearly all of the major conservative hosts have written books, out of the ones which I’ve skimmed or read, they all read much more thoughtfully than most of the shows sound, especially to the unconvinced.

  • That he has done much for the faith is undeniable. Whether what he has done has been for good or ill is not.

    Hair-splitting, gnashing of teeth, etc.

    I am sooo glad I am not an *intellectual* that I get caught up in semantics to defend and indefensible position.

  • Well, Voris often takes indefensible positions; he is reckless and not well-versed in the Church’s theology. By constantly defending him, you are implicitly defending his (frequently irresponsible) approach.

  • I am sooo glad I am not an *intellectual* that I get caught up in semantics to defend and indefensible position.

    I don’t think I’ve ever claimed to be an intellectual, though I think intellectuals have much to contribute and I admire them. I hope at some point I can be properly considered one but I’m a long ways away from that.

  • My sarcasm fails again.

    You’ll get there.

    You are light years ahead of me when I was your age buddy!

  • Voris reminds me of me, a well-meaning yutz who knows about half what he thinks he does, and is terrified of moderating his views on anything because that’s what *they* do. I think Skellmeyer is closer to the truth than Voris, but as far as I know the Church hasn’t ever spoken definitively on the nature of the old covenant. We’re under the new one, and we know that it works, and that’s where our attention should be focused.

    Like Skellmeyer, I flinched at Voris’s frequent use of the word “Jew”, but I don’t think there was any anti-Semitism behind the video.

  • I will repeat what I said before: Michael Voris is a modern-day Elijah, Ezekiel or Jeremiah. Too many people both within and outside the Church have gotten so caught up in the nuances of minutiae that when bald Truth stares them in the face, they cannot recognize Him.

    Now as for Democracy, it is an abject failure. It was in the time of 1st Samuel chapter 8 when the “peepul” demanded to choose their own leader, and it is now – just look at whom we have: abortionist Obama! People in love with self-rule simply can’t accept that such is the case with democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. In the case of the United Soviet States of Amerika, that dinner is the corpses of murdered unborn babies.

    Furthermore, beyond that, Jesus Christ came to establish a Kingdom – a Monarchy – where NO ONE gets a vote EXCEPT the King of kings and Lord of lords. If one doesn’t like that, then one is free to leave the Church, the ONLY source of salvation. But we all know what that alternative is.

    As for Jews, they are still God’s Chosen People (and I just LOVE the State of Israel!), but they are still in rebellion exactly as St. Paul describes in Romans 9 through 11. There is NO equivalency between Rabinnical Judaism and Catholicism. In fact, there is only ONE Way to the Father, and that Way is NOT Judaism, Buddha or Hari Krishna.

    1st Corinthians 6:9-10 is still true regardless that almost 2000 years have passed since St. Paul penned these words:

    “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    And yes, the NIV for all its Protestant bias does translate the word “arsenokoit?s” correctly in verse 9.

    The Gospel is about saving souls from exile for an eternity in the fires of hell. It is NOT about filling up bellies or other social justice nonsense. What did Jesus say to the crowd who followed Him around to Capernaum after the feeding of the 5000? He said:

    “…I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…”

    It’s about time we jettison the liberal, Marxist trappings that have infected the Church since Vatican II. No, there’s nothing wrong with Vatican II or Novus Ordo. Rather, it’s about time we start recognizing that Jesus was NOT nice – He was truthful because He IS Truth and He confronted wickedness wherever it was, including whipping the money changers out of the Temple. Neither the religious hypocrites called Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes back then, nor the liberal Catholics of today can possibly tolerate that in spite of all their talk about tolerance and open mindedness.

    And one last thing: an open mind lets all the knowledge fall on out – thus do we have the problems that we have.

    There’s more like this here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/

  • Hey, did my post go thru? If yes, then ignore this. If not, then please post. Thanks!

    I will repeat what I said before: Michael Voris is a modern-day Elijah, Ezekiel or Jeremiah. Too many people both within and outside the Church have gotten so caught up in the nuances of minutiae that when bald Truth stares them in the face, they cannot recognize Him.

    Now as for Democracy, it is an abject failure. It was in the time of 1st Samuel chapter 8 when the “peepul” demanded to choose their own leader, and it is now – just look at whom we have: abortionist Obama! People in love with self-rule simply can’t accept that such is the case with democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. In the case of the United Soviet States of Amerika, that dinner is the corpses of murdered unborn babies.

    Furthermore, beyond that, Jesus Christ came to establish a Kingdom – a Monarchy – where NO ONE gets a vote EXCEPT the King of kings and Lord of lords. If one doesn’t like that, then one is free to leave the Church, the ONLY source of salvation. But we all know what that alternative is.

    As for Jews, they are still God’s Chosen People (and I just LOVE the State of Israel!), but they are still in rebellion exactly as St. Paul describes in Romans 9 through 11. There is NO equivalency between Rabinnical Judaism and Catholicism. In fact, there is only ONE Way to the Father, and that Way is NOT Judaism, Buddha or Hari Krishna.

    1st Corinthians 6:9-10 is still true regardless that almost 2000 years have passed since St. Paul penned these words:

    “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    And yes, the NIV for all its Protestant bias does translate the word “arsenokoit?s” correctly in verse 9.

    The Gospel is about saving souls from exile for an eternity in the fires of hell. It is NOT about filling up bellies or other social justice nonsense. What did Jesus say to the crowd who followed Him around to Capernaum after the feeding of the 5000? He said:

    “…I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…”

    It’s about time we jettison the liberal, Marxist trappings that have infected the Church since Vatican II. No, there’s nothing wrong with Vatican II or Novus Ordo. Rather, it’s about time we start recognizing that Jesus was NOT nice – He was truthful because He IS Truth and He confronted wickedness wherever it was, including whipping the money changers out of the Temple. Neither the religious hypocrites called Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes back then, nor the liberal Catholics of today can possibly tolerate that in spite of all their talk about tolerance and open mindedness.

    And one last thing: an open mind lets all the knowledge fall on out – thus do we have the problems that we have.

    There’s more like this here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/

  • Sheesh, now I’ve heard everything, that some Catholics think Amazing Grace is heretical. We better start looking at anyone saying or singing Kyrie Eleison because as we all know good Catholics only sing or pray in latin.

    We need to write the pope too as that ultra liberal bishop in Denver quotes the hymn in his column at the archdiocese’s website. http://www.archden.org/dcr/news.php?e=408&s=2&a=8581

  • Michael Voris caught my attention with his Catholic Monarchy episode, but then I saw his Vortex episode about the Marian dogmas. I now realize how deluded he and all those others are who support such false teachings, which are contrary to Scripture. I was somewhat disappointed, but it is the will of God that these things take place, that the prophecy might be fulfilled:

    1 Timothy 4, 1-3
    Now the Spirit expressly says that in the after times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies hypocritically, and having their conscience branded. They will forbid marriage, and will enjoin abstinence from foods, which God has created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by the faithful and by those who know the truth.

    2 Peter 2, 1-3
    But there were false prophets also among the people, just as among you there will be lying teachers who will bring in destructive sects. They even disown the Lord who bought them, thus bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their wanton conduct, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned. And out of greed they will with deceitful words use you for their gain. Their condemnation, passed of old, is not made void, and their destruction does not slumber.

    Thus we are warned:

    Colossians 2, 8
    See to it that no one deceives you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to human traditions, according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ.

    It is time to send these dogmatics to the pound.

  • Here is the real problem with people who dont like Voris. “They want there(own)catholic church, not (the) Catholic Church.” If you want to see the truth on how many liberal clergy have abused the teachings of Vatican two, READ THE DOCUMENTS. Your eyes will be opened. I currently attend a parish where lectors change the wording in the missal from “brothers and sisters to sisters and brothers.” When confronted he said that is how he personaly thinks it should read. I have said something to our Priest and nothing has been done. We have a woman serving on the alter “alterserver” who vocaly supports legal abortion and assisted suicide, all the while telling everybody she can all about her feminist theology. When confronted I recieved the “judge not” response. Perhaps she is ignorent to the spiritual works of mercy. Meanwhile a faithful Catholic has been “fired” as an alterserver because he made a stink about all the liturgical abuses, I will admit “some” of his accusations were wrong, but the point is he was just trying to do what was right. These are the lay catholics AND clergy who dislike Voris. They just dont like being called out. Like I said they want there “own” Catholic Church. What these people are are protestants in catholic clothing, or better yet said wolves in sheeps clothing. God Bless

  • To our frien Mr. Henry.
    Perhaps you could shre with us all Mr. Voris theological failings.

  • Why is their website off-line?

    Anyone know?

  • Someone ought to post a warning about CatholicCulture and the neo-con modernists who run it.

  • I fear that Voris is setting himself and his fans up for a fall. I like most of his work, but it is presumptuous to name his venture “real Catholic TV.” In the relative authority vacuum we’ve endured post Vatican II, too many have been seduced into creating their own magisterium. I find the name “Real Catholic TV” reminiscent of the Traditionalist publication named “The Remnant.” Would they not be better served (and more in line with Traditionalism) to have named their publication “The Possibly Damned”?

    As a convert from Protestantism, I am very sensitive to the cult of the personality. Any time people are seduced into putting their faith in a person (even if unwittingly and even if supposedly a “supercatholic”), they will be swept away eventually.

  • RealCatholicTV has never bad-mouthed EWTN, in fact Mrs. von Hildebrand (one of many of their sources regarding the Mass) is a frequent guest speaker on EWTN with Father Groeshel.

    Further their “Obama’s Counterfeit Catholics” along with written documentation, and “Global Warming Unmasked: the Hidden Agenda” also including written documentation (both of which can be found on the internet) have been great.

    I study “Scripture”, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” and the Vatican web site. Voris and RealCatholicTV have been true to all. If he steps out of line (which he has not), I’ll be first in line to say so.

    Check out their written documentation on the above, and provide better documentation that he is wrong – if you can.

    The more that true Catholics who love the Church make abuses from within known, perhaps future abuses will be fewer and more limited.
    Catholic Culture may have been too sensitive and read things into the videos that were not really there. Listen carefully and read the documentation. The Canadian Priest in “Weapons of Mass Destruction” was great, and right on.

  • What Michael Voris said about the Jews in his Vortex video was true. RCTV also has a one hour video available on the same subject that covers more ground than the Vortex spot.

War Crimes

Tuesday, August 10, AD 2010

As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, Richard Fernandez asks us to name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. (“Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.”)

Meanwhile, Donald Sensing (Sense of Events) thinks it’s past time for Western churches to stop treating Japan as victim every Aug. 6 and 9:

I refuse on principle to pollute God’s ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC’s service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS  Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan’s blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the  millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.

(HT: Bill Cork).

Continue reading...

97 Responses to War Crimes

  • Excellent post Christopher. Apparently Pius XII wasn’t as certain initially in his condemnation of the bombings as those members of Catholic blogdom in this country who engage in the self-flagellation ritual of spitting on the grave of Harry Truman in the annual August bomb follies. When the chief diplomat of the US mentioned an editorial of L Osservatore Romano that criticized the US for the bombings Pius responded that the editorial had not been authorized by him. I truly pray that those swift to condemn Truman never have to deal with making a decision that would kill hundreds of thousands, or likely kill millions if they do not make the decision. The cry of “consequentialism” is of course useful on Catholic blogs, and fairly useless when dealing with grim realities that constantly arise in war.

  • Sitting in Truman’s seat I may well have made the same decision. But I would not have tried to defend it before my Creator. The intrinsically evil nature of the act is not altered by either its good intentions or beneficial consequences. Some sins are simply more forgivable than others. While I’m willing to defend Truman I am unwilling to defend his decision, even though I certainly sympathize with his predicament. As wrong as his decision was, Truman is a far more morally sympathetic character than most of his vain and self-righteous critics.

  • Thanks for this post, Christopher. The last two paragraphs–yours and Michael’s–pretty well sum up where I am now.

    My sons and I visited the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force last month, and one of the exhibits is the original “Bockscar,” the B-29 which dropped “Fat Man” on Nagasaki. I posed my sons by a Spad XIII (the same model as flown by Eddie Rickenbacker) and by an F-86 Sabre (Korea). I refused to do the same with Bockscar. I explained to my oldest (I was trying to keep my youngest from touching every. single. aircraft. in the museum) what it was, and also said that it killed thousands of innocent people, and was dropped by a Catholic cathedral. If nothing else, I think he’ll remember that and understand the horrid complexity of war, even when the war itself is necessary.

  • It’s true that the Japanese army committed atrocities during WWII with a greater death toll than Hiroshima, but when was the last time you read an article trying to justify the Rape of Nanking?

  • I’m not sure what VDH’s point was about the Tokyo raids. Because we had done much worse, Hiroshima is not bad?

    The correct moral decision is clear enough. The fact it would be difficult to follow through on it is no real surprise. Doing the right thing is rarely easy.

    I have no desire to villify Truman for dropping the bomb; but I don’t consider him a hero either.

  • The firebombings of earlier in the war both in Europe and Japan were clearly nothing more than acts of terror deliberately calculated to demoralize civilians… and Dresden was a particularly horrific example of this barbarism (cf., http://www.rense.com/general19/flame.htm).

    “Bomber” Harris, the Brit commander behind Dresden and similar attacks, also memorialized in Britain by a statue in his honor, famously said he did “not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier.”
    And,
    “the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive…should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.”

    And,
    “It should be emphasized that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only extensions of this immoral military doctrine. The Brits, who during Germany’s V-2 campaign suffered a small fraction of the casualities they themselves would inflict on a supine German civilian population, should have known better.

    Truman should also have known better.

  • I am not able to argue against any of the comments posted by Tom so I will not attempt it. To give the military the benefit of the doubt for their actions, many soldiers had to act on the notion “kill or be killed” – which is totally different than our plush civilian lives.

    Many soldiers did not know who they could trust and saw death because of it. Leaders tried to keep their soldiers alive. Many were battle weary from long months of fighting in extreme conditions. We take the emotinally scars of these individuals for granted.

    This was war. We were attacked. Japan would not surrender and contiuned torturing people. Truman was obligated to defend this country and our allies and wanted to bring the troups home. I am not sure that we now are qualified to make a judgement statement such as “Truman should also have known better”.

    The dropping of these bombs was a tragic event. With the determination of Imperial Japan, what would have stopped them? Should we consider additional bombing raids that would have killed more people any less evil? Would sending our soldiers into certain-death situations be less evil since many were physically and emotionally drained? Are we supposed to consider self-defense and defense of others as evil?!

  • I am not able to argue against any of the comments posted by Tom so I will not attempt it. To give the military the benefit of the doubt for their actions, many soldiers had to act on the notion “kill or be killed” – which is totally different than our plush civilian lives.

    Many soldiers did not know who they could trust and saw death because of it. Leaders tried to keep their soldiers alive. Many were battle weary from long months of fighting in extreme conditions. We take the emotional scars of these individuals for granted.

    This was war. We were attacked. Japan would not surrender and contiuned torturing people. Truman was obligated to defend this country and our allies and wanted to bring the troups home. I am not sure that we now are qualified to make a judgement statement such as “Truman should also have known better”.

    The dropping of these bombs was a tragic event. With the determination of Imperial Japan, what would have stopped them? Should we consider additional bombing raids that would have killed more people any less evil? Would sending our soldiers into certain-death situations be less evil since many were physically and emotionally drained? Are we supposed to consider self-defense and defense of others as evil?!

  • My opinion: liberal, left-wing catholics resurrect this uncharitable (“He who is without sin . . . , etc.) opinion each August in order (I think) to salve their consummate consciences for voting for abortion: because America Hiroshima is evil, don’t you know? But, it’s not evil to vote for abortion.

    BARF!

  • T. Shaw,

    Most, if not all of us who frequent here are adamantly opposed to abortion and I have never voted for anyone who supports the killing of the unborn (whether the candidate has a D or R after his name).

    This is not Vox Nova.

    But evil is evil, and wrong is wrong. I agree with the others that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were evils, as well as Dresden, etc. It should be no surprise that even generally good people can do evil things.

  • Of course, our national flirtation with war-crime-as-policy began with Lincoln, who unleashed Sherman on the civilian population of the South:

    Quoth Sherman,
    “The Government of the United States has in North Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war – to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . . war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact…. We will . . . take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper.”

    Not rebellious southern civilians alone were subject to this policy, but the Indians too:

    “It is one of those irreconcilable conflicts that will end only in one way, one or the other must be exterminated . . . . We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to the extermination, men, women and children” … “The more Indians we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed next year… They all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers.”

    There’s no ambiguity about it: deliberate targeting of non-combatants and their homes and property is flat out immoral. I hope The American Catholic continues to rank the noun above the adjective.

  • Of course, our national flirtation with war-crime-as-policy began with Lincoln, who unleashed Sherman on the civilian population of the South

    Er, no.

    That hypothesis would be news to the Iroquois, who referred to George Washington as the “burner of towns” for his dispatch of John Sullivan to root out the pro-British tribes in 1779. Sullivan performed his mission with gusto, obliterating at least 40 Iroquois villages.

    Washington was actually rather disappointed with the results, truth be told.

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

  • There seems to be a great deal of confusion in the use of the word “moral”. The Church quite clearly teaches that morality is a personal attribute. A nation, an institution, a group cannot sin. It has no soul, no free will.

    [Likewise, the Church did not commit the sexual. They were acts of individuals. And again the Church did not cover up the acts. Those were decisions by individual bishops].

    The question then becomes “whose was the sin?” Who should be put on trial?

    There is a great deal of the disingenuous in those who point to others as the sinners. It is just a tad too easy at a distance of 60 years. And there is a touch of discerning the mote in the eye of others.

    Should not those who so quick to condemn the bombings, to condemn the war, be willing to give up all the benefits they enjoy as a result of the war?

    It seems to me that we Americans did what amounts to acts of contrition by rebuilding Germany and Japan after the war, and ridding those countries of the brutal regimes which oppressed them.

  • I think that several of the comments here misunderstand the upshot of the original post. Is it possible to hold both that

    (1) the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other bombings of non-combatants, both in WWII and after, is an intrinsically evil act

    and

    (2) the agents responsible for committing those acts were in all liklihood not possessed of a desire to commit an intrinsically evil act, but by a desire to do the best thing possible in a very bad set of circumstances.

    Sometimes holier-than-thou-types seem not to understand that holding (2) does not remove the force of (1) but, if anything, testifies even more strongly to how pervasive sin is in the world: sometimes what seems to be the very best thing to an already compromised ethical agent (and who is not already compromised) is intrinsically evil.

    I take it that there exists an analogy between Truman and his desicion and the sister in charge of medical ethics at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, who ordered the D&E on the woman who appeared to be dying from priaclampsia [sic?].

  • Of course then we would have the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederates after the citizenry were unable to come up with the monetary ransom requested by the boys in gray.

    http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1973/5/1973_5_36.shtml

    Then there is also the fact that the Confederate States decreed death for all former slaves in the Union Army and the officers who led them.

    “3. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.

    4. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United States when found serving in company with armed slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the different States of this Confederacy.”

    http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/pow.htm

    Neo-Confederate apologists for the Confederacy have a lot to explain when they want to take Lincoln to task for “total war”.

  • One element I would like to raise in this thread is the alternatives to what Truman did. The opponents of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also oppose the fire bombing of Japanese cities which was the only way to destroy from the air the spread out Japanese industries. Presumably they would also have opposed an air tight blockade of the Home Islands, probably going on for years, in order to starve Japan into surrender. Of course while this was still going on Japan would have still controlled a large part of Asia and continued to kill, on average, some 300,000 civilians each and every month. An invasion of the Home Islands would have led to a mammoth death toll of civilians. During the battle of Manila in March of 45 MacArthur restricted the use of artillery and air power in order to attempt to spare civilian casualties. Some 100,000 civilians died anyway, some deliberately slain by the Japanese, but most simply dying as a result of being caught in the cross fire of two armies battling in an urban area.

    So, critics of Truman, you are in his shoes. What do you do? (I do hope that no one brings up the truly fatuous idea of inviting the Japanese military to observe a test of the bomb. The Japanese didn’t surrender after Hiroshima. A test of a bomb would have had no impact upon the Japanese government.)

  • I understand that the bombing of Dresden was immoral. It was (as far as I know) a civilian, not a military, target. But does that distinction apply to Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The Japanese civilians were doing machine work in their houses; the families were trained for combat. Granted, they weren’t uniformed, and who knows if they would have resisted or surrendered, but I don’t see how they can be classified as non-military.

  • Oh – let me add, “unless I’m wrong”. I’m no ethicist or historian.

  • Hindsight may be 20/20, but war crimes are forever.

  • Don, if I were Truman, I would not have insisted on unconditional surrender.

  • Actually Pinky Dresden was rather heavily involved in the German war effort. A good revisionist look at that bombing is linked to below:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dresden-Tuesday-February-13-1945/dp/0060006773

    In regard to what an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands would have entailed the most recent study is linked below.

