Is The Time Coming for Rubio to Drop Out and Endorse Cruz?

Tuesday, March 1, AD 2016

With Super Tuesday upon us, it’s time for those who don’t want to see Trump as the GOP nominee (which contrary to buzz is still the majority of Republicans) to start making choices. There have been plenty of pieces calling for Kasich and Carson to drop out of the race so that Rubio can get the critical mass necessary to defeat Trump. It’s not going to happen, and it’s not going to be enough.

Carson won’t drop out because his run has never been about probabilities, and he still has some books to sell. Kasich won’t drop out because he continues to have at least a chance of winning Ohio, a big winner-take-all state, which he hopes will finally ignite his campaign as the viable Trump alternative. This run is also Kasich’s swan song as a politician. He has every reason to give it his all.

Sure, it would be great if these men would both take one for the party, but honestly, it may not be enough at this point. According to the current RCP averages Rubio would need to pick up 100% of Carson and Kasich supporters just to tie Trump, and although Rubio does well as a second choice, he certainly would’t get all of them.

A possible near tie with Trump is not enough of a critical mass. We’re fast approaching a very dangerous point in the primary process. Even in this most anti-establishment of years, we GOP voters have a tendency deep in our political DNA to start convincing ourselves to get behind the winner at a certain point, and right now the closest thing we have to a winner is Trump. If we’re to have any chance at all of avoiding a Trump victory or a brokered convention, we need either Cruz or Rubio to pull far ahead and do so quickly, allowing the math to let him rack up the needed 1237 delegates. The way to get there is for Rubio to drop out and endorse Cruz.

Why Rubio? He beat out Cruz for second place in South Carolina and Nevada, and prediction markets currently put Rubio’s chances for the nomination at roughly twice Cruz’s.

Honestly, Rubio is my preferred candidate. While for many in the GOP his “Gang of 8” immigration compromise was a betrayal, I support his stance on that issue and even in the GOP primary I’ve been glad to see him take a slightly more moderate position on immigration than Cruz. I think Rubio’s tax plan is more realistic than Cruz’s flat tax. I’ve given money to the Rubio campaign, the first candidate I’ve sent money to since as a talk-radio-following high school student I sent $20 of saved allowances to the Steve Forbes campaign.

However Rubio is young enough that he could run for president in four, eight or even twenty years (and still be younger than Trump or Hillary is now.) This isn’t his only chance, and while in a normal year he might have swept to victory as a fresh conservative voice, this year he’s been tarred as the “establishment candidate” and may have trouble capturing Cruz or Carson voters, much less pealing away Trump voters. And although Rubio has posted some strong second place finishes, he has yet to beat Trump in any state, and if polls are any indicator he may not win any state on Super Tuesday either, while Cruz is expected to win at least Texas. If Cruz wins one or more states today, and Rubio has still not won a state, it’s hard to see why Cruz would choose to drop out, and with no clear wins in the coming weeks, it may be time for Rubio to consider doing so. Unlike Paul Zummo, I don’t think that Rubio would be an election day disaster, I think he might actually be a more successful general election candidate than Cruz, who will have to deal with the fact that he can be abrasive and he is even further to the right of the average voter than Rubio. But it doesn’t matter how electable Rubio would be in the general election if Trump captures the nomination.

Cruz’s rough edges have ruffled a lot of feathers in the party, but he is someone with a deep knowledge of the Supreme Court, who has both clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist and argued successfully before the Supreme Court as a lawyer, in an election during which the replacement for one of the leading conservative justices of the last fifty years hangs in the balance. He is a tough and effective debater who will take it to Clinton on stage, and now that he knows Trump is his greatest threat, he’s at last shown himself willing to go after The Donald effectively in the primary. With the current mood of the GOP there’s a risk that Cruz dropping out would leave disaffected anti-establishment Cruz supporters susceptible to falling behind Trump, but even though some establishment Republicans are currently, and self indulgently, threatening to support Trump over Cruz, it seems unlikely that many of those who make their livings from the party and the movement would really go with Trump over a Cruz able to command 40-50% of the party’s support. Cruz has also run the sort of smart, data-driven campaign which will be needed against a post-Obama Democratic Party, even under the shaky command of Clinton.

While Cruz would not have been my first choice, he is a strong and principled conservative. In his closing statement at the last debate, Rubio said, “We have an incredible decision to make, not just about the direction of America but the identity of our party and the conservative movement.” If our party is to remain conservative, Rubio may need to make a very difficult decision himself, to put the good of the party and the movement before his own immediate advancement. With Rubio behind Cruz, perhaps we can finally take back our party and defeat Trump. Making this decision for the greater good of the party and America would only serve to underscore Rubio’s stature, making him more likely to someday sit in the Oval Office than if he’s one of several contenders whose squabbling over the conservative vote leave control of the party to Donald Trump in a year that should have been ours to win.

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21 Responses to Is The Time Coming for Rubio to Drop Out and Endorse Cruz?

  • I said basically the same to a friend (and fellow Rubio supporter) this AM. My only concern is that Super Tuesday represents the peak of Cruz’s appeal. This is the ground that he based his whole strategy around. If he has a lukewarm showing in the South, he may end up with slightly more delegates than Rubio, but actually be worse positioned for the remaining states, many of which are winner take all. Is Cruz going to take FL (where he’s 30 points behind Trump) or AZ? If Cruz is ahead of Rubio 2-1 or something like that, then it’s an obvious call. If they are even or close to even, I think the delegate math suggests the alternative strategy might be more effective (especially since Rubio has higher favorability ratings and the 2 person race polls show Rubio performing stronger against Trump).

  • Like you, I would prefer Rubio but yeah,he needs to bow out if Cruz is going to have a chance.
    I’m wondering if Trump is nominated will Cruz or anyone else run third party? The party has been showing the strain for quite awhile now and I could see a split into a new “real Republicans” party leaving the official “RINO” GOP behind.

  • Rubio really can bring people together for good ends. Like you I think he might actually be a more successful general election candidate than Cruz.
    The headlines on these posts are irksome to me – one suggesting Rubio is a disaster and one suggesting time for him to drop out in favor of Cruz-

  • If Carson and Kasich don’t drop out then does it do any good for Rubio to drop out? Some of the Rubio support would go to Kasich instead of Cruz. Would the remaining Republicans be better off going with an 1836 Whig style campaign? Kasich in the North, Cruz in the South and Plains and Rubio in the border states and the West. All three would have a legitimate shot at winning a brokered convention, or at least Kasich would have a better chance there than an outright win.

    (The 1836 reference was to the general election that year but this would be for the primary. Actually similar strategies were employed in many primaries from the 1920s to 1960s.)

  • I may have missed something, but to me Darwin, you seemed to be making a stronger argument for Cruz to step aside for Rubio.
    However, if I were a US citizen, Cruz would get my vote.

  • If it’s Rubio and the GOPe in any serious way causes that, then IMO Hillary gets it, because the Trump people are in a frenzy and will not vote Rubio who represents the heart and souls of the amnesty/Chamber of Commerce GOPe/Democrat co-ruling parties.
    On the other hand, the GOP has been against Cruz from day one, sending the resurrected Dick Cheney down to destroy his senatorial candidacy. Palin rushed down to support him.
    I frankly, sense that collision of a level 8 magnitude is inevitable, and the revolt was in play long before Trump jumped in front of the torches and pitchfork uprising. No good can come from all this. The chickens are coming home to roost and the roost is gone.

  • If it weren’t for the reality-show feel that’s already dominated this election, I’d say that Cruz and Rubio should meet in some middle location (say, New Orleans) and flip a coin.

  • I like Rubio and Cruz. It’s a tough call. But, given Rubio has a more public appeal, I thought Rubio and Cruz could work out a deal. Cruz backs out and Rubio pledges to nominate Cruz to Supreme Court. After all, Cruz’s biggest selling point is his predictability. “I do what I say.” Has the legal chops. Constitutionalist. And, reliable. Perfect nominee after a string of unpredictable nominees.

  • Except Cruz wouldn’t take the deal because Cruz is smart enough to know he wouldn’t survive the Democrat filibuster. And Rubio’s election day appeal is unknowable at this stage.
    And to add to Don L’s point, one of the more perplexing things this primary season is the number of people supporting Trump because he’ll stick it to the man, as it were, while also believing that Cruz can’t win –and couldn’t govern successfully were he to somehow pull it off– because nobody likes him for having stuck it to the man.

  • “Cruz is a strong and principled conservative”.
    Yeah, ok, but I don’t think he’s electable, and if by chance he were, I think we’d end up with another 4 years of gridlock.

    Can we ask to have a border with Mexico without being called Racist?
    Can we be against Sharia Law without being called a xenophobe or islamaphobic?

  • @Thomas,
    “Yeah, ok, but I don’t think he’s electable…”
    Keep saying it, and it might come true. Trump’s unfavorable ratings are the highest. Electable?
    “and if by chance he were, I think we’d end up with another 4 years of gridlock.”
    We’ve had gridlock? I wish.

  • Assuming winning vs being ideological correct is still desirable the only approach that makes sense is to stay with Trump. Trump will win because Democrats have a bad candidate and no momentum. The fact that half the Republicans don’t like him is irrelevant. Mojo and momentum conquers all.

  • The relevant question for me now is can Cruz win Florida if Rubio drops out? If he can’t then Rubio might as well stay in and try and win it himself. Does Cruz switch to a convention strategy? Rack up as many delegates as possible, while actually supporting Kasich in Ohio and Rubio in Florida to prevent Trump from getting to 1235.

  • “Mojo and momentum conquers all.”

    Not really. Trump is merely fortunate to be facing an opponent even more unsuitable to lead the nation than he is.

  • I’ve decided Rubio should stick around for another week or two. His willingness to play in Trump’s pig pen serves to elevate Cruz’s stature.

  • Don the Kiwi on Tuesday, March 1, A.D. 2016 at 3:04pm (Edit)
    I may have missed something, but to me Darwin, you seemed to be making a stronger argument for Cruz to step aside for Rubio

    Short version, Rubio would be a kick in the the teeth of the people who are only supporting Trump to get the hint across that yes, we do rather care about that itty bitty “illegal immigration” thing.

    A whole lot of people don’t think Trump would deliver on what he’s selling, but they’re still going to be making a lot of noise to support him because (at times) he (claims he) is offering the stuff the Republicans are supposed to be about, instead of apologetically tacking it on to a Democrat platform like a trekkie trying desperately to excuse his enjoyment of the classic show.

  • Carson won’t drop out…

    Carson dropped out today.

    As for Rubio vs. Cruz, I look with alarm at the records of presidents from Texas in my lifetime, LBJ, G.H.W. Bush, and G.W. Bush. The record of Southern Baptists from Dixie states isn’t good either. Thus, I’m leaning toward Rubio.

  • Micha Elyi

    Texas is to blame and why you won’t vote for Cruz? That’s like saying I won’t follow that Jesus fellow because that Judas fellow lived there. You can do better.

  • You’re correct, Micha, that I was wrong to predict that Carson would not drop out. And I’m glad to be wrong. Hopefully this small step helps the field consolidate against Trump a bit.

  • Nothing is going to consolidate until after the 15th.

    And then only if one or more of the alternatives decides that they can’t, won’t or that it’s not worth it to play the spolier for a shot at becoming a brokered nominee at the convention.

How the Steamroller Will Hit the Church

Monday, July 13, AD 2015

Homosexual Flag

There have been a lot of suggestions going around that in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage nationally, the Catholic Church in the US should announce that priests will no longer perform civil marriages.In order to be treated as married under the law in the United States, you need to file a witnessed marriage license in your state. The way it worked for us in California was: you go down to your city hall or other government building to pick the license up. The city clerk fills it out but then leaves the final signatures blank. You take the form with you and give it to the priest who is performing your marriage. After the ceremony, the priest signs the form, asserting that he has performed a marriage ceremony for you. It’s then signed by husband, wife, and two witnesses and filed with the state. At that point, the man and woman are considered married in the eyes of the law. Obviously, it’s not just priests that can process a marriage license for the state. Any kind of religious minister (Christian or non) can, as can “non denominational” ministers of their own religion. You can also have a strictly civil ceremony performed by a city official.

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36 Responses to How the Steamroller Will Hit the Church

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  • I think it will happen much sooner and the infrastructure for despotic action exists in, among other things, the income tax. The IRS can unilaterally and without restraint challenge tax status of a religious institutions as it did against Bob Jones University. Your contributions to Church and Church related organizations will not be deductible leading to Catholics and others paying a recusant tax for their beliefs. But note the IRS won’t challenge the tax status of associations similar to CAIR…..the enemy is the Church.

    It will also happen through the despotic administrative regulatory state. All federal monies have now a requirement that in taking money your group does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity and homosexual conduct. The repercussions of this will be almost immediate.

    You will also see the “shaming” from the public square but now with the full support and backing of federal, state and local governments. Where applicable, churches will lose property tax exemptions.

    And finally, when a bishop dare speak up forcefully, he will be summoned before a subcommittee where he will be embarrassed by people like Pelosi for a host of “sims” against the state.

  • We brought it on ourselves.

    The American Catholic bishops refused for decades to stand up to abortionist politicians. Perhaps, a few or more of these bishops, and their priests, agreed with these so-called Catholic abortionist politicians. Many of the most vocal abortion supporters – the Cuomos, the Kennedys, Durbin, Sebelius, Milkuski, et al, were NEVER confronted by their bishops.

    The priest sex abuse scandal trashed the good name of the American Catholic bishops, or what was left of it. Wrongly labeled pedophiles, these abusers craved pubescent teenage boys and should not have been allowed in seminaries in the first place – let alone ordained as priests.

    The American Catholic bishops’ fealty for the welfare state – and its continued expansion – led in part to Obumblercare. They want to import every poor Latino into the US – never mind we don’t have enough jobs and every state government is stretched to balance its budget and the federal government has drowned the future with red ink.

    We almost never hear about sin. The evils of abortion, artificial birth control, fornication, and pornography are never mentioned. Personal piety is a thing of the past. Pope St. John Paul II emphasized that the home should be the domestic church. How often is it if the man of the house is annoyed with Mass and rarely attends? How many Catholic families look at Mass as something to be squeezed in or skipped but there is always time for entertainment? The entertainment industry HATES the Catholic Church.

    I am by no means the best Catholic who writes or posts here. I point no fingers at you who participate. I like my entertainment – usually documentaries, or shows about cars, or sports. Regular TV programming and movies are wretched and I avoid them.

    I can’t even get my wife to go to Mass with me. this is the residue of being educated by Latin American Jesuits. She prefers sleeping on Sunday mornings so I take my seven year old son with me to the Tridentine Mass and to catechism afterwards – alone. Either I give in to my wife and go to a mediocre Mass with bad music, bad rubrics, etc. and repeat the mistakes of my parents or I do right by my sons – and I choose the latter.

    I have no patience for willing weakness and this is what I have seen in the Church in my lifetime. Homosexuals have rolled over us because we let it happen. Enough is enough.

    Big entertainment, big education and big government have been infested with the Smoke of Satan.
    It will take people with the backbone and inner strength to fight them. My dad didn’t care and my mother still bitches about the nasty old priest who celebrated at my parents’ wedding.

    I may fail,at a lot of things but the abortionist/homosexulaist/socialist thugs aren’t getting my sons. No way.

  • Hmm, I am thinking the same argument* might work for divorced/want to get married without getting a Declaration of Nullity crowd. Maybe even demanding being admitted to Holy Communion? Isn’t that a “service” of the Church?
    (*edited) The church is a public accommodation providing marriage services to its members. There are few members of the parish more active than Divorcee 1 and Divorcee 2. . . The only thing preventing St. Wishy Washy from performing the same service for Divorce 1 and Divorce 2 which it provides for any other couple that shows up wanting the same ceremony and the same reception in the hall is divorce prejudice.
    I wonder if those wanting polygamy could sue that argument? A lot of respected Biblical personalities were polygamous after all.

  • Incidentally, here is a good article on why the Church should never, ever accept tax payer dollars. It happened once before. The results were not good.
    . “Public Money for Private Charity”
    “When President Bush’s controversial “faith-based initiative” was announced last February, it brought to mind something I learned years ago from readings on ancient Roman history.

    After years of being shunned and even persecuted, Christians suddenly enjoyed the official blessing of the Roman state when Emperor Constantine came to power in 324 A.D. For the first time, imperial funds were used to subsidize priests and churches. Christians emerged from hiding in Rome’s catacombs to partake of the state’s largess. . . ”
    (Lawrence W. Reed, author)

  • The difference would be that roughly half of states currently ban discrimination due to sexual orientation, and in all probability there will be a national ban in the not distant future. Thus, people can sue on the basis of being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

    Divorced people and polygamists are not protected classes.

  • “We brought it on ourselves.
    The American Catholic bishops refused for decades to stand up to abortionist politicians. ”
    Penguins fan: I think it goes even deeper than that. Even before abortion supporting politicians, the bishops and priests, refused to stand up to those who wanted to use contraception, who did NOT want to abstain from the marital embrace when a baby was “not wanted” (or possibly not wise to have, maybe due to illness or poor finances, etc)
    We will never know what those priests heard in the confessional, how many of them heard the little whispers of doubt inside their own heads: “You aren’t married. You aren’t a parent! You don’t know what it is like to have 4 children under 5 years old!!” I suspect a lot of them buckled, not knowing how to give good counsel or what to say.
    Or perhaps God is simply giving us our freedom to abuse, as He did Adam and Eve, and did not prevent bad people from getting into the seminaries. Would a good and holy priest say “Contraception? Yeah, whatever. Follow your conscience.” Or would a priest who isn’t following the rules himself (because he has girl or boy friend on the side) say that.

  • DJH—you raise an insight into the steamroller effect. The USCCB domestic policy and peace and justice groups are heavily subsidized by the federalis. A visit to its website to review the legislative agenda is like reading the democratic party platform. It operates as a tool of government and so you can expect collaboration through silence.

  • Here’s how I think it will go down: The test case will come at St. Wishy-Washy parish, in a state which has a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. There’s that nice, older, same sex couple that everyone basically knows about, but no one ever says anything rude about — except that nasty rules-obsessed fellow who objects when Father amends the creed to make it more gender inclusive. Pat is a Eucharistic minister. Sam leads the choir at the 5:30 mass and leads the inquiry sessions at RCIA. They’re always there to help out in every big parish activity and everyone likes them. One day, they file paperwork for marriage prep and ask to reserve the church for their wedding and the hall for the reception. Maybe that new secretary accidentally books it and takes a deposit check before realizing. Maybe it’s just believable at first that Fr. Trendy would celebrate the ceremony on his own authority. But of course, it’s not worth the poor man’s retirement to have the bishop find out about this one. He tell them he can’t do it and he returns Pat and Sam’s check to them.
    That’s when the lawsuit gets filed. Nothing against Fr. Trendy, of course. They know that he probably would agree with them if he was free to speak his mind. But Christ’s message of love will be held captive by the institutional hierarchy until they’re attacked the only place they understand: their wallets.

    I think you give Father Trendy and Mrs. Ditzy too much credit in your scenario, in the sense that I doubt they’ll be unwitting participants in the events leading up to the lawsuit getting filed. Father Trendy seems particularly culpable for allowing Pat and Sam to perform such public, ministerial roles in the parish.

    I guess that makes me the nasty rules-obsessed fellow.

  • In Scotland, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, provides that marriages between persons of the same sex can be solemnised only by a district registrar or assistant registrar (these are Crown appointments).

    A “religious or belief body”(RBB) may request permission from the Scottish Ministers to celebrate SSMs and nominate the persons to be authorised to celebrate them. Section 12 provides that not only is no RBB obliged to request permission to solemnise SSMs or to nominate a celebrant but that “nothing in the Act… imposes a duty on any person who is an approved celebrant in relation to marriages between persons of the same sex to solemnise such marriages.”

    In short (1) no RBB can solemnise an SSM unless it obtains permission from the Scottish Ministers to do so (2) it is under no duty to seek permission or to nominate celebrants and (3) even if it does, no individual minister, even though authorised to do so, is legally obliged to perform one. This is known as the “triple lock.”

  • It’s time to separate Sacramental Marriage from a civil marriage – theer has to be a difference in the eyes of God.

  • This is much like debating which path Christ will be forced to follow to Golgotha, rather than why he was betrayed. The damage and agenda for all this was established many years ago–and sadly–it was hardly covertly accomplished.

    It is our culture of license and privilege being abused systematically in every institution since at least the great revolution against all moral authority of the sixties. Those “Catholic” politicians, priests and bishop were allowed to get softened up by the Church which rushed to open its doors to the world instead of doubling down on that sacred trust which is the only way that could have provided a means of resisting the secularism that was unleashed by the powers and principalities.

    Better to be disliked, but untainted and strong of faith until the end, than to share in our own destruction by turning away from the Church’s God-given mission of salvation just to play footsie with the Godless world for the diabolically distorted mission of “social justice.

    No small wonder we now have church leaders embracing worldly hammer and sickle crucifixes.

  • “Divorced people and polygamists are not protected classes.”

    You do not have to be in a protected class to bring an equal protection claim. (One could of course argue that the whole concept of protected classes is an equal protection violation, at least as to how the concept has played out in practice.)

  • Don L.

    Agreed. Seems the tasteless salt is being propagated.

    If men can be tested in the crucible, like gold in the fire, why not the Holy Catholic Church?
    That might be what’s going on.
    The impurities must “rise first” before being obliterated in the furnace.

    Just wondering.

  • Don’t blame me. I never voted for a democrat.

    It’s bat-crap crazy out there. Get used to it. Or else, what are you prepared to do?

    Of course, the same-pervert couple can walk across the street and find an Episkie priestess, or whatever from the thousands of US cults, to “marry” them . . . [BARF]
    What we will experience are gay gestapo attacks or Church raids viciously demanding that priests perform for them marriage rites. The priests may need to do it.

    Here is a modest proposal. The bishop should be present. He steps forward and intones the Rite of Excommunication *(Bell, Book and Candle) over the public sinners. Americans (only) have the right to worship! Liberal air-heads exploding . . .

  • I’m waiting to see which of the liberal priests will first sanction and preside over a same-sex marital contract ceremony (what we call matrimony).

  • I think you’re overly optimistic about 10 years.

    I’ll bet you it happens within 2.

  • (T. Shaw Here is a modest proposal. The bishop should be present. He steps forward and intones the Rite of Excommunication *(Bell, Book and Candle) over the public sinners. Americans (only) have the right to worship! Liberal air-heads exploding . . .)

    The problem might be in finding someone to do that to the many bishops that also need purification…

  • An answer?

    Cardinal Burke resurrected The Holy League, , and our parish recently climbed on board. May was our first meeting.
    Just over forty men joined in. We meet every month. Guest speakers, dinner, then adoration with confessional’s ( two ) operational.

    This is a great start!

    Please check it out.
    Our future is bright… we’re just in the storm at the moment.

    PS. This is men only fellowship.
    Strong Men!

  • Wrong. The will come from within, not outside, the Church. It is already gaining steam.

  • The real diagnosis implicitly acknowledged by this article is that the Catholic Church has lost its faith. The majority of the institutions and even churches and parishes which call themselves Catholic are nothing but — I’m sorry to say — rotting corpses. Scenarios like the one described above could never happen in a SSPX parish. Essentially an SSPX parish is nothing but what a normal Catholic parish once was, before Vatican II. We are facing a catastrophe because we have let the enemy in. The biggest problem is not the neo-fascist gay movement, it is the completely accepted laxity in faith and morals in the Church, to the point that propagandists of sexual immorality are not only not expelled but actually protected by the hierarchy, the Pope himself included. This will not change, unless a “gang” of determined “warriors” arise who are prepared to use “rough” and unconvential methodes to rid the Church from this despicable sissies and pleasers.

  • R. Sevenster.

    The gang of rough warriors to rid the Freemason’s out of Holy Church is going to likely be a divine assault. A cleansing that comes from above. Two lightning strikes that followed the announcement of Pope Emeritus retirement was not coincidentally timed. Not in my opinion. It was a reminder of the one Who Is, Was and Is to come again. He will clean house when ready.

  • It seems to me that we may need to get used to foregoing taxpayer money to run our charitable programs. But that is just a start. Perhaps we can make the assets of the Church “un-get-at-able” by our rogue government. I believe that morally, this would be the same as hiding our assets, as the deacon Saint Lawrence did when he hid the golden chalices and patens that the early Christians were using for the celebrations of the Eucharist, together with the coin which had been raised to assist the poor. When Caesar’s henchmen demanded that Lawrence turn over the treasures of the Church, Lawrence pretended to acquiesce. Instead of presenting the golden vessels and the money, however, Saint Lawrence gathered together some of the destitute old and sick and presented these persons to the henchmen. “These,” Lawrence proclaimed, “are the treasures of the Church.” Which may be said to be true in a very highly spiritualized sort of sense, but Saint Lawrence knew perfectly well that these were not even close to what the henchmen were looking for, and the henchmen knew he knew.

    And so Lawrence ended up being roasted alive on a grill.

    Those of us who would be willing to be roasted to death as Saint Lawrence was rather than to see the presence of the Church disappear from our neighborhood streets and from our cities, might support a method that draws its inspiration from Saint Lawrence. (The disappearance, as we all know, would be caused by being driven into bankruptcy by lawsuits from the Dark Side as well as fines from the Dark Side using the powers of the government.) One solution would be to get together very clever lawyers and accountants, and to put the Church property in the name of some series of shell corporations (ABC Holdings Corp. dba DEF Corp. a wholly owned subsidiary of GHI Corp. JKL Corp. holds overall ownership, etc. etc.) And let the corporate owners listed be the mothers of U.S. priests, but the mothers are citizens and residents of Belgium or Costa Rica or the Philippines. Off-shore: can’t get at ’em. The same with the houses, and vehicles, and lawn-mowing equipment, and computers, and desk and chairs for the school – titled off-shore. Can’t get at ’em. And the cash goes into the vaults of a financial institution on the Canary Islands, or Saint Kitts, or the Hebrides, or wherever has a good financial system, but doesn’t allow agents of the Dark Side using the power of the U.S. government to seize customer assets.

    Off-shore, off-shore, off-shore. I say put all the paperwork and the paper money off-shore now. And let the accountants and the lawyers be the sharpest and cleverest and the most experienced we can afford because agents of the Dark Side will be coming after us hard sooner or later. And as we also know, the master of the Dark Side is very clever.

  • I’m looking forward to how the church is going to respond pastorally to her own. Mother Church does not neglect her own.

  • In other countries like France, couples go to the local magestrate and obtain a civil marriage. then the couple comes back to the Church for a “con- validation.Maybe this could work in the United States.

  • Somewhat OT but I spent a lovely day with 6 ladies at a flea market on Saturday. One of them I’ve known all my life, 2 I just met that day, the other 4 I know to varying degrees. We had a wonderful day – talking, laughing & shopping and we ended up 8 hours later at a delightful restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, the talk turned to the Supreme Court SSM ruling. I wasn’t surprised that it got heated but even the cynic in me was taken aback that 4 of these ‘nice’ women stated without irony that the Roman Catholic faith was going to have to change to accommodate SSM! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

  • I like Phillip’s solution and
    I also think a solution is embedded in Penguins Fan’s “we brought it on ourselves comment:
    ” bad music, bad rubrics, etc. It would help if we turn around – and get back to worshipping God in a manner befitting Him.

  • This is confusing, because the Church recognizes civil and non-Catholic marriages as valid, but Catholic couples who marry outside the church are not recognized by the Church, and there is a special ceremony called Convalidation. Would they be forced to convalidate same sex couples?

  • Would they be forced to convalidate same sex couples?

    Hard to say what Justice Kennedy’s muse will tell him. Historically, for the most part, government is constrained from telling you what to believe, but you are constrained in the ways you can act on your beliefs (egregious e.g., if you’re an Aztec, no human sacrificing for you, but feel to believe the gods demand it or no more sunshine; less egregious e.g., you can believe that the OT legitimates plural wives, but polygamy is still against the law –for now). Increasingly, however, government is moving away from telling you what you can’t do to telling you what you must do. Thus far the coercion is hidden behind a sort of Hobson’s Choice (you don’t have to buy this ridiculously expensive health insurance plan, you’re free to choose to pay the obscenely expensive fee/penalty/tax), so how much longer before certain wrong beliefs/symbols are no longer protected because they’re implicated by beliefs about other wrong beliefs/symbols?
    We’d have to ask the Sons of Confederate Veterans I think.

    (Full Disclosure, I’m going off of what I remember of Con Law from the Political Science half of my double major from 20 years ago. For the most part I’m a historian by training, so grain of salt and all that.)

  • Bit confused by the last paragraph; in France e.g., and Italy I think also, you must have a civil marriage and (if a Catholic) a separate Church marriage. Seems to me that though not perfect from Church’s point of view it solves the problem unless, of course, the State were to become pro-active and outlaw any form of sacramental (addition) or act that looked like a marriage.

  • This might also bring a second exodus of homosexual priests and nuns to leave the Church since Vatican II in order to get married.

  • After Obergerfell v. Hodges, how long will it be before we see Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice v. Hodges? How long after that will we see Fido v. Hodges? P.E.T.A. will pick up the attorney fees, of course.

  • Deacon Mike Chesley and Skypilot
    France has had mandatory civil marriage (le mariage civil obligatoire)since 9 November 1791. It is illegal for a minister of religion “habitually” to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple not already legally married (Code Pénal Art 433-21) “Habitually” provides an exception for death-bed marriages and “marriages of conscience.”
    For Catholics, the chief importance of the civil marriage is the registration of the marriage settlement, in which the parties elect one of the matrimonial régimes provided under the Code Civil – community of property, community of acquisitions only, separation of property, conjunct usufructs &c and also the settlement of property on the issue. Remember that French law knows nothing of trusts.
    Wedding invitations usually refer to the two ceremonies as « le mariage » and « La bénédiction nuptiale » the marriage and the nuptial blessing. Not a few Canonists have argued over the years that the Church should revert to the pre-Tridentate law and recognise the civil marriage as sufficient for validity, but “solemnisation in the face of the Church” as a grave religious obligation – the position before 1563. Tametsi was aimed at “clandestine marriages,” but the Civil Register now provides a public and accessible record, which adequately addresses that problem.

  • A little more than a year ago 100,000 conservative French people marched through Paris on behalf of traditional marriage and family. I think conservatism is on the rise.

  • “authentic reform must be grounded in organic development” .

    I think that’s a quote from B16 but it applies to our Western Culture, and to our American politics too.
    Conservatives evangelize the culture when we don’t form circular firing squads. Also we have to pay attention to the signs of hope around us (even if they seem rare ) and build on them

The People and the Police

Wednesday, December 17, AD 2014

Part I: Why People Are Inclined To Support The Police

There have been a number of stories in the news lately in which prosecutors have considered and then failed to deliver indictments against policemen in cases where they have killed people. There’s been a fair amount of outrage about this, some of it justified, some of it not. One of the things that has generated so much outrage is that, through it all, most people have supported not indicting these officers. I think it’s worth considering why.

Police are in a difficult position. We, as a polity, pay them to insert themselves into situations that we do not feel ourselves well able to deal with, whether that means domestic disputes, fights between gangs, the mentally unstable, or runaway cows. In return, they get the generic “gratitude towards those in uniform” which our society includes among its civic pieties, but not necessarily huge amounts of comprehension of what they deal with which day (which, of course, varies a huge amount from city to city. What a small town policeman deals with is going to be a lot different from what an LAPD officer in Watts deals with.)

A basic understanding of this is, I think, why in general people are willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt (and then some) most of the time. The police are out there dealing with stuff so that we don’t have to, and there’s an implicit understanding that it would be rather churlish to turn around and prosecute them criminally if they make a misjudgement in doing their job. It’s one thing to go after the obvious “corrupt cop” cases which involve drug dealing, extortion, etc. People see this as a clear abuse of power. However, when the killing can be framed up in terms of “the officer thought he had to do this in order to protect himself/do his duty” people are unwilling to send him to jail.

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9 Responses to The People and the Police

  • The only time I’ve ever heard anyone say “I support the police, right or wrong” is during voir dire and I suspect the person didn’t really believe that but wanted to escape jury duty. (That juror candidate was excused from that jury pool then ordered by the judge to report to the civil trials jury pool supervisor for further assignment.)

  • In Scotland, it was for a long time the policy of the Crown Office (popularly known as the Clown Office) to prosecute all killings by police or prison officers, leaving it to the pannel to lead a proof in exculpation and alleviation.
    The acquittal rate was very high and a blanket policy was felt to be unfair to individual officers.
    Even as a means of satisfying pubic concern, it was an ill-conceived policy, for a trial for murder is not an enquiry into the death of the deceased; its sole purpose is to establish the guilt of the pannel beyond reasonable doubt and on corroborated evidence. Thus, a majority verdict of not proven (a common enough outcome) was worse than useless in allaying public disquiet.

  • “Thus, it becomes problematic when people “support the police” in the generic sense of always assuming that when there is an altercation in which a police officer kills or injures someone, the police officer was in the right.”
    The police officer was in the right intention, Intent, the free will choice to support good and fight evil is the position of the court. Justice is predicated on intent. Did the officer intent to stop the suspect and if so why did not the suspect stand and give a good account of himself which is required by law.
    When a police officer commands a person to stop. That person must obey or be physically stopped. This is the law for obvious reasons. The peace-keeping officer is there to protect peaceable assembly, to which civil right all persons need to be protected “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
    No matter how I try I always end up in the Constitution. Thank God.
    Rogues are not included because they have chosen to be excluded.

  • DarwinCatholic: This post is timely and necessary. I really enjoyed reading the “site which the Dallas Police Department put up in order to provide public transparency, which describes the circumstances and outcome of every officer involved shooting in Dallas in the last two years.”
    (If the suspect was shot in the back, in Ferguson, then, he could not have been responding to the police officer’s demand that he stop and give a good account of himself. I would like to see what kind of Justice the rioters would provide.) Peace on earth to men of good will.

  • Here are some clues.

    Don’t kill.

    Don’t rape.

    Don’t steal.

    In other words, obey the law.

    But, if you insist . . .

    Do not resist.

    That way you can breathe.

    Michale Brown and Eric Garner contributed to their demises. As such, they only rate honorable mention on their Darwin Awards.

  • Pretty words.
    Eric Garner did not deserve the treatment he received or death.
    What part of “I can’t breath” is unclear? He was faking, of course.
    The outgoing and incoming USAGs might think otherwise.
    Some gangs wear badges, others don’t. Reality.

  • Two cops, Wenjian Lu and Rafael Ramos, were just murdered because Eric Garner was an idiot and resisted arrest. Lu was a newlywed and Ramos leaves behind two sons. Bad times coming in New York City.

  • Sean: “Eric Garner did not deserve the treatment he received or death.
    What part of “I can’t breath” is unclear? He was faking, of course.”
    Eric Gardner was to stand and give a good account of himself. Resisting arrest, he contributed to his own death. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  • Mr Garner died some time after the policeman’s hold on him was released. He said “I can’t breathe” but he did breathe and he died later, in the hospital. He had a weak heart.
    I think having a healthy relationship between the people and the police can only be if all parties know the facts… so once again- the importance of the media coverage.

Wages and Hamburgers, A Pricing History

Friday, November 21, AD 2014

In the world of social media, articles can have a curiously restless afterlife, suddenly being passed around again for no apparent reason well after their original publication. In one of these, people starting passing around a chart on Twitter as “one of the most important charts you’ll see about the minimum wage” which proved to be from a Mother Jones post from December, 2013 claiming to explain why fast food workers are striking for a higher minimum wage.

This caught my eye because of the fast food association. I have an intellectual interest in the politics and economics of the minimum wage, but fast food I actually know a bit about as I ran pricing analytics for one of the big three hamburger chains for two years. So this allegedly so important chart got me thinking: How has the price of the hamburgers that fast food workers prepare changed over the last 40-50 years compared to the minimum wage? (Note: Contrary to popular belief, a lot of fast food workers make more than minimum wage. Around here, the advertised starting wage at major fast food chains tends to be $0.50 to $1.00 more than the minimum wage. However, the minimum is easy to track so it’s what tends to come up in these conversations.)

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3 Responses to Wages and Hamburgers, A Pricing History

  • This is a great bit of research and analysis.

  • Thanks.

    I figured now that I’m two years out from that job I can talk about the industry with relative impunity online, and I still know enough about how that industry works that it was a lot of fun to put together.

  • I really enjoyed this post, DarwinCatholic. Children who cannot always absorb math in the classroom, will absorb math in relation to their money and purchasing power. Reading the fine print helps with reading as well.
    I have often wondered about how these companies meet their bottom line. Most interesting and thorough analysis ever. economic breathing in and out.

An Ill Considered Call to Settle for Porn

Tuesday, November 18, AD 2014

Prof Mark Regnerus had a piece in First Things last week arguing… Well, I guess that part of the problem is that it’s not exactly clear what Regnerus is arguing. He starts out with some basic survey data on porn usage:

Forty-three percent of American men (and 9 percent of women) now report using pornography within the past week. It’s not an adolescent thing, either, as data from the new Relationships in America survey reveals. For men, porn use peaks in their twenties and thirties before beginning to diminish slowly. Indeed, sixty-year-old men are only slightly less likely to have viewed pornography within the past week than men in their twenties and thirties.

Among women, there is a more linear downward trend in pornography use with age. While 19 percent of women under age thirty report porn use in the week prior to the survey, only 3 percent of women in their fifties say the same. The challenge invades congregations as well: 26 percent of weekly church-attending men reported porn use within the past week.

Contrary to what is sometimes asserted, women have the right to be annoyed or upset by porn. It’s not a good thing. It’s spiritually draining. But we often overlook another casualty of pornography (and the human reaction to it): relationships that fail to launch. Breaking off a relationship because of pornography use can be a rational, justifiable, and moral reaction to a problem—the predilection for peering at nudity online—but such actions contribute in ways not often noted to our broad retreat from marriage.