    “Giangreco, a longtime former editor for Military Review, synthesizes years of research in a definitive analysis of America’s motives for using atomic bombs against Japan in 1945. The nuclear bombing of Japan, he concludes, was undertaken in the context of Operation Downfall: a series of invasions of the Japanese islands American planners estimated would initially cause anywhere from a quarter-million to a million U.S. casualties, plus millions of Japanese. Giangreco presents the contexts of America’s growing war weariness and declining manpower resources. Above all, he demonstrates the Japanese militarists’ continuing belief that they could defeat the U.S. Japan had almost 13,000 planes available for suicide attacks, and plans for the defense of Kyushu, the U.S.’s initial invasion site, were elaborate and sophisticated, deploying over 900,000 men. Japanese and American documents presented here offer a chillingly clear-eyed picture of a battle of attrition so daunting that Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall considered using atomic and chemical weapons to support the operation. Faced with this conundrum, in Giangreco’s excellent examination, President Truman took what seemed the least worst option.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Hell-Pay-Operation-DOWNFALL-1945-1947/dp/1591143160/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281467655&sr=1-1

  • “Don, if I were Truman, I would not have insisted on unconditional surrender.”

    What terms would you have offered Japan restrainedradical? Here are the terms Truman offered.

    Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender
    Issued, at Potsdam, July 26, 1945

    “1.We-the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

    2.The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

    3.The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

    4.The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

    5.Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

    6.There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

    7.Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

    8.The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

    9.The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

    10.We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

    11.Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

    12.The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

    13.We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”

    http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/etc/c06.html

  • So, critics of Truman, you are in his shoes. What do you do?

    If I were Truman my priority would have been to end the war quickly so as to prevent Soviet entry into the war (the fact that the Allies actually encouraged Soviet entry is one of the more boneheaded moves in all of diplomatic history). If ending the war quickly meant accepting something less than unconditional surrender (say, by letting the Japanese keep their Emperor), then it would have been cheap at the price.

    If you were going to use the atom bomb, I don’t see why you couldn’t have dropped it on a strictly military target (such as the troops at Kyushu). That would have achieved the same effect as Hiroshima without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children.

  • Arguing from counterfactuals is rather unhelpful in this instance. Our knowledge of what *may* have happened, given a different decision, is so slight as to provide no reason for acting. This is, by the way, why moral absolutes are important for Catholic theology. One does not have to provide an (impossible) answer to McClarey’s question–it is all just speculation at this point, anyhow–in order to determine that Truman’s act was wrong.

  • “If you were going to use the atom bomb, I don’t see why you couldn’t have dropped it on a strictly military target (such as the troops at Kyushu).”

    The Japanese located their military units in urban areas in the Home Islands.

    For example:
    “At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of considerable military significance. It contained the headquarters of the Fifth Division and Field Marshal Hata’s 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defence of all of southern Japan.”
    http://www.japaneselifestyle.com.au/travel/hiroshima_bombing.htm

    In regard to the Emperor, prior to Hiroshima, Japanese advocates of a negotiate piece assumed that such a peace would have to entail, at a minimum, no occupation of Japan, no dis-arming of Japan and Japan keeping some of its overseas conquests. Japanese militarists laughed at such peace advocates and assumed that Japan could stop an American invasion and cause the US, sick of war and high casualties, to withdraw from most of Asia and the Pacific. A negotiated peace is a fantasy.

  • “One does not have to provide an (impossible) answer to McClarey’s question–it is all just speculation at this point, anyhow–in order to determine that Truman’s act was wrong.”

    Wrong. Catholic moral theology has never simply thrown up its hands in regard to the real world. If Truman hadn’t dropped the bombs there would have been consequences, almost certainly terrible consequences. Condemning Truman without owning up to those consequences and accepting them, is to pretend that we live in a pacifist dream world rather than a world where the leaders of nations sometimes have to make decisions that will end up killing lots of people no matter what they do or not do. Condemning is easy, thinking through the consequences of acting or not acting is much harder and less pleasant, but must be done if moral theology is to be something more than a bat to swing in Catholic comboxes.

  • The Japanese located their military units in urban areas in the Home Islands.

    To suggest that the bomb couldn’t have been dropped on a military target in Japan without resulting in 95% civilian casualties is just silly. Dropping the bomb on the assembled forces at Kyushu would have had the same effect as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but without the massive civilian loss of life.

    In regard to the Emperor, prior to Hiroshima, Japanese advocates of a negotiate piece assumed that such a peace would have to entail, at a minimum, no occupation of Japan, no dis-arming of Japan and Japan keeping some of its overseas conquests.

    I would say these were the maximum expected demands, not the minimum. However, even if the above were what it would take to end the war without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children, I think Truman should have accepted them.

  • “I would say these were the maximum expected demands, not the minimum. However, even if the above were what it would take to end the war without incinerating tens of thousands of women and children, I think Truman should have accepted them.”

    Which of our Asian allies would you have advised to “suck it up” BA and continue to live under the Rising Sun? How do you think the American people would have reacted to the idea that the nation that brought them Pearl Harbor was going to retain some foreign conquests, not be occupied, not be disarmed and probably be ready for another go at the US in twenty years. Your suggestion might fit some fantasy world. It certainly could not have been implemented by any US President in 1945.

  • Oh, and BA, Hiroshima had 43,000 troops in it when the bomb was dropped.

  • Donald,

    You’re right, I’m sure America never would have stood for China or Korea living under oppression.

    Actually the Chinese wanted to make peace with Japan at the beginning of 1945, but didn’t out of deference to America. The idea that Truman bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki because he was concerned about the plight of the Chinese is the real fantasy.

    And as far as I can tell you have no answer as to why the bomb couldn’t be dropped on the troops at Kyushu.

  • Oh, and BA, Hiroshima had 43,000 troops in it when the bomb was dropped.

    And how many were there in Nagasaki?

  • Good way of completely avoiding the question of which of our Asian allies you would have thrown to the wolves BA. The idea that such a thing would have been entertained by the US government is a tribute to the absurdity that usually surrounds the August Follies. In regard to China making a separate peace with Japan, unless you can cite chapter and verse, I will also assume that this is a fantasy of yours. The Japanese army had actually gone on the offensive in 44 and 45 in China and controlled a huge amount of China.

    http://cbi-theater-1.home.comcast.net/~cbi-theater-1/lantern/lantern050445.html

    There was zero prospect that Japan was going to willingly withdraw from China absent surrender by Japan. As a matter of fact, several overseas commanders after Japan surrendered contemplated carrying on a war.

    As to your odd assumption that there were large military units in Kyushu out in the open waiting to be bombed, the military units of Japan were subject to conventional bombing like everything else in Japan. They were dispersed, with most of them located in urban centers, as was the case in Hiroshima.

  • And how many were there in Nagasaki?

    I don’t know how many strictly military folks there were, but I know the Japanese lady at Sasebo’s indoc mentioned that it was their primary Navy shipyards. (Sasebo became the largest afterwards.)

  • Presumably they would also have opposed an air tight blockade of the Home Islands, probably going on for years, in order to starve Japan into surrender.

    One thing about the blockade – it takes a lot longer (as you admit, years) and it can be reveresed, as well as regulated to allow certain subsistence amounts in (and refugees out, if you are so inclined), and the repeated opportunity to surrender, change minds, etc. With the bomb, it’s all over in an instant, and there is no going back.

  • Mitsubishi shipyards, if anyone wants to research.

  • I don’t know that a blockade would have taken years. Like Britain, Japan was and remains a net food importer, and our submarine force was annihilating their merchant marine at will. I don’t think their navy would have been able to escort sufficient convoys to keep them going for very long.

    Then again, famine and the attendant diseases can’t be flipped off like a light switch, either. I can easily see the civilian death toll from a blockade leaping into the high hundred thousands, if not more than a million, in relatively short order, even given a surrender.

    And as to subsistence blockades–well, that certainly hasn’t hurt the Kim tyrants in North Korea. That ratchets down the likelihood of surrender, I think, and ups the likelihood of continuous conventional bombardment.

  • The famine would have hit in the Spring of 1946. MacArthur only avoided the famine historically with huge shipments of food that he insisted be sent to Japan from the US. Needless to say, sending food to Japan was not popular. MacArthur in response to opposition said that he was responsible for keeping the Japanese alive and that he would resign rather than allow mass starvation on his watch. It was Mac’s finest moment in my opinion.

    I have my doubts that even mass starvation would have caused the Japanese to capitulate, absent intervention by Hirohito, something he was unwilling to do until after Nagasaki.

  • FWIW, there was a similar discussion here on Kiwiblog.co.nz a few days ago.

    Most opinions were that “The Bomb” was the right decision under the circumstances, for all the reasons above mentioned.

    This will be debated for many years to come, by those who will moralize and condemn those who had this truly terrible decision to make, in the dispassionate comfort of their safe armchairs.

    Does the end justify the means? No.
    Was this means justified? If the END was to prevent the continued destruction of human life, and in bringing the war to an abrupt end, prevent the killing of many more millions than “The Bomb” would kill, then yes, the MEANS was justified.

  • The only non-negotiable I would insisted on would have been withdrawal from occupied lands. Some disarmament would probably have been necessary too. I may also have insisted on a reparations fund.

  • Intrinsically immorlal means can never be justified by good ends/consequences. Truman was wrong. But he was still a good man trying hard to do the right thing. This is not all that different from the Sister Margaret McBride, who when confronted with the choice of directly taking a life (via a direct abortion) versus allowing that same life and that of another (the mother) to die did what most sensible and well-intentioned people would do — choose to have one person to survive rather than none. Very understandable. But still very wrong.

  • After Nagasaki, Japan agreed to all terms except removal of the emperor. It was rejected and conventional bombing continued, killing thousands more.

  • Your understanding of those events is faulty restrainedradical. Here is actually what was said on August 12 by the Allies:

    “From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms. …The ultimate form of government of Japan shall, in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people”

    The Allies heard nothing from Japan on August 13, and ordered a resumption of bombing for August 14, previously halted by Truman, the date when Hirohito, finally, eight days after Hiroshima and five days after Nagasaki, addressed Japan and ordered the capitulation:

    “Despite the best that has been done by everyone—the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people—the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

    Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

    Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

    The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.”

    American bombing was halted after Hirohito’s address. Japanese units on the Asian mainland continued fighting for several days after Hirohito’s address.

  • Donald,

    You are misunderstanding my point–which is also the point of Catholic moral theology. To say that one need not provide answers to any of your multitudinous counterfactuals in order to determine that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was evil is just to say that the intentional killing of civilians is *intrinsically* evil. To say this, however, is not to say what you appear to think it says, that I–and the Church–are throwing up our hands with respect to “the real world.” Quite the contrary, the structure of reality, as revealed by Christ and his Church, is precisely what is being respected in the confident determination that some acts are so destructive of the imago dei that they can never, under any circumstances, be permitted–come what may. The intentional killing of innocents has always been regarded as such an act, and for good reason.

    From the perspective of Christian moral theology, it would have been better for Truman–and for any who were cooperators in this act–that the Japanese were militarily victorious than that he should have committed such an act. That is the hard truth.

    Now, you may disagree with the Christ and the Church’s teaching here–many do, Christians and non-Christians alike–but let us not be deceived by a sophistry which attempts to lessen the gravity of this evil act by appeal to a set of conjectures which remain just that, conjectures. From the perspective of Catholic moral theology, it is you, and not I, who are ignoring the “real world.”

  • Don, it’s not incumbent on one who is pointing out the immorality of intentional targeting of civilians to solve the problem of “what other course was there?”

    But the “other course” here would have been to continue the conventional war and perhaps pursuing something other than unconditional surrender.

    Oh, and with regard to the confederates, Bobby Lee in his forays north expressly forbade the type of tactics Sherman expressly adopted.

    Chambersburg should not have been burned, but by 1864 the Confederates were responding to Yankee war crimes, specifically in this case, Hunter’s devestation of civilian targets in the Shenandoah.

    Such is the logic of “total war”– it tends to suck in those who would otherwise not want to practice it.

  • One other thing: from the perspective of the civitas dei, which is the perspective that all Christians are exhorted to conform themselves to, it matters very little who wins what wars, what kinds of polity we are subject to here below, etc. For the Church, there are good things and bad things that accompany *any* political regime, and it is a dangerous, and finally idolatrous, mistake to believe that the defense of any particular civitas terrena–whether it be America in the 20th century, Rome in the 5th, or some future city–is worth the commission of an intrinsically evil act, which destroys one’s participation in the civitas dei.

    None of this entails pacifism. But it does entail our willingness to call a spade a spade.

  • From the perspective of Christian moral theology, it would have been better for Truman–and for any who were cooperators in this act–that the Japanese were militarily victorious than that he should have committed such an act. That is the hard truth.

    I’m not clear that “it would have been better” scenarios along these lines are all that useful. Frankly, from a perspective of Christian moral theology, it would be better if one no had earthly responsibilities for anyone else. Paul, after all, enjoins people not to even marry (and thus take on the responsibilities of a spouse) and for spouses to be celibate (and thus not take on the responsibilities of children) because earthly responsibilies tend to turn us away from true eternal priorities. And yet, we as Catholics also recognize that it is necessary that we as a human community have marriage, have children, have rulers and law, etc. Greater earthly responsibilities invariably distract people from their eternal destinations — something which I think Dante well summarizes the thinking of the Christian tradition on in Purgatorio. And yet, there is also a sense in which it is necessary that a portion of society make the sacrifice of focusing on earthly responsibility. Why?

    One other thing: from the perspective of the civitas dei, which is the perspective that all Christians are exhorted to conform themselves to, it matters very little who wins what wars, what kinds of polity we are subject to here below, etc.

    It seems to me that this misses an obvious issue, which is that the environment in which people find themselves often affects their ability to live in accordance with the the civitas dei. Look at conflicts such as the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War in which one side was actively invested in stamping out the Church and perverting the order of society. To be sure, such situations offer the opportunity for martyrdom, but for most they offer the opportunity for apostacy, collaboration and corruption. I’m reminded similarly of some of the pieces I’ve read about the archives which are now open in Germany of East German secret police files, where people were constantly encouraged to inform on each other and rewarded for betraying of friends and family. Surely such an environment is destructive to many souls.

    Without question each society presents its own temptations and corruptions, and if anything I lean heavily in the direction of Christians seeking the path to God in their own societies as they exist rather than embracing a revolutionary ethic of overturning the social order in order to make society “more holy”. And armed struggle has a tendency to corrupt all sides. But I can’t see that complete indifference is the right response either.

  • Darwin,

    I mean “would have been better” in the strict sense that it is always better not to commit an intrinsically evil act than to commit one. I do not mean to say, nor is it true that, marriage, law-making, etc. fall under the same category. I am assuming here a post-lapsarian condition.

    As for your second comment: fair enough. I am more Pascalian in my outlook than most, and I am well aware that certain regimes produce certain evils that are on first blush more destructive than the evils of other regimes. (I am not so certain, however, that collaboration, apostasy, etc. are not equally prevalent in the West. There are more lapsed Catholics in American than any other denomination, they say.) But would you at least acknowledge that if my position leads to a skeptical indifferentism, it is nonetheless within the bounds of orthodoxy, and in fact corresponds nearly exactly with Augustine’s own view, whereas the danger in becoming too tied up with the “justness” of a particular regime on earth leads rather quickly to unorthodoxy and idolatry: one excuses intrinsic evils committed by that regime in order to ensure its own continued existence, rather than admitting that such an act has been committed?

    I fear that I discern something of this in McClarey’s hand-waving about the behavior of the Allies–and America in particular–in WWII.

  • Like Darwin, I can’t go so far as to say that it matters little who wins wars… Certainly there are just wars, and WWII was one example. It’s the old Thomistic distinction between jus ad bellum, whether a war is just in the first place, and jus in bello, whether a war is conducted in accordance with moral principles.

    Collateral damage is inevitable in modern warfare, but where the Allies went wrong was in aping the evil done by the Axis powers, i.e., deliberately targeting civilians and non-military targets for the purpose of “demoralizing” the populace.

  • (I am being especially procrastinatory today.)

    Tom,

    First, I agree that yours is a perfectly viable interpretation of where the Allies went wrong in WWII. I agree with it, in fact, and, as I said, nothing in my own position commits one to pacifism.

    But I still think that it is *also* true that, at least according to Augustine and several other thinkers in the Augustinian tradition, it *still* makes little difference what regime a Christian lives under, for the reason that *every* regime is dominated by the libido dominandi, and so, from the perspective of the civitas dei, they are all equal.

    Thomas, and the Thomistic tradition more generally, has a less skeptical view. One that, I hasten to add, is perfectly legitimate. It seems to me that the Church, within the bounds of orthodoxy, allows for a range of opinion on this matter.

    I am not so much bothered by any disagreement here as I am by the hesitancy to call a spade a spade.

  • Don (Kiwi)

    You seem to contradict yourself. First, you say that the ends cannot justify the means, and then you do precisely that – you state the end of ending the war justified the means of dropping the bomb. Am I missing something?

  • “The intentional killing of innocents has always been regarded as such an act, and for good reason.”

    Actually it depends on how you define intentional. Papal armies in the Middle Ages routinely besieged cities, a normal military operation of the time. The cities would be caused to surrender usually through blockades that produced starvation, and, inevitably, disease would usually explode in the cities. If any pope ever breathed a word against sieges as a method of warfare, I am unaware of it. This is quite a bit more of a complicated area than it seems at first glance.

  • That papal armies acted or did not act in certain ways with or without the permission of popes is immaterial. Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?

  • c matt.

    Re-reading my comment, I appear to do as you say. However, in the context of what was occuring – a war costing huge casualties on both sides, a stark choice became presented. Do we continue as we are, and lose many millions of lives, or do we introduce a new stratagem, and save arguably millions of lives which would otherwise be lost? ( the other choice was, as Wj said earlier, to lie down and be conquered, which to me , would be unacceptable)
    I guess the choice was therefore, a lesser of two evils. No doubt it can be debated whether or not a less evil choice is the correct moral choice in view of the principle, that the end does not justify the means.
    Quite a connundrum, isn’t it?

  • All ends are achieved by a means.

    But the end does not (necessarily) justify the means.

    Some means are justifiable, others are not.

  • Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?

    I think you mean “are you denying that…has ALWAYS been regarded as an intrinsically evil act,” or “are you CLAIMING…has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act.”

    Perhaps a better tact might be to find out when it was first enumerated as an intrinsic evil?

    DonTK-
    I think the situation is significantly more complicated than folks are willing to consider– even with folks that I KNOW are honestly trying to just figure it out, there’s incredible simplification.

    Does it matter that there was warning given so the population had a chance to leave?
    Does it matter that military operations were moved into civilian areas, even into family dwellings?
    Does it matter that “aiming” with bombs in that day was more an art than a science?
    Do prior tactics of the Americans matter?
    Do prior tactics of the Allies matter?
    Does our responsibility to defend the innocent that WEREN’T in those cities matter?
    What effect does the (possible) Japanese military stopping civilians from evacuating have on the morality of it?
    How much information did they have about what was going on at ground level, and how much could they reasonably be expected to have?

    (stuff like this is probably why a lot of folks think morality should be restricted to philosophy, not the real world– it’s just not as simple IRL, even if it is still black and white)

    I know full well I don’t have nearly enough information to make an informed, binding judgement on these actions that happened before my parents were born. Luckily, I don’t have to; it’s useful to try to figure out, in case a similar case comes along, but it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not cut and dried.

  • “That papal armies acted or did not act in certain ways with or without the permission of popes is immaterial. Are you denying that the slaughter of innocents has not always been regarded as an intrinsically evil act?”

    I think the praxis of the Church is always of importance, especially when that praxis went on for centuries. I am denying that the Church has condemned all military operations which, by their very nature, were bound to take quite a few innocent lives.

    Let’s think this through. Hiroshima is bombed from the air, either fire bombed or nuked. Bad, intrinsically immoral. Hiroshima is taken by the US in a ground assault in the spring of 46 which, in a house to house fight against the Japanese Army, kills most of the civilian population, who are caught in the cross fire. Morally acceptable. I assume the difference is one of intention, but I find that argument weak. A military man would have to be brain dead not to realize that large scale combat in an urban area is going to kill huge numbers of civilians. If mass casualties are foreseeable in a ground assault, how does that materially differ from mass casualties caused by an air assault? The current Church stance may be an argument for pacifism, but I do not think it adequately addresses that other measures taken in military operations, presumably morally licit, may kill just as many civilians, if not more, than the measures condemned.

    I might also note that in the spiritual realm popes have been quite willing to take actions which have had adverse impacts on innocent parties. A good example would be the Interdict which prevented the dispensing of the sacraments in nations or regions. Imagine a pope saying that a dying innocent could not have the comfort of the Last Rites. However, it was done, and not infrequently, for reasons that the popes employing it deemed good and sufficient. The last use of the Interdict, in a fairly mild form, was by Saint Pius X in the early years of the last century. The idea that innocents have an all-embracing immunity is one that is popular in the Church today, but it is rather a novel one.

  • Now you are just obfuscating. For who would not agree with your following assertion? (I certainly don’t disagree with it.)

    “I am denying that the Church has condemned all military operations which, by their very nature, were bound to take quite a few innocent lives.”

    We don’t need to go through the motions of explaining how the doctrine of double effect applies in ius in bello scenarios on this blog. I’ll just take it for granted that most people reading here have a working knowledge about how unintentional though foreseen civilian casualties, for example, are a different kind of thing than INTENTIONALLY DECIMATING A CIVILIAN TARGET.

    Most ALL military operations involve the unfortunate killing of innocents, and if the Church is to have a doctrine of just war at all, which she most assuredly does, then it is basic to such a doctrine to differentiate foreseen but unintended evils from evils intentionally committed. So while, for example, the intentional slaughter of women and children has always been rightly condemned by the Church–which is not to say that she has not at times engaged in this practice against her better lights (thereby proving true what she has to say about sin)–the unfortunate killing of innocents as a result of some other strategy which does not *directly* target them is a more difficult scenario to parse. There is an entire casuitical literature on this and related topics. We all know all the moves here.

    What you are now doing, in fact, is redescribing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as if this weren’t the intentional killing of civilians. But, on any plausible account of intentional acts (i.e. Thomas, Anscombe, Suarez, etc.), the bombing most clearly *was* an intentionally, and not merely foreseen, attack on noncombatants. Which is, as I said before, intrinsically evil.

    Either you do not understand or you do not agree with the distinction between foreseen and intended consequences–a distinction which is basic to Catholic moral theology. Which is it?

  • By the way, there is one other theological assumption in your response that I take issue with.

    1. The fact that the Church in the past–yea, even for centuries in the past–did or did not intentionally target or unjustly allow a disproportionate number of civilians to be killed in any of her wars is immaterial to the issue at hand. Why? That the Church acted one way or another in the past has, apart from her explicit teachings on doctrine and morals, no bearing on the normative status of that action. For centuries the Church abused the theology of indulgences; from this it does not follow that we, in the present, are supposed to be okay with the selling of indulgences on the grounds that the Church did it in the past. You are conflating two very different kinds of “tradition” and how they have normative bearing in Catholic theology.

    Of course, if you deny the distinction between an intended and a foreseen end, then you are a consequentialist. But if you are a consequentialist, then you have a problem with the decalogue. Do you have a problem with the decalogue?

  • I apologize for the somewhat heated and exasperated tone. If I had known that you denied the difference between an intended and foreseen end, I would have found your defense of the bombings much more intelligible–though not, I am afraid to say, any less repugnant.

  • “Either you do not understand or you do not agree with the distinction between foreseen and intended consequences–a distinction which is basic to Catholic moral theology.”

    My problem WJ is that what is considered as unforeseen in war in regard to civilian casualties is predictable as night follows day. Two corps battling each other in an urban area will produce large amounts of civilian deaths. A siege of a city will produce a large amount of civilian deaths. Foreseeability in this area seems like a very frail reed on which to make categorical distinctions. Because of the technology of the day, bombing an urban center in World War II was going to produce quite a few civilian casualties no matter what was done. My point is that if it is intrinsically evil to ever intentionally engage in the targeting of civilian populations in war, why is it not intrinsically evil to engage in actions in war which, completely predictably, will lead to civilian deaths? Hiding behind foreseeability in this area strikes me as exalting form over substance.

  • No sweat WJ. This is an area which people get passionate about. I certainly am in that category.

  • Donald, I think this response of yours points the way toward a difficult and important issue in the theology of Just War. At least we are now down to brass tacks, as it were. I am enjoying this quite a bit. You write:

    “My point is that if it is intrinsically evil to ever intentionally engage in the targeting of civilian populations in war, why is it not intrinsically evil to engage in actions in war which, completely predictably, will lead to civilian deaths?”

    The short answer to this is that the intentional targeting of a civilian is murder, and murder is always wrong. Why is it wrong? Well, even Augustine, who was not, I have to admit, terribly worried about civilian casualties, views murder as the sort of action which destroys the imago dei in the soul of the person committing it. (Indeed, murder is like any violation of the decalogue in this respect.) So the intentional targeting of a civilian is wrong not *only* because of what happens to the civilian (as you point out, the civilian may well be killed unintentionally via another strategy) but also what happens to you.

    In the second case, the military commander is intending to engage a lawful combatant, and he foresees that as a result of his action some number of civilians will die. This is not *intrinsically* evil, first, because there are some circumstances in which it is permitted; in a less tautological sense, it is not *intrinscially* evil because the ACTION in question is not murder, but some other action describable in a different way, and so the commander in question is not deprived of grace.

    Of course, it way well be the case, at least according to Just War Theory, that at some point the unintended yet foreseen civilian casualties issuing from some or other military strategy outweigh the good that is to be rationally expected to result from that strategy, and in this case the unintended yet foreseen killing of civilians is evil, though not intrinsically so. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s skepticism as to whether any modern war can be “licit” (cf. interview with Zenit in March of 03 I believe) derives his beliefs that most contemporary wars cannot but fail to be just in their in bello execution. This is an important and complex issue, and it is not one about which I am certain.

    But can I ask a clarifying question? Do you deny the difference between an intentional and a foreseen end per se, or only the validity of this difference as it applies to actions in war?

  • As a follow up: I am not a pacifist, but it has always seemed to me that one of the strongest arguments for pacifism from a strictly theological point of view has to do with the *near impossibility* of ensuring that even the most just war from a ius ad bellum perspective will be able to be fought successfully and justly in bello. Many of your examples seem to support this view. I guess one can go one of two ways here. One can view the near impossibility of ius in bello conduct to constitute a strong argument for a practical, if not principled, pacifism, or one can argue that the Church’s understanding of ius in bello conduct has to be changed or expanded or loosened in some way.

  • “Do you deny the difference between an intentional and a foreseen end per se, or only the validity of this difference as it applies to actions in war?”

    Depends entirely on how likely a foreseeable end is. An artillery barrage is made of a grove of trees. Tragically some lumberjacks are killed. Clearly different from intentionally targeting the lumberjacks.

    A division of enemy troops are in a city filled with civilians and intermingled with the civilians. The artillery unit is told to attack the enemy and civilian deaths results. I don’t view that much differently from intentionally targeting the civilians, since their deaths are entirely predictable. Of course the artillery men didn’t want to kill the civilians, they were merely in the way of accomplishing the goal of winning the war. This area is tricky and filled with moral land mines. Whenever double effect is trotted out, I listen very carefully, but am rarely convinced by it.

  • If you hold that “of course the artillery men didn’t want to kill the civilians,” then you hold that they didn’t intentionally kill them. It seems to me that this is entirely different than the artillery unit intentionally targeting the civilians. Does it not seem so to you?

    I wonder what you make of double effect as it applies to abortion. Do you see the moral difference, that is, between surgically removing a mother’s fallopian tubes, knowing that the child inside them will die as a result of this procedure necessary for saving the mother’s life, and flooding the fallopian tubes with chemicals intended to kill the child? (There are any number of other scenarios, which all share the same structure.)

    The reason I ask is that in both cases the death of the child is entirely foreseeable.
    and directly killing

  • “It seems to me that this is entirely different than the artillery unit intentionally targeting the civilians. Does it not seem so to you?”

    Only if intention governs all. In that case why do the airmen of the Enola Gay not get a pass since they most definitely were not intending to kill civilians but rather to convince Japan to surrender? How does this differ materially from the artillery men intending to win a battle in a city, not intending to kill civilians, but knowing that civilians will be killed in large numbers by their bombardment?

    Frankly in the abortion case where the child cannot survive I see no problem with the desperate necessity of removing the fallopian tubes in order to preserve the mother’s life since the child simply cannot survive in any case. I pray for the day when technology will eliminate this sad quandry.

  • The answer to the first question is that you can’t separate intention from the object of the act. You can’t for example, burn your neighbor’s house to the ground and then say that your “intention” in doing so was to stop him from playing loud music. No, pretty clearly you intended to burn his house down with the further end in mind of ceasing his loud music. But this further end in mind does not mean that in burning his house down you acted unintentionally. So with Truman. The intention was clearly to kill large amounts of Japanese civilians with the further end of bringing the war to a speedy halt. This further end–bringing the war to a speedy halt–does not evacuate the intentional structure of the prior act. If you don’t mind a recommendation here, I suggest you read Anscombe’s classic work “Intention.” She demonstrates all this quite persuasively.

    Indeed, in the latter case, the whole point is that the removal of the fallopian tubes is a *different* act than the direct killing of the child. Which is why it is licit.

  • The intention was clearly to kill large amounts of Japanese civilians with the further end of bringing the war to a speedy halt.

    I have to disagree on the “clearly” part of that — you do NOT warn people to leave and give them time if you are trying to kill large numbers of them.

  • “The answer to the first question is that you can’t separate intention from the object of the act.”

    Ah but that is where foreseeability rears its ugly head. The artillery men bombarding the city filled with enemy troops know that large numbers of civilians will be killed. As a matter of fact Hiroshima had 43,000 Japanese troops in it. Once again, I do not think this is simple at all.

  • What is often ignored by Catholics who spill ink on this issue ignore is 1) The pertinnent Catholic moral principles involved and 2) The actual circumstances within Truman made his decision.

    With respect to the use of atomic weapons, Catholic moral theologian Father Heribert Jone defined them this way:

    The fourth condition required for positing an action that has an evil effect that there be a sufficient reason, i.e., a proportionate resulting good, to permit the evil effect. The morality of using either the atomic or hydrogen bomb as a weapon of war is therefore, not a question of principle, which remains unchangeable, but a question of fact, and the fact questioned is whether there can be a military objective so vital to an enemy, the destruction of which would be a sufficient reason to permit the death of a vast number of civilians who at most contribute only remotely and indirectly to the war effort. We think this proportion can exist 1) because today’s concept of “total war” has greatly restricted the meaning of the term “non-combatant”; 2) because in modern warfare the conscription of industry, as well as manpower, greatly extends the effort on the home front; and 3) because it is difficult to set limits to the defense action of a people whose physical and even spiritual existence is threatened by a godless tyranny. Therefore, while use of atomic weapons must be greatly restricted to the destruction of military objectives, nevertheless, it may be justified without doing violence to the principle of a twofold effect. (Moral Theology #219 pp. 143-44 1961 Edition)

    Unfortunately, all of the of Catholic moral theologians and writers who condemn the bombings demonstrate no knowledge of the circumstances involved. The most horrendous and despicable example, in my view, is the recent piece written by well-known Catholic author and senior apologist at Catholic Answers Jimmy Akin.

    The objections these people raise is that the atomic bomb drops cannot be justified because they targeted innocent civilians. To be sure, there is no moral justification for deliberately killing innocent people regardless of how noble your end purpose is. The ends do not justify the means. You cannot do evil so that good can become of it. True enough.

    However, this was not the case with atomic bombings. In WWII Japan, the meaning of the term non-combatant was not only “greatly restricted” it was completely obliterated. William Manchester, in his biography of General Douglass Mac Arthur states:

    Hirohito’s generals, grimly preparing for the invasion, had not abandoned hope of saving their homeland. Although a few strategic islands had been lost, they told each other, most of their conquests, including the Chinese heartland, were firmly in their hands, and the bulk of their army was undefeated. Even now they could scarcely believe that any foe would have the audacity to attempt landings in Japan itself. Allied troops, they boasted, would face the fiercest resistance in history. Over ten thousand kamikaze planes were readied for “Ketsu-Go,” Operation Decision. Behind the beaches, enormous connecting underground caves had been stocked with caches of food and thousands of tons of ammunition. Manning the nation’s ground defenses were 2,350,000 regular soldiers, 250,000 garrison troops, and 32,000,000 civilian militiamen, a total of 34,600,000, more than the combined armies of the United States, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany. All males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five, had been conscripted. Their weapons included ancient bronze cannon, muzzle loaded muskets, bamboo spears, and bows and arrows. Even little children had been trained to strap explosives around their waists, roll under tank treads, and blow themselves up. They were called “Sherman’s carpets.” This was the enemy the Pentagon had learned to fear and hate,a country of fanatics dedicated to hara-kiri, determined to slay as many invaders as possible as they went down fighting. [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 510-511)]

    The mass conscription of “all males ages fifteen and all females ages seventeen to forty-five” is practically the entire adult population. With this, the entire country of Japan became a large military base and no longer a civilian, but a military asset, and therefore, a legitimate military target.

    This idea that the bomb drops were a deliberate attack on innocents is flat out false.

    Furthermore, given the alternatives, either an invasion or blockade would have killed more Japanese, not to mention caused more than a million Amreican casualties in the case of an invasion, the most merciful thing Truman could have done was to drop the bombs. He most certainly could have justifiede it before his creator.

  • Donald,

    I have to get to bed–not a night person–so I’ll conclude by reiterating a distinction which you seem to deny (why? I can’t understand). There is a difference between the object of an intentional action and the foreseeable consequences that follow from that action. If I burn my neighbor’s house down, there will be smoke. I foresee that the act of burning my neighbor’s house down will necessarily produce smoke, and yet the production of smoke is not my intent in burning his house down. My intent is simply: to burn his house down.

    Greg,

    I don’t understand you. Is your claim that there were NO innocent Japanese (as you argue in the first half of your longish post) or that there were in any case LESS (innocent) Japanese killed as a result of the bomb than through other means? If the first, then I don’t see why you mention the second; if the second, then everything I’ve already written here applies to that argument. (I don’t think you’ll get many people agreeing to your first claim, though.)

  • Greg.

    Very interesting, and confirms my thoughts and understanding of the situation.
    Thankyou.

  • Wj.

    If I burn my neighbour’s house down, there will be smoke………”

    INO, applying this thinking is obfuscation of conscience.
    You know that you wish to burn down his house and you know fires create smoke. You therefore cannot claim that the creation of smoke is non-culpable, while the burnng of the house is.

  • Just because an action is or may be the lesser of two evils (dropping the atom bomb vs. all out ground invasion of Japan) doesn’t make it good or justified, or a precedent to follow in the future. The lesser of two evils is still an evil. However, this being a fallen world, sometimes a lesser evil is the best we can do. Unfortunately, what often happens is that instead of simply making the least bad choice possible and asking God’s forgiveness for any sin involved, we try to paint that choice as being entirely good.

  • WJ:

    I did not say there were no innocent Japanese. What I said was that the line between combatant and non-combatant had been erased due to the mass civilian conscription and therefore we were not TARGETING innocents.

  • “If I burn my neighbor’s house down, there will be smoke. I foresee that the act of burning my neighbor’s house down will necessarily produce smoke, and yet the production of smoke is not my intent in burning his house down. My intent is simply: to burn his house down.”

    Your example WJ illustrates precisely where the diffculty in this area lies. Intention either always determines the morality of an action or it does not. I think neither at Hiroshima nor my artillery against a city example is the goal to kill civilians, rather the killing of civilians is a necessary part of the action being undertaken to reach another goal, winning a battle or a war. The difference you would raise between them is that the bomb was directed against civilians while the artillery men only kill civilians accidently. This distinction is of cold comfort morally I think when the deaths of the civilians from the use of the artillery are completely predictable and foreseeable. If the goal is allowed to make the action moral in the case of the artillery barrage, I am uncertain why the same logic is not applicable in the case of Hiroshima.

  • Going to have to agree with Greg M. that the notion of “civilian” took a rather major beating in this situation– probably why the Gen. Conv. spent so much time hammering out who is a civie and who isn’t.

    Is someone standing by the soldier and reloading a valid target?
    Are you not allowed to fire at a foxhole that’s trying to gun you down, because you can see they’ve got a red cross worker trying to patch them up?
    Can you destroy a yard full of military ships under construction or repair?
    Can you bomb the not-formally-military staffed bomb factory?
    If it’s required for someone to be a formal military to be a military target, how do you deal with informal attacks? (getting a bit to close to modern issues, so I’ll stop there)

  • Well, despite the best efforts of bombing apologists, we’re left at the end of the day with the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated, not because of their military value (which was slight and certainly less than many other potential targets), not because the civilians there were a threat (regimes like Japan’s always threaten that their civilians will rise up against any invader… they don’t), but because our bombing policy was, as I stated before, identical to “Bomber” Harris’ vision of demoralizing CIVILIAN populations.

    Thus, all this talk of Hiroshima’s bombing being justified either because of its military use or the ridiculous notion that the little old ladies and kids were armed threats to our forces, is bunk.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wiped out in order to terrorize the populace and thus break the will of the military to resist.

    That END was produced immediately by the MEANS of purposeful destruction of innocent lives, NOT as a by-product or collateral result of legitimate bombing. Why can’t folks here acknowledge simply what everyone, especially Truman, knew at the time– the bombings were done to terrify the Japs so completely at our ability to incinerate civilian centers that their military would capitulate?

  • I think the evidence supports Tom’s contention. And I think the application of Catholic teaching yields a rather clear cut answer. That said, his moral error notwithstanding, Truman is still a far mor sympathetic character than many of his self-righteous critics.

    A man might deliberately kill his comrade in arms if that comrade is dying and in agony. Such an act is murder and intrinsically evil. Yet, I would hardly make it my business to scold him. All sins are forgivable of course — but some certainly more than others. Truman’s act was not heroic; it was wrong; but it was certainly understandable and forgivable.

  • Tom, you’re entitled to your own view, but not your own facts, and what you’re claiming as “facts” are far from proven.

    Feel free to call me whatever you like– heaven knows I can’t stop you– but your OPINIONS of what was true are far from persuasive, and should not be stated as if they are objective reality.

    (On a side note, I’m so sick of being one of the folks who has to say “hold up a sec, we don’t actually KNOW X, or Y, and Z is totally wrong.” Even when I agree with a conclusion, or don’t disagree, it’s a bad idea to let incorrect claims stand.)

  • Foxfier:
    It is completely appropriate to bomb a bomb factory, even knowing that some civilians will likely be killed. That is because a bomb factory is a military target. An entire city is not.

  • Mike-
    Military bases are sometimes cities. (Zip code, hospital/power/stores/water, own police force, civilian families, schools, etc.)

    Military bases, since they are military bases, are military targets.

    Thus, it’s clear that entire cities CAN be a military target.

  • Fair enough I suppose, but are you seriously suggesting that H or N were military bases? If so, then no need for further discussion since we occupy different universes.

  • Mike-
    Not going to fight this, because– like I said way up above– I don’t think we have enough information to do a decent job of it.

    My rough limit is basic damage control on the BS I _know_ I’m going to have to deal with in the next five years, in the form of “X who is (or was) a Catholic said Y, so it must be true, defend it.” Generally in the middle of family reunions or parties with geek friends.

    If you can’t make your argument off of facts, why on earth are you trying to state it as fact? Just throw in an “I” here or there, maybe in conjunction with “think” or “reason” or “believe,” refer to sources for your claims and bada bing: no conflict.

    Shoot, you could even say “I don’t see how it could be justified to bomb an entire city, because cities are not military targets” and it’s no longer something I, or some poor idiot like me, will have to defend. It’s your educated belief from the facts as you know them and your understanding of Catholic teachings. (Anybody talking Catholic theology with a half-dozen highly intelligent folks who have little to no use for organized religion, let alone the Church, needs to have their head examined. No offense to the real Catholic apologists among us.)

  • Foxfier,

    It’s not exactly as if there is no considered stance on this issue by the overwhelmingly vast majority of bishops, theologians, popes, etc. over the past fifty years. The only people who pretend as though this is somehow a difficult question for the Church to address are a handful of American Catholics.

    It is much better to do as Donald does: reject the reasoning of the Church forthrightly. It is no good pretending as though there is an epistemic difficulty here where there is not one.

  • Yay, appeal to authority, and total missing of the point.

    Have fun, I’m out.

  • “reject the reasoning of the Church forthrightly.”

    Questioning is not rejection, especially in an area such as this where we are not dealing with revealed truth, but rather the application of hair splitting logic.

  • (Same way I duck out when folks start bringing out “but all these guys say that the death penalty isn’t needed anymore! So I win!”)

  • Mike.

    Check the anecdotal historical evidence of who were in occupancy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the military operations and indusctrial complexes attached to those cities.

    One could arguably conclude they were military bases.

  • I’m out after this one as well.

    Don, I didn’t mean to be inflammatory. I take it that you do reject the distinction between foreeseable consequences and intended ends *in certain instances*; but perhaps you only question their analytic efficacy. Fair enough. I think your position commits you to consequentialism (or at least some kind of proportionalism, a la McBrien, et. al.), which I don’t think you want to be committed to, but that’s a different topic. It is an important conversation to have, though.

    Foxfier, I wasn’t so much “appealing to authority” as showing that what you take to be a difficult, perplexing, epistemically vague scenario appears only to be so for a subset of American Catholics and not for the universal Church as a whole. This is an empirical claim.