He then follows up with several anecdotes about women saying that they consider porn use a deal-breaker when it comes to picking a man to have a relationship with. Regnerus worries that this will mean that lots of people will avoid getting married at all:

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17 Responses to An Ill Considered Call to Settle for Porn

  • Darwin, his business is in part contemplating patterns in social relations. That aside, he is pondering how people make the best of less than pristine alternatives, which most of us do as a matter of course. Cannot figure why you’ve got your knickers in a twist about it.

  • In various forms, porn surrounds us. Beer commercials with bikini clad young women, NFL cheerleaders in skimpy outfits, constant TV ads for “ED”, radio ads for “gentlemen’s clubs (This really pisses me off. The local sports radio station is aimed at twentysomething men who have nothing better to do bet bet on football and go watch strippers and I have to shut it off when I have my son in the car.), the Victoria’s Secret stores in the malls next to toy stores, Howard Stern, etc. It has gone mainstream and it’s worse in Western Europe.

    Hugh Hefner is a disgusting human being. Fortunately, his empire, now run by his daughter, is crumbling, but that lazy pajama clad nothing of a man has exploited countless women over the past several decades. More than a few have ended up dead. The others who engage in the business are no better.

    Pornography (the devil’s image) should be treated like prostitution. The truth is, it’s always been there – the pagan Romans indulged in it heavily and it’s a temptation to many men and women both. A society that puts off marriage longer and longer but will not put off sexual activity is a ready market for porn. Porn appeals especially to the lonely, the selfish and the immature, and we are not short of any of those today.

  • I suppose that from a certain point of view, Cardinal Kasper is simply pondering how people should make the best of less than pristine alternatives, but I think that his advocacy for putting a Catholic stamp on divorce and remarriage is still immoral and contrary to doctrine.

    Regnerus is arguably not that bad, in part because he honestly can’t seem to figure out what he even wants to say in the piece, but to the extent that the piece seems to have any message it appears to be a “boys will be boys so we might as well accept it” sort of message that we (rightly) would not accept in other areas such as addiction (which, after all, porn usage too often becomes.)

  • Well said, Penguins Fan. Pornography is not harmless. Many married women view their husband’s porn addiction as the same as an extramarital affair. Ted Bundy said his deviancy started with porn addiction.

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  • That’s a cheap shot; you used to be better than that.

    Most of us do not and cannot live in circumstances where family members or others in our social circle are on board with everything or much of anything we hold allegiance to. (You’ve been told that before by others in other venues, but it does not seem to register with you). That is a constraint within which ordinary people have to make do. Regnerus’ perspective is derived from looking at population aggregates which have tremendous inertia and discernible characteristics and from which and within which devoted adherents have to make their choices. I have a dear friend who has been a pillar of the Latin Mass Community in Rochester for nearly 20 years; you’ll never see his wife in a church of any description. (They could not have children, so there are domestic arguments they do not have). Unless you live within subcultures with a severe bias towards endogamy, those sorts of negotiations and dilemmas will be part of most people’s lives.

  • I think Darwin’s article correctly identified the problem with the Regnerus piece. I don’t see any malice on Regnerus’s part, no “winking” at the problem. But he ponders the impact of pornography without considering the essence of pornography: a grave act with the potential of separating us from God by sabotaging our relationship with His order.

    We become worse people by habitual sin. We become worse in exactly the characteristic of the sin, but we also weaken ourselves in other respects by distancing ourselves from grace. The point of a Christian marriage, or any relationship properly understood, is mutual assistance in attaining Heaven. One cannot make a spouse become perfect, nor can one find a perfect potential spouse, but if a person is habitually and deliberately committing a grave sin, he’s not ready for marriage. We all have sins in our past (I’d venture to say that nearly all of us have grave sins in our past), and while they’re indicators of future behavior, we recognize that grace and virtue change us over time. A prudent and forgiving person can make a good judgment about a potential relationship without winking at past sin.

  • Art Deco,

    I, for one, don’t think it was a ‘cheap shot’. Your comment (both of them, now) was at such a level of vagueness that almost anything could get a pass if described that vaguely.

  • His essay is a pudding in search of a theme. He seems to lunge at ideas without actually moving, and I’m still not quite sure what he was trying to say.

    He clearly understands porn to be a serious problem, so that is not open to dispute. But if you substituted any other addictions–alcohol, gambling–then the problem with his approach becomes more clear. I don’t see where one could criticise a woman for pulling the ripcord on a potential marriage in those circumstances, likewise a porn addiction.

    Definitely, as serious Catholics dwindle in the West, we’re not going to be as able to find like-minded spouses, and our standards will have to adjust accordingly.
    That’s not entirely to the bad from a certain perspective–Helena’s common-law marriage to Constantius worked out reasonably well for the Faith, to name but one example, as did Monica’s marriage to Patricius (even though that relationship, too, was unhappy more often than not). But I don’t know that disparity of cult is comparable to compulsive/addictive behavior.

  • Art Deco,

    From the vague citation you give, I’m honestly not sure what pattern of behavior or mine or what venues you’re referring to, though if you can be more specific I’d be happy to respond.

    Let me start by being clear on what I’m not saying:

    – I’m not saying that anyone whose spouse uses porn should immediately divorce them.

    – I’m not saying that no one should every marry anyone who uses porn (or that no one should ever marry anyone who has used porn at some point in the past.

    I would actually agree with Regnerus that it’s hard to come up with single, one-size-fits-all rules for who you should and should not marry. Plus, people change. It may be that one or another spouse’s practices or beliefs change (for the better or for the worse) during the course of a marriage and if so this is not necessarily a reflection n the other spouse.

    However, what I am saying is that I don’t like the general attitude (there’s not actually an argument to criticize) that Regnerus presents in the piece. He notes specifically the rates of porn usage and vaguely the decrease in marriage, and then offers that perhaps if women are too selective in not wanting to marry men who use porn regularly, that those women will contribute to the decline of marriage.

    For starters, I think this skips a few steps. I think it’s a lot more realistic to attribute the decline in marriage rates to the increasing numbers of people who don’t want to get married than to some Catholic women being too selective in who they want to spend their lives with.

    I think it’s also significant that he’s talking about advice for those who are deciding to to enter into marriage with. That’s an entirely different question from what people already in a given marriage should do. If a woman is considering marrying a guy, and discovers that it’s a frequent habit of his to wank off while watching videos of people being paid to have sex in front of a camera (sorry to be blunt, but let’s be honest about what we’re discussing here), and if that man shows no indication of changing his practices in that regard, I don’t have much sympathy with telling that woman that she by-golly better go ahead and marry the bloke anyway because we can’t have the marriage rate declining and she probably can’t do better. That’s not to say that some particular woman, with some particular man, might decide that she’s got good reasons for going forward despite a porn problem. My objection is to implicitly telling women that in looking for a man who is not actively engaged in that habit, she’s being too picky and needs to learn to settle.

    As for whether my comparison to Kasper is a cheap shot: Regnerus notes that 23% of church goers use porn regularly. I would reply that more than 23% of church goers are divorced and remarried. It’s all in what you want to encourage people to wink at, I suppose.

  • The author is right about porn use, it’s out here. the commenters make some great points, you can’t read the news on the web w/o some blurb on the roll about the sexiest cheerleaders. One thing the Church could do is sponsor more social functions for unmarried parishioners, and not just for the young. There are many mature people who have lost their spouses.
    Having a wife or husband fulfills all sorts of needs for people.

  • He (Marc Regnerus) then follows up with several anecdotes about women saying that they consider porn use a deal-breaker when it comes to picking a man to have a relationship with.

    I consider porn use a deal-breaker when it comes to picking a female to have a relationship with.

    I find very few females aren’t head-deep into pornography. Porn is not just pictures, kiddos. People have been imprisoned for trafficking in porn that had no pictures at all. Of course, the social tendency to overlook crimes committed by females–or to pretend their crimes aren’t really criminal at all–accounts for so much female-preferred porn being openly displayed and sold, even in front of children. Yes, kiddos, a lot of those so-called romance novels appeal to prurient interests and have no redeeming artistic or social value.

  • This is what I would expect to see in First Things magazine. I read it for about six months several years ago. It is marketed as an intellectual publication but has a lot of articles that are rather unclear, like this one, and that tend to push the boundaries on behavior. I still wonder who this magazines leadership is in league with. It certainly does not seem to be consistently catholic.

  • Pornography is harlotry, a lie about the innocent human being and his sexuality. Pornography is supplanting genuine, loving relationship with our neighbors as well as with our spouse. When a person sees the other as a sexual gratification for himself, that person cannot commit to matrimony. He cannot commit to the community as a true citizen for the common good and general welfare. Only Truth has freedom of speech. When the Supreme Court redefined free speech and confused free speech with perjury; pornography is a lie about human sexuality, perjury in a court of law; the Supreme Court destroyed the dignity of the sexual expression of the innocent human person created in the image of God. The Court denied equal Justice to all citizens. Yes, there is human sexuality that is holy, blessed and redeeming and one is not being a “holy roller” or imposing communism to demand of our government the respect for man as man is created. (Seems like “We, the people…” can place the blame of pornography on atheism) The Supreme Court is compensated by tax dollars to affirm and reaffirm the freedom inscribed in our founding principles. Pornography is addictive and destructive of every freedom.
    The Supreme Court does not allow an individual to validate a contract when cough syrup or other medication is consumed. Drugs, legal and illegal, alcohol addiction and pornography addiction impairs valid consent to matrimony.
    Pornography is a malignancy on our culture, allowed, permitted and legalized by the government constituted by decent human beings who are being violated by the imposition of the perjury that is pornography.
    How can a pornography addict give informed consent to marriage, if he is ignorant and addicted to what is despicable, degenerate and destructive of the innocence, moral and legal of our constitutional posterity, our neighbor and our minor un-emancipated children?

  • Micha Elyi, When I think of porn use or addiction I think of men. Good point on female porn. I wouldn’t know about bodice rippers, because I don’t read them. but since you brought it up, my friends and I have over the years dropped our subscriptions of main stream fashion mags, because we thought the photos were obscene, some subltely so, and some overt…….8 year old girls made-up, coiffed and dressed like 25 year old women with pouty, sultry faces; women posed suggestively with animals, women and women, and women and men (some of whom looked effeminate). The clothes are secondary in these shoots. Not fashion, not art, it’s soft porn. I am concerned for my batchelor sons
    because many single women of today are so different from my generation.

  • “However, what I am saying is that I don’t like the general attitude (there’s not actually an argument to criticize) that Regnerus presents in the piece. He notes specifically the rates of porn usage and vaguely the decrease in marriage, and then offers that perhaps if women are too selective in not wanting to marry men who use porn regularly, that those women will contribute to the decline of marriage.”.
    My neighbor married a man who brought her home to a room full of (200) porn videoes, which he chose to wallow in instead of the marriage bed. The wife made up her mind that when the children were influenced, he and his videos had to go. One morning she woke and found the children playing at pornography, doing what they had seen on the porn video. Her husband asked the divorce court if he could have his wife and his mistress. The judge said that he could not have his wife if she does not want him (and his 200 porno videos).
    The man had made reservation for his addiction to pornography in his married life. So this is a marriage? not unlike a spouse who refuses to bring children into the world. Cheating on the spouse is not marriage, it is cheating on the spouse.
    Yes, marriage has been diminished as has our founding principles, and our common good by the introduction of garbage in and garbage out.

  • Donald Wilmon of the American Family Association asked K Mart to remove pornographic magazines from the front counter eye level of children, again and again, and again. Wilmon gathered the support of the churches who removed their investments. K Mart lost its credit rating, and the CEO was replaced. The pornography is now behind the counter. It works every time. Now, we have the NEW K Mart.

Innocence Project Appears to Have Framed Innocent Man

Tuesday, November 11, AD 2014

Alstory Simon was recently released from an Illinois prison after serving 15 out of 37 years for murder. The Cook County attorney’s office vacated the charges against him after concluding that he was likely innocent of the murder he had pleaded guilty to back in 1999.

As is the case in several other cases of overturned murder charges, the Innocence Project (an anti-death penalty advocacy group which focuses on trying to clear convicted murderers who are awaiting the death penalty) is mixed up in this story. However, unlike many other such cases, the reason why Simon was in prison in the first place is that Innocence Project volunteers are reported to have framed Alstory Simon for murder, in order to get another man originally convicted of the crime (Anthony Porter, who likely was in fact guilty) out of prison and off death row. Jim Stingl of the Journal-Sentinel tells the story:

Last week, Simon walked out of prison a free man after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that her office, after a yearlong investigation, was vacating the charges against him and ending his 37-year sentence.

The investigation by the Medill Innocence Project, she said, “involved a series of alarming tactics that were not only coercive and absolutely unacceptable by law enforcement standards, they were potentially in violation of Mr. Simon’s constitutionally protected rights.”

Protess and two of his journalism students came to Simon’s home in the 200 block of E. Wright St. in Milwaukee and told him they were working on a book about unsolved murders. According to Simon, Protess told him, “We know you did it.”

Then Simon received a visit from Ciolino and another man. They had guns and badges and claimed to be Chicago police officers. They said they knew he had killed Green and Hillard, so he better confess if he hoped to avoid the death penalty.

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15 Responses to Innocence Project Appears to Have Framed Innocent Man

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  • Appalling but unsurprising. The “Innocence Project” has thrived on extremely dubious confessions, recantations and the fact that over time DNA samples can degrade increasing the risk of false negatives. That courts have allowed themselves to be taken in by these type of tactics says all you need to know about our judicial system and its often craven reaction to sustained media campaigns whipped up by activists unconcerned with actual guilt or innocence of those on death row.

  • It was over 20 Years Ago, when I was involved in an Integrity Investigation, as lead investigator for the City of New York, in regards to the Fitness of certain “Charities”, to use that term loosely, as they were licensed to conduct Games Of Chance and BINGO. I recall that the vast majority were pocketing the revenue, not for Charity, but for the profit of The Commercial Lessor and the Gambling Rings involved.
    But, a Suspicious Acting Superior was often spotted with these Operators in her off hours, tipping the Operators off. She went to Like Minded Superiors and began a “Whispering Campaign”, saying to those Superiors that She can prove that I was NOT To be Trusted.
    She arranged to have an investigator, who was found to be unfit for duty, sent with me for the purpose of training the unfit unvestigator, who never obeyed any instructions except for whatever the Female Superior told her to do, for the purpose of halting any Investigations into Illicit Licensees by me.
    And this Female Superior had a network of Lackeys who would testify falsely, for Political Favors, for going along with her and be rewarded for this. I was forced into an uncertain future in 1992, In this episode I do recall that this Superior also said to me that I should give up my Catholic Faith and become a Christian like she is and how much better it would be for me.
    I still persevere in my Catholic Faith, which is not easy, as I am Retired on Disability. I was scheduled to give a Deposition in 2008, but was forced onto “Mental Health Sick Leave”, to protect this Superior and her Corrupt Crew of Lackeys, who promise those who cooperate with her crew that they will receive certain benefits for what often turns out to be done by coercion.
    And my conscience is clear. I can sleep nights.

  • Anybody who has had interaction with “Innocence Project” activists and happened to identify something they said that was false– can be Catholic doctrine or about a criminal case– shouldn’t be surprised by this. They will fight tooth and nail to discredit even the most obvious of corrections, and you’ll find them making the same claim in a week. Even if you get them to recognize something as a correction, it will go from the basis for a sweeping judgement to an exception… even if they can’t find a counter-example. And they’ll use the exact same style.
    It’s standard “ends justify the means” activism. They believe their cause is just, and so they’re willing to lie, cheat and maul the truth in what they believe is a greater Truth. Think like all the bad movie religious who do horrible things and justify themselves because they’re on the side of good.
    Does that county not have rules about impersonating a police officer for illegal intimidation?

  • Perhaps worst of all, they hooked up Simon with a free lawyer to represent him, Jack Rimland, without telling him that Rimland was a friend of Ciolino and Protess and in on their plan to free Porter.
    At Rimland’s urging, Simon pleaded guilty to the crime and even offered what sounded like a sincere apology to Green’s family in court. As added leverage to make him cooperate, Rimland had told Simon he was suspected in a Milwaukee murder, though nothing ever came of it.


    How does Rimland not get disbarred here?

  • So will the original murderer, Porter, be re-interred? If not, what a terrible miscarriage of justice! And btw, what causes DNA samples to degrade? From popular science (and of course TV shows) you get the sense that it lasts forever.

  • Pretty much *everything* degrades DNA, from what I remember– air, water, light, time… basically, genetic evidence isn’t always stored as great as it theoretically could be, especially after it’s already been tested and the guy identified is behind bars.

  • This is a surprise. The usual complaint about the Innocence Project is that in their public relations they conflate convictions vacated due to the discrediting of some piece of evidence with demonstrations of actual innocence.

    I guess you cannot really rely on the public interest bar or ‘human rights’ organization. Middle East Watch is basically a press agency for Arab nationalists, Amnesty International once put Wesley Cook (aka Mumia Abu Jamal) on their list of ‘prisoners of conscience’ and years before had hired an Australian Communist as their research director; and the fraudulence of the ACLU is well known. Still, I’m surprised if Mr. Scheck’s group engineered something this underhanded.

  • Don’t forget the “Southern Poverty Law Center.”


    First one, the attempted mass shooting of defenders of traditional marriage; the second, Catholicism is an “extremist” group on par with the KKK and Al Q.

  • Don’t forget the “Southern Poverty Law Center.”

    That was exposed as a seedy direct mail mill 15 years ago in an admission against interest published in Harpers. That it’s ever quoted in the press is indicative of journalistic malfeasance or negligence.

  • I believe there was much to be said for the old rule in criminal cases that “All interlocutors and sentences pronounced by the High Court of Justiciary… shall be final and conclusive, and not subject to review by any court whatsoever, and it shall be incompetent to stay or suspend any execution or diligence issuing forth of the High Court of Justiciary under the authority of the same.”

    In the case of an obvious miscarriage of justice, the Crown could grant a free pardon.

  • I hope that the Innocence Project is at least prosecuted for perjury.

  • The Medill Innocence Project at NW University is not affiliated with The Innocence Project in New York.

  • The Medill Innocence Project at NW University is not affiliated with The Innocence Project in New York.
    That claim will hold more water after their website finishes scrubbing their website of all the places they claim Protess’ work, instead of just moving the renamed group to an “other” listing– they’ll have to do something about the Innocence Network, too, since there are a ton of easily (searchengined) resources where they openly state that they are affiliated via that network. Down side of using colleges as free labor for your activism, it gets cited.
    They’ll have to go back and memory-hole the news releases that identify the Medill Innocence Project as in affiliated.
    Not sure if they’ll be able to retroactively dispel them when they brought Supreme Court cases claiming them as affiliates, though.

A Novel of the Great War

Monday, November 10, AD 2014

I’ve been largely absent from these pages over the last year, in part because of work and family commitments, but also because a writing project has been eating up a great deal of my time which might otherwise be spent blogging. That project is now in the open, so I’m hoping to contribute here a little more often. I also thought that the project itself might be of interest to some here, since one of the things that TAC is generally strong on is military history.

Cover Square

Some years ago, I asked my co-blogger here Donald McClarey to recommend a good history of the Spanish Civil War. He recommended several, but he said that to his mind the best book to read was a novel, The Cypresses Believe in God by Jose Maria Gironella. I read it, as well as some actual history books on the period, and he was right. Yes, the history books gave me more in terms of dates and numbers and places. But Gironella’s massive novel gave a real sense of why people on both sides fought the war and how it changed them. Reading it helped me understand what the war meant in human terms. The novel was not just set during the Spanish Civil War, telling about some specific characters’ experiences during it. It took on the war itself as a character and sought to bring the reader to an understanding of it.

The genesis for this project goes back far enough that I’m unable to put a precise date on it. I first became fascinated with World War One in high school, when I read the poems of Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves, and although my interest waxed and waned over the years it’s always had a draw for me. It’s hardly a unique insight to say that the 20th Century was forged in the furnace of the Great War, but I don’t think it’s any less true for being commonplace. The idea of a big novel, or a series of novels, that dealt with the war, with characters on all sides, started to grow on me, and as I read more books on the topic I started putting in post-its and taking down notes for what turned out to be this project.

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5 Responses to A Novel of the Great War

  • Will this be available in a paperback or kindle form ever?

  • Yes.

    I’m working to find a commercial publisher, but if that doesn’t pan out I’ll put it out directly via Amazon kindle store and print on demand.

  • Very much looking forward to reading this. Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Sassoon, a fictionalized account of his own experiences in the War, began my taste for WWI novels! I have always regretted that neither CS Lewis nor Tolkien tried their hand at a WW I novel, but I think for many veterans too much pain was involved in remembering things they would much rather forget.

  • My favourite WWI novel is Les silences du colonel Bramble by André Maurois. There is a good English translation by Thurfrida Wake (The Silence of Colonel Bramble)

    Maurois, like the novel’s protagonist, Aurelle, had served as a liason officer with the British army and the novel is a masterpiece of wit and of affectionate, but not uncritical, observation of the British character from a French perspective. Maurois could depict the comédie humaine, even amid the horrors of the Western Front.

  • I’ll have to take a look for Silence of Colonel Bramble.

    Up until I got going on this project, I’d only ever read English novels about WW1 (starting with Sassoon’s war trilogy), so one of the interesting experiences was reading French, German and Austrian novels dealing with the war.

    The most interesting one I read, though the writing style is definitely dated, is Invasion by French author Maxence Van Der Meersch. Van Der Meersch, as his name suggests, is from the very northern corner of France, in Lille, near the Belgian border. Invasion deals with the lives of a huge number of intersecting characters in occupied Northern France. Published in 1937, it was also written as the second war loomed. All around a fascinating read.

Manufacturing Data: School Shootings

Monday, June 16, AD 2014

Someone I slightly know wrote on Facebook the other day with the comment, “Every day my husband has to go teach high school, I worry all day. Teaching is becoming the most dangerous job in America.”

This comment was inspired by a map that’s been making it around social media which purports to show “the 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook”. The map is based on a running list compiled from news reports by Everytown for Gun Saftey, a Michael Bloomberg affiliated “grassroots” advocacy group for gun control.

The interesting thing about these kinds of data manufacturing efforts by advocacy groups is that at times when there is no other “data” available about some topic which catches the public imagination, such informal efforts at statistics can catch on with media venues and become received wisdom. And yet, the criteria for putting together such a list is often highly influenced by the fact it’s an advocacy organization doing the compilation work. In the case of the “74 school shootings” list, the criteria listed are:

Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings…. Incidents were identified through media reports, so this is likely an undercount of the true total.

Part of what makes this kind of advocacy work is that people have an idea of a “school shooting” is: Some disaffected student decides to go out in a blaze of media glory and blazing guns, or else some insane adult decides to go to a school and slaughter as many innocents as possible before turning his gun on himself. There are a few famous incidents (Columbine, Sandy Hook) which fit this model very nicely, and the “74 school shootings” claim gives the idea that there are many other similar incidents which just haven’t received as much news coverage.

However, when someone goes through the list of school shootings and starts to look up the news stories, a much wider range of events starts to emerge.

For instance, #10 on the Everytown list is a shooting at Hillside Elementary in San Leandro, CA. The actual news report says:

Investigators in the East Bay say they have leads, but no suspects, yet in the murder of a 19-year-old Laney College student. Travion Foster was shot and killed just before 9 p.m. Wednesday in the field behind Hillside Elementary School…. Foster was shot and killed Wednesday night in the field behind San Leandro’s Hillside School. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department say it appears Foster was involved in a game of dice with several others, when gunfire erupted.

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17 Responses to Manufacturing Data: School Shootings

  • I live in the DC area. I remember what the murder rate used to be, and it seemed like a lot of the deaths involved kids going to or coming from school. What I’m wondering is, do the calculation methods match? If they’re relying on a broad definition of school shooting today, are they comparing it to broadly-defined statistics from before? Or is this a case where the official numbers follow a tight definition, but since they aren’t available for current years, we’re using a broader definition for more recent years?

  • Apparently part of the issue here is that there is no government definition of or record-keeping on “school shootings” as a category, and Everytown is specifically only compiling post-Sandy Hook news stories, so there’s no real trend to look at.

  • The “truth” is that which advances the agenda.

    There are liars. There are damned liars. And then, there are democrats.

  • It helps contemporary statists keep the serfs under raps.

    From “Never Yet Melted” blog.

    “Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.”

  • A lot of people lack the numerical literacy to understand this. To be fair, there is a strong emotional reaction to any school shooting such that we perceive the denominator to be much smaller than it really is. It doesn’t help that a particular incident didn’t happen at your child’s school; the fact that it was in the same county or even the same part of your state is disconcerting enough. It’s a sort of “there but for the grace of God” effect on rationality.

  • I just found this from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005-2009 Workplace Violence rates by Occupation (incidents per 1000 employed persons):

    Total 5.1
    Medical 6.5
    Mental Health 20.5
    Teaching 6.5
    Law Enforcement 47.7
    Retail Sales 7.7
    Transportation 12.2
    Other/Uncategorized 2.8

    High school teachers do have a higher rate than most teachers (13.5), but it’s small compared to law enforcement officer (77.8) or the worst profession listed (79.9). I’ll leave that last one open for guesses.

  • “…or the worst profession listed (79.9). I’ll leave that last one open for guesses.”

    Telemarketers? 😉

  • “…the worst profession listed (79.9). I’ll leave that last one open for guesses.”

    Bouncers? Et tu, Franciscus?

  • “Thou shalt not kill”…God. The removal of God and the acknowledgement of God by the atheist from the public square, public school and the public has resulted in a secular culture of hopelessness, despair and uselessness.

  • Pinky said: “High school teachers do have a higher rate than most teachers (13.5), but it’s small compared to law enforcement officer (77.8) or the worst profession listed (79.9).”

    As a teacher with 24 years of experience with most of it being at the high school level, I am NOT impressed that the rate for teachers is 13.5 & the rate for police officers is 77.8. Who in their right mind (or anyone else who has experience working in the k-12 age range) would even try to compare the two categories? Violence us part of the job description of a police officer.

    I also want to point out that a large percentage of the actual violence that takes place on school campus is never reported or us squashed by administrators or school resource officers who see it as their job to keep the public from knowing that such incidents have occurred at the local, neighborhood school.

    And then there is all of the harassment & terroristic threatening that is never reported or dealt with–including staff member on staff member, student on staff, staff on student, parent on staff, etc.

  • “I also want to point out that a large percentage of the actual violence that takes place on school campus is never reported or us squashed by administrators or school resource officers who see it as their job to keep the public from knowing that such incidents have occurred at the local, neighborhood school.”
    Very true, especially in towns with high property valuations. Can’t give the impression there is something wrong with the schools, now, can we? Property values might drop if fewer people want to move into town, right?

  • Who in their right mind (or anyone else who has experience working in the k-12 age range) would even try to compare the two categories?

    A teacher, possibly wrapped up in melodrama in support of how if people would just give up ever more of their ability to defend themselves, then maybe the murderous would “respect” the no gun zone rules.

  • 79.9 per 1000 it’s Bartenders

  • Thank you for taking the time to do this post. I knew it was bunk, but, not knowing the source of the 74 school shootings since that black day in Sandy Hook! claim, I didn’t know how to debunk it.
    Other than to point out to my beloved that I didn’t believe we’d seen school shooting tragedy lead the evening news 74 times in the last year and a half.

  • Very close, Tom. Bartenders.

  • Pinky said: “I live in the DC area. I remember what the murder rate used to be, and it seemed like a lot of the deaths involved kids going to or coming from school”

    I taught for 3 years in the inner city at an internationally known high school. It was not the roughest school I have ever taught in–2 other have been rougher in regards to teachers & students being in danger–but with the epidemic of drugs, violence, & gang turf wars in the area in which I taught ( as well as the sheer numbers of people in that location–when all students & staff were at school we had the number of people found in a town) too many of my students or students associated by blood/marriage to my students ended up stone cold dead. Their deaths were usually associated with drugs or alcohol. In fact, despite the drive by shootings/other such gang/drug related activities taking place with regularity in the neighborhood surrounding the school ( i had more than one student walking around with lead shot/pellets in their bodies from drive bys/shot gun spray through a house wall) all deaths of students of which I was aware during those years were the result of drug/alcohol use including combos of the two or violent crime such as rape.

    One bus stop in particular was known for young women being taken from it & raped. One of my senior’s bodies, a beautiful tall red head that I taught Geometry, was found in a dumptster in August after being placed in it by her 30 year old rapist ( he turned himself in & confessed several years after the rape & murder.). I had prayed & asked God to see that her rapist/murde turned himself in if he could be caught no other way.

    3 of our students checked out of school reeking of marijuana, got in a car,drove down the street & met their untimely deaths in a head on collision on a city street a few minutes later.

    Our head cheer leadership came to school drnk regularly but was never disciplined because her parents were well known business owners in the city, during one of those 3 years, killed herself in a car accident at which time she was found to have 3 times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood as well as cocaine.

    A student got high & hung themselves with a belt from a tree in his front yard.

    One of my students was drinking & drag racing in a city park with her boyfriend & was declared brain dead after the boyfriend wrapped his Ford Mustang around a tree in the park. I had talked to that young woman for 3 years because she seemed to have a death wish. I even saw that she was drug tested in an effort to provide intervention–but to no avail. She was suck if me talking to her about her life by the time she died (it was 2 months before her high school graduation & subsequent marriage to her boyfriend who survived the car crash.).

    During an 11week period of time at that inner city school, 18 students died from such things that were either in my classes or kin to my students.

    None if their deaths were ON the campus–despite drive by shootings into our student body during a special outdoor event scheduled by the principal & assaults outside of school hours at extra curricular events.

    Their deaths were rarely if ever in the news because they were poor minority students. The only deaths that made the news to my knowledge were 6 which took place in cars which meant firemen/policemen were dispatched & there were many public witnesses to what happened–except for my red headed senior who was found in the dumpster. The 3 deaths that were reported in widely were deaths of 3 white females.

  • If homicide statistics from Detroit, Chicago, New York City and New Orleans are removed from calculations, the United States would rank near the bottom of country by country comparison. The anti-gun rights people like to demonize the so-called gun culture of we hayseed hillbillies out in the sticks but it is the urban hell holes run by entrenched Democratic politicians that contribute the statistics the Left uses seeking to disarm us.

Hobby Lobby, Hypocrisy, Ethical Investing

Monday, April 7, AD 2014

Grant Gallicho of Commonweal believes that he’s caught Hobby Lobby being inconsistent in their commitment to not supporting abortion. Citing a Mother Jones expose he notes that Hobby Lobby has a 401(k) retirement plan for its employees and that it provides matching contributions to that 401(k) (meaning that when employees contribute up to a certain percent of their incomes to the 401(k) savings plan, the company will provide additional contributions to the retirement plan, beyond that employee’s normal earnings, to “match” the employee contribution.) This is actually pretty impressive for a retailer, and I would think that people who care about living wages and such would applaud such a step, but instead it has turned into a “gotcha”. You see, Hobby Lobby’s 401(k), like most others including the one I have at my employer, offers a short list of basic mutual funds between which employees can allocate their retirement funds. Research with the managers of these funds has revealed that some of these funds in turn invest in pharmaceutical companies which produce abortion drugs and implements.

These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell. [source]

Gallicho seems to think this is some sort of damning proof that Hobby Lobby isn’t being true to their claimed principles:

The problem for Hobby Lobby’s argument is that investing in companies that manufacture drugs and devices that enable contraception and abortion is quite different from paying for insurance that enables an employee’s choice to use services the Greens object to. Hobby Lobby selects the funds it invests in. As Redden points out, if the Greens wanted to, they could have chosen funds that screen out so-called sin stocks (they tend to perform as well as other funds). But they didn’t. (Hobby Lobby’s legal counsel, the Becket Fund, did not immediately reply to my request for comment.)

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13 Responses to Hobby Lobby, Hypocrisy, Ethical Investing

  • Religious freedom, thank God, does not rely on consistency. For example, we have Joe Catholic who hasn’t been to Mass since he was confirmed. A state government passes legislation forbidding Catholics from attending Mass. Joe files suit to challenge the law. It is completely irrelevant to the validity of his legal challenge whether he has not been to Mass in twenty years, or is a daily communicant, the infringement on his religious liberty is the same. Another example. Father Joe is a blabbermouth. Especially after a few beers he has been known to reveal sins said to him under the seal of confession. A law is passed in his state requiring priests to reveal child abuse mentioned to them in the confessional. Father Joe files suit to challenge the law. It is completely irrelevant whether Father Joe has revealed secrets of the confessional. The infringement on his religious liberty is the same no matter what he does voluntarily. Religious freedom is all about freedom from compulsion by the government, and what we do individually cannot diminish our right to be free from such compulsion in religious matters.

  • You’re awfully patient with Gallicho.

  • This reveals on which side stands Commonweal in the fight against abortion, er, . . . free health care for all!

    It’s called “detraction.” And, it’s calumny’s cousin. It’s making derogatory comments that reveal hidden faults or sins of another without good reason.

  • It’s not merely who owns what can be a bear to discern and brands pass from one company to another and companies are bought and sold. It’s this little gem:

    They seem not to have been so scrupulous with their investments–and investments are a different animal. The cooperation is more direct. Basically Hobby Lobby is saying to these funds: Here’s our money

    No, it’s not. Purchasing an equity allows you a share of the dividends and capital gains (if any). You’re not providing capital to the firm unless you purchase an IPO.

  • “This reveals on which side stands Commonweal in the fight against abortion”

    Not that there was ever much doubt…

  • Leaving aside the issues associated with material cooperation as well as T Shaw’s valid point regarding the oft overlooked sin of retraction, Mr. Gallicho demonstrates once again the Left’s rather predictible obsession with the charge of hypocrisy. Ultimately, one must choose either to conform one’s conscience to one’s actions, however conveniently, or to conform one’s actions to one’s conscience, however imperfectly. It is only those who choose the latter who are vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy, something those who are choose the former all too often cheerfully exploit.

  • Why doesn’t Commonweal and Gallicho look into the slimy and incestuous relationship between Christopher Dodd, Countrywide Mortgage, Barney Frank, his boyfriend who worked at FNMA, and between Ayers and Obama?

    Because they don’t care.

    The Left is hypocritical and obnoxious. Tear down Hobby Lobby to satisfy themselves.

  • Some of us are old enough to remember that the only time businesses were forced to buy insurance was from The Mob.
    The “Brain Child” of the Green family, Hobby Lobby, is being kidnapped and held hostage by Obamacare’s HHS Mandate, which was never voted on, nor was the HHS Mandate ever passed by Congress. The mandate was imposed tyrannically, after the fact, violating the prohibition against ex post facto laws in Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution. The mandate criminalizes and inflicts penalties for non-observance, denying to those conscripted into its strictures, no vote, no choice, no freedom to practice the virtues of charity and generosity, nor the freedom to exercise the virtue of religion and conscience.
    Every “brain child”, and intellectual property, conceived and nurtured for the common good is being held for ransom until their parents redeem them by forfeiture of their freedom of religion and the dictates of their own conscience.
    “Thomas Jefferson, Jan. 1. 1802.
    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
    .”…he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
    The HHS Mandate says that man has no right to his natural rights, his conscience, that man’s conscience is in opposition to man’s social duties and that man has no right to think and have opinion.
    Today I watched an old black and white film entitled “The Fugitive”. The fugitive was the last priest in Mexico after all other priests had fled martyrdom or had been martyred. At the end, the priest was hunted down, caught and executed for treason against the state, for not submitting the Catholic Church to the state.

  • Last evening, I watched ‘A Face in the Crowd’ with renewed interest in that the message of the crowd energizer who went from an unknown degenerate to the top via radio and tv with an undignified, purportedly likable venue and, eventually, was revealed as a hypocrite in one broadcast made when he thought the camera was off. His immediate loss of status fully unleashed his insanity. The fan base he cynically insulted turned away in the moment of the fateful broadcast. There was a background theme of business practices – advertising. The movie was made in the early 1950’s with Walter Matthau, Patricia Neal, and Andy Griffith. I think it’s an understatement to say that the same mentality is in evidence today with control by feelings more than reason in such events as this one.

  • When they have to dig that deep and wide … you know HL is doing something right!

  • Dave W: My thoughts exactly. Guilt by association is dealt with in the Constitution in Article 1, Section 10.Bills of Attainder.
    If they are calling Hobby Lobby “inconsistent” then they are pointing out the evil in abortion. They stand up to be condemned.

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  • Mr. Grant Gallicho, is the government forcing Hobby Lobby to buy that particular stock? No? Then the comparison is not apt.


Friday, April 4, AD 2014

The techie world has been rocked by a witch hunt in the name of tolerance over the last week, as gay rights activists have demanded that Mozilla (the non-profit organization which produces the FireFox web browser) fire its newly named CEO Brendan Eich, because six years ago he made a $1,000 personal donation to the political campaign for Proposition 8, the successful California ballot initiative to amend the California constitution to define marriage as only possible between one man and one woman. There have been previous cases of activists digging through the rolls of who provided donations to the Prop 8 campaign, and targeting people for their support of traditional marriage. Eich’s donation apparently became known within the company and caused some controversy among employees about a year ago, and this then escalated to a wider campaign last week when he was named the new CEO. This campaign claimed its scalp yesterday as Eich resigned from both the CEO position and Mozilla’s board.

Mozilla put up a blog post announcing the resignation and stating that employing Eich (who was a founder of the company and one of the original developers of JavaScript) was not in keeping with their values:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

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33 Responses to Intolerance

  • “I’m not among those who thinks we’re heading for an actual civil war — our country is far too prosperous and lazy for that”

    I pray that you are right Darwin, but prior to our Civil War the general consensus was that fighting would not occur, and both sides made that assumption. Shelby Foote used to talk about the Southern Congressman who offered to clean up all the blood spilled with his handkerchief. Foote then wondered how many railroad boxcars full of handkerchiefs it would have taken to wipe up all the blood spilled in the Civil War. I pray that we avoid a Civil War II, and I think we will, but I am far less optimistic today than I was just a few years ago.