  • Don the Kiwi,
    Sorry about the oddly abbreviated post above. I am well aware that both H and N contained both military operations and industrial complexes attached to the war effort. Same for Chicago and Detroit. And targeting those operations and complexes would have been morally licit, even if done quite imperfectly. But that is not what happened, and the evidence is quite clear that Truman knew exactly what he was doing. As I said earlier, I don’t really blame him — even if I can safely conclude from my comfortable perch that he were morally wrong. But I refuse to reason backwards either. Just because I’m sympathetic, actually very sympathetic, to the consequences, does not mean that the means were morally acceptable. They weren’t. Pretty much all of us do bad things for good reasons, and that does not make us bad people — just sinners.

  • Fortunately we don’t have to speculate on why Truman chose Hiroshima and Nagasaki and whether it was because the cities were military targets.

    His own press release states that the Potsdam ultimatum was issued to Japan (calling for their unconditional surrender) “to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction.” NOT the Japanese military, NOT the Japanese industrial ability, but the Japanese people themselves.

    Besides, the US had already joined in the British practice of terror bombing by helping in the destruction of Dresden and by firebombing Tokyo, a practice which indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians.

    As Doolittle’s raid early in the war demonstrated, it was entirely possible to target industry and military targets without wiping out entire cities.

    We simply adopted the Brit practice of firebombing, and ultimtely, nuclear bombing, to demoralize the civilian populaces of our enemies, not to advance a military objective.

  • Actually Tom Truman referred to the “military base of Hiroshima” when he announced the Hiroshima bombing. You can say that was incorrect, but that is how Truman looked at it.

    The firebombing of the cities of Japan wasn’t undertaken for terror purposes, but because that was the only way to take out the Japanese industries that tended to be located within residential areas. Precision bombing of Japanese industries was attempted until around March of 45 and had proven completely ineffective.

  • The Doolittle raid was a propaganda operation in 42. 15 of the 16 B-25s were lost, along with 80 airmen. The damage to Japan was completely negligible. From a morale standpoint in the US it was a success. From a military standpoint it was a disaster.

    The technology of the day made precision bombing usually a wistful dream rather than a reality.

    “In practice, the Norden (bombsight) never managed to produce accuracies remotely like those of which it was theoretically capable. The Royal Air Force were the first to use the B-17 in combat, and reported extremely poor results, eventually converting their aircraft to other duties. USAAF anti-shipping operations in the Far East were likewise generally unsuccessful, and although there were numerous claims of sinkings, the only confirmed successful action was during the Battle of the Philippines when B-17s damaged two Japanese transports, the cruiser Naka, and the destroyer Murasame, and sank one minesweeper. However these successes were the exception to the rule; actions during the Battle of Coral Sea or Battle of Midway, for instance, were entirely unsuccessful. The USAAF eventually replaced all of their anti-shipping B-17s with other aircraft, and came to use the skip bombing technique in direct low-level attacks.

    In Europe the Norden likewise demonstrated a poor real-world accuracy. Bombing was computed by assessing the proportion of hits falling within 1,000 feet (300 m) and 2,000 feet (600 m) circles about an MPI (mean point of impact). To achieve a perfect strike, a bomber group would have to unload all its bombs within the 1,000 ft circle. By the spring of 1943 some impressive results were being recorded. Over Bremen-Vegesack on 19 March, for instance, the 303d Bombardment Group dropped 76 per cent of its load within the 1,000 ft ring. Under perfect conditions only 50 percent of American bombs fell within a quarter of a mile of the target, and American flyers estimated that as many as 90 percent of bombs could miss their targets.[5][6][7] Nevertheless, many veteran B-17 and B-24 bombardiers swore by the Norden.”

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

  • There is an ongoing myth that the British were primarily interested in terror bombing for the heck of it since they could not bloody the Germans in any other way. This is the received wisdom after Vonnegut and Irving. But it makes very little sense for the British to lose all those highly trained men of the Bomber Command (55,000 killed) and spend all that money to build a large strategic force merely to terrorise the Germans. The bombers were the British contribution to the continental war, as they lacked the ability to insert their forces into the field in a decisive ways. A much fairer assessment is provided in this book .

  • Harry S Truman was a 33° Freemason, an enemy of the Catholic Faith, which may be why Nagasaki, the center of Japanese Catholicism, was targetted. (More Catholics were killed on August 9th, 1945 than in four centuries of brutal persecution.)

    General Tomoyuki Yamashita was executed for the atrocities committed in the Battle of Manila (the “one case [in which] the event took place on American soil” mentioned in the post), despite the fact that said atrocities were committed by troops who had disobeyed his order to withdraw from the city to avoid civilian casualties.

Does the Devil Exist?

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

Does the devil exist? — That’s the question posed by Fr. N. Schwizer (Vivicat, August 3, 2010):

In the Gospel, we often hear of Jesus expelling demons. Perhaps this fact seems somewhat strange to us because being possessed by a demon seems to us as something exclusive to those times. However, it also happens today even though it may be less frequent.

But the ultimate question for mankind today is…..does the devil exist as a person or not? As it is, modern man and inclusively the modern Christian man hardly even believes in the devil. The devil has been able to succeed today with his best maneuver: to put his existence in doubt. [more]

Christ expelling the devil

To illustrate the point, Fr. Richard McBrien (National Catholic Reporter) mocks a certain Bishop Thomas Paprocki for announcing a special Conference on the Liturgical and Pastoral Practice of Exorcism, to be held in Baltimore in early November, just before the bishops’ semiannual meeting.

That the conference would focus on “not only the theological and scriptural foundations of the rite of exorcism” but “the necessary, practical insights into the many liturgical, canonical and pastoral issues associated with exorcisms and the church’s battle against the demonic presence in the world” is, to McBrien, a subject of ridicule:

The priest who sent me a copy of this letter wrote across the top, in capital letters, “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? IN 2010.”

His question was rhetorical, of course.

Paprocki was recently appointed Bishop of Springfield, IL by Pope Benedict XVI, who has been known to take the existence of the devil — and exorcism — rather seriously himself.

Continue reading...

8 Responses to Does the Devil Exist?

  • I just just had a conversation about this the other day with a friend – she is of the opinion (I used to hold this view) that all “demonic” possession is simply mental illness and I pointed out that some folk exhibited no mental illness before their possession or after their exorcism and that scores of witnesses have testified to the supernatural events that take place during the rite…and that even rabbis at times have had to call upon Catholic priests to help their afflicted members throw off the demon…and frankly to not believe there is a devil is to deny the experience of Christ with Satan in the desert…I”ll take Christ’s word on this issue..

  • Of course the devil exists. He’s probably on the 9th Circuit.

  • Was there supposed to be a link to information about the conference? Because it’s not working when I click on it, it just sends me back to this article here.

    I cannot think of a better endorsement of my new bishop than to discover that Richard McBrien doesn’t like him! 🙂

  • Yes, she does; I used to date her.

  • j. christian, that was awesome!

  • Wow! Thank you for the link! I really appreciate it!

    -Theo

  • Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

  • Yup, the Devil exists! It is the politicians like Palin and Obama and their type!

5 Responses to Did Jesus Have the Right to Life at the Moment of Conception?

Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

Thursday, July 29, AD 2010

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

And with that announcement, Anne Rice publicly renounced her identity as a Christian on Facebook.

I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?

  • The “Anne Rice”‘s of the world — who recognize their open disagreement with traditional [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, and agree that they can no longer identify themselves as such because the moral positions they hold are fundamentally incompatible?
  • The “Nancy Pelosi”‘s of the world, who publicly repudiate various traditional moral positions of [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, yet simultaneously proclaim themselves “practicing Catholics” (up and including the reception of the Eucharist), and yet relegate their disagreements as “differences of opinion”?
Continue reading...

39 Responses to Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

  • Anne Rice hands down.

    She may not know a lot about Catholicism, she is at least honest in her beliefs.

    Madame Speaker on the other hand knows her faith very well and purposely and consciously goes against the teachings of God.

  • Wow. I know the sexual abuse scandal really bothered her but didn’t expect this.

    I think I would probably still prefer an Andrew Sullivan Catholic than the new Anne Rice though. Her lost of faith in the leadership combined with all the time she spends online being both urged by Maureen Dowd Catholics and attacked by Catholic Answers Catholics may have pushed her over the edge.

  • I don’t think that anyone ever accused Nancy Pelosi of being able to write, either.

  • “may have pushed her over the edge.”

    I think this loon has been over the edge for a long, long time.

    http://www.boundlessline.org/2007/08/anne-rices-mean.html

  • Liberal political commitments are more popular and easier to understand than orthodoxy.

    Interesting, though, it sounds like she still thinks of herself as a disciple of Christ? “In the name of…”

  • “…Obama, peace be upon him.”

  • “I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?”

    Ann Rice.

  • I like how you phrased the post so as to minimize negative comments about Ms. Rice, Chris. It highlights that she is – and has been – honest and upfront about her differences with traditional Christianity. The tone of her post suggests frustration and anger; it’s not clear exactly what the source for these are (and what is ‘anti-life’ about Christianity?), but whatever her difficulties are, it would be best to treat her with kindness and charity.

  • It is a complex question. As far as ecumenical efforts go, Pope Benedict has clearly stated that disagreements should be worked out within the context of communion. Ms. Rice’s list of grievances do not strike me as good reasons for leaving communion.

    As far as Nancy Pelosi goes, a lay person disagreeing with the bishops should not a public scandal make. She is a symptom of the larger catholic culture and not its cause. Does anyone doubt that if she resigned her House seat tomorrow that someone just as bad if not worse would take her place?

  • I find the post to be a little rambling. Ok, she likes gays, feminism, and birth control. Not surprising even if it is disappointing. But then she gets kinda weird.

    “Anti-Democrat?” I mean, some would argue but I think it’s weird she thinks Catholics must be Republicans (or can’t be Dems). I mean, many pro-lifers think that (with some good reason) but why she thinks that is odd.

    “Anti-secular humanism” I don’t know what that means; I’m not sure any religion accomodates pure secular humanism. What is she talking about?

    And finally, “anti-science?” How on earth is a Catholic anti-science? That one really confuses me.

    It makes me wonder whether she ever took the time to examine the beliefs she once claimed and are now rejecting. While I think she’s right to not claim Catholicism if she disagrees with it, I wonder what would have happened if she had actually challenged herself with the teachings of the Church.

  • It’s functionally impossible to be a Democrat if you’re pro-life. Besides, being a lib these days means believing in the pseudo-religion of government anyway. It necessarily crowds out other competing beliefs. Libs have made government into their new God.

  • I am praying this is a person that had a very bad day and like a lot of us hit the submit button too soon.

    I have a hard time thinking she will really leave her Christian faith.

  • I would expect that to the extent the tone of her tweet is angry, it’s because the process into and then out of organized Christianity has been difficult for her, and when we are dealing with difficult situations we often resort to anger as a way of reaching a decision — not unlike ending a relationship, where it becomes necessary to convince oneself that the other is bad.

    There are two ways of looking at such things, but I tend to lean towards thinking it’s more honest to renounce a religion if one seriously thinks it false on major issues, rather than claiming to know it better than it does itself.

  • We all know it already, but for the sake of the uninitiated who will probably find their way here to troll:

    * “I refuse to be anti-gay.”

    She refuses to defend the sanctity and true purpose of marriage and sexuality. She aligns herself with perversion.

    * “I refuse to be anti-feminist.”

    She refuses to accept that the political arguments for women’s equality, which have only ever been accepted and integrate en masse in Western Christian societies, do not automatically transpose themselves into a radicalized theology.

    * “I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.”

    Again, perversion over the true purpose of sexuality.

    * “I refuse to be anti-Democrat.”

    I can’t blame her on that one. The current make-up of the Democrat party means that only those of the most agile and subtle intelligence can reconcile their faith with allegiance to it.

    *”I refuse to be anti-secular humanism.”

    Then she had no business ever being a Catholic. It was because I refused to be a secular humanist that I could become a Catholic again.

    * “I refuse to be anti-science.”

    She refuses to read a history book or the Church’s modern interaction with the sciences and understand the complete bankruptcy of this claim.

    * “I refuse to be anti-life.”

    Secular humanism IS anti-life.

    * “In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

    No comment.

  • Yes, I changed what I said and removed the comments. I went too far, as I sometimes do, and I won’t try to rationalize it.

  • Wow, this is a real bummer because the book she wrote about her reversion to the faith, “Called Out of Darkness,” was a pretty good book and I found it kind of inspiring.

    She sounded genuine in it, and admitted she had difficulties with certain Church teachings but figured that faith was more a matter of trusting that the popes, saints, Doctors of the Church, etc. knew what they were doing, than a matter of having 100 percent perfect personal understanding and agreement with EVERY point of Church doctrine and morals.

    Now I thought that was a good way to look at it… to realize that faith does NOT mean you have to know exactly where every nut and bolt on the Barque of Peter is located, and understand how every single part operates, it means you get on the boat, and stay on it, once you have determined that it is seaworthy, will get you where you need to go (heaven) and the captain knows what he’s doing. (That’s my metaphor, not hers, just to be clear)

    Her comment about being “anti-gay” probably has more to do with the fact that her son (her only surviving child) is gay than with any conscious “alignment with perversion”.

    Also, I have a book of interviews with her that was published in the mid-1990s, not too long before she returned to the Church. In it she makes some interesting comments about how disillusioned she had become with leftist/feminist “orthodoxy” and how in many ways it was far more repressive and anti-human than even the old fashioned, pre-Vatican II Catholicism she had grown up with. So I don’t know that she’s all that big a fan of secular humanism either.

    I agree with John Henry that she needs charity and understanding more than condemnation at this point, and that we should give her credit for being honest about her convictions.

  • “There are two ways of looking at such things, but I tend to lean towards thinking it’s more honest to renounce a religion if one seriously thinks it false on major issues, rather than claiming to know it better than it does itself.”

    What is interesting is she is not just Catholicism but all Christianity

    She is not announcing she is joning the TEC or some other progressive Christian body where her views would be welcomed.

    So does she see well if Catholcism is wrong then all Christianity is wrong.

    Again I will keep her in my prayers. Something has set her off and people need to reach out to her.

    I think her reconversion was very genuine.

    Oh a side note I would say from what I can tell from the general Christian population and indeed the Catholic population they were respectful of her conversion. In fact I an think of several conservative traditional Catholic blogs right off the bat that were very gracious and Christian to her.

    Again she needs our prayers and I hope Catholics and Christians near her reach out to her

  • She had to choose between the ways of Christ and the ways of the world, and the world won. I pray that this is only one battle, and that she will come to understand that the teachings of the Church are born of love, not hate.

  • Pingback: The Anchoress | A First Things Blog
  • “I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?”

    Whichever will throw herself on the mercy of God on her deathbed.

    Honesty is merely a natural virtue, yes? Should we really prefer the honest apostate to the liar who has faith?

    Pelosi could be piously following the teachings of some dissenting priest or religious sister she encountered in her formative years and mistook for Catholic orthodoxy.

    For her part, Rice has a gay son, so family loyalty is possibly trumping loyalty to her faith.

    Neither should be religious ed teachers, and like the rest of us both deserve correction through competent personal contact when necessary. But why prefer the “noble pagan” to the crooked Christian?

  • It’s not like she’s doing anything groundbreaking here. Lots of people decide that the ‘real Jesus’ just happens to agree with their own stances on .. pretty much everything. Amazing coincidence.

  • “Why prefer the ‘noble pagan’ to the crooked Christian?”

    Remember the parable Christ told of the two sons whose father asked them to work in his vineyard… one said “Yes, I’ll go,” but never did, while the other said “No” but later changed his mind and went. “Which one did what the father wanted?” Christ asked.

  • Should we really prefer the honest apostate to the liar who has faith?

    That does presuppose the liar has faith. The other possibility is the liar is simply a liar and has no faith. But since she is a liar, you never can tell (though it would seem to be rather odd that a simpleton like me can understand the big points of Catholic moral teaching, but the third in line for the Presidency of the US cannot – and my teachers were no better than hers).

    That parable is a bit confusing here. It seem neither is doing the work in the vineyard at this point. Here, one says yes (Pelosi?) but does nothing (in fact, goes out of her way to ruin the vineyard), and the other (Rice) says “no” and….does nothing?

    Anyway, Rice probably just needs time alone to think things out. Pelosi needs a road to Damascus whooping, a divine 2×4 upside the head.

  • The blame falls squarely on the catechists, us included. We’ve failed to persuade her that (a) our intentions are good, and (b) our doctrines are right.

    For example, the Church isn’t anti-gay. It puts forward a holy but tough alternative to the gay lifestyle. We need to demonstrate that we’re not “anti”. Aristotle said that the first step toward persuading someone is to convince him of your good character. There’s a lot of hope for Rice because she seems to strongly believe in Christ’s good character.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Anne’s decision to disassciate with organized Christianity. So much of the modern message has become anathema to the gospel, and the Church has historically demonstrated a reluctance to discipline itself in ways that reflect the true teachings of Jesus. Did Jesus bash gays as he traveled about in the company of men. Did he rant against making love except for the express purpose of procreation? Did Jesus tell us that women are somehow different and lesser in the eyes of God.

    Could Anne have rejected Catholicism but then wrapped herself in one of the “feel good” versions that preache the virtues of accumulated wealth and evangelical superiority?

    Must you belong to a Christian church, or start yet another dissatified sect, in order to identify and align yourself with the message of Jesus?

    Jesus did not charge us to go out and build an edifice, he didn’t lay out the design for the Vatican, and he never extolled us to jihad (Crusades). He never defended religious persecution (The Inquisition). He didn’t charge us to believe the Earth was the center and only relevant corner of creation (anti-science). And he never told us to place blind faith in religious leaders (Pharisees.papists and Swaggertites).

    Jesus told us to love one another. He told us to give to the poor and the needy. He told us to trust in His message and all would be revealed by the Spirit of God.

    I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

  • I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

    In the end the rejection of historical Christianity is a rejection of Christ. It is rather shallow and immature to think that your personal recreation of Christianity is ‘unfiltered by…a selfish or heretical agenda.’ At best you have replaced the selfish or heretical agendas of others with one of your own creation. Chesterton wrote that joining the Church freed him from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age; your comment is childish both in this sense and in the sense that only naivete could account for your uncritical self-confidence.

  • Pinky,
    I think you are too easy on her. I happen to know for a fact that folks have tried to catechise her and reason with her on Church issues, but she is exceedingly stubborn. In particular, when Sister McBride was excommunicated Rice went ballistic. When Church teaching was meticulously explicated re the intentional taking of an innocent human life she simply ignored all reasoning that disturbed her comfortable consequentialist views. And I do mean ignore. No engagement; no effort; just blind outrage. Did I say blind?

  • And tell us, Marc, how it is that you know of the “simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught”? Did He mystically appear to you in a dream and teach you these truths? Did a book containing these truths miraculously fall out of the sky and into your possession one day?

    The Bible didn’t just write itself. To the extent we know anything about Christ and the “simple uncomplicated truths” that He taught (and, in fact, some of Christ’s teachings are ANYTHING BUT “simple” or “uncomplicated” – see, e.g., divorce, remarriage, and adultery), it is because of the work of the Church. Some people may like to pick and choose which teachings of the Church they want to follow, but they should at least admit that that is what they are doing, and not pretend that they have some special insight into the “simple uncomplicated truths” of Christ apart from what the Church has taught for 2000 years.

  • I will pray that Anne Rice sees the error of her ways, along with those who agree with her. Earlier this year I wrote an article on this site entitled; “The Coming Open Rebellion Against God.” I believe this is another step in that direction. Anne’s ego, along with those who defend her, seems to suggest that they know better than the Church. How ridiculous, Jesus Himself said to the Apostles; He who Hears You Hears Me, He who Rejects You Rejects Me (Luke 10:16.)

    We fail to remember that even before Calvary many of Jesus’ followers left Him. It started with John 6 when most of His followers rejected Jesus after His disocourse (the longest in the Bible) on the Eucharist. Judas’ biggest sin was pride, thinking he knew better than everyone. We might recall that Judas got upset with Jesus when the pentient woman poured the expensive perfume over Him. Judas thinking because he hung around in the most well to do circles, he was naturally smarter than everyone. Sadly the sin of pride remains very alluring to many, especially today. Jesus gave us the Magesterium and popes (the Teaching Authority of the Church) which is unsettling those whose sin of pride tells them, they are so smart. I hope and pray that this sin is eradicated so the likes of Anne Rice and her defenders can truly see the wisdom of God and His ways.

  • I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

    Except that your declaration is manifestly untrue. As with every person I’ve seen issue encyclicals like yours, you haven’t abandoned organized religion, you’ve simply chosen to shrink it to a membership of one–yourself. You are simply the Pope of the Church of Marc Stephens, and you thunder with even more magisterial self-assurance than the Syllabus of Errors. Yours isn’t a declaration of liberation from organized religion–it’s a proclamation of your own infallibility.