  • I would suggest that Spain rather than the United States would be the precedent. Spain suffered a business recession during the period from 1929 to 1931 of roughly ordinary dimensions. Acute economic distress was not implicated in that conflict (though abiding social resentments were). The main driver was culture. You can find quotations from Manuel Azana which are stupefyingly familiar. The Spanish Republicans were in all a large minority which acquired a majority due to the vagaries of the electoral and party system and they cared little for any core interest their opposition had (“I won”). On the table was the expropriation of agricultural land and closure of Catholic secondary schools (“It is a matter of public health”). Take someone’s property and come after their kid and they just might be ready to rumble.

    Repair to Stanley Rothman’s study of elites. One way to interpret the last 80 years is to understand it as an escalating encroachment on the business sectors (and later the military and uniformed civil service) by the word-merchant sectors. A resolution of this conflict which restores the discretion of private citizens and local communities is going to involve putting the helping professions in their place (not difficult, up to a point), putting academe in its place (not difficult, up to a point), putting the entertainment complex in its place (dicey), and putting the legal profession in its place (which one suspects would get ugly because our customary means of regularized dispute resolution relies on it).

    By the way. If we had a civil war of the intensity of that which erupted in Spain, it would leave 15 million dead and leave the country under a bureaucratic-authoritarian state for a period of indeterminate duration.

  • I don’t recall Martin Luther King trying to make his opponents unemployable. Today’s activists claim to be following in his footsteps, but I have my doubts that they really are.

  • The social contract is being torn up in our faces, and a new one–of adhesion–is in draft.

    I think Art is correct in seeing the parallels to Spain in the 1930s. I also see cultural divisions comparable to the late Third Republic in France, which actually erupted into a low-grade civil war during the Vichy period.

    You throw in the fact that we are in dire financial straits…there’s a lot of dry kindling. Pray that it may be drenched.

  • Dale Price wrote “I also see cultural divisions comparable to the late Third Republic in France, which actually erupted into a low-grade civil war during the Vichy period.”

    You are so correct, I hadn’t thought about it in that way before. Also, the conflict over Algeria in 50s and 60s can be seen as an extension of that conflict. The proximate causes differ (just as the proximate causes of the English Civil War and the American Revolution differed) but the underlying motives and arguments were similar.

  • “Solidifying gains by destroying the political power of those who advocate retrogression is always necessary.”
    And thus we are reduced to the only commonality being that of brute force. They will be sorry if they live long enough to see the error of this path.

  • Sigh. Live by the “free market” die by the “free market”. Note that nothing in this case is incompatible with that detestable philosophy known as classical liberalism or libertarianism. To borrow from Paul Simon…Where have you gone, Pat Buchanan? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

  • Mozilla.
    Well, ther’es one internet browser that can be assured that my name will never grace their user list.

  • Yes, Art, it was more the Spanish Civil War that I was thinking of as well — my main contrary hope being that although the factions of our culture arguably hate each other as much as the Spanish factions did, and we are going through an extended recession, we started off so much better off that I’m not sure there are that many people in our society for whom resorting to armed conflict would look attractive.

    Tom, Although when we think of Libertarianism or Classical Liberalism we generally think of “freedom from” for the individual in relation to the government, but no limit on what the individual can do (such as fire people whose politics he doesn’t like) there is actually a tradition within Classical Liberalism which looks at the important of maintaining liberalism within the culture as a whole, not just the state. John Stewart Mill (not one of my favorite thinkers, but here I agree with him) wrote:

    For it is this—it is the opinions men entertain, and the feelings they cherish, respecting those who disown the beliefs they deem important, which makes this country [England] not a place of mental freedom… It is [social] stigma which is really effective, and so effective is it, that the profession of opinions which are under the ban of society is much less common in England, than is, in many other countries, the avowal of those which incur risk of judicial punishment. In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread… But though we do not now inflict so much evil on those who think differently from us, as it was formerly our custom to do, it may be that we do ourselves as much evil as ever by our treatment of them. Socrates was put to death, but the Socratic philosophy rose like the sun in heaven… Christians were cast to the lions, but the Christian church grew up a stately and spreading tree… Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion… And thus is kept up a state of things very satisfactory to some minds, because, without the unpleasant process of fining or imprisoning anybody, it maintains all prevailing opinions outwardly undisturbed… But the price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind.”
    – J.S. Mill, On Liberty, Chapter II, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion”

  • WK Aiken,

    And thus we are reduced to the only commonality being that of brute force. They will be sorry if they live long enough to see the error of this path.


    Though mostly, I can’t stop smiling over seeing this line next to your profile pic of the rabbit reaction to being scratched with a toothbrush. Somehow that’s just awesome.

  • Liberalism which looks at the important of maintaining liberalism within the culture as a whole, not just the state.

    Or balks at gleichschaltung, where voluntary association is subsumed under broad social and political camps. The trouble is, that the logic of employment and housing discrimination law effectively renders the opposition proscribed.

  • “’I want power to order people about!’ is an idea neither new nor noble.” See Don Boudreaux at “Café Hayek.”

    Again, from Zero Hedge: “What is the shelf life of a system that rewards confidence-gaming sociopaths rather than competence? Those in power exhibit hubris, arrogance, bullying, deception and substitute rule by elites for the rule of law. The status quo rewards misrepresentation, obfuscation, legalized looting, embezzlement, fraud, a variety of cons, gaming the system, deviousness, lying and cleverly designed deceptions.

    “Our leadership was selected not for competence but for deviousness. What’s incentivized in our system is spinning half-truths and propaganda with a straight face and running cons that entrench the pathology of power.”

    I want to buy more ammunition.

  • “Though mostly, I can’t stop smiling over seeing this line next to your profile pic of the rabbit reaction to being scratched with a toothbrush. Somehow that’s just awesome.”

    I have long admired that image also Darwin!

  • I’m confused. Wasn’t the activist left in a tizzy about corporations imposing their views on their employees just recently?

    Somebody help me out here.

  • When are these guys going to figure out that stories of dystopian, totalitarian governments aren’t supposed to be where you go for pointers?

    Silencing those who disagree doesn’t turn out good, but it does tend to make sure that the body count is higher.

  • “What is the shelf life of a system that rewards confidence-gaming sociopaths rather than competence? Those in power exhibit hubris, arrogance, bullying, deception and substitute rule by elites for the rule of law. The status quo rewards misrepresentation, obfuscation, legalized looting, embezzlement, fraud, a variety of cons, gaming the system, deviousness, lying and cleverly designed deceptions.

    The combine now formed by the appellate judiciary, the legal professoriate and the elite bar (Theodore Olson, &c) is so described. Six or seven of our more recent notable presidential candidates are so described. Standard issue administrators in higher education are so described. The crew that ran Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the ground are so described. Jon Corzine…

  • Democracy does not simply mean that the side with the most votes wins.

    Yes, as a matter of fact, it does. Which is why the Framers gave us a Republic “if you can keep it,” as Franklin said.
    Maintaining a democratic republican culture requires that the winning majority not immediately turn around and use their political and economic power to destroy the lives and livelihoods of those they have successfully defeated (this time.) That approach to democracy naturally leads to one party dictatorship or civil war. It is unstable. It is mob rule.
    If I remember correctly, mob rule is what Aristotle had in mind by
    Demokratia (apologies if the greek is wrong).

  • I have used Mozilla for years. No more. Granted, Microsoft and its lousy Explorer are run by the Planned Parenthood and Common Core idiot Bill Gates. Google is as left wing and nasty as, well, internet atheists.

    I’ll use Opera and DuckDuckGo.

  • Proposition 8, that marriage consisted of a man and a woman made husband and a wife by their informed consent, was the voice of the people of the state of California shut down by a Ninth Circuit practicing homosexual judge, Vaughn Walker, who did not recuse himself because of conflict of interest and vested self interest. Proposition 8, the voice of the people of the state of California was taken up a second time and the voice of the people was silenced by existing non-discrimination laws. I do not know if these non-discrimination laws were made ex post facto, after the fact, to silence the voice and the will of the people of California, and does the government have a right and the authentic authority to silence the voice of the people against codifying homosexual acts as personal identification. Will it next be overweight people?
    The practice of vice is separate from being same-sex attracted.
    Donating $1,000.00 to keep the democratic process operational six years ago is not a crime nor is it discrimination because no individual person was targeted. Isn’t there a law that governs political donations?
    If this was the deep South before the Civil War and the money was donated to free the slaves, would Brendan Eich have fared any better? I think not

  • “Will it next be overweight people?”
    Why, yes, Didn’t mayor Bloomberg outlaw the Big Gulp?

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  • Lord Acton has a very telling passage in describing the work of the Constituent Assembly, during the French Revolution: “the reign of opinion was beginning on the Continent. They fancied that it was an invincible force, and a complete security for human rights. It was invaluable if it secured right without weakening power, like the other contrivances of Liberalism. They thought that when men were safe from the force above them, they required no saving from the influence around them. Opinion finds its own level, and a man yields easily and not unkindly to what surrounds him daily. Pressure from equals is not to be confounded with persecution by superiors. It is right that the majority, by degrees, should absorb the minority. The work of limiting authority had been accomplished by the Rights of Man.”

  • “”The work of limiting authority had been accomplished by the Rights of Man.””
    The Rights of Man, unless acknowledged as coming from an infinite Creator, endowed, sustained and a living testament to the sovereign personhood of man, are nothing more than an opinion.
    The Rights of Man are eternal Truth.
    The individual substance of a rational nature, as Saint Thomas Aquinas has defined the sovereign person, then, has an opinion, to which some men adhere and to which some men object. All opinions of men must be founded on the eternal Truth.
    Perhaps it would be wise to ask: “Who gave you that opinion?” Who is like unto God.

  • I’ll use Opera and DuckDuckGo.

    Thanks for the idea. I just installed Opera and so far, it’s just as good as any and better than most.

  • Mary de Voe

    “Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being [« en présence et sous les auspices de l’Etre Suprême »], the following rights of man and of the citizen…”

  • Didn’t our president in his first term state that he was all for the Defense of Marriage Act, i. e., marriage defined as between a man and a woman? That might have been just about 6 years ago about the same time as Brendan Eich donated his $1k.
    How can maybe 10%, if that, of the population have such clout. “Tolerance” and “intolerance” are being used but what they want is universal acceptance.
    I like Mozilla Firefox but I’ll download something else.

  • Such thuggish tactics are a manifestation of the Protestant heresy
    in its death throes. Protestantism is descending into a degenerate,
    misanthropic ideology, which has had some influence on the
    Catholic Church.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: I am glad all is right with the world under God.

  • Where else could the thread above exist but here? From the ousting of a CEO for his privately held views to a comparison and analysis of the breakdown of moder States. Amazing! Astounding! Thanks.

  • This is fitting here: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship,” from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church.
    The progressives bully whom they will in our constitutional republic and the ignorant masses follow suit.

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  • I’ve been going round and round with a homosexual on Eich’s removal was an act of intolerance and revenge. Too tired to give commentary on it.

    I am, with heavy heart, slowly migrating from Firefox. My only real option on Linux so far is Chrome, which doesn’t please me. At least I’ve not heard a case of Google canning someone for disagreeing with the opinions of the executives or majority of employees.

    If you are interested in letting Mozilla know your opinion on this, provide negative feedback at this page:

  • Thank you, Kyle, for the link. I did leave my negative comment.

Gatekeeping Baptism

Friday, January 17, AD 2014

Duly vested, Don Camillo approached the font.’What do you wish to name this child?’ he asked Peppone’s wife.

‘Lenin Libero Antonio,’ she replied.

‘Then go and get him baptized in Russia,’ said Camillo calmly, replacing the cover on the font.

The priest’s hands were as large as shovels and the three left the church without protest. But as Don Camillo was attempting to slip into the sacristy he was arrested by the voice of the Lord.

‘Don Camillo, you have done a very wicked thing. Go at once and bring those people back and baptize their child.’

‘But Lord,’ protested Don Camillo, ‘You really must bear in mind that baptism is not a jest. Baptism is a sacred matter. Baptism is…’

‘Don Camillo, the Lord interrupted him, ‘Are attempting to teach me the nature of baptism? Did I not invent it? I tell you that you have been guilty of gross presumption, because, suppose that child were to die at this moment, it would be your fault if it failed to attain Paradise !’

‘Lord, do not let us be melodramatic,’ retorted Don Camillo. ‘Why in the name of Heaven should it die? It’s as pink and white as a rose !’

‘Which means exactly nothing!’ the Lord admonished him. ‘What if a tile should fall on its head or it should suddenly have convulsions? It was your duty to baptize it.’

Don Camillo raised protesting arms: ‘But Lord, just think it over. If it were certain that the child would go to Hell, we might stretch a point; but seeing that despite being the son of that nasty piece of work he might very easily manage to slip into Paradise, how can You ask me to risk anyone going there with such a name as Lenin? I’m thinking of the reputation of Paradise.’

‘The reputation of Paradise is my business,’ the Lord shouted angrily. ‘What matters to me is that a man should be a decent fellow and I care less than nothing whether his name be Lenin or Button. At the very most, you should have pointed out to those people that saddling children with fantastic names may involve them in annoyances when they grow up.’

‘Very well,’ replied Don Camillo. ‘I am always in the wrong. I must see what I can do about it.’
from “The Baptism”, The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi

I was a bit surprised to read Dr. Ed Peters’ posts on the set of baptisms at which Pope Francis recently officiated, in which one of the babies baptized was the child of two parents who are not married in the Church. Peters is cautious about the precedent being set. In his first post on the topic he wrote:

Continue reading...

58 Responses to Gatekeeping Baptism

  • “Now, maybe I’m an odd mix of old fashioned and new”

    Amen, I know exactly how you feel.

  • The Don Camillo movies with Fernandel are great. I highly recommend them. The baptism scene is in one of them.

  • These are complicated and painful, certainly for me, issues.

    My wife abandoned our marriage decades ago for a lover with whom she still remains. Her annulment was denied but its “promise” hastened the end of our life together. I will never recover from this trauma, which never ends for me. I reject comfort from superficial platitudes, even well meant. Now, I am having to defend our marriage again, as she claims she deceived me into marrying her…without proof or corroborating witnesses. In years past, such a case would never have been allowed to be heard without substantial evidence, so long after our wedding day, now 34 years. Now, a mere accusation and a nullity case ensues.

    When my wife’s case was retuned to Iowa and into the hands of a corrupt(objectively, not subjectively or in anger) Judicial Vicar, she was pregnant and this gave her “cover” to civilly marry her lover. Our children were forced, one in tears, to attend. This child was lost in a spontaneous miscarriage but the pair persisted and had two daughters.

    There has never been an intention by my wife, to abide by the validity of our marriage once she had another bed to sleep in. This, in my estimation, should have prevented the baptism of their two children, in the face of the unrepentant adultery of both of their parents. But the Church saw otherwise. I was prevented from any say in the sacraments of our children, yet I was the faithful spouse.

    Now, these two children, are our children’s siblings. They are loved by God. They are also loved by me. All of our children know this and have since our chidlren were children. Our kids were 9, 7, 6 3 and 1, when I was forced from our home. I stayed broke and heartbroken working to be in their lives, whenever it was convenient for my wife to let me have them.

    For me, these circumstances are a constant hurt, in fact one of the two little one’s(about 16then) said as much, to one of my daughters and I felt compelled, another time when I saw her, after I heard she was brough to tears over the reality of my love for her and her thinking that her very existance caused me pain, to tell her that my love for her was not influenced or contingent upon the circumstances of her birth. She had a choice similar to mine in all of it. None. I reminded her that what was between her father and mother and myself, was not of her doing and she should not bear that burden. I do not know if this helped her, but it is certain that she knows my love for her is real.
    Her older sister knows as well but I do not Know her as well as the younger.

    I am strongly at odds with baptism of such children and I believe that all it does is encourage adultery and all the sins attendent to it. This is something the Church must face and come to terms with. I would not stand in the way of the baptism of an older child, provided they understood what the catholic Church taught and were clearly instructed as to the gravely sinful and unrepentant nature of their parents relationship. I would ask them if they understood and rejected their parents choices. If they did, I would fully agree that bthey should be baptised. if they did not, I would not agree with their baptism. It is that simple for me.

    It is not me who put these precious lives in this position. It is their parents and the Catholic Church for all the encourgaement of their adultery that it has done in refusing my many overtures to priests and bishops to intervene on behalf of our valid marriage. I am almost completely disgusted with the catholic Church and certainly with Pope Francis. But, what all of our chidlren have seen is my faithfulness to them and to the vows which brought them into existance. They have seen, all too often, the pain of my struggle in sobbing tears and explosive rage and everything in between. But, always, I come back to the foot of the Cross, because their is nowhere else to go, but there, with Christ, in his agony.

    I am writing this for numerous reasons. I do not think there are easy answers. But, I know, what is being done now, is insufficient to address issues of infidelity, divorce, remarriage and nullity, and is gravely wrong. It is destroying faith, lives and marriages. I wish I had easy answers. My answer was easy, stay faithful. By doing so, I kept our children from having to make choices between their mother and “the woman in my life”, cause there was and is none. Nor did I create children whom I placed in untenable positions due to my “thinking with my crotch.”

    My walk is very lonely. Few, even those who know me well, hold positions similar to my beliefs. Those who know me well, however, are merciful for the most part. In addition, they have seen my own choices for mercy upon others in a variety of circumstances, which makes me, in their eyes, worthy of their mercy, in return. They have seen me struggle but come back to the same ways, time after time. They know I live by choice, not only by passion. They know I am a sinner but they know I am Catholic and try to live it.

    I have little faith. I live as I was taught in a Catholic Church where I do not “feel at home”. My wife and her lover are more welcomed then I am. Theory matters nothing. Practice is everything when you are abandoned and rejected.

    The Catholic Church is in error. It is not the adulterers, muderers, rapists, thieves….who are rejected. It is those who are abandoned, who are rejected. Thier is much concern for rape victims, mugging victims, murder victims, …. Those who are divorced and abandoned…..deserved it.

    That is the real story. God help those poor souls. Only those who walk, separately, with them know their agony. When their marriage is valid and they know it but they have to face the Catholic Church
    after already being completely destroyed in family court, as a respondent, their suffering is unbearable and it NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER ends!

    Please, do not tell me to trust in God. Few, but God has that right, any longer. Thank you.

    I loveall of “our” children. But, I still would not permit baptims of children from circumstances such as ours, except in danger of death. Then I would, gladly baptize them myself, for they are innocent. But, until they are capable of understanding the circumstances they are ‘trapped in” by their parents,
    it does harm to the valid marriage and to the faith of a terribly persecuted abandoned spouse. The Catholic Church has no business heaping burning coals on them. They are already being scouraged and crucified with Christ, often to the limits of their abilities.

    May, God forgive me if I am wrong.

  • God give you peace. You are loved by our Lord and your suffering is not unknown by Him.

  • “May, God forgive me if I am wrong” God will forgive you if you are wrong Karl, but God will not forgive you for keeping the little, innocent children from HIM. “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”Karl, when you deprive the little children of the truths of the Faith and the knowledge of the saints, and the sanctifying grace of the Sacrament of Baptism for their rational, immortal, innocent souls, you presume on God to do your will instead of you doing God’s will. I will hear no more of your complaint. You do not own your children, God does and you defy God’s will in depriving these innocent persons the Sacrament of Baptism because of the crimes and sins of their parents. The children’s souls are not guilty of anyone’s crimes and sins except their own. The virtue of Justice requires that these children receive the waters of Baptism as priest, prophet and king. The salvation of your immortal soul hangs in the balance. Go read the Book of Jonah. Jonah said to God, “I am so angry, I could die” and God answered Jonah: “And should I not be concerned over Ninive, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle.”
    You need, Karl, to stop telling God how to be God.

  • “I tell you that you have been guilty of gross presumption, because, suppose that child were to die at this moment, it (it?) would be your fault if it (it?) failed to attain Paradise !’ ‘Lord, do not let us be melodramatic,’ retorted Don Camillo. ‘Why in the name of Heaven should it (it?) die? It’s (it’s?) as pink and white as a rose !’
    “It”, “It”, “It”, the child is a sovereign person and must be referred to as WHO, WHO, WHO, in the name of the Holy Spirit. “WHO is like unto God” The pronoun He, He, He denotes the person. The pronoun “she” is not necessary for the pronoun “he” suffices

  • Karl, I am so sorry to hear of your situation and hope that the many sufferings you have undergone will be offered up and bring souls to Christ.

    Personally I can’t think of any good reasons to withhold baptism from a child although Holy Communion is a very different matter.

  • *pertly* Perhaps if parents being married inside of the Church is of such value, those in charge should impose on the priests to have some sort of route for such marriages to occur.

    I’ve mentioned here before the months I spent trying to even talk to a priest about being married in the Church. Even when directly addressing a priest about the number we’d been given to leave a message at getting no response, we were told to call again.

    The issues with getting a child baptized are no better, especially if– heaven forbid– you actually try to find a Godparent you trust to raise the child in the faith, rather than teach your baby that abortion and contraception are perfectly OK. It’s going on years that I’ve spent trying to get our children baptized– largely because rural communities get priests that shouldn’t be inflicted on anyone. (The Godmother owns a business. The priest wants free product, and lots of it. The business cannot run that way. The priest stonewalls my children being baptized until the Godmother provides free product. No, the Bishop doesn’t care, or he’d have responded to the last dozen complaints.)

    Then again, what does it matter when our churches can’t be bothered to teach anybody the faith in the first place?


  • Karl,

    God is good. God will not be mocked.

    Your wife and her “husband” can deceive the Church, but they cannot deceive God.

    Don’t be surprised, if those children of your wife grow up one day and realise how very wrong their mother and father were- and they were born out of circumstances of deception. The truth will hurt them- even if society and the Church smiles on their parents “marriage”, Gods truth always prevails, in our vale of tears.

    You have done all the right things before God and stayed faithful to Him. Offer up your pain and bitterness to Him- daily. Renew it every morning. For your children and their pain. Even for your wife who has hurt you.

    I really believe good will come from this, even if it isn’t apparent now.

    God IS Justice.

    God is all-knowing.

    God is all good.

    God will not be deceived.

    Jesus was betrayed till the end- by those He loved. And he was blameless and innocent.

    Remain a rock of Truth and a Light of Gods Love for your children.

    And allow yourself to feel utter joy that you are these things to your precious children.

    God Bless you always.

  • Karl

    Looking at the statistics from our marriage tribunals, It is a curious fact, though true, that there must always be a considerable number of Catholics who could not say off-hand whether they were married or not. It is only when the question has been decided in a marriage tribunal and all avenues of appeal have been exhausted that their doubts can be removed. But although they do not know if they are married, and no one could tell them with certainty till the decree has been pronounced, it is nevertheless true that they must be either one or the other. There is no half-way house.

  • Karl.

    My heartfelt prayers go for you this morning. God’s peace be yours.

  • Dear Mary,

    “You need, Karl, how to stop telling God to be God!”

    Exactly as our precious daughter, Holly, has said, to me, although she substituted Dad, for Karl.

    Thank you, Mary.


  • This reminds me of how once one could only receive communion once a day even if one attended more than one Mass. It seems silly but a priest explained what seemed a good, pastoral reason for the rule. I can’t remember it exactly.

    He also explained an even deeper, theological reason for denial of baptism if there was doubt about parents raising their children in the faith. I cannot recall it either nor find it on the almost all-knowing Google.

    So I’m not really clear if the reason I vaguely remember outweighs the “Mercy of God” argument. But there was(is?) a reason the Church has this rule to begin with which may in fact have been (is?) a good one.

  • Karl,

    Our Lord reminded us when he taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”….

    When one hesitates to forgive (even what seems to be unforgiveable), it is comparable to hugging a burning ember against one’s chest. God wants you to relinquish this cross to Him by forgiving your wife.

    Karl, let go and let God. He will bring you Joy and set you free. Pax.

  • Karl: Get those beautiful souls God has entrusted to you baptized, then to the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. If you prevent the children from coming to Jesus, God will prevent you from coming to Jesus.

  • I agree with you, Don.
    I loved your reminding us of Don Camillo. Growing up in an Italian-American household, I was introduced to Don Camiilo shortly after Guareschi’s book “The Little World of Don Camillo” came out in 1951. I highly recommend reading it with its delightful pencil drawings of a competing little angel and a little devil. While the films are good, the book is better.

  • If the sacrament of Baptism is to remove original sin and the baptized receives graces, why deny an infant Baptism under any circumstances? The child is innocent, despite the circumstances of it being brought into the world. Just as abortion is wrong despite the circumstances of the baby’s conception, even if he or she is conceived through a sinful and criminal act of rape or incest. The child is innocent. Refusing to baptize a baby seems hypocritical to me and is in opposition to the teachings of Christ.
    The Church may be concerned with the scandal of the parents’ marriage or lack of it, but there are other ways at its disposal to combat that. The child does not share in their sin.
    If the parents are requesting Baptism to make themselves look respectable, that is on their consciences. Case in point: My ex-sister-in-law had a clergyman from officiate at the third marriage of her and her current spouse and used her and my brother’s children as witnesses.

  • In one of his many books, Pope Benedict points out that when the priest or deacon asks the parents what they ask of Christ’s Church, the actual ritual response is: faith.

    We have always believed that the infant is baptized (in connection to faith) into the Faith of the Church of those who are present. Certainly the priest or deacon but also at least one of the godparents needs to be a baptized-confirmed practicing Catholic. If only one of the parents is Catholic, no matter how good or bad a Catholic-that is or should be enough of a foundation to go forward with a baptism.

    While the priest or deacon does have a responsibility in administering the sacraments, he is not a policeman etc. The Pope has been saying this over and over [and he was a bouncer when a layman lol!] Certainly if two Christians (not Catholic) came to a priest to have their child baptized, he would not go ahead-or if two non Christians came to have their child baptized (as unlikely as it might be) he would refuse. However, if at least one of the parents is indeed Catholic what they are asking for is faith: the faith in Jesus Christ that leads to salvation. In their request they are showing evidence that they want this for their child, and for themselves even if not yet consciously. In the conversations leading up to the baptism, the priest or deacon can build on that and attempt to make their own desire for faith conscious to them

    On the other hand, if, as some (not in here) say, the priest or deacon should stop such a baptism, more than likely not only would the Catholic parent(s) walk away from the Church but take the child with them-always telling them that the Church refused to baptize them when they were an infant

    In the Gospels, Jesus gave us a principle to base such decisions on. He said, “The Sabbath is made for man not man for the Sabbath”. Update it: “the sacraments are made for (the salvation of) man, not man for the sacraments”

  • Karl, I am responding on the subject of your marriage. I, of course, no nothing of your marriage but I do know something of marriage and annulment. I believe that our Church, meaning the institution, made up of the religious and the lay people, have failed us greatly – and continue to do so on marriage preparation. Over much time we got used to a culture that pretty much supported keeping marriage together without much more than expectation, and when that began eroding and it was no longer expected, we never adjusted to a world that did not support marriage and family as it once did. (And had become so sexually preoccupied and deviant.) So we send couples to the altar who often don’t really believe in the indissolubility of marriage and are generally marrying for the wrong reason. A person who at the time of the marriage vows who does not believe in marriage or really agree with the sacrament; a person who believes divorce is an option; a person who has a serious addiction; a person who plans on actively preventing children, those just going through the motions for whatever reason – these people are lying in some degree and incapable of participating in the sacrament. (Not to mention the premarital sex issues.) And because we allow this to continue without seriously addressing these issues, I believe that a more liberal granting of annulments is warranted . However, we then should put a serious preparation in place and make it crystal clear to couples if they do not accept our teaching after presenting the beautiful explanations, a sacramental marriage is NOT for them. They should leave now and we should not marry them. And now most annulments would not be warranted.
    It is possible that your wife fit one of the above at the time of your marriage and your personal commitment and even children do not make a marriage. Then again, she may have believed and had a valid marriage. But your faith on the day of the marriage does not cover you both. I know this is not easy and you can probably tell that I would jump at the opportunity to run a diocesan marriage preparation program. Not the silly three day or one day gloss overs that never address the serious issues and circumstances. May peace the world cannot give, but He can, find your heart.

  • Kevin,

    I will second what you just wrote

  • Kevin,

    Beautifully said. I was “married” in the past to a woman who had no intention I’d being faithful and who wanted us to contracept. Although I didn’t know these facts at the time it soon became clear.

    My marriage annulment was a painful process yet it taught me a great deal.

  • Dr. Peters has a followup post that I basically agree with.

    An excerpt:

    May I say again, I think both prelates’ actions were, if it comes to that, defense-able. It’s the defenses of these actions that concern me.
    Let’s start with the Francis baptism.
    A typical defense of Francis’ decision to baptize the baby of a Catholic couple apparently ‘married’ outside the Church runs thus: “Through Baptism the child receives grace and becomes a member of the Church. That is a pearl beyond price for any child. Whatever else may happen to that child in this Vale of tears, the Church did her best to give the child a grand start in life.”
    Now, every assertion in this passage is true. The problem is, this rationale is severed from the Church’s appreciation of the grave responsibilities (on children, parents, the whole community) that come with Baptism. Indeed, as phrased, this defense justifies baptisms that anyone (I hope!) would shrink from. Consider a bizarre hypothetical.
    If one were to walk through a Muslim neighborhood and sprinkle water on some kid playing in the street, pronouncing baptismal form correctly, would that baptism be valid? Of course. Would “the child receive grace and become a member of the Church”? Absolutely. Would that new status constitute a “pearl beyond price for any child”? Undoubtedly. Would it be true to say that whatever else may happen to that child in life, the Church gave “the child a grand start in life”? Indeed.

    But, seriously, who in their right mind would countenance such a baptism? If no one, then I trust it’s because it’s obvious that at least some other factors must be considered before pronouncing for the liceity of any given baptism. And, if any other factors should be considered, why not the very factors that Church herself has already set out in the canons on Baptism, including (among many others) the “founded hope” requirement in Canon 868? Argue, if one will, about whether couples married outside the Church can provide a “founded hope” that their child will be raised in the Faith, but don’t exclude the requirement from consideration—not, that is, unless one is prepared to defend the use of super-soakers in Muslim neighborhoods.
    Bottom line: Whether Francis wants to baptize this baby or that, whether O’Malley wishes to be blessed by this person or that, is up to them; they are prelates who understand well sacraments and sacramentals, and they can decide what kind of message (if any) they want to send by their choices. Their defenders, however, should know about sacraments and sacramentals, too, and should not confuse other Catholics by offering misleading defenses of such deeds.

  • Kevin,

    Indeed, you are mistaken. I will leave it at that.

  • Hmmm, I guess we can assume that Dr. Peters reads PopeWatch:

    “But, seriously, who in their right mind would countenance such a baptism?”

    In regard to the ludicrous strawman situation that he constructed, no one. The actual situation that occurs frequently is that people, or a person, with an imperfect attachment to the Church come forward and request baptism for their child. In such a case I believe the child should be baptized, primarily for the child, but also to encourage the parents to raise the child in the Faith.

  • I think we’re all on the same page in believing that the Baptism is licit and even proper, but Dr. Peters has raised several valid concerns. As he says in this follow-up post, though I didn’t quote here, the “grandma baptism” may be well and good, but we’re potentially leaving the child on an island without any hope of a legitimate Christian influence forming their faith.

  • Mathew 5:32:

    But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and doubts on the wedding day, and retroactive second thoughts on child rearing, and insufficient time in pre cana, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    New, New Revised Standard Version.

  • Yes that’s right Paul- HOPE( and that is no small thing! We do have the gift of Hope, and sometimes our actions are Acts of Hope:
    “O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I HOPE …
    … through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.”

    We sometimes have to leave somethings up to God to carry through His intentions. I think of the mother I know who died when her child was only 7. She knew she was dying and knew that she was going to have to rely on God and other people to step up…

  • Kevin, Thank you for your comments, and I agree that many Pre-Cana courses do not prepare couples for marriage. A one day course, if similar to what my husband and I attended 37 years ago, is just checking the box. Judging by the many bridal magazines in the book stores, nowadays the emphasis is on the production of the ceremony and not the sacrament of Matrimony.

    Back to baptism, my Catholic grandfather was a country doctor in the first half of the 20th century. For a home delivery, usually a difficult one, on a farm he performed a conditional baptism as soon as the baby’s head crowned.

  • Mathew 5:32:
    But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and doubts on the wedding day, and retroactive second thoughts on child rearing, and insufficient time in pre cana, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
    New, New Revised Standard Version.

    I can’t comment sufficiently, I am laughing way to hard!

  • CAM: I remember being fortunate at the age of sixteen years to baptize my brother who was born prematurely at home. I was too scared to feel privileged. I remembered and did what the good sisters had taught to me. He died nine hours later. The priest said that he was indeed baptized. My sister, a nurse, told me that nurses at the hospital routinely baptize babies born through miscarriage.
    The opportunity to baptize another is a gift from God, a very powerful gift.

  • Ms. De Voe writes: “My sister, a nurse, told me that nurses at the hospital routinely baptize babies born through miscarriage. The opportunity to baptize another is a gift from God, a very powerful gift.”
    Hence the great sorrow of aborted babies and those who, born alive are left to die; most if not all denied baptism.

  • Karl,
    Since you did not point to anything I really have nothing to respond to. So I will let the matter sow.

  • Kevin,

    I think that is best.

  • “Hence the great sorrow of aborted babies and those who, born alive are left to die; most if not all denied baptism.”
    The will to live is the right to life. A child with a will to live must also have a will to live in Christ or baptism of desire. Let us hope and pray.

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  • I am late to the discussion, but would like to point out that, in addition to Dr. Peter’s point, Canon Law #867 requires that the parents be “properly prepared” for the Baptism of their child and #865 states that for adult Baptism the individual “must have be tested in the Christian life”. It seems reasonable that the same might be asked of the primary sponsors of a child. And if so have the parents passed the test? Are the canonically unwed parents “prepared”? Were there Godparents so prepared and easily accessible to the child who might serve that purpose, and accept that responsibility?
    Finally, the baptism wouldn’t have been refused, but simply deferred. And, of course, where there is a realistic danger of death the usual policy is suspended, and the Baptism carried out immediately by any adult using the correct form & water.

  • I would like to comment on Limbo. The fact of Limbo is rejected because it seems to be cruel and unusual punishment for the unbaptized. They are doing hard time for no crime that they have committed. Days turn into weeks into months into years into centuries with no hope in sight. There are other facts that are not mentioned. First, since the fall of Adam, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years before Christ, all souls were in Limbo, waiting, maybe much longer than any wait we will have before Christ comes again. Secondly, except for Christ and the Blessed Mother, all the Blessed in Heaven are still waiting for the final completion of the personal resurrection of their bodies, the final judgment, and the end of time. Thirdly, at this final judgment, there will only be two groups, the blessed and the damned. the sheep and the goats. Those presently in Limbo will certainly be among the sheep. Their wait for this event will certainly be much less “time” then those who waited for Christ. It will be no longer than the waiting of the Saints in Heaven for the final event. Finally, we have no idea of how “time” is experienced for those who live outside of this temporal world. Limbo may be experienced as just a moment, not an eternity. With these facts in mind, I don’t see the need for an a priori rejection of Limbo.

  • Karl, you are not alone, there are others in your situation. Please check out this website,

  • I just want to say that a priest is not needed for a valid baptism. So really no one ever be denied. If people really are concerned about the salvation of babies they can baptise the baby in the bathtub. My dad did this for my nephew and I gave him a high five!

  • Karl, I personally have been through a extremely painful ongoing familial separation due to a family member’s sin. I am not separated or divorced as I have never been married but the suffering I went through was like the emotions of divorcing a whole side of my family. The Lord told me to separate myself from the evil that was taking place or it would destroy me. I cannot describe the suffering, depression, fear, desire for revenge, anger that I was suffering only because I would not excuse gross sin nor cover it up. But there is hope. We do not truly heal from such wounds over night nor can we forgive such injuries & ongoing pain just once in my experience. I repeatedly cried to God, offered my anger up to Him, ask for His guidance, acknowledged that He was God & that justice is in His hands–not mine, shared & prayed with a few close people I trusted ( but even in trying to help me they often hurt me b/c they didn’t understand that they could not solve the hurt/need & heal the wound–that God would have to do it in His way & in His time. AND PRAISE GOD HE DID. He enabled me to survive when I thought there was no way I could do so. I prayed several passages of scripture on a regular basis that addressed what my need was at the given time s.a. Praying and thanking God for the gifts of the fruit of the Holy Spirit–love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, kindness, messiness–when I had no joy or strength I knew that the Holy Spirit in me did have joy & that through the power of the Holy Spirit working in me that I could rely on His joy, & His peace, and His love. The Bible says that God does not sleep and that even though young men will grow tired and weary that God does not. People who have never lived such a wound as you describe have no idea that forgiveness & peace are a day by day commitment & often a moment by moment commitment on the part of the one needing healing. It took me 10 years to not be depressed at holidays & birthdays. It took me 14 years to be as comfortable with the situation as I probably will ever be. The Lord peeled off layers of fear (often that this individual who was caught uP in gross sin would eventually destroy the family members from whom I was separated,) depression over the situation, righteous anger that turned into sinful wrath & horrible hurt that I knew of no way to bear, etc, over a period of years–like one would peel an onion. As soon as the Lord would remove one layer of this wound, He would begin working on me to bring me to the place where I was strong enough to have the next layer removed. I literally prayed the scripture that says that God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of love & of a sound mind so many times that I couldn’t possibly tell u how many–I would thank God for the spirit of love and ask Him for that sound mind that I was promised in scripture. When I felt hatred, Ivtalked to God about it–& told Him that I knew that the Bible says that if we say that we love God–whom we can’t see–& hate our brother whom we can see–that we are a liar. I would tell God that I hated this individual &?that I knew ur was sin to do so, & I would tell God that She was going to have to helP me–AND HE DID! But this type of healing takes time & cooperation with the Holy Spirit of God. May God bless u. There is hope brother!!