  • Both are headed to the same place.

    Ms. Rice is, at least, open and candid; and not dangerous to our country and our way of life.

  • Her most recent post: ” My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than C…hristianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”

    and personally I think she has a point. Christ is more important than Christianity in terms of an organization. We should all strive to be followers of Christ more than adherents to a system.

  • Also, we’re not to judge either Anne Rice or Nancy Pelosi or anyone else. Faith or lack therof is between that person and God.

  • Mike, yeah, I probably am going too easy on her. It was a visceral reaction. Any time the question “who’s the worst Catholic” is asked, the answer is supposed to be “me”.

  • No, we have every right to condemn public attacks on the Church.

    We’re not to judge a person’s SOUL. Their ARGUMENTS should be laid to waste with all of the terrible judgment we can muster.

  • IMAO, most writers don’t understand religion enough to talk about it sensibly. They seem to reduce everything to words. So to many of them, leaving a religion is more like throwing away old clothes or deciding you’re sick and tired of the color red. Of course, those decisions can be over dramatized with the right words as well.

  • Ms. Rice’s diatribe angers me. She reaches an immense audience from her pulpit and the opinions of many people are formed by what she preaches. Many souls were edified and brought back to the Church through her beautifully-written books about Jesus. How is she going to make reparations to the sheep that she formerly nourished with her writings about Jesus? Has the Rosary she brandished in many photographs been relegated to a bureau drawer? Had she been faithful in reciting the Rosary, it would have been a shield against the corruption she spoke about Christianity, thereby diminishing not only the Church, but Our Lord Jesus. This isn’t just about Ms. Rice’s soul. I think her diatribe was evil and self-centered and has the potential to kill the very souls that she was attempting to save. It’s just despicable.

  • Agreed Moe. She deserves rebuke, not coddling.

  • “Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some a hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

    “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable…. And he said unto them, The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”

    It seemed apropos.

Civil Dialogue Between a Darwin Evolutionist and Natural Law Theorist

Monday, July 26, AD 2010

On Blogging Heads TV, Robert Wright discusses how we reason about the human good with Robert P. George of Princeton University, a leading scholar of modern natural law theory (with whom readers are no doubt familiar).

Subjects discussed:

  • Chapter 1: Natural law vs. utilitarianism (12:01)
  • Chapter 2: Why exactly is friendship good? (14:03)
  • Chapter 3: Euthanasia and human dignity (7:22)
  • Chapter 4: Natural law and conservativism (5:02)
  • Chapter 5: What can be done in the name of the greater good? (12:28)
  • Chapter 6: Just war theory (6:17)

Robert Wright is the author of The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, and The Evolution of God.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the Task Force on the Virtues of a Free Society of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His books include In Defense of Natural Law and Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis.

I’ve watched a few episodes of ‘BloggingHeads’ — video debates between leading bloggers/authors — but this was the first with Dr. George, who is very adept at getting right to the point and crystallizing the respective positions of each side. Likewise this may serve as a good introduction to viewers who aren’t generally accustomed to analyzing moral situations from a (Catholic) natural law perspective.

Continue reading...

Awkward.

Sunday, July 25, AD 2010

A lookalike of the Protestant Reformation leader John Knox will welcome Pope Benedict to Scotland. Mike Merrit reports for the Daily Record (UK) July 25, 2010:

The actor has been hired by the Catholic Church to play the leader of Scotland’s Protestant Reformation in a pageant of the country’s historical figures. …

Knox’s surprise inclusion by Catholic Church leaders follows accusations that this year’s 450th anniversary of the Reformation is being ignored by the Scottish Government.

The Reformation of 1560 revoked the Pope’s authority in Scotland and banned Catholic Mass. …

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “It is a sign of a healthy nation that diversity within the Christian community is something to be celebrated as opposed to a source of division and struggle.

“It is a gift to those of us of a Protestant persuasion that by including this figure, the Catholic Church is contributing to the celebrations of the Reformation.”

(Regular roundups of news relating to Pope Benedict’s September visit to the UK may be found here).

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Awkward.

  • Ah, John Knox. I agree with this passage on him from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    “As to Knox’s religion, it is sufficient to say, without questioning the sincerity of his convictions, that the reaction from the Catholicism of his youth seems to have landed him outside the pale of Christianity altogether. Permeated with the spirit of the Old Testament and with the gloomy austerity of the ancient prophets, he displays neither in his voluminous writings nor in the record of his public acts the slightest recognition of the teachings of the Gospel, or of the gentle, mild, and forgiving character of the Christian dispensation. Genial, amiable, and kind-hearted he may have been in private life, though it is difficult to see from what premises his panegyrists deduce his possession of those qualities; but the ferocity and unrestrained violence of his public utterances stand out, even in the rude and lawless age in which he lived, as surpassing almost everything recorded of his contemporaries, even those most closely in sympathy with his political and ecclesiastical views.”

  • God Bless the Highlanders who resisted him and his creed.

  • “It is a gift to those of us of a Protestant persuasion that by including this figure, the Catholic Church is contributing to the celebrations of the Reformation.”

    Isn’t ecumenism grand! 😉

  • My thoughts entirely Chris. 🙂

  • Gad – what a horrible person I must be, just looking at my “picture”.

    I am really much better looking than that – maybe a little older 😉

    Perhaps I should forward a photo……..?

Prayer at an Abortion Mill

Tuesday, July 20, AD 2010

Rockford, IL July 16, 2010 – Before the Northern Illinois Women’s Center opened on Friday morning to end the lives of children in the womb, four Catholic Priests firmly stationed themselves at all four corners around the abortion mill and began praying the powerful prayers of the Church found in Fr. Thomas Euteneuer’s book Exorcism and the Church Militant.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12

Almost immediately upon the Priests’ beginning their prayers in unison, the landlord of the abortion business came out of the building like a shot.

He wandered back and forth around the parking lot. Then he roamed the sidewalks, calling the Priests and pro-lifers names.

It certainly seemed that while the Priests were surrounding the abortion mill with prayer, the landlord, who is well-known for his dislike of the Christian religion and Catholic Priests, could not stand to be inside the building….[Read the rest!]

Prayer for the Closing of an Abortion Mill
Priests for Life

Continue reading...

One Response to Prayer at an Abortion Mill

  • OH! MON DIEU! Merci! Merci! Chèrs prêtres! J’ai vu les souffrances de ces tous petits! J’ai reconnu mon péché de la luxure qui mène vers la mort! Au Canada, on a interdit la peine de mort pour les meurtriers de peur de faire péri injustement un innoncent!Mais combien plus inoccents sont ces tous petits!

Happy Independence Day! (A Roundup)

Sunday, July 4, AD 2010

Happy Independence Day, folks! — Here is a roundup of some choice reads as we commemorate the birth of our nation:

Following are two books which I heartily recommend for some engaging historical reading of the American Revolution and our founding fathers.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Happy Independence Day! (A Roundup)

The Disgrace of Cardinal Danneels and the Belgian Catholic Church

Sunday, June 27, AD 2010

This past week, Belgian police raided the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Belgian, as well as the home and office of recently retired Archbishop Godfried Danneels, during an investigation into the sexual abuse of children.

Rorate Caeli provides the full text of Pope Benedict’s letter to Abp. André Joseph Léonard, Archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels and President of the Belgian Episcopal Conference, responding to the unfortunate series of events:

I wish to express to you, dear Brother in the Episcopate, as well as to all Bishops of Belgium, my closeness and my solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out in Mechlin Cathedral and in places where the Belgian Episcopate were assembled in plenary session. During that meeting, aspects related to the abuse of minors by members of the clergy were to have been treated, among other things. I have myself repeated numerous times that these grave facts should be treated by the civil order and by the canonical order in reciprocal respect for the specificity and autonomy of each one. In this sense, I wish that justice will follow its course, ensuring the rights of persons and institutions, in respect for victims, with the recognition, without prejudices, of those who wish to collaborate with it and with the refusal of everything that could darken the noble duties that are ascribed to it.

As Rorate Caeli notes, there is a “one-sideness” and “tone-deafness” to the papal remarks. The impression is exacerbated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone,

Continue reading...

21 Responses to The Disgrace of Cardinal Danneels and the Belgian Catholic Church

  • And there are still many people that “pooh-pooh” pointing out the wrongs of our bishops.

    Well I’m glad I never listen to their crocodile crying.

  • “Those expressing frustration over the impertinence of the Belgian police’s raid…” include the pope!! This is truly horrifying to me.

  • This is the particularly disturbing in light of Danneels having been considered papabile in some circles. We certainly have the Holy Spirit to thank that we don’t have someone so obviously tainted at the healm at this time.

    On the Vatican response — their press office is pretty notoriously amateur. I wonder if they responded to the accounts in the populat press on the first day without actually having looked into the details first.

  • So these sorts of statements released with the pope’s “signature” are routinely not written by the pope himself?

  • I reread the entire article over at The Brussels Journal.

    Cardinal Danneels disgusts me almost as much as Weakland did.

    Cardinal Danneels should be handcuffed and taken into custody until a trial date is set for his cover-up of the sickness inside the Belgian Catholic Church.

  • This looks like an absolutely horrible mess, far worse than the scandala in Ireland and the US. I can understand how a kid who went through this grows up with an implacable hatred of the Catholic Church. It appears that Cdl Danneels and his band of brothers were allowed to get away with it for so long precisely because they were part of the liberal establishment. All too often these prelates, instead exercising close pastoral care and supervision of the spiritual life of Catholics, spend their time holding forth on matters of peripheral concern such as Israel and immigration. I suppose this is the preferred way to ease their conscience. Cdl Danneels is famous for allowing Muslims free rein on Catholic property.

  • Cardinal Danneels used his standing as the prelate of Belgium to push for his most extreme liberal causes at the expense of the souls he was suppose to shepherd.

    This should be a warning to Cardinal George, O’Malley, and the rest of the liberal cabal at the USCCB that they need to heed the spiritual needs of their flock instead of pushing the Democratic Party agenda and warming up to Teddy, Nancy, and John Kerry.

    This disgusts me to no end.

  • This is a pissing contest between the Belgian liberals and the conservatives. Obviously this was part of a sex education program instituted by Daneels to be au currant with other European nations. If yoyu’ve not seen some of the things that is being taught to 13 year olds in ‘secular’ education, it would make you wretch. However I noticed that this article omits the last paragraph from the Journals article which expressed the responses from other Cardinal prelates around the Globe on such a course.

    “I received letters of support from cardinals from all parts of the globe. “I share your concern. It is important that you do not leave the matter uncontested,” wrote Cardinal Meisner of Cologne; “You have good reasons to be concerned,” wrote Cardinal Wamala of Uganda; “I feel strongly enough to write to Cardinal Danneels in the hope that he may enlighten me,” wrote Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines; “If I have the opportunity to discuss with Cardinal Danneels the matter you have drawn to my attention, I will do so,” wrote Cardinal Williams of New Zealand; “I shall try to do something in order to help you,” wrote Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo; “I am aware that your concerns have been brought to the attention of Cardinal Laghi, Prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education,” wrote Cardinal O’Connor of New York.”

    None of this mitigates due process or even begins to construe a legal linkage between the abuse cases and sex education courses. If so, American courts will be extremely busy in the future.

  • Robert C.,

    I read the same article and my question is, did those bishops and cardinals follow up those letters of support by contacting Cardinal Danneels and investigating these allegations.

    Regardless, if this is true, Cardinal Danneels should be scrutinized with a thorough investigation of his memoirs.

  • Danneels is clearly much at fault here, and I would imagine that at the very least he’ll end up like Law.

    At the same time, as I think about it, the search of the crypt remains a pretty over-the-top act. I mean, seriously: outside of a Dan Brown novel who is going to be hiding incriminating documents in the crypt of a dead bishop? If you want to get rid of incriminating documents, the obvious thing would be to get rid of them not bury them in a place which would result in the maximum possible scandal if they were found there. (If the shredder is un-handy, I believe that a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the leopard” is traditional.)

    While having no interest in cushioning Danneels’ long overdue fall from grace, it seems fairly reasonable of Rome to be upset over the crypt opening — even if it was only drilling a couple holes and peeking around with a camera.

  • Raiding the tombs is absolutely over the top.

    As one Vatican observer said, not even during the communist era did such acts occur.

  • Exactly correct, Darwin.

    I do think people need to support a proper investigation if there are justified reasons for it; on the other hand, I do not think that allows extreme police-state like tactics.

  • “not even during the communist era…”

    Wrong.

    Much worse happened in the communist era, and continues to happen under communism today, but the Vatican ignores it.

    Churches and shrines are routinely bulldozed in communist China and in Vietnam. Tombs mean nothing to them.

    Why does the Vatican ignore the millions of Catholics put to death by communism?

  • Come now, is the entire clergy abuse scandal really the fault of “liberal” bishops? Worldwide? Seems to me there has been plenty of scandal to go around.

    Certainly, the protectors of perps like Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado were not hardly the liberation theology types, including the past Bishop of Rome.

    The problem is an old-boy network of fraternal pandering and protection, not unlike what was often seen in groups like Freemasonry and the Mafia.

  • RSG,

    including the past Bishop of Rome.

    Yes, anti-Catholic bigots are a dime a dozen.

    Thanks for that bit of nawlidge.

  • The paedophile clerics and their friends in the Belgian Church hawe sown the wind, now their reap the storm, their reward. I hope the police will investigate them carefully in minute details and jail them with harsh sentences.
    Their fellows in the US will take their turn soon.
    I am sorry for the Pope and for Card. Bertone.
    The Pope may err in that issue: The pontifical infallibility doesn’t stretch up to protect these criminals, even if our Holy Father haas but a few responsibility in the laissez-faire which was the policy of his predecessors.
    There is an URGENT need to sweep and clean vigorously the Temple of God. The door is wide open to push these evil men out.

  • Fr. Marciel was pathological. He used the Church and his alleged orthodoxy as cover for his pathology but never sought to change the Church into his sad image. Clerics who promoted catechisms like those noted in the links were trying to change the Church to advance their pathologies. Quite a difference.

  • The church will fight the homosexual paederasty that has pushed its liberal agenda for too long under a false interpretation of Vatican II. The liberal mafia must be identified and cast out from wherever it has infested the Church.

    This is battle royal.

    Support the Holy Father.

    The church is fully aware of the persecution and murder of Catholics around the World. See ACT (Action for the Church in Need)

  • The Patriarch of the West, The Pope is infallable on faith & morals but on issues like homosexual pedophila John 23, Paul 6 & John Paul 2 will have a lot to answer for in that horrible day they face G-D. Under their regimes liberal-socialist theology and a cabal of homosexual priests, lesbian nuns, and queer monks were given free reign and grew worldwide. The denigration of the 16oo yr old divine liturgy (Mass) liberation theology perverted seminaries since the ambiguous pastoral council called vatican 2 was the crack in the wall liberal socialists had been looking for, for the last 100 years. They found it in john 23rd aggoriomento. Even the socialist pope Paul 6th finally admitted the stench of satan had entered the church,(with the help of the above hierarchs).It is up to this good and holy Pope Benedict 16th to mop up the mess of these previous Popes.

  • Millions voted by walking out of the Catholic church in the years since Vatican 2 (rightly or wrongly). What was Holy & Sacred prior to this council suddenly became profane & illegal and anyone who dared to attend the ancient liturgy or question a liberal parish priest were ridiculed and shunned as fanatics. When in fact the real fanatics were the socialist, liberals aka “usefull” idiots liberal periti and “theologists” like Kung, hierarchs like weakland, mahoney,Brown,Gumbleton,Daneel, law & suenan not to mention the author of the venacular service called the novus ordo missae the freemason Archbishop annabal bugnini.

  • In a parting thought I will predict, since I’m NO prophet that the so-called Liberal branch (infestation) in the Catholic church will go the way of the Anglican schismatics, the american & Canadian episcopals and the heretical church of Horny Henry 8th, the so-called church of England.

One Response to Lament of the Three Marys

Israel Confronts the Freedom Flotilla

Wednesday, June 2, AD 2010
NOTE: This roundup will be continuously updated with further information

This past Memorial Day weekend, “Israel boarded a Gaza-bound ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and killed an indeterminate number of innocent bystanders as they attempted to take control international waters.”

Well, at least that’s the take of Henry Karlson of Vox Nova — who appears to be taking his talking points from Egyptian passenger Hazem Farouq:

“It was hell on the sea. I saw Israeli soldiers killing activists in cold blood and then walking on their bodies … The Israeli soldiers sprayed bullets as if they were a mafia in an American film.”

Unfortunately, as with such accounts of Israel’s actions, the facts tend to get in the way. Let’s examine the various claims of this Catholic blog regarding what happened this weekend …

Continue reading...

74 Responses to Israel Confronts the Freedom Flotilla

  • Great Post! It is very informative. Over at Vox Nova, the moderators and some of their commenters woudn’t want to let the facts get in the way of their anti-Israeli sentiment.

    Over at Vox Nova they even like to think that a Cardinal from the Vatican when speaking out on political matters that have to do with the Middle East is speaking for the whole Church. Vox Nova lets their liberalism supercede their Catholic faith and they consistently show how they like to circumvent and tinker with 2000 years of Church Tradition.

  • Christopher,

    If you aren’t careful, you ae going to be persona non grata at Vox Nova like me. The Thought Police there amost never let my comments through anymore, no matter how toned down they are.

  • The Israelis were rather reckless with the lives of their commandos. I saw the clip, it was like landing on a lynch mob.

  • “The Israelis were rather reckless with the lives of their commandos. I saw the clip, it was like landing on a lynch mob.”

    I think the Israelis were extremely careless and gullible — according to a quote that’s circulating, attributed to a “Free Gaza” spokesperson:

    We were not going to pose any violent resistance. The only resistance that there might be would be passive resistance such as physically blocking the steering room, or blocking the engine room downstairs, so that they couldn’t get taken over. But that was just symbolic resistance.

    They fell for it.

  • Well I don’t think they fell for it, it looks like a major snafu with 20 year olds, ordered to hold the line with minimal violence being unable to do so.

  • Let me attempt a more objective recitation of the facts.

    Tantamount to Piracy?

    Israel’s action was illegal. Even if we grant that Israel is at war with Gaza, a blockade cannot extend into international waters.

    A disproportionate or justified use of armed force?

    Israel’s explanation here is plausible at the very least. I think the video evidence is pretty damning.

    Humanitarians and “Peace activists”

    IHH is an extremist organization. Turkey banned the organization from providing humanitarian assistance after the 1999 earthquake.

    Against the Distribution of Humanitarian Aid?

    Israel does not allow adequate aid through. This is a fact that even the Obama Administration acknowledges. Maybe we can get international monitoring of aid.

    In sum

    Hamas is not “wholly committed to the eradication of Israel.” They regard as an acceptable agreement the 1967 borders, right of return, and the capital at Jerusalem. Beyond that, Hamas says it will respect the will of the Palestinian people if they wish to stop there or demand more. True, Hamas may not stop there but at the very least they aren’t “wholly committed” to further action.

  • Forgive me, I was assuming such based on Hamas’ own charter:

    Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”

    The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine…

    Initiatives, and so­called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.

    There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

    Of course they might have distanced themselves from the letter and spirit of their founding statement — but I remain skeptical.

  • Yes, they have distanced themselves from the charter.

  • Christopher,

    Well done. What you keep saying is “Israel says it was good, therefore it must be.” I mean, you start with:

    For what it’s worth, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides a page explaining….

    Iran can explain the legality of their nuclear program… would you accept their claims?

    So, let’s see what others have to say on the legality: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/01/AR2010060102934.html

    Now in this situation, Israel has already been caught lying, several times, about what happened. People who watched it live saw Israeli fire which came upon the ships even before they boarded the ship. This is also what those who were released have said:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/01/gaza-flotilla-eyewitness-accounts-gunfire

    Do you think that might have made the people aboard the ship jumpy and willing to react self-defense when someone boarded the ship?

    Here is former US Ambassador Edward Peck’s account:

    http://beforeitsnews.com/news/71/741/Former_Freedom_Flotilla_US_Ambassador_Held_by_the_Israelis_Speaks_Out.html

    Israel gave warnings, and told people to stop
    Yeah, so? I am sure many a thug says “I told them to give me the money. They didn’t. It’s their fault.”

    The soldiers were not well armed
    FALSE. Again, I love how Christopher first of all accepts ALL that Israel has to say of the matter without question. This is how Israel keeps lying to the world. Now if one looks to the matter, one can begin to see Israel has been caught already lying about the situation: http://www.politicaltheatrics.net/2010/06/the-gaza-flotilla-how-israel%E2%80%99s-ministry-of-foreign-affairs-fakes-photos-of-seized-weapons/

    And this is what the ambassador said about the paintball guns, which shows how much of a joke it is:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/2/israels_explanation_for_deadly_gaza_aid

    In our little boat, a couple of them had paint guns attached to their submachine guns, along with stun grenades and the pepper spray and the handcuffs and the pistols, you know. So this is sort of a twisting reality, which of course I understand why they’re trying to do it. I’ve been a diplomat. But it’s laughable..

    Paintguns don’t kill; the soldiers were armed with more than paintguns.

    And I love how Christopher completely and utterly ignores the disaster on the ground in Gaza. MM discusses this well:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/01/israel-vs-the-freedom-flotilla/#comment-45805
    —-

    And Christopher, btw, I wrote the original article. I wonder what that says about the rest of your points.

  • http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jyuAfrswzcOz1plxmxQSsxZEhinA

    Pope saddened by flotilla raid violence

    (AFP) – 21 hours ago

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said violence during an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying aid left him with “a heavy heart.”

    “Violence does not solve disputes, but increases their tragic consequences and generates more violence,” the Pope said at the end of his Wednesday audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, according to Vatican Radio.

    “With great trepidation I followed the tragic events that occurred near the Gaza Strip. I feel the need to express my heartfelt condolences for the victims of these painful events, which worry those who care about peace in the region,” he said.

    Israeli commandos boarded the aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip in a pre-dawn raid on Monday that left at least nine passengers dead and sparked global outrage.

    The Israeli military accused activists aboard the ship of provoking the bloodshed by attacking its soldiers as they boarded.

    “I appeal to those who have political responsibilities, locally and internationally, to relentlessly seek just solutions through dialogue, to ensure the people of the best living conditions, harmony and serenity,” the pope said.

    A Vatican document leaked Tuesday called the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories a “political injustice,” Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.

    The occupation is a “political injustice imposed on the Palestinians,” said the Instrumentum Laboris, a working document on an upcoming synod of bishops on the Middle East, embargoed for release until Sunday, when Pope Benedict is to present it during a visit to Cyprus.

    The Vatican has said the raid “will not influence” the pope’s trip to Cyprus, from which the flotilla set off.

  • http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/gaza-flotilla-drives-israel-into-a-sea-of-stupidity-1.292959

    From Gideon Levy:

    The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs its hopeless frenzy. It has distributed menus from Gaza restaurants, along with false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle, which it might have been better off never starting. They want to maintain the ineffective, illegal and unethical siege on Gaza and not let the “peace flotilla” dock off the Gaza coast? There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy the web of explanations, lies and tactics.

    Only in Israel do people still accept these tainted goods. Reminiscent of a pre-battle ritual from ancient times, the chorus cheered without asking questions. White uniformed soldiers got ready in our name. Spokesmen delivered their deceptive explanations in our name. The grotesque scene is at our expense. And virtually none of us have disturbed the performance.

    The chorus has been singing songs of falsehood and lies. We are all in the chorus saying there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We are all part of the chorus claiming the occupation of Gaza has ended, and that the flotilla is a violent attack on Israeli sovereignty – the cement is for building bunkers and the convoy is being funded by the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood. The Israeli siege of Gaza will topple Hamas and free Gilad Shalit. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy, one of the most ridiculous of the propagandists, outdid himself when he unblinkingly proclaimed that the aid convoy headed toward Gaza was a violation of international law. Right. Exactly.

    It’s not the siege that is illegal, but rather the flotilla. It wasn’t enough to distribute menus from Gaza restaurants through the Prime Minister’s Office, (including the highly recommended beef Stroganoff and cream of spinach soup ) and flaunt the quantities of fuel that the Israeli army spokesman says Israel is shipping in. The propaganda operation has tried to sell us and the world the idea that the occupation of Gaza is over, but in any case, Israel has legal authority to bar humanitarian aid. All one pack of lies.

    Read the rest on the link.

  • Yes, they have distanced themselves from the charter.

    Isn’t that cute?

  • Christopher, here you go again, taking a subject of blog rants and turning it into a suject of research, careful study and dispassionate analysis. When will you learn that blogs are for shoot-from-the-hip commentary, no reflection and emotional diatribes? 🙂

  • “Yes, they have distanced themselves from the charter.”

    I assume that was a comedic statement restrainedradical? Any one who does not think that Hamas remains entirely dedicated to the destruction of Israel simply has not been paying attention to Hamas.

  • Straight from the mouth of Khaled Meshaal just last week:
    “Hamas accepts a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with its capital Jerusalem and with the right of return. This stand by Hamas is announced, practiced, and it signed an agreement with Fatah, which is the national compact document. So, the whole world should deal with Hamas, with what it practices, its political stance that it declared, and not on the charter that was put 20 years ago.”

  • Completely meaningless restrainedradical. Everyone on the ground in the Middle East knows that Hamas will never give up its war against Israel, including Palestinian President Abbas.

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/International/2010/05/06/Abbas-decries-Hamas-weapons-smuggling/UPI-26911273179949/

  • I think you posted the wrong link, Don. That article says nothing about Abbas believing that Hamas will never give up its war against Israel. Even if Abbas did say that (which he didn’t), it should be taken with a grain of salt considering they’re political rivals. And how does “everyone on the ground in the Middle East” know Hamas’ intentions? You just made that up.

    I take “wholly committed” to include verbal commitments. Instead, we have the opposite. Even if Hamas wants to eradicate Israel, it’s clear they aren’t “wholly committed.”

  • Don’t be deliberately dense restrainedradical. Abbas knows why Hamas is smuggling arms into the West Bank and stockpiling them and it isn’t as a sign of their peaceful intentions towards Israel.

  • Oh and the quote you have from Meshaal is from an interview with Charlie Rose. Here is what he said later on in the interview:

    CHARLIE ROSE: But just within the territories of the `67 boundaries?

    KHALED MESHAAL: In other words —

    CHARLIE ROSE: This is an important point.

    KHALED MESHAAL: Don`t request the Palestinian people to have a certain stance from Israel while living under the Israeli occupation. Give the Palestinian people the opportunity to live in a normal situation in a Palestinian state, and then the Palestinian people with complete freedom will decide.

    http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100023528&docId=l:1197225133&isRss=true

    This by the way is an old tactic of Hamas. They make moderate noises to foreign language sources in hopes of convincing gullible foreigners of their moderation. In Arab language sources they are much more forthcoming as to their ultimate plans for Israel, which have not changed one whit.

  • The best evidence of what people intend to do is their abiding habits, dispositions, and patterns of response. You would not, on reviewing the history of the last 60 years, expect constructive collective action from the populations in question. That aside, the last episode of trading something palpable for promises ended badly.

  • Henry,

    I’m unclear what you’ve added here other than the obvious, “Oh yeah, well anti-Israel activists say otherwise.”

    Yes, if you believe everything that Hamas and other Gaza activists say, then Israel was universally the bad guy in this. If you believe everything that the Israeli government says, then they had very little fault in this. Clearly the truth lies somewhere in between — at least to those not wholly wedded to one viewpoint or the other.

    I think the best move for Israel would be to drop the blockade — both for their reputation and for the good of the population. But those taking the Palestinian side so wholeheartedly in this need to admit the truth of the situation: One of the main imports that Hamas will bring in will be weapons, which they will use against Israel. Which will bring the next outright military conflict between Israel and Gaza that much closer. Hamas and their fellow activists have pulled off some nice theatre through this whole series of events, but anyone who imagines that their primary aim is anything other than to be able to get heavy weapons shipments under cover of “aid” is being terribly gullible.

    And I think Israel is being quite forthright in their motives for the blockade: they want to keep out weapons, and they want to make things miserable enough in Gaza that the population will throw Hamas out of power and elect a better government. This strategy is totally backfiring, however, and so they should drop it and realize that war will be that much sooner.

    It’s a lousy region…

  • DC

    1) Evidence exists that Israel is making things up and lying about the events.
    2) People who watched it live, and officials for many nations, and reporters from many nations, have said Israel’s claims of the events are false.
    3) Israel is saying “We don’t want external reviewers, just believe us.” If they are the one suspect, then they need an external reviewer. Why are they saying no external review? It’s like a police officer accused of murder saying, “I didn’t do it. I will review my actions and report to you what I find out.” Come on.

  • To whoever wrote this jaded neocon propaganda – I did not write what you claim I have written. Please correct, thanks.

  • This post argues: “I believe Israel has the right to protect its citizens from harm by way of a blockade of assistance to Gaza.” It then goes on to shocking talk about how Israel is really doing nothing wrong to the inhabitants. I guess the following is all OK:

    – 80 percent of Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid.
    – Massive spike in poverty and unemployment. UN: 60 per cent of households are “food insecure”.
    – Over 90 per cent of Gaza’s factories shut or operate at less than 10 per cent of capacity.
    – Exports reduced to almost zero.
    – Severe restrictions on fishing activity.
    – Only half the weekly fuel needed for Gaza’s only power plant let in, and less than half of needed monthly gas supply. Widespread electricity shortages.
    – Humanitarian aid at whim of Israelis. WHO trucks repeatedly turned away.
    – Almost no movement of people. Familes ripped apart. West Bank students and seminarians trapped.
    – Medical emergencies that cannot be dealt with in Gaza require a permit to leave, which is often delayed or denied. Some deaths resulted.
    – Banned list includes basic goods, including food.
    – Banned list designed in part to protect the profit margins of Israeli producers.
    – Widespread shortages, including of basic goods like soap, school materials and clean drinking water.

    What I find absolutely shocking is the continued dominance of the pagan neocon mentality among the Catholic right. They will support the instrinic evil of collective punishment of a civilian population for consequentialist reasons. They will support the immiseration of 1.5 million children of God to make a point. And they paint Hamas as the devil, while giving a free pass to those in the Israeli government (such as foreign minister Avigdor Liberman) who have made statements just as inflammatory as any Hamas official.

  • 1.5 million children…consequentialist reasons…why does that seem so familiar?

    Oh yeah, something to do with voting for Obama being OK.

    Not that I think Israel did the right thing in this case, but it’s rather ironic condemning consequentialist thinking on this issue, yet being rather blind to it in other situations.

  • Assuming Israel had the right to enforce the blockade in international waters (a questionable assumption at best), why didn’t they disable the ship as someone else suggested?

  • And they paint Hamas as the devil, while giving a free pass to those in the Israeli government (such as foreign minister Avigdor Liberman) who have made statements just as inflammatory as any Hamas official.

    I’d be interested to hear the Israeli official who said something akin to this:

    Allah will also dignify the whole Islamic Nation. Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him said: “You will keep on fighting with the Jews until the fight reaches the east of Jordan River. Then the stones and trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, of (servant) slaves of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.”

  • what other consequentalist reasoning do you refer to, cmatt?

    Let me go a little further – any person who supports this blockade cannot be described as pro-life.

  • What I find absolutely shocking is the continued dominance of the pagan neocon mentality among the Catholic right. They will support the instrinic evil of collective punishment of a civilian population for consequentialist reasons. They will support the immiseration of 1.5 million children of God to make a point.

    No, MM, those who support the blockage (and several of us have said we don’t) don’t support it “to make a point”, they support it because they believe that it’s necessary in order to keep weapons out of the hands of Hamas and to try to put pressure on the Hamas government in order to topple it and achieve a more reasonable government there.

    I don’t think the blockade is being successful in the latter, and I don’t think it’s worth the former, but I can hardly see how someone of your political commitments is in a position to cast stones on this one.

  • I would like to highlight this paragraph from the Yaacov Lozowick post, as I think it makes an important point that otherwise risks getting lost in the scuffle:

    We all know that the threat from Hezbollah is greater than from Hamas, yet we don’t blockade Lebanon. The price would be too high, so we grimly prepare for the next war in the hope that being prepared well enough will postpone it for a while, and in the meantime it’s not an international detriment; on the contrary, perhaps we gain a measure of goodwill that we’ll cash in on eventually. So why blockade Gaza? Is the blockade essential? Six months from now, or six years, we’ll lift it, and Gaza will still be full of people who fervently wish for our destruction, just like in Lebanon: nu? At that point the defunct blockade will no longer be essential?

  • Mornining’s Minion,
    So, you would be okay with Hamas “owning” and controlling Israel and Palestine and doing whatever else they wanted — like fundng all sorts of terrorist activities — as long as there was food and water?

    You must like having the Devil in charge of the common good?

  • “Let me go a little further – any person who supports this blockade cannot be described as pro-life.”

    Coming from a fellow who proudly voted for Obama, the most pro-abort president in our nation’s history, I find that statement both pathetic and laughable.

  • Let me go a little further – any person who supports this blockade cannot be described as pro-life.

    Let me one up you by saying anyone that continues to support a pro-abort President, while also excusing the actions of Palestinian terrorists and subtly yawning over the Holocaust, cannot be described as sane.

  • “on the contrary, perhaps we gain a measure of goodwill that we’ll cash in on eventually.”

    That statement is delusional BA. Any Israeli who thinks that Israel can cash in on “international good will” under virtually any circumstance is just not operating in this frame of reality.

  • Paul

    Your logic is, like usual, quite flawed. Supporting the blockade is supporting the evil itself, as would be supporting abortion. Supporting someone who is pro-blockade or someone who is pro-abortion is different from supporting the blockade or abortion.

  • That bit of Lozowick’s post struck me as well, BA, and I think that it is dead-on.

    Certainly, there are many in Europe and a smaller number in America with whom it is impossible for for Israel to gain any goodwill. But although that group can make a lot of noise in a combox, that does not mean that it is not important for a nation to act in the best way possible. And Israel’s continued support by countries such as the US is in part determined by it’s continuing to appear more sinned against than sinning, though people are willing to give Israel a fair amount of benefit of the doubt.

    Israel should lift the blockade — despite the full knowledge of the fact that Hamas is much more interested in bringing in weapons than food, and that those weapons will bring war with Hamas that much sooner.

  • You should read some statments from Avigdor Liberman, Paul. This is the foreign minister who used to belong to the terrorist Kach group (then again, many Israeli politicians used to be terrorists, didn’t they?). This is the man who repeatedly talks about the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Israel (by force), and the execution of Arab members of the Knesset. He once spoke of busing thousands of released Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea to drown them. He thinks that Putin in Chechnya is a role model for how Israel should deal with Palestine. And he suggested that the Americans had the right approach in Japan.

    This is the foreign minister of Israel. He was democratically elected and enjoys widespread support. So why the double standard?

    But I’m not done, Paul. You yourself link on your blog to one Robert Stacy McCain, and have quoted him with approval on occasion. Here is what this McCain had to say about Israel/ Palestine:

    “Swear to God, if they ever want a Gentile prime minister, my first order would be to deploy the IDF in a north-south line, facing east. My second order would be “forward march” and the order to halt would not be given until it was time for the troops to rinse their bayonets in the Jordan. After a brief rest halt, the order “about face” would be given, and the next halt would be at the Mediterranean coast.”

    Over and over again, I see the bloodlust of the American right being reflected by American Catholics. But I guess RS McCain and Avigdor Liberman are no “pro-abort” so that makes then OK.

  • Over and over again, I see the bloodlust of the American right being reflected by American Catholics.

    Exactly how have you seen American Catholics reflect this bloodlust? In your mind, does one have to either fully support the Palestinian cause and hate Israel, or else by default endorse genocide? Bit of dualism there…

  • Darwin – one needs to condemn violence, respect life, and defend human dignity. That’s all. Sounds simple, but it would be a big step.

  • “Over and over again, I see the bloodlust of the American right being reflected by American Catholics.”

    You give your whole hearted support to the most pro-abort President in our nation’s history, and are, to put your position in the best light possible, a “useful idiot” for blood drenched Jihadists. Once again, my reaction to this statement by you is that it is both pathetic and laughable.

  • one needs to condemn violence, respect life, and defend human dignity. That’s all. Sounds simple, but it would be a big step.

    Oh, indeed, it would be a big step. And if you seemed more interested in doing that consistently rather than taking a selective view of the world in order to reinforce your prejudices and paint your opponents in the worst possible light, I would have very little issue with you.

  • Sanctimony on stilts + blinkered ideology = MM

    Even when people here are criticizing Israel’s tactics (boarding) and strategy (blockade), you still cry “bloodlust.” Get a clue.

  • This is Christopher’s thread and I know he likes his threads to concentrate on debate over the topic and not get involved in personalities. Therefore I have place in moderation Morning’s Minion’s comments and the responses made to him, including my responses. Morning’s Minion is being placed in temporary moderation for a cooling off period. Christopher may appove the comments I have placed in moderation or delete them as he wishes. Everyone else, dial it down a few notches and concentrate on debating the topic of the thread. I include myself in that last admonition.

  • “one needs to condemn violence, respect life, and defend human dignity. That’s all. Sounds simple, but it would be a big step.”

    Have you ever condemned the violence being committed against Israel? Have you condemned other terrorist oragizations? You seem to be giving Hamas a pass because of their claims that they had humantarian aid. Have you ever heard of a rouse? Or plausible deniablility? Hamas could have planned the whole thing and had some items of humanitarian aid on hand for the sole purpose of plausible deniability? Why do you have faith that a known terrorist group is telling the truth?

    I guess condemning violence is great as long the violence doesn’t involve using metal pipes to attack Israelis armed with paintball guns.

    Okay, so as far as Karlson’s concerned supporting evil and supporting murder (abortion) is okay as long as it as least “once removed” from the direct source.

  • You are free to moderate as you wish, and I have no objection (unlike some here who complain about being moderated at Vox Nova!). But I would say that: (i) my responses, while admittedly taking on various people directly, have been focused on the core issue at hand; (ii) the tone has not been heated (certainly, I was not angry when writing, and am not angry now); (iii) I’m still awaiting a correction for false attribution in the post itself — thanks.

  • Don, I never said Hamas was peaceful, only that they’ve softened their position over the decades.

  • Okay, it seems that as far as Karlson’s concerned supporting evil and supporting murder (abortion) is okay as long as it is as least “once removed” from the direct source (voting for Obama, who is a pro-abortion president).

    If the blockade was not one of Israels primary forms of safety from Hamas’ violence then I am sure that Israel would stop the blockade. If Hamas would stop lobbing rockets and committing other acts of violence than it would seem logical and would think that Israel would then lift the blockade.

  • Teresa

    Do well NOT to lie about others. I do not support evil, nor support abortion — though Teresa, and her husband, have both supported abortion of Canaanite children (!!!). I did not vote for Obama. I am, however, making the point, which is a moral point, which is well within the domain of moral position — that a support of a person (the person) does not mean one supports all the evil they do. This is exactly what is shown to us by God, whose love for us, is a love for us as a person, and he supports us, continuing our existence, despite our sin. His support for us is not a support for sin. This is also true about the Church’s declaration of saints. Proclaiming St Mary of Egypt a saint does not make her prostitution any good. Teresa, in the whole, is following the way of the Pharisee, which is quite typical — they will demand great virtue of others, on a level which they don’t follow themselves. Indeed, she also confuses various forms of cooperation with evil. The Church has consistently said that we cannot support a politician because of an evil they support, but it has also said we can despite such evil they hold to.

  • I think we can support the existence of Israel also without supporting all they do.

  • Phillip

    Agreed. I indeed support the existence of Israel, I have said the place needs reformed.

  • Karlson,
    If you can read, then you’ll notice that I never said that you voted for Obama. Plus, Karlson believes in limited inerracy, where the Bible is concerned, which is not adhering to Church teachings. But, that shouldn’t surprise too many people here- the Vox Nova crew not adhering to Church teachings prior to Vatican II is a pretty “orthodox” thing for them.

  • If the blockade is immoral, then I would also agree with Darwin that Israel should be allowed to defend itself, even with just war, if and when Hamas uses weapons shipped to them to attack Israel.

  • Karlson,
    Are there any reforms that you would support for Hamas?
    What kind of reforms would you propose for Israel?

    Israel should end the blockade but it should be contingent on Hamas stopping their terrorist activities and denouncing their official charter. If Hamas has already distanced themselves from their charter then it wouldn’t be too much to expect that Hamas denounce their official charter publicly.

  • And they paint Hamas as the devil, while giving a free pass to those in the Israeli government (such as foreign minister Avigdor Liberman) who have made statements just as inflammatory as any Hamas official.

    Mr. Liberman does not object per se to an Arab state on the West Bank and Gaza (much less an Arab state anywhere else in the world) and has suggested that sections of the Galilee be included in any hypothetical territorial deal.

    This is the foreign minister who used to belong to the terrorist Kach group

    The KACH Movement was an electoral vehicle for the Jewish Defense League. KACH itself did not engage in any sort of direct action. He wasn’t a member for very long.

    (then again, many Israeli politicians used to be terrorists, didn’t they?).

    If you are referring to the Irgun, it was dissolved in 1948. So, unless it be your contention that Israel’s corps of working politicians is chock-a-block with octogenerians, no.

  • Art Deco,

    You are forgetting that service in the IDF = terrorism to this crowd. Never mind the fact that Hamas bombs Passover seders and then names a soccer tournament after the murderer… It’s the Israelis who are the “terrorists.”