  • “And, of course, where there is a realistic danger of death the usual policy is suspended, and the Baptism carried out immediately by any adult using the correct form & water.”
    “…suppose that child were to die at this moment, it would be your fault if it failed to attain Paradise !’ ‘Lord, do not let us be melodramatic,’ retorted Don Camillo. ‘Why in the name of Heaven should it die? It’s as pink and white as a rose !’
    ‘Which means exactly nothing!’ the Lord admonished him. ‘What if a tile should fall on its head or it should suddenly have convulsions? It was your duty to baptize it.’”

  • I know well that I am not alone. I have for a long time supported people going through much worse things. But, I am quite grateful for such encouragement, sincerely. Compared to some, my life is a cake walk. However, I can not yield.

    Children should not be baptized from adulterous, unrepentant couples, unless those children are given up for adoption and the adoptive couple seeks their baptism, with the proper disposition. To do otherwise, as Francis seems to imply, is purely evil. The only person for whom I would yield that position would be Christ and I would have to know it was Him.

    I do not stand with Francis.

  • Karl,

    I see the point that the others are making & as a recent convert to Catholicism I do not have great depth/insight into the discussion of valid baptisms that would go into cannon law, etc. that being said, I have complete faith in my head pastor of the local parish where I attend & his teachings on why Catholics do what the do–beliefs, etc. even a quick glimpse at the New Testament will tell you that FAITH & OBEDIENCE are the currency in God’s kingdom. No amount of going through the motions, or wishful hoping–nor anything else will take the place of faith in the spiritual realm. My head pastor was the one who taught us about baptism during our RICA. He said that what is going on in the spiritual realm during a child baptism is that the faith of the parents ( or whoever) present during the baptism is what activates the action of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual realm re: grace for the child–until the child gets old enough to use their own faith & can choose to continue in the faith if their own free will later in life–which is outwardly symbolized by confirmation. That being said–if there was anyone there who had the faith requisite for grace to be given to those baptized babies, then I would be satisfied with that child’s baptism. Does God hear us & will he answe & can we have enough faith to move heaven when there is sin in our life –obviously yes or we would never have any prayers answered. The problem for me with what I know of these “baptisms” from what you have said is that those who were in the position to provide the necessary faith for things to move in the spiritual realm while the physical baptism is taking place –are content to live in open sin & rebellion against God’s standards. There is a passage of scripture that teaches specifically that if one can live in such an ongoing situation–that they do not have a relationship with God & are not going to heaven when they die. My point is–if I were one of those children & grew up to understand whose “faith” my grace in baptism as a baby had depended upon–I WOULD WANT TO BE RE-BAPTISED WHERE MY OWN FAITH COULD BE DEPENDED UPON. I sure would hate to knw that my grace in baptism was dependent upon the “faith” if such a couple. God isn’t fooled–nor is He impressed or moved–by outward show.

  • I apologize for the spell correcto errors–I am typing on a cell phone.

  • Barbara Gordon

    The faith which operates in infant baptism is the habitual faith infused by the sacrament. Hence, the traditional question and answer:-

    “What do you ask of the Church of God”

    The Fourth Lateran Council declares that “”The Sacrament of Baptism . . . no matter by whom conferred is available to salvation,” and Pope Nicholas I had earlier taught that baptism administered by a Jew or a pagan is valid and this is so, where only the baptiser and baptised are present.

  • Karl writes,
    “…Children should not be baptized from adulterous, unrepentant couples, unless those children are given up for adoption and the adoptive couple seeks their baptism, with the proper disposition….”
    Would you deny baptism to a child born as a consequence of rape?

  • Michael Payerson-Seymour:

    Could you please define for me the term “habitual faith of the sacrament” for me–using plain English as if I were a three year old?

    And also if I understand what you are saying–then no actual faith by anyone involved (for example a nonbeliever baptizing a baby–the baby doesn’t have a clue why water is being poured on them) is necessary for the child to receive grace in the spiritual realm?


  • Barbara,

    My brain is in work mode at the moment and I don’t have time to look up the proper terminology from my catechism days, but in rough terms I think part of what is causing confusion here is this:

    In baptism the soul is cleansed of original sin and infused with God’s grace. This happens regardless of the disposition of the person performing the baptism, the recipient, or the parents/godparents. What is necessary is simply the proper matter and form (water and words). This is where a non-believer could, an emergency, be asked to perform a baptism, though the situation would be unusual. (Example: A rabbi is picking through the wreckage after an earthquake and finds a mother and child pinned under rubble. The mother asks the rabbi to baptize the baby. This baptism would “work”, even if the person performing it was not a Christian.)

    However, in our lives as Christians, one of the key questions in regards to our salvation is: What, if anything, do we do in our lives to cooperate with God’s grace. We’re not saved by magic. We need to believe in God and act in accordance with his will. If someone is never taught about God and never acts in accordance with virtue, the grace that person has received through baptism will remain, mostly, “dormant” through out lack of cooperation with it. That dormant grace may provide God with a foothold of sorts in our souls, providing a channel through which we receive promptings to seek God, but it certainly won’t save us without our cooperation.

    This is why someone who was baptized at the request of unbelieving parents might get less (though not no) benefit from the graces of baptism. But that person would not need to be re-baptized if, through the promptings of grace and interaction with other Christians, that person later was drawn to the faith and began to actively practice it. That faith and practice would constitute cooperation with the graces of baptism that were already there.

  • Barbara Gordon

    In Baptism, we receive the infused habits or virtues of faith, hope and charity (“habits,” in Aristotle’s sense of a disposition, difficult to remove) As the Council of Trent says, “whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.” Of course, in infants, these are virtual only, until they attain the use of reason.

  • Great explanation Michael Payerson-Seymour. 🙂 Now what “Faith” is the the parents (or whoever) has brung the child for baptismasking the church for? Faith for themselves? Faith from those physically present at the time? Faith for the child that will lead the child to act of their own will later in life to obey God & establish a relationship with Him for their own salvation? None of the above? All of the above? All of the above plus some?

    Thank you.

  • Woops! Also great explanation DarwinCatholic! 🙂 Thanks.

  • “Would you deny baptism to a child born as a consequence of rape?”

    Under what circumstances? This seems a loaded question? Did I not say before that I, myself, would baptize a child who was in the danger of death?

    That should give you some idea of where I come from on this.

    Did I also, earlier, not explain that my wife gave birth to two children through her, continuing, unrepentant adultery? Did I also not mention that I love those young women?

    That should give you an idea of how I think.

    I have not studied Sacramental Theology, in which, I presume, all of this is discussed and adequately addressed. If my position is contrary to what is, legitimately taught as an article of faith to be accepted under the teaching authority of the ordinary magisterium(if I am saying this peoperly, only God and some of you many know) because I have NOT intensely studied it, thoroughly, I believe, to reach proper moral certainty on this specific issue, I would “back off’, thinking an infant in circumstances like the two chidlren were that I have described, in their infancy, were in, then.

    I hope that helps and am not trying to be cynical but honest and accurate.

    Understand that, not only lust and anger can get in the way of the pursuit of truth; so can pain and confusion caused by the distraction of what I have experienced for the last, more than two decades, at the hands of hierarchical pastors who simply have left me to die while nutring adultery and the annihilation of our marriage, by accpeting and supporting my wife and her lover, in their unrepentant adultery.

    If Francis wants us to have compassion and understanding for them and for militant, abusive same sex attracted people, can I have some understanding as well? Please?

    Thank you.

    The thought has just crossed my mind. Right now.. Please stay with me on this one.

    My wife claims, currently, in nullity proceedings that she deceived me into marriage.
    This is her testimony in person and in writing before the Catholic Church. This reality can be proven, if the information would be released by the Church. I am not bearing false witness.

    Should the Catholic Church find in her favor, that our marriage was invalid because I was sufficiently deceived into marrying my wife, this would mean that our valid marriage never took place. It would also mean that I never gave consent to being married to her and that, under that deception of marriage I did not adequately consent to sleep with her, although I did and she became pregnant as a result, on numerous occasions. We had six children together, one of whom we lost early in my wife’s fourth pregnancy.

    So, this means that I WAS RAPED, unless one differentiates between rape by force and rape by deception, because somehow deception is more civilized? In either circumstance their is no consent to the sex act, by definition!

    I would consent to their baptism. I was and am their father and I would do my best to raise them as Catholics.

    As I am thinking this, I am now in very much turmoil, internally, because my wife stood their at their baptisms and IF THE CHURCH RULES OUR MARRIAGE WAS INVALID, I made those baptismal promises with an unrepentant rapist, by my side and the Catholic Church allowed her to have the complete say in their sacramental,lives an minors, while I had the door slammed in my face.

    Yet, I was abandoned and I have honored our vows and I have worked to stay in our chidlrens lives and I love the two girls from my rapists second marriage.

    Just put yourself in my shoes to understand, what I have lived through and what, right at this very moment, I must come to terms with and be willing to forgive.

    If you can take all of this in, you will know of my character, as imperfect as I am.

    I want only what is good for every person involved in this horrendously painful unending nightmare. I do so by choice, not by inertia. My violation is incredible, at the hands of my wife and her lover. At the hands of the state, and at the hands of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

    If this is not obvious, I cannot paint a clearer picture for you. And I still, do not mean this commentary in any way to be insulting to you. It is just, quite overwhelming to me and heartbreaking, among numerous other emotions.

    This is what results from divorce, from the pastoral practices of the Catholic Church as they have existed for decades and from the annulment process.

    Those who say it is a healing process have avastly different experience than I have ever had or will like have, unless the Catholic Church drastically reforms.

    Thank you.

  • “Children should not be baptized from adulterous, unrepentant couples, unless those children are given up for adoption and the adoptive couple seeks their baptism, with the proper disposition. To do otherwise, as Francis seems to imply, is purely evil. The only person for whom I would yield that position would be Christ and I would have to know it was Him.
    I do not stand with Francis.”
    Karl: Why are you punishing innocent children by withholding the Sacrament of Baptism from them for the crimes of their parents?

  • I am not punishing the children. The Catholic Church is in manifest, grave, scandalous error for not formally excommuniating such parents for their open scandal. Consequently, the laxity of men like our Popes and Bishops is ounishing those children. Those parents, by not yielding their child to another who truly loved them, through, adoption, are punishing their own children. Both of these cases I have just mentioned are child abuse.

    Mary, I disagree with you, with whom I usually agree. I see pure evil in the Catholic Church and it seems to, deliberately, ignore the example it is setting in its laxity.

    The Popes should be openly corrected by their people for this. As should our bishops. But few do, except in rare instance.

    It is not me who is “punishing” these kids. I am their advocate.

  • Karl: Baptism is an exorcism. Why do you excommunicate your children and all children for the deeds of their parents? It is you Karl who indulge in and profit from all this bellyaching against the church and the people involved. Get a life. Get a Catholic life.

  • I apologize for not having the vocabulary to put the Word of God and the Fear of the Lord into anyone with the temerity to deprive children of the Sacrament of Baptism until he gets his way. First, Karl told that it was the “adulterers” who refused Baptism to the children. Now, Karl admits that it is he who refuses to Baptize the children, or is Karl casting his lot in with the adulterers. One would think that Karl would get on his knees and get the children Baptized no matter who says what.

  • “It is not me who is “punishing” these kids. I am their advocate.”
    God help us.

  • THANK God.
    Thank God that He is the final judge and not man/woman.
    He knows hearts.
    He knows love and who loves and who doesn’t.
    Thank God He is Our Final Judge.

Marking the Centuries

Monday, January 6, AD 2014

David Brin, who apparently is now described not only as a science fiction author but a “futurist”, has a piece from New Years Eve in which he speculates as to what it would mean for the new century to start in 2014. He’s not suggesting an adjustment to how we number years, but rather talking about the ways in which people have sought to define when a century or decade begins and ends by its signal events, not its dates.

For instance, some historians talk about the “long nineteenth century” which is defined as running from the French Revolution in 1789 through the start of World War One in 1914, a 125 year “century”.

Brin, however, has his own breakdown:

The last two centuries (and possibly more) didn’t “start” at their official point, the turning of a calendar from 00 to 01. That wasn’t when they began in essence, nor when they first bent the arc of history.

No. Each century effectively began in its 14th year.

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10 Responses to Marking the Centuries

  • “I’d provisionally put the beginning of the “21st Century” in 1991, with the fall of the USSR and the emergence of the monopolar world with the USA as the lone superpower.”

    That would make the “20th Century” only 77 years long, which I suppose is just as well. Seems to me, though, that 9/11/01 qualifies as a pretty obvious starting point for the (cultural/historic/political) 21st Century as it marks a move away from declared wars against specific countries in favor of the boundless “war on terror” and the rise of the surveilliance state.

    Specific decade markers for the decades of the 20th Century could be reckoned as follows:

    The Thirties: 1929 (stock market crash) through 1941 (Pearl Harbor). Marked, of course, by the Depression.

    The Forties: 1941 through 1948 (Berlin blockade). Marked by WWII and its aftermath.

    The Fifties — 1948 through 1963 (JFK assassination). The Cold War was the overreaching issue of this 15-year “decade”.

    The Sixties — 1963/64 to 1971 (Nixon’s wage and price controls) or 1972 (Nixon’s trip to China, signaling the era of detente). Marked, of course, by Vietnam, assassinations, riots, sex, drugs, rock n’roll, etc. etc.

    The Seventies — 1971/72 through 1/20/81 (inauguration of Ronald Reagan and freeing of the Iranian hostages). Marked by inflation and the energy crisis.

    The Eighties — 1981 through 11/9/89 (fall of the Berlin Wall) or 12/25/91 (final dissolution of the USSR). Marked by Western victory in the Cold War.

    The Nineties — Last two dates above to 9/11/01, which some rather prematurely regarded as “the end of history”. Marked by rise of the Internet and of the truly global economy.

  • Our artificial divisions of time usually ill accord with major events and currents in human history. For myself I have always dated the start of the very long nineteenth century at 1776 and its ending at 1917. The twentieth in my view was a short century from 1917-1989. I choose these categories because I view the nineteenth century as a time of optimism and a spreading faith in democracy. The twentieth was a time of pessimism with the democracies just dodging a bullet from what could well have been remembered as the beginning of the Age of Totalitarianism. My choices are based on the political currents of those times. Looking at the world through a prism of technological progress, a different set of dates would arise. From a perspective based on Catholicism I think the nineteenth would have begun with the persecution of the Church during the French Revolution, and 1789 would have marked the beginning, with that century ending with the beginning of Vatican I. The twentieth would have ended with the beginning of Vatican II, and we would be dwelling in a twenty-first century that began in 1965! (I have had a lot of idle amusement over the years looking at the centuries through different perspectives!)

  • All of our divisions are artificial.
    Why don’t we count the Seven Year’s involving all of Europe and fought on all continents War as the Fist World War?
    Did WW2 start when the Japanese the Japanese invaded China, in 1939 when German invaded Poland or in 1941 when we belatedly joined in?

    Likewise for wildly inaccurate labels like “the Dark Ages”, “Age of Reason”, “the Enlightenment” and worst of all “the Reformation”[sic].

  • I would suggest that a 19th century beginning in 1789 could plausibly end in 1870.

    As G K Chesterton says, “Denmark was robbed of two provinces; France was robbed of two provinces; and… the fall of Paris was felt almost everywhere as the fall of the capital of civilization, a thing like the sacking of Rome by the Goths.” Thenceforth, despotism once again seemed to be triumphant in the Dreikaiserbund of 1873, the grand alliance of the barbarians beyond the Rhine.

  • It’s fun to argue about “what started when” but less so when considering what’s left over.
    It was in this . . . “first decade of the 20th century was filled with hope and a kind of can-do optimism that was never seen again — not after the horrific events of 1914 shattered any vision that a new and better age would arrive without pain. Yet until almost the start of World War I, 19th-century progress seemed unstoppable and ever-accelerating” that the Wilsonian/Progressive vision of the “Administrative State” began; a centralized government run by “experts,” abolishing the need for political contention and finally liberating mankind from poverty and economic uncertainty by the marvellous, predictive powers of The Federal Reserve credit monopoly and a social doctrine rid of the baggage of traditionalist, familial gender roles and property ‘rights.’ Such agrarian ideas were obsolete and the time had come to step into the light of a New Age – all that remined in the way was that pesky Constitution and its outdated concepts of Liberty and “limited government.”
    Of course, forgotten among the Progressive notions of the time are that a minimum wage was rejected as it would keep the “unfit masses” from becoming docile and totally dependent, and that Margaret Sanger ‘s eugenics program (now known as Planned Parenthood) was hailed as the way to keep those same unfit masses from overpopulating and becoming too big a burden.
    We’re still stuck with that vision now, even though we know it to be based in naive, senseless notions of “intellectually superior” people (think Paul Krugman) being able to predict and control the economic vagairies of a free market. Its descendants have built a self-serving special interest that abhors all competition and will stop at nothing to eliminate it. In that sense, we’re really still mired in the 20th Century. The next epoch will begin at the fall of neo-fascist Progressivism; when it finally dies off and blows away, we can crank the odometer to “21.” That could be awhile yet.

  • It’s more like the normal 18th century ended in 1789. Normal 19th century began in 1813 and ended in 1915 or so. Normal 20th century began in 1919, maybe, and ended in 1989. Maybe we’ll look back on the 21st and say that it began on 9/11, or maybe the defining moment still hasn’t happened. Either way, we’re in a relatively calm interim period between the centuries, unlike the Reign of Terror or World War One.

  • This reminds me of how much our sense of reality is really dependent upon our outlooks and priorities. We could just as easily tell time in dozens of other ways. We could organize history in so many other ways, too.
    It’s been said that the nineteenth century didn’t really end until 1917. But Progressivism began before that, and facsism after it. The twentieth century has in fact really been marked by all kinds of political experimentation and change in teh West.

  • The Art of Manliness discussed the Strauss-Howe generational theory –

    According to this theory, each generation can by characterized as a Prophet, Nomad, Hero or Artist. Therefore, history is a cycle as each generation gets its time in the sun.

  • It’s definitely true that the themes of a particular era don’t come out of nowhere, and don’t disappear without a trace. Jon’s right. The fall of the Soviet Union freed less than half of the people under communism, and only freed them from communism, not the whatever-you-want-to-call-it oppression that’s existed in much of the FSU since. You could put the rise of militant Islam in 1979, or the West’s response to it beginning in 1991.

    As to Nathan’s comment, I think there’s a lot more truth in the generational analysis than in the pattern of centuries. But it presupposes that a generation goes through the same experiences. There are so many subcultures that experience different things, though, that I’m not sure how much credence to put in generational theories.

  • Nathan ANg, I read The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe which was actually all about that cyclical view of generations. Talk about being typological! But the book yields tremendous insights.

Paul Ryan and the Poor

Friday, December 20, AD 2013

There’s an interesting Buzzfeed article going around about Paul Ryan’s increasing focus on policies to help the poor, one apparently inspired by experiencing during the last election and fueled by his admiration for Pope Francis. A few parts of the article betray a bit of an editorial sneer towards conservatives, but in general it’s well written and fair.