  • The IDF shouldn’t be a problem since Israel has a right to exist and when legitimate means to deter aggression have failed, they can invade Gaza.

  • Teresa continues to misrepresent many factors, and indeed, many people from diverse positions on the net have seen the fundamentalism of Teresa when it comes to Scripture and have said she and those with her are in error. She has been shown to be ignorant of what the Church actually teaches, or, at other times, so say she doesn’t care what the Church says she is right, she will do as she wills! She has said as much – no Church will tell her what to do! Enough with that.

    Philip: should Gaza be able to defend itself?

  • Henry & Teresa,

    Whatever your history about Canaanites and scriptural interpretation and such is — it’s not the topic here and none of us know anything about it. Please take it elsewhere. The topic of this thread is not people’s past run-ins.

  • DarwinCatholic-Thank You for saying that because I didn’t bring up the topic to begin with. Karlson did. The only reason I responded was because I didn’t want to be rude by not responding and the fact that he continues to impune and slander me across the net is just plain unchristian.

    From now on I will stay on topic.

  • Against unjust aggression. Yes. But the whole point of the conversation is that Israel is trying to deter aggression. If the blockade is immoral, and if weapons are imported and used against Israel, then the IDF can most certainly and justly wage war.

  • Phillip

    On the other hand, all the people suffering in Gaza are also trying to deter the unjust aggression on them. The Vatican has spoken out against it many times.

  • On the other hand, all the people suffering in Gaza are also trying to deter the unjust aggression on them.

    To a point, yes. And in that sense, it’s okay.

    The most recent source of the problem is that when Israel withdrew from Gaza, having Gaza to themselves was not enough for Hamas — they started launching rockets across the border at Israel all the time. Which may have made them feel better about their wrongs for a while, but resulted in bringing the IDF back across the border after a while to stop them.

    These things are not as simple as you’d like to imagine.

  • [Morning’s Minion]: To whoever wrote this jaded neocon propaganda – I did not write what you claim I have written. Please correct, thanks.

    MM – oh, dear — my apologies. And here I was trying to be careful with direct citation from the post. I guess I expected Henry’s writing to be more “academically inclined” and mistook this pathetic rant for your own. My apologies!

    CORRECTION — the following statements are properly attributed to Henry Karlson, Vox Nova:

    “Israel boarded a Gaza-bound ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and killed an indeterminate number of innocent bystanders as they attempted to take control international waters.”

    Israel is claiming the massacre is justified because their soldiers were attacked. They fail to point out they were attacked when they were boarding a vessel they had no lawful authority to board, acting like pirates who think they control the seas.

    Probably those who attacked the soldiers were acting reflexively without thinking. Let alone the moral question, in all practicality, this was not the wisest thing to do, because the soldiers were heavily armed and could take control of the ship without difficulty.

    Here we see the situation involves not just Muslim nations, but many of the nations of the West, such as the United States. We also see that the retired Archbishop of Jerusalem is on board the ship, indicating the active role the Church has had in this humanitarian aid.

    Having just gotten home I’ll review today’s comments and respond accordingly. I would request that people try to stay on topic and address the specific content of the post.

  • Henry,

    Ditto what Darwin said. But I’m glad you agree with Darwin and I that, when Gaza starts using weapons that arrive past a blockade that is seemingly contra international opinion, that Israel will be justified in waging war with Gaza.

  • Okay, Tony, as long as you’re going to play the guilt-by-association game and continue to link Paul to some outlandish comment made by R.S. McCain simply because Paul has quoted McCain on his blog in the past, how about we hold you to the same standard?

    On January 9, 2010, here’s what someone with the moniker “Morning’s Minion” wrote at Salon.com about Helen Thomas:

    “We have few journalists of Helen Thomas’ quiet dignity, fierce journalistic instincts to ask the hard questions, and resolution to follow stories where they will take her. Seeing how frail she has become gave me a pang. The thought that Bill Moyers and Helen Thomas might both retire in one year is a disquieting proposition; they are two of the few holding the diminishing line between real journalism and chaos.”

    http://letters.salon.com/b23f022e31a83dc9b2b9160cb4fa902f/author/index93.html

    Meanwhile, here’s your girl Helen holding the line on “real journalism” by telling the Jews in Israel to “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go back to Poland and Germany”:

    http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/06/far-left-reporter-helen-thomas-tells-jews-get-the-hell-out-of-palestine-and-go-back-to-germany-poland-video/

    That would be the Germany and Poland where approximately 6 million of their fellow Jews were systematically roasted in ovens in an effort to exterminate every Jew in Europe. Not that such an occurrence was particularly unique in history or anything.

  • Helen Thomas is awfully opinionated for someone who is unawares that the majority of Israel’s Jewish population derives from immigration streams originating in the Near East and North Africa.

    On, R.S. McCain. IIRC, his subsequent elaboration upon his remarks was as follows: absent something akin to Sherman’s March through Georgia, the war between the Jews and the proximate Arab population simply will not end.

  • Jay – that “Morning’s Minion” was definitely not me. Seems like this post is becoming a platform for claiming I said stuff I did not!

  • Well, I guess if you decided to stop using a fake name and had the courage to put your real name to stuff you wrote, it would be a little less confusing, right?

  • Tony, I apologize, then. It’s not a common pseudonym, so I made a faulty assumption. My mistake.

  • Paul, he would still potentially be subject to petty identity theft.

  • Absolutely terrifying I felt it in missisauga

Lars Vilks, Gay Muhammad and Freedom of Expression

Sunday, May 16, AD 2010

This past week brings news of yet another fracas involving Swedish cartoon artist Lars Vilks (CNN.com):

When Vilks entered a classroom where he was to deliver a lecture to about 250 people — all of whom had passed through a security checkpoint to gain admission — about five people started protesting loudly, Eronen said.

After Uppsala uniformed and non-uniformed police calmed the protesters, the lecture got under way at about 5:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m. ET), Eronen said.

But as Vilks was showing audiovisual material, 15 to 20 audience members became loud and tried to attack Vilks, he said.

As police stepped in, a commotion started and Vilks was taken to a nearby room; police used pepper spray and batons to fend off the protesters, Eronen said. Vilks did not return to the lecture. [Video footage of the event].

Last March, an American woman who called herself “Jihad Jane,” Colleen LaRose, was indicted in the United States for allegedly conspiring to support terrorists and kill Vilks.

In a 2007 interview with CNN he had drawn the cartoon of Mohammed with a dog’s body in order to take a stand.

“I don’t think it should not be a problem to insult a religion, because it should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way, “ says Vilks from his home in rural Sweden.

“If you insult one, then you should insult the other ones.”

His crude, sketched caricature shows the head of Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and any depiction of the prophet is strictly forbidden.

Vilks, who has been a controversial artist for more than three decades in Sweden, says his drawing was a calculated move, and he wanted it to elicit a reaction.

“That’s a way of expressing things. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. And if you look at it, don’t take it too seriously. No harm done, really,” he says.

When it’s suggested that might prove an arrogant — if not insulting — way to engage Muslims, he is unrelenting, even defiant.

“No one actually loves the truth, but someone has to say it,” he says.

Vilks, a self-described atheist, points out he’s an equal opportunity offender who in the past sketched a depiction of Jesus as a pedophile.

Continue reading...

19 Responses to Lars Vilks, Gay Muhammad and Freedom of Expression

  • This “artist” will learn the limits of free speech – the hard way.

  • Why should some peoples belief supercede the beliefs, or lack of belifs, of others?

    Why should I, or anyone else be forced to abide by the rules of THEIR faith?

    What right does religions have to put themselves above everyone else? Is it a godgiven right? Thats what they believe isnt it?

    Religions mock the entire world with their existance alone. Grown men and women believing in old fairytales make a mockery of humanity as a whole.

    Yet we shouldnt be allowed to point out the glaring flaws, the insecurities, and the barbarism their faith entails?

    The very thought is disgusting. The very reason religions are mocked is because they demand respect for their belief, while having no respect at all for those of us who do not believe in any god.

    If one imposed limits on the freedom of expression it would cease to exist.

    Freedom: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.

  • I really am disgusted by the abasement of religion in this manner.

    Showing a gay Mohammed is almost as repugnant to me as it is to a Muslim, and is a deliberate act of provocation.

    Things were bad enough with Comedy Central. But the reason I defended the creators of South Park is that, first of all, they already SHOWED Mohammed in an earlier episode before the Danish cartoon scandal and no one cared.

    It wasn’t a particularly vulgar depiction either. What happened this time around was absurd – they only wanted to “show” Mohammed as they do other religious figures, they’d done it before, and saw the proscription of this time around as arbitrary and irrational, which it was.

    In this case, though, I’d say we’re way outside the scope of the Danish cartoon scandal or South Park. To depict is one thing; to associate a revered prophet with sexual immorality in such a blunt way is another. This isn’t about expression because no one believes Mohammed was gay. It is about pissing off Muslims and doing a thing simply because it can be done.

    Maybe the distinction I’m making is wrong, maybe it doesn’t exist. But I do see a difference.

  • Joe, I’m not aware of the South Park depictions of Muhammad before the Danish cartoon scandal. Do you have a source?

    I think censorship, whether religious or otherwise, should be based on community standards. In America, we’re not sufficiently outraged over irreverent depictions of religion to warrant legal censorship.

    Should material of academic value that offend community standards be protected speech? Would Islamic states be justified in completely censoring (as opposed to hide behind a “spoiler warning”) drawings of Muhammad from Wikipedia?

  • Well that kind of begs the question – what academic value does this really have? That Nathan quote could be re-worded only slightly and it would apply to the artists tehmselves – living off the fruits of Christianity, they can only mock it because they do not have the talent to meet or exceed Christianity’s greatest accomplishments. Where’s our contemporary Sistine Chapel? Our Mona Lisa? Our Pieta? Our art is ugly because our society is ugly.

    Largely we are not outraged because most of this “art” is ignored, at least by the unwashed masses.

  • Art ought to be all about aesthetics and edifying the beholder. Soap boxes/op-ed pages/letters to Congressmen are venues for free speech.

    I’m a charter member (from birth) of the unwashed masses.

    Here’s the reason I ignore art that scandalizes Christ: “Forgive all injuries. Bear wrongs patiently.”

    Our Lord will come again in glory and He probably will foresake those that made fun of His Redemptive Life and Salvific Sacrifice.

    Finally, it’s not my job to bring justice to poor benighted elites.

    Er, I don’t frequently shave, either.

    OTOH, muslims must defend Muhammed. That mass murderer is not getting out of Hell.

  • Couldnt help but notice that my original comment has “Your comment is awaiting moderation” stamped on it and is hidden from view of other visitors to this page.

    Since my post contained no links, no swearwords, no racism etc the only reason I can think of is because I do not agree with the viewpoints in the article.

    The viewpoints in this article must be fragile indeed if only comments of agreement are allowed.

    Here, there is no freedom of expression, there is only the freedom to agree.

  • Couldnt help but notice that my original comment has “Your comment is awaiting moderation” stamped on it and is hidden from view of other visitors to this page.

    Imagine that.

    Since my post contained no links, no swearwords, no racism etc the only reason I can think of is because I do not agree with the viewpoints in the article. The viewpoints in this article must be fragile indeed if only comments of agreement are allowed.

    Or, it could possibly mean I’m currently dealing with a newborn and a two year old, and — operating on about 2-3 hours sleep a night — don’t have time to moderate comments with as much punctuality as you desire.

    In fact I have no idea why it was stuck in moderation, but go ahead and assume the worst of my motives if it suits you. I can understand the guilty pleasure of such conspiracy theorizing. =)

    Why should some peoples belief supercede the beliefs, or lack of belifs, of others?

    Certainly I think nobody ought to be forced to accept the tenants of Islam or Christianity or any other religion, for that matter. Faith born of coercion is no genuine faith at all. I’m actually very much in favor of non-coercion in this respect.

    However, I’d say defining freedom solely in negative terms as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action” offers a rather pathetic understanding of freedom. It also poses a challenge to our ability to reside together in some kind of civil community (surely you’re in favor of such?).

    Even as a self-proclaimed atheist, I’d venture that you probably find yourself upholding certain laws or norms of moral conduct — prohibitions against theft, taking the life of another, treating each other with basic respect etc. Are these simply “beliefs imposed” upon you? Do they spring from something deeper?

    John Paul II spoke of “a false notion of individual freedom at work in our culture” —

    “… as if one could be free only when rejecting every objective norm of conduct, refusing to assume responsibility or even refusing to put curbs on instincts and passions! Instead, true freedom implies that we are capable of choosing a good without constraint. This is the truly human way of proceeding in the choices–big and small–which life puts before us. The fact that we are also able to choose not to act as we see we should is a necessary condition of our moral freedom. But in that case we must account for the good that we fail to do and for the evil that we commit. This sense of moral accountability needs to be reawakened if society is to survive as a civilization of justice and solidarity.”

    What do you think about that?

    Religions mock the entire world with their existance alone. Grown men and women believing in old fairytales make a mockery of humanity as a whole.

    Spoken like a true Stalinist. But surely we can progress beyond this kind of intolerance? 😉

    Yet we shouldn’t be allowed to point out the glaring flaws, the insecurities, and the barbarism their faith entails?

    Perhaps. But if your purpose is to enlighten and educate, you might do better than simply lash out and taunt them with the artistic equivalent of a cudgel.

  • First of all, I find it hard to believe that you “had no idea why it was stuck in moderation”. Its your blog after all, even if its an automated process registering on key words, you should have some idea how it works.

    Secondly, how long it takes for you to moderate a post was not an issue at all. I reacted to the fact that it was marked for moderation in the first place.

    I used the definition of freedom together with the term “freedom of expression” spesifically because I suspected that you might try to use the definition of freedom in the way you just did.

    The concept of freedom of expression should be free of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. Just like the definition.

    I didnt, like you imply, include concepts like “freedom of murdering people”, “freedom to steal” or “freedom to set oneself above the law” when I put down the definition of freedom.

    As for your thoughts about moral conduct:

    Laws and norms of human conduct is a result of the society one lives in.

    If you some day take a good look at the world around you, I think you will realise that in socities in parts of the world that do not have the luxuries and/or traditions of western culture, the defintions of right and wrong are vastly different.

    Surely,if “upholding certain laws or norms of moral conduct” springs from something deeper, as you say, shouldnt people in all corners of the world share the same sense of morality?

    Yet they do not.

    I also note that you are labeling me a “stalinist”.

    Indeed, atheism and stalinism are required to go hand in hand arent they? There is no way that anyone can be opposed to religion without being some sort of communist.

    Labeling any opposition communist or stalinist regardless of which issues are being discussed seem to be popular in america.

    And then you preach about intolerance. Or spesifically “this kind of intolerance”, implying “intolerance against religions”.

    Which is appropriate, since religious groups, including catholics, traditionally have a large number of things they have zero tolerance for.

    It sure is good to know that believers have the right and knowledge to define what kinds of intolerance are acceptable or not.

    The purpose with which lars vilks lash out and taunt the muslim fundementalist is obvious: Its to teach people that they cannot have their way by resorting to violence. Many religious groups, including your own, realised this a long time ago by themselves.

    But before that, catholics and other christians were just as quick to resort to violence as these muslims are now.

    Unfortunatly, with the way things are, its impractical to wait the hundreds of years it could take for muslims to reach the same level of peaceful conduct as the major christian factions.

    Lastly, from a western moral perspective, who do you think have the moral high ground? The guy who is making pictures and drawings, or the people who are trying to beat him up, kill him and burn his house down?

  • I put your comment in moderation Moozorz. If it had been in one of my threads I would have deleted it since you merely regurgitate the “I hate religion” meme and have nothing fresh to offer to the debate. Since it was Christopher’s thread I left the ultimate decision as to what to do with your diatribe up to him when he looked over the thread. He duly approved it since he has much more patience than I do for people who repeat tired cliches as a substitute for substantive argument, and is one of the most fair-minded individuals I have encountered on the internet.

  • First of all, I find it hard to believe that you “had no idea why it was stuck in moderation”. Its your blog after all, even if its an automated process registering on key words, you should have some idea how it works. […]

    See Don’s comment as to why you were in moderation.

    The concept of freedom of expression should be free of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. Just like the definition. I didnt, like you imply, include concepts like “freedom of murdering people”, “freedom to steal” or “freedom to set oneself above the law” when I put down the definition of freedom.

    Unrestrained freedom, absent force of law, can lead to precisely that.

    I’m curious what you might say with respect to a women’s “freedom” with respect to the life of her unborn child?

    Laws and norms of human conduct is a result of the society one lives in.

    If you some day take a good look at the world around you, I think you will realise that in socities in parts of the world that do not have the luxuries and/or traditions of western culture, the defintions of right and wrong are vastly different. Surely,if “upholding certain laws or norms of moral conduct” springs from something deeper, as you say, shouldnt people in all corners of the world share the same sense of morality? Yet they do not.

    Diverse, but now wholly different. I think if you examine different parts of the world, cultures share remarkably similar moral-cultural norms. Show me a culture that specifically endorsed theft, lying, deception, murder, injustice, etc. in direct inversion to what we think of as morality?

    For example, C.S. Lewis in examining various traditions around the world pointed out how they share similar behaviors with respect to the prohibition of murder; the doing of good towards children, parents, kinfolk and neighbors; prohibitions against adultery, etc. I think history has shown as well what happens when cultures or societies abandon or deliberately ignore such ‘laws’:

    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/lewis/abolition4.htm

    I also note that you are labeling me a “stalinist”.Indeed, atheism and stalinism are required to go hand in hand arent they? There is no way that anyone can be opposed to religion without being some sort of communist. Labeling any opposition communist or stalinist regardless of which issues are being discussed seem to be popular in america.

    While atheism and stalinism aren’t necessarily identical, one can point to a number of historical examples (the french revolution, the bolshevik reovlution, national socialism, etc.) where atheism and totalitarian violence have gone hand in hand. And the nature of your comment — “Religions mock the entire world with their existance [sic] alone” — wasn’t far off from that kind of thinking. What do you propose then, since the mere presence of religion itself is an abomination?

    And then you preach about intolerance. Or spesifically “this kind of intolerance”, implying “intolerance against religions”. Which is appropriate, since religious groups, including catholics, traditionally have a large number of things they have zero tolerance for.

    I’m not necessarily opposed to intolerance. I happen to think “tolerance” and “non-judgementalism” are highly overrated. As Chesterton said, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

    It sure is good to know that believers have the right and knowledge to define what kinds of intolerance are acceptable or not.

    But there you go again — having just indicated by your example that we should all be intolerant of religion.

    The purpose with which lars vilks lash out and taunt the muslim fundementalist is obvious: Its to teach people that they cannot have their way by resorting to violence. Many religious groups, including your own, realised this a long time ago by themselves.

    As I’ve said, there is little question that many Muslim’s response to Vilks is disproportionate and extreme — at the same time, Vilks does not help the matter with his direct provocation to violence by taking what Muslims hold dear — the prophet Muhammad — and violating it.

    Unfortunatly, with the way things are, its impractical to wait the hundreds of years it could take for muslims to reach the same level of peaceful conduct as the major christian factions.

    Muslims have a ways to go, yes. But they might get there a lot faster if we didn’t resort to such tactics as Vilks. You teach toleration and respect for others by practicing it. Vilks’s desire to deliberately invoke violence by blaspheming what they hold dear is merely an echo of Muslim intolerance.

    Lastly, from a western moral perspective, who do you think have the moral high ground? The guy who is making pictures and drawings, or the people who are trying to beat him up, kill him and burn his house down?

    In this case, neither — if the guy who is “making pictures and drawings” does so with the specific intent of inciting people to violence. Come now, it’s not as if Vilks was showing photos of the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo’s David.

  • @Donald R. McClarey

    I dont hate religion, I just oppose it :3

    Especially when some people in the various religions are attempting to put belief in god above all else, not just for themselves but for others as well.

    @Christopher Blosser

    As I was reading through your latest post, I noticed several things.

    You took my paragraph about freedom of expression and somehow try to twist it into a pro-choice/pro-life issue.

    Undoubtedly because you couldnt, at the time, think of a counter-argument that related to the actual issue that was being discussed, i.e. freedom of expression (other than groundless speculation that having freedom of expression will somehow, in a nondescript fashion, lead to a society where one can freely steal, murder, and put oneself above the law.)

    Next, funny you should mention a connection between atheism and national socialism.

    Let me quote from the The National Socialist Party program from 1920, proclaimed by Adolf Hitler, point 24:

    “We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.¨”

    Restrictive, perhaps, but hardly atheistic.

    Your other examples are more accurate at least.

    Furthermore, in your previous post, you said “But surely we can progress beyond this kind of intolerance?” when I said that religions are old fairytales.

    Yet in your latest post, you say you arent neccesarily opposed to intolerance.

    Thanks, I guess, for demonstrating with such perfect detail that what I said previously about your brand of “tolerance” is absolutely true.

    You have the exact same mindset as the muslim fundamentalists, that your beliefs must be tolerated above all else while the religions themselves should be free to judge and comdemn and generally be intolerant towards anything they wish.

    Be honest: it is because you believe that god is on your side.

    Is it not so? What other reason could you have to justify the difference between religious intolerance against people and peoples intolerance against religion?

    Anyways, your paragraph about Lars Vilks state that he is making pictures and drawings “with spesific intent of inciting people to violence”.

    That something you made up completely on your own.

    You are basically saying he is asking for it, even though nothing has ever indicated that Lars Vilks is trying spesifically to create violence.

    In fact, saying so is an insult to the islamic people, since it implies that we should expect them to react in a violent and barbaric fashion.

    A comparable anology is to say that a woman who wear sexy clothing is asking to be raped, after all, everyone knows that men are primitive and lack the self-control neccesary to stop themselves from assaulting women who arent “properly” dressed.

    While in reality, men do in fact have the potential to control their own behaviour, and many choose to do just that.

    Similarly, I think todays muslims have the potential to control their anger and violent reactions and instead react in a modern and civilized fashion when faced with such displays.

    Unfortunatly, some of them choose not to.

  • Religions should be insulted democratically.

    Why?

    Because if you’re going to insult one, you have to insult them all.

    Oh, OK, very reasonable. Now, run by me why we just, don’t tell really unfunny jokes to “insult” religions again.

    I feel like I’m in that episode of Seinfeld, where he tells a priest that one of his former congregants starts making a lot of anti-semitic jokes, and he asks him if it offends him as a Jew, but he responds, “No, it offends me as a comedian.” That’s just not funny, and therefore, beyond the realm of cartoonists.
    I get that the Jihadists are worse, but come on, are we really going to say, “we’re OK, so long as we’re not terrorists!”?

  • By the way, Moorzorz, you sound so smart. I think you sound so convincing, as though you’re not writing generalized emotional ejaculations (funny word right?); you sound as if you’re not just some pasty white atheist teenager to mid twenty year old, “trolling” (as the “kids” say) on a Conservative Catholic blog saying nothing remotely cerebral, desparately seeking attention, even if it’s only from angry papysts over the internet- that’d be like a neglected child turning form his parents to people he’ll never meet for attention.
    Oh, and also, if you could get me a copy of Dan Brown’s latest work of history, and a t-shirt depicting our hero Che, that’d be great.

    Hipsters 4 Life!

  • You took my paragraph about freedom of expression and somehow try to twist it into a pro-choice/pro-life issue.

    I was basically operating on the assumption that if you define “freedom” as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”, your definition is not merely limited to “self-expression” but freedom of action per se. Hence the question: where does such freedom from coercion begin and end with respect to the unborn?

    Undoubtedly because you couldnt, at the time, think of a counter-argument that related to the actual issue that was being discussed, i.e. freedom of expression (other than groundless speculation that having freedom of expression will somehow, in a nondescript fashion, lead to a society where one can freely steal, murder, and put oneself above the law.)

    Well, I thought we were talking about the nature of freedom per se. If only self expression, then may I assume you would define freedom otherwise — and that there are justifiable limits to freedom when living in society?

    Next, funny you should mention a connection between atheism and national socialism. [Insert quote from the Nazis]. Restrictive, perhaps, but hardly atheistic.

    National socialism was accomodating of religion only insofar as they found it expedient to do so. Ultimately it became a kind of religion of its own, elevating the ‘superman’ (ditto or the Communists). Case in point — Christians who went along with the Third Reich were tolerated; those who didn’t went to the camps along with the gypsies and the Jews. For a firsthand account from one priest, see Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau. For a broader view, I recommend Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich: A New History.

    Furthermore, in your previous post, you said “But surely we can progress beyond this kind of intolerance?” when I said that religions are old fairytales. Yet in your latest post, you say you arent neccesarily opposed to intolerance.

    You’re getting the picture. I think it would be difficult indeed to go through life without being discriminating. Moral judgement is as elementary to existence as eating or breathing. And there are things we should quite justifiably be intolerant about.

    On the other hand, when you arrive at a sweeping judgement that religion in toto is an evil and a mockery of human existence, I think such a sweeping condemnation such as your own is a choice example of intolerance born of ignorance. I know of other atheists or agnostics who are quite capable of studying the breadth of human history and discerning positive elements in religion. An attitude that simply mocks and condemns religion strikes me as a rather stunted perspective.

    Anyways, your paragraph about Lars Vilks state that he is making pictures and drawings “with spesific intent of inciting people to violence”. That something you made up completely on your own.

    No need to impute motives here. I need only quote Lars: “It should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way … If you insult one, then you should insult the other ones.” In the past he depicted Jesus as a paedophile. Don’t tell me he wasn’t hoping to get a reaction. In no way does it justify violence on the part of the protesters, but he certainly wasn’t seeking applause on their part.

    […] Similarly, I think todays muslims have the potential to control their anger and violent reactions and instead react in a modern and civilized fashion when faced with such displays. Unfortunatly, some of them choose not to.

    I think you and I agree on this point — our hope is that Muslims, when they find what they hold most dear insulted in this manner, should be able to restrain themselves from violence.

    That said, I don’t think Lars Vilks necessarily has the right to provocate Muslims in this manner.

  • Lars Vilks has every right to provocate Muslims if that is his wish under Swedish norms as long as he is prepared to pay the price. By what right do the crazed Muslims given residence, asylum and baksheesh in the West under the same suicidal liberal norms, now claim that their Jim Jones is above caricature? The liberal order is unwinding, some honest men Lars Vilks among them, have taken it upon themselves to bring the whole house of lies down.

  • @Clay

    I am dreadfully sorry to come all the way here to this catholic site when I was searching for news about Lars Vilks, I know that people disagreeing with your views must be terribly frightening.

    See? I can use sarcasm to apply attributes to other people too. Thank you for bringing your insight into this discussion.

    In all seriousness though, I am a norwegian, I live in norway, and up here in the north there are no “unwritten rules” that its distasteful internet behaviour to display ones views on a site where people have different views.

    If there is some kind of american unwritten rule about this, please inform me about it and I`ll stop posting.

    Also, if being norwegian somehow invalidates all my views, please inform me and I`ll stop posting.

    @Christoffer Blosser

    I am not just now “getting the picture”, you have read my previous posts, so it should be pretty obvious that I was, unfortunatly, completely right about your views on tolerance from the start.

    I was actually hoping you would disprove my preconceptions on that spesific issue.

    You choose not to address several parts of my paragraph, which is fine, you are free to address the parts you feel neccesary, but I still would like you to tell me how you justify the difference between religious intolerance against people and peoples intolerance against religion, like I asked before.

    I think its because, as I said, you believe your god gives you the right to do so, but I like to think thats not your only reason.

    Furthermore, I have never said religion is evil. Religion is regressive to society, often intolerant and I would even call it irrational.

    But I do not think religious people do what they do and say what they say just for the sake of making other people suffer. If they did, they would be evil.

    By the way, if there is no need to impute motives here, as you say, then perhaps you shouldnt impute motives onto Lars Vilks either?

    Sure, Lars Vilks was hoping to get a reaction. But you said he was spesifically trying to incite a _violent_ reaction.

    Was he trying to incite violence by displaying jesus as a pedophile? Did he except christians to physically attack him and issue death threats when he did?

    I think not.

    Your misconception about Lars Vilks seeking a violent reaction to his displays are only based in your preconcieved judgments against the muslim people.

    You expect them to answer with violence, so to you its obvious that everyone else thinks so too.

    There are several other things I suppose I could, and should, have addressed, but right now I`m out of time, Ì have to head to work.

    I will say this though, Christoffer Blosser, even though we disagree on a great many things, its refreshing to talk with a christian who is willing to argue, rather than the ones who prefer to “answer” only with moderation or bland sarcasm.

  • NOTE: This will be quick, because I think Moozorz and I have discussed this long enough and are conversation is heading into other topics not related to the actual post.

    I still would like you to tell me how you justify the difference between religious intolerance against people and peoples intolerance against religion, like I asked before.

    When speaking of “intolerance”, I think you really need to go into specific detail about what it is you are criticizing. To merely condemn religion in toto as a mockery of humanity — such a sweeping condemnation speaks rather badly and comes across as intolerant. Religions, like anything else, are a mixed bag. If you study Christianity you will find that it, like any other religion, has made positive contributions to society. (Certainly as a Christian I believe it has done more than that; I also recognize that there are many instances where Christians have not behaved in a Christlike manner). At any rate, I think there are positive goods which the religions of the world have to offer which any atheist can recognize if they tried.

    Likewise when you speak of “religion’s intolerance against people”, it may help to be specific.

    I think its because, as I said, you believe your god gives you the right to do so, but I like to think thats not your only reason.

    If you subscribe to a revealed religion, I suppose it’s natural that you will make distinctions between believers and non-believers and to be “intolerant” of certain kinds of actions. But as I’ve pointed out, you don’t have to be religious to make moral distinctions, to condemn certain kinds of behavior, to place limits on human freedom.

    By the way, if there is no need to impute motives here, as you say, then perhaps you shouldnt impute motives onto Lars Vilks either?

    There is no need, because Vilk already gave the reason. He wanted to insult Muslims. He was undoubtedly hoping to get a reaction. A necessarily violent reaction? — Perhaps he wasn’t expecting to get his house firebombed (although in light of past examples, such as the violent reaction of many Muslims to the Pope’s Regensburg address — he might have anticipated such). I do think he would have been sorely disappointed if he didn’t cause offense to Muslims.

    Your misconception about Lars Vilks seeking a violent reaction to his displays are only based in your preconcieved judgments against the muslim people.

    Oh, please. Read what I’ve written about the “Muslim people”, and then decide. (I’m far closer to Muslims than you imagine).

    I certainly don’t think all Muslims respond in the way that Vilks’ critics have done — but let’s face it, there is a subset of Muslims, those who tend to occupy the headlines, who have a propensity to react with threats or actual violence when their religion is mocked. It happens. So I don’t think the possibility of such happening was remote from Vilks’ mind when he decided to ridicule the Prophet Muhammad in the fashion that he did.

    You expect them to answer with violence, so to you its obvious that everyone else thinks so too.

    Actually, no.

    I will say this though, Christoffer Blosser, even though we disagree on a great many things, its refreshing to talk with a christian who is willing to argue, rather than the ones who prefer to “answer” only with moderation or bland sarcasm.

    Feel free to email me if you wish to talk further. blostopher @ gmail.com.

Edward Feser on Stupak, the USCCB and Subsidiarity

Wednesday, March 31, AD 2010

Pertinent to recent discussions of Stupak and the role of the USCCB in advancing the health care bill, Edward Feser offers his reflections on Bart Stupak, the USCCB and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity:

… before the health care bill vote, the USCCB urged Congress either to alter the bill to prevent federal funding of abortion or to vote the bill down. (The USCCB also objected to the bill’s failure to extend coverage to illegal immigrants.) But the letter in which this request was made also emphasized that “for decades, the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care,” that “the Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity,” and that it is only “with deep regret” that the bishops must oppose passage of the bill “unless these fundamental flaws are remedied” (emphasis added).

Needless to say, the impression these words leave the reader with – whether the bishops intended this or not – is that, were abortion (and coverage of illegal immigrants) not at issue, the moral teaching of the Catholic Church would require the passage of the health care bill in question, or something like it. In fact the teaching of the Church requires no such thing. Indeed, I would argue (see below) that while the Church’s teaching does not rule out in principle a significant federal role in providing health care, a bill like the one that has just passed would be very hard to justify in light of Catholic doctrine, even aside from the abortion question. Nevertheless, as I say, the bishops’ language would surely leave the average reader with the opposite impression. And as the bishops themselves remind us, they have “supported universal health care” for “decades,” in statements that also would leave the unwary average reader with the impression that Catholic moral teaching strictly requires as a matter of justice the passage some sort of federal health care legislation. On the day Obama signed the bill into law, Cardinal Francis George, a bishop with a reputation for orthodoxy, urged vigilance on the matter of abortion while declaring that “we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.”

Read the rest!

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Edward Feser on Stupak, the USCCB and Subsidiarity

  • I thought I was a voice in the wilderness. Very well written. Much better than I–a simpleton could have written.

    I often wonder, when I pray for my Bishop, Do I ask God to give me the strength to be obedient or do I pray, “Lord save me from my Bishop when he basically flaunts his own personal views as Catholic teaching.”

  • “The government must also see to the provision of insurance facilities, to obviate any likelihood of a citizen’s being unable to maintain a decent standard of living in the event of some misfortune, or greatly increased family responsibilities.” Pacem in Terris 64.

    Federal health care reform ensuring universal coverage was necessary. I too am disappointed with the implementation but I’m still not convinced it necessarily violates subsidiarity (though I personally believe it does in some relatively minor ways).

    The “overreach” may be justified as consumer protection measures which prevent anticipated problems. Few people would consider government health inspections a violation of subsidiarity. It would be possible to write a law that allows individuals to personally inspect sausage factories but that’s impractical. Likewise, some of the supposedly overreaching regulations of ObamaCare restrain individual choice but for a good reason: government is better positioned to make those choices.

    I think maybe a good test of whether something violates subsidiarity is whether it actually harms communities of a lower order. Like I said, I believe ObamaCare does though in relatively minor ways.

    A second question is whether minor infractions against subsidiarity render the entire bill immoral. For example, I think the cap on HSA contributions is too low. It actually harms those who use HSA’s. Would that alone warrant opposition to an otherwise good (for sake of argument) bill?

  • Likewise, some of the supposedly overreaching regulations of ObamaCare restrain individual choice but for a good reason: government is better positioned to make those choices.

    That *could* possibly be the case, but I would argue that a government that considers abortion to be health care, a right, and a HC cost savings measure is patently disqualified to make those choices. Ditto for considering the intentional killing of the disabled as a “family matter”.

  • I wouldn’t consider the government disqualified to make decisions on all matters just because it makes the wrong decision on one matter. Besides, except for when voters want to kill non-voters (abortion and euthanasia), government has a bias in favor of providing more, not less. I find it odd that those who claim the government loves spending too much money also believe the government would like to kill grandma to save money.

  • A wrong decision is one thing, a wrong decision(s) on fundamental matters are another. When most people talk about the government loving to spend money, I think they’re referring to spending as a means of acquiring power and building dependencies to maintain power, coupled with the typical inefficiency and bureaucracies that accompany it.

    As far as killing people or allowing people to be killed to save money. Why not? It gives them power over lives, and as you pointed out, we’re talking about non-voters. Pelosi said abortion coverage would be a cost savings to Obamacare, and I just saw this:

    http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2010/03/krugman-death-panels-will-save-money.html

  • There’s nothing odd about it. Few claim that the government likes to spend money arbitrarily. It spends too much on things it shouldn’t and not enough on things it should, because of its distorted and often perverse hierarchy of values.

  • The thing is that Pelosi and Krugman and the rest of these guys are right. Like I brought up in my column, if you make healthcare the responsibility of the government, then you make a thousand other things the responsibility of the government as well.

  • Interesting that Cardinal George is applauding the expansion of health care to all but the unborn.

    But that’s what happens when you put your Democratic Party loyalties before your faith.

  • The precedent is very bad, very bad.

U.S. Catholic Bishops' statement on the Health Care Bill: "Profoundly flawed"

Tuesday, March 23, AD 2010

USCCB Statement on the recently-passed health care legislation (March 23, 2010):

For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.

For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.

Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.

Continue reading...

7 Responses to U.S. Catholic Bishops' statement on the Health Care Bill: "Profoundly flawed"

  • “By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” — John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 48

  • “. Subsidiarity is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person via the autonomy of intermediate bodies. Such assistance is offered when individuals or groups are unable to accomplish something on their own, and it is always designed to achieve their emancipation, because it fosters freedom and participation through assumption of responsibility. Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others. By considering reciprocity as the heart of what it is to be a human being, subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.” — Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate

  • “In order for the principle of subsidiarity to be put into practice there is a corresponding need for: respect and effective promotion of the human person and the family; ever greater appreciation of associations and intermediate organizations in their fundamental choices and in those that cannot be delegated to or exercised by others; the encouragement of private initiative so that every social entity remains at the service of the common good, each with its own distinctive characteristics; the presence of pluralism in society and due representation of its vital components; safeguarding human rights and the rights of minorities; bringing about bureaucratic and administrative decentralization” – CSDC, 187

    “As an instrument of the State, public administration at any level — national, regional, community — is oriented towards the service of citizens: “Being at the service of its citizens, the State is the steward of the people’s resources, which it must administer with a view to the common good”.[844] Excessive bureaucratization is contrary to this vision and arises when “institutions become complex in their organization and pretend to manage every area at hand. In the end they lose their effectiveness as a result of an impersonal functionalism, an overgrown bureaucracy, unjust private interests and an all-too-easy and generalized disengagement from a sense of duty” CDSC 412

    Where we ought to be looking, as opposed to the federal government and its bureaucracy:

    ” Meaningful testimonies and examples of self-organization can be found in the numerous initiatives, business and social, characterized by forms of participation, cooperation and self-management that manifest the joining of energies in solidarity. These are offered to the market as a multifaceted sector of work activity whose mark of distinction is the special attention given to the relational components of the goods produced and of the services rendered in many areas: instruction, health care, basic social services and culture. The initiatives of this so-called “third sector” represent an ever more important opportunity for the development of labour and the economy.” CSDC 293

  • In other words, I profoundly disagree with the idea that abortion is the only problem with this otherwise supposedly fine and upstanding bill.

  • For the record, I’m right there with you Joe. Funding for abortion is a crucial issue but not the sole evil in this bill.

  • Looks like Mr. Stupak’s defense may be to go on the offense against the Bishops. I’m not familiar with the source, but it appears he is charging the Bishops with hypocrisy and trying to use the abortion issue as a ploy to bring down health care reform. What alternate universe is this guy from?

    http://dailycaller.com/2010/03/23/stupak-says-catholic-bishops-pro-life-groups-tried-to-use-abortion-to-defeat-health-bill/

  • He is either delusional or a liar. I suspect the latter.

7 Responses to Dark comedy

  • Inspired! Stupak in one stroke turned himself from a political hero into the most pathetic figure in politics today.

  • I can’t believe that I actually had to spend hours of my time one day on this very blog having to defend myself from one of your co-bloggers for saying that, if I lived in Michigan, I’d be unlikely to vote for Stupak for Governor for economic reasons. Despite expressing my deep admiration for Stupak and his defense of the unborn, and noting that under different economic circumstances I’d vote for him in a heartbeat, my argument at the time was that he’s a union shill and that sort of politician is exactly what’s currently wrong with the horrible economies of Michigan and Ohio.

    Now, to justify my reasons, all I have to do is merely point to this video, which exposes him as not only the typical Democrat who will always cave to the leadership when it comes to abortion, but as being particularly duplicitous and shameless, as well.

  • Now, to justify my reasons, all I have to do is merely point to this video, which exposes him as not only the typical Democrat who will always cave to the leadership when it comes to abortion, but as being particularly duplicitous and shameless, as well.

    Amen. How the man could say those things is beyond belief. He took all that sh*t from his own party because he was trying to defend life, then when he sold out he said it was his party that defended life all along? WTF? Truth is condemning the man.

  • I mean, let’s spell out exactly what Stupak did here in this speech. Stupak (which I learned yesterday is “KAPUTS” spelled backward) engaged in THE smear that is ALWAYS used against pro-lifers: that we don’t care about the mothers and that we only care about the babies up until they are born.

    What kind of “pro-lifer” engages in that sort of rhetoric? Doesn’t he know how hurtful it is for the pro-lifers who stood with him in favor of the Stupak Amendment to hear THOSE WORDS from someone who is allegedly one of our own? If he’s spent any REAL time in the pro-life movement, he MUST know the power and the sting of the words he used, so I can only guess that it was a calculated move to do maximum damage to the pro-life cause and to completely dispirit pro-lifers themselves.

    Think about this: How does Bart Stupak look Chris Smith in the eye the next day after saying what he said on the House floor?

  • I can’t believe that I actually had to spend hours of my time one day on this very blog having to defend myself from one of your co-bloggers for saying that, if I lived in Michigan, I’d be unlikely to vote for Stupak for Governor for economic reasons.

    That conversation was conducted based on the (widely shared) premise that Stupak was risking his career to defend the unborn. That premise turned out to be false; he was obviously dishonest in trashing those who supported the amendment he drafted, and in claiming that the Executive order meant anything. I still think that if such a Democratic politician existed, they should receive special consideration from pro-lifers, given that developing a healthy pro-life faction in the Democratic party would be an enormous pro-life victory. You may disagree, but I don’t see why after we know Stupak is dishonest, it affects that argument one way or the other.

  • But that’s the point. The ONLY reason it was even an issue was because we THOUGHT this guy was solid on the pro-life front.

    Otherwise, I wouldn’t have felt the need to go into so much detail explaining myself.