Ryan was there for a meeting that the Romney campaign brain trust had seemed, for months, intent on stopping. Since joining the presidential ticket in August, the Wisconsin congressman had been lobbying to spend more time campaigning in diverse, low-income neighborhoods. Ryan, a protégé of the late, big-tent GOP visionary Jack Kemp, argued the visits would show the country that Republicans cared about the poor. The number-crunchers in Boston countered that every hour spent on inner-city photo ops was a lost opportunity to rally middle-class suburbanites who might actually vote for them. Eventually, they reached a compromise: Ryan could give one big speech about poverty in Ohio and hold an off-the-record roundtable with community leaders who work with the poor — but the campaign would have to vet them all.

And then, as Ryan prepared to leave to deliver his speech, a tattooed minister who had arrived at the meeting via motorcycle asked the congressman if he could lay hands on him to pray.

Ryan looked momentarily panicked, according to some who were in the room, but then he shrugged and smiled. “I’m Catholic, but I’m cool with that,” he responded.

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14 Responses to Paul Ryan and the Poor

  • We shall see. His part in the sham budget deal, although I understand the politics behind it, leaves me much less certain about Ryan’s acumen than I was last year.

  • Ryan’s compromise budget bill stabbed in the backs millions of veterans (including our disabled).

    I’m with Phil Robertson. In the days when envy, welfare and sodomy were not in vogue, the working poor (those that weren’t evil to begin with) were not miserable or envious of anybody else. Phil covers that in the interview that was viciously twisted to make a trap for idiots.

  • I like T. Shaw’s observation:

    “In the days when envy, welfare and sodomy were not in vogue, the working poor (those that weren’t evil to begin with) were not miserable or envious of anybody else.”

    As I was told decades ago in one of my first 12 step meetings: “Misery is optional, but spiritual growth demands the pain of self-denial; the alternative is drunkenness and death.”

    Our society is drunk. May God deliver me from my self-imposed misery and envy – from spiritual drunkenness which always precedes physical drunkenness.

  • What an awesome experience for Paul Ryan that must have been! I wish him the best in his pursuits and hope it brings him closer to God. (The political benefits are hit or miss.)

  • I would not use the terrible attract word sham in reference to the work done by Paul Ryan. I think that budget agreement is an attempt to work in the right direction. A stepping stone.

  • and Kemp’s minority outreach was a bang-up success am I right

    Anzlyne: I don’t have a strong opinion on the deal ATM, it’s small anyway, but you gotta understand that any GOP move that doesn’t sharply cut spending/accepts normal % increases in future years is officially deemed a RINO sellout move these days.

  • “A stepping stone.”

    It isn’t even a pebble Anzlyne. The supposed budget cuts are completely illusory and the Democrats got rid of the real cuts caused by sequester. This deal was cooked up because the Republican establishment was terrified of having another budget showdown leading to another government shut down. Looked at it through a purely political prism I can see the point of the GOP establishment, especially with the Dems immolating themselves over Obamacare. In regard to the budget it was a complete and total sham of shams.

  • the whole point of the sequester was for no one to like it & it eventually to be removed

    whether what they replaced it with is optimal iono

  • Until I read anywhere a story or even a quote from Rep. Ryan’s own lips taking Stephen Fincher, (R-Frog Jump, TN) and the other member of the Pharisee wing of the GOP in the House, (GA) for suggesting that poor kids should have to work for their free food, Paul Ryan will remain the same in my book as a shameless user. The late Silvio Conte, R-MA, 1st District must be gyrating in his grave. He was much beloved by his entire constituency, Democrats as well as Republicans because he never forgot where he came from and to Conte, Catholicism was a way of LIFE, not another interesting concept to try now n’ then when Ayn Rand’s ideas proved their gross moral failings.

  • I’m with Anzylne on this one.

  • Paul Ryan’s one of the least fit men in Congress to sit on any budget committee. Like Robert “Sliderule Bob” McNamara. . . he knows a lot about facts and stats, but somehow he freezes whenever he’s asked to consider any possible ill-effects of his Ayn Rand-influenced affectations for the latest fad of “conservative economic thinking.” One could only imagine what an encounter between America’s engineer and cheerleader for austerity for austerity’s sake could handle a one-on-one meeting with Pope Francis.

  • “One could only imagine what an encounter between America’s engineer and cheerleader for austerity for austerity’s sake could handle a one-on-one meeting with Pope Francis.”

    Steve, the whole problem with Ryan currently is that he does not believe in austerity at all. At a time when there is no way that the debt could be paid by future generations he agrees to put together a budget plan that has only sham cuts. That isn’t austerity, that is nuts. I think that deficits forever is actually right up Pope Francis’ alley, assuming he ever bothers thinking about them at all.

  • Amen, Donald.
    For all the benefits Paul Ryan received during his youth as a result of his father’s tragic death when the future congressman was only 16, it still baffles me when I read of his decision to back cuts in military pensions, privatize SS and in general gut the social safety net. Heaven help our poor if Ryan takes a liking to the worst part about having to deal with anything like the assistance provided to Limerick, Ireland’s poor McCourt, future author of Angela’s Ashes had to contend with as a lad. Being fully Irish, I can forgive McCourt for exaggerating a point or two to make sure his readers would stay on the pages … but McCourt’s recollections are dangerous in the eyes and eventually hands of those people of my babied generation and our successors, armed also with the works of Milton Friedman, F. von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.
    Like Ryan, I, too, never served in the Armed Forces. On the other hand, I was raised in a military family by my two beloved parents who never forgot their roots, especially their Church’s teachings regarding the poor. Having grown up during the New Deal, they also never forgot who kept their already quite austere lives from becoming worse, notwithstanding the fact my paternal and maternal grandfathers worked for Holyoke, MA’s “bravest” and “finest” respectively. My wife was raised in a family whose single earner was a rural postal deliveryman, as was his father.
    My two brothers both served in the Army and are now retired. The oldest of us three boys served near VN’s DMZ and is now believed to be suffering the effects of Agent Orange. Haven’t they given enough; and now a Capitol Hill lifer, who’s benefitted greatly from what government assistance provided him during his youth, openly advocates cutting or rolling back the earned pensions of those who served and possibly badly maimed and psychologically ruined.
    Ryan’s not alone with his (political/ideologues) calling too many shots within their “drawbridge puller” crowd now in charge of today’s GOP. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for the public to find out how many of this crowd now calling the shots and deriding the public sphere, eagerly snatched whatever government form of assistance which enabled them to leap over so many other equally qualified folks left picking up the tab through higher taxes. This is the “entitlement mentality” that GOP “team players” dareth not mention outside their offices or before a group that hasn’t been pre-screened and locations for their speaking engagements not thoroughly swept for bugs.
    WIth the exception of Frank McCourt’s description of the Vincentians, I’m hoping Santa will drop a copy of Angela’s Ashes down the Ryan’s chimney. We’ve had enough of Ayn’s Ashes.

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What Oppression Does To People

Tuesday, December 17, AD 2013

This piece from Harpers about living thirty days as a Cuban is fascinating. The author went to Cuba determined to see if it was possible to live on a Cuban wage. According to the state pay scale, as a journalist his monthly pay should be $15, so that’s what he attempts to live on in Havana. Needless to say, the resulting experience makes the “food stamp diet” look like a walk in the park.

There wasn’t much of me left either. In mid-February I walked one last time to the Riviera, weighing myself in the gym. I was down eleven and a half pounds since my arrival. More than eleven pounds gone in thirty days. I’d missed about 40,000 calories. At this rate I would be as lean as a Cuban by spring. And dead by autumn.

I finished out with a few tiny meals—the last of the ugly rice, a last sweet potato, and the quarter of a cabbage. On the day before my departure I broke into my emergency stash, eat- ing the sesame sticks from the airplane (60 calories), and opening the can of fruit punch I’d smuggled in from the Bahamas (180). The taste of this red liquid was a shock: bitter with ascorbic acid, and flooded with sugar, to imitate the flavors of real juice. It was like drinking plastic.

My total expenditures on food were $15.08 for the month. By the end I’d read nine books, two of them about a thousand pages long, and written much of this article. I’d been living on the wages of a Cuban intellectual, and, indeed, I always write better, or at least faster, when I’m broke.

My final morning: no breakfast, on top of no dinner. I used the prostitute’s coin to catch a bus out toward the airport. I had to walk the last 45 minutes to my terminal, almost fainting on the way. There was a tragicomic moment when I was pulled out of line at the metal detectors by men in uniform because an immigration officer thought I had overstayed my thirty-day visa. It took three people, repeatedly counting it out on their fingers, to prove that I was still on day thirty.

One of the things that struck me most in reading it, however, was not just the hunger and desperation but the moral corrosion of living in an oppressive society.

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8 Responses to What Oppression Does To People

Can You Talk About “True Islam”?

Wednesday, December 4, AD 2013

There is a section of Evangelii Gaudium that I’m not clear I agree with, but it’s not the economic sections. Near the end, Pope Francis has some pointed things to say both about toleration for immigrating from Muslim countries and about the necessity that Muslim countries protect the safety and religious freedom of their Christian residents. However, he wraps up by saying:

Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.

One hears this sort of thing every so often, but I’m not clear what it means to talk about “authentic Islam” or a “proper reading of the Koran”.

It could mean, “To the extent that Islam is true, it rejects violence as a means of spreading its beliefs,” and if so, I can certainly agree with that.

But what people seem to mean when talking about true Islam being a religion of peace is that somehow those Muslims who believe that their faith endorses the use of force at times to spread the faith of punish unbelievers are incorrectly interpreting Islam and that if they were better Muslims, they would reject violence.

However, it’s problematic to say what is “true Islam” and what is “false Islam” — especially given that I don’t think Islam is actually true, except to the extent it happens to hold things which are also held by Catholicism (such as, say, the existence of God.)

There are some things one can say definitely are, at least, held by Muslims. For instance “there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet” would seem to be something held by Muslims, and I think that even an outsider could be confident in saying that if someone believes in no God or many gods, or if he doesn’t believe that Mohammad was God’s prophet, then that person is not a “good Muslim” or a “true Muslim”.

When it comes to a point which is disputed among Muslims themselves, however, I’m not clear how to distinguish right from wrong interpretations. There is no central authority in Islam similar to the pope in the Catholicism, and even with Catholicism, if you’re an outsider and don’t believe that the Church is Christ’s true Church on Earth, who is to say that the magisterium is actually “true Catholicism” and not some distortion of it. At most, it seems like one could talk about “what Catholics believe” in some sociological sense.

This isn’t a problem unique to Islam. For instance, do “true Protestants” believe in predestination? I’m not clear one can answer that claim. Some Protestants believe in predestination and others don’t. Who is to say who the “true Protestants” are? Unless you are Protestant and you’re committed to believing a specific set of beliefs within the range of what various Protestants believe, I’m not clear how you can rule on that question.

Certainly, I think that Muslims should not endorse religious violence, and I support those who believe their religion rejects it. However, I’m not clear how we can claim one way or the other what “true Islam” says on the matter.

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36 Responses to Can You Talk About “True Islam”?

  • “and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

    Well, as to proper reading of the Koran, we know that is incorrect wishful thinking.

  • Don,

    There are Muslims who claim that a proper reading of the Koran is opposed to violence. Personally, I think that’s pretty ridiculous given some of the passages in the Koran itself and how Mohammad actually lived his life. However, given that I don’t think the Koran is an inspired holy book, and that I don’t think Islam is a true religion, I’m not clear how I can say which reaching of the Koran is “correct” in religious terms. I suppose it kind of like how I’ve have atheists tell me that it’s ludicrous to read the Bible and not hold that it authoritatively teaches creationism or geocentrism. I can tell them that that’s not the right way to read the bible, but since they don’t accept that the Church and Tradition hold the key to understanding scripture, I don’t really have a way to prove my point with them.

  • Also, let me just note: I just deleted a comment off this thread which I considered to cross the line. I will continue to delete comments that I consider to be offensive. As I hope I make clear above, I do not believe in Islam, but I don’t see that as an excuse for being offensive.

  • “However, given that I don’t think the Koran is an inspired holy book, and that I don’t think Islam is a true religion, I’m not clear how I can say which reaching of the Koran is “correct” in religious terms.”

    In religious terms I wouldn’t make the attempt to judge. In terms of how the Koran actually reads it is clearly not opposed to violence. Since the Pope is not a muslim, I would assume that he would be limited to the actual text of what the Koran says, assuming he ever bothered to read it.

  • I’m not sure it’s the Pope’s place to be pronouncing on what is or is not “authentic Islam,” anymore this it’s the place of some imam or a NY Times reporter to instruct the Pope on “authentic Catholicism.”

  • I don’t know that you can speak of any religion but Catholicism and Judaism having a defining identity, because all other religions are human institutions. They have a mix of intellectual and spiritual truths, demonic distortions, and borrowed elements. But they don’t have a soul, except for (God forbid) a purely evil religion.

  • The ‘problem’ is that there is both a violent and a peaceful ‘content’ or ‘stream’ in the Quran. Now on one level, that could be said of passages within the Old Testament calling for ‘holy war’ and ‘putting everyone to the sword’ in such Scripture as the Book of Joshua and Judges. A very literal and fundamentalist reading of the Book of Revelation could give the same intention, although in that Book it is almost always angels that are doing the killing. “Killing in the Name of God” has certainly been done by members of the synagogue and church, whether they backed it with Scripture or not.

    That being said, I am not equating Islam with either Judaism or the Church (and those Christians not in full communion with the Church). While God is indeed One, as both Judaism and Christianity affirm, reason alone can arrive at this truth (see Romans 1, Vatican I) I do not believe Mohammed to be ‘the seal of the prophets’-I give that title to Saint John the Baptist. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is not only the Messiah (affirmed by the Quran) but the very Word (Son) of God become flesh Who indeed died upon the Cross (denied by the Quran) for our sins and rose for our justification. I say none of this to condemn Islam. I am only confessing what I believe as a Catholic and that our two religions, while having some common ground, differ in very great and grave ways.

    Returning to the violent and the peaceful Islam, as already said, there is no real authority within Islam, despite what might appear to the contrary. Everything is ‘reduced’ to interpretation.

    Vatican II in its Declaration Nostra Aetate gave a brief, relatively positive but really non-declarative statement on Islam. This was added at the specific request of the Patriarchs and bishops of the Eastern Churches present at Vatican II who feared that the substantial and positive statements concerning Judaism might be read by their Islamic neighbors as a real slight. We certainly have moved into a new era of relations with Islam in the 21st century. Rightly, no Catholic is calling for any form of ‘crusade’ in order to combat fundamentalist Islam [Islamicists]. While it is horrifying, the ancient truth ‘the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church’ is our true response, our true ‘taking up of the cross’ (the old rallying cry of the crusaders).

    At this point, papal teaching in this area has been simple: “No one can or should kill in the Name of God”. While segments of Islam do not believe this, we (and I include Pope Francis’ statement in Evangelii Gaudium in this) will continue to dialogue with those Moslems who believe like we do: that no one can kill in the Name of God.

  • “that no one can kill in the Name of God.”

    Which would have come as a vast shock to Pope Urban II:

    “In the year of our Lord’s Incarnation one thousand and ninety-five, a great council was celebrated within the bounds of Gaul, in Auvergne, in the city which is called Clermont. Over this Pope Urban II presided, with the Roman bishops and cardinals. This council was a famous one on account of the concourse of both French and German bishops, and of princes as well. Having arranged the matters relating to the Church, the lord pope went forth into a certain spacious plain, for no building was large enough to hold all the people. The pope-then, with sweet and persuasive eloquence, addressed those present in words something like the following, saying:

    “Oh, race of Franks, race from across the mountains, race beloved and chosen by God, – as is clear from many of your works,- set apart from all other nations by the situation of your country as well as by your Catholic faith and the honor which you render to the holy Church: to you our discourse is addressed, and for you our exhortations are intended. We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to your country, for it is the imminent peril threatening you and all the faithful which has brought us hither.

    From the confines of Jerusalem and from the city of Constantinople a grievous report has gone forth and has -repeatedly been brought to our ears; namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race wholly alienated from God, `a generation that set not their heart aright and whose spirit was not steadfast with God,’ violently invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by pillage and fire. They have led away ap art of the captives into their own country, and a part have they have killed by cruel tortures. They have either destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of their own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness….The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and has been deprived of territory so vast in extent that it could be traversed in two months’ time.

    “On whom, therefore, is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you, you upon whom, above all other nations, God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the heads of those who resist you ? Let the deeds of your ancestors encourage you and incite your minds to manly achievements:-the greatness of King Charlemagne, and of his son Louis, and of your other monarchs, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the Turks and have extended the sway of Church over lands previously possessed by the pagan. Let the holy sepulcher of our Lord and Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially arouse you, and the holy places which are now treated, with ignominy and irreverently polluted with the filth of the unclean. Oh, most valiant soldiers and descendants of invincible ancestors, do not degenerate; our progenitors., but recall the valor of your progenitors.

    “But if you are hindered by love of children, parents, or of wife, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, `He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’, ‘Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.’ Let none of your possessions retain you, nor solicitude for you, family affairs. For this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage war, and that very many among you perish in intestine strife.’

    [Another of those present at the Council of Clermont, Fulcher of Chartres, thus reports this part of Urban’s speech: “Let those who have formerly been accustomed to contend wickedly in private warfare against the faithful fight against the infidel, and bring to a victorious end the war which ought already to have been begun. Let those who have hitherto been robbers now become soldiers. Let those who have formerly contended against their brothers and relatives now fight against the barbarians as they ought. Let those who have formerly been mercenaries at low wages now gain eternal rewards. Let those who have been exhausting themselves to the detriment both of body and soul now strive for a twofold reward” See a complete translation of Fulcher’s report of Urban’s speech in Translations and Reprints, Vol. 1. No. 2.]

    “Let hatred therefore depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulcher-, wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which, as the Scripture says, `floweth with milk and honey’ was given by God into the power of the children of Israel. Jerusalem is the center of the earth ; the land is fruitful above all others, like another paradise of delights. This spot the Redeemer of mankind has made illustrious by his advent, has beautified by his sojourn, has consecrated by his passion, has redeemed by his death, has glorified by his burial.

    “This royal city, however, situated at the center of the earth, is now held captive by the enemies of Christ and is subjected, by those who do not know God, to the worship the heathen. She seeks, therefore, and desires to be liberated and ceases not to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all other nations great glory in arms. Accordingly, undertake this journey eagerly for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the reward of imperishable glory in the kingdon of heaven..”

    When Pope Urban had urbanely said thes and very similar things, he so centered in one purpose the desires all who were present that all cried out, ” It is the will of God! I It is the. will of God ” When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven, he gave thanks to God and, commanding silence with his hand, said:

    “Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, `Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’; for unless God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry; since, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry as one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted is in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let that then be your war cry in combats, because it is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: ‘It is the will of God! It is the will of God!’ [Deus vult! Deus Vult!]

    “And we neither command nor advise that the old or those incapable of bearing arms, undertake this journey. Nor ought women to set out at all without their husbands, or brother, or legal guardians. For such are more of a hindrance than aid, more of a burden than an advantage. Let the rich aid the needy and according to their wealth let them take with them experienced soldiers. The priests and other clerks, whether secular or regulars are not to go without the consent of their bishop; for this journey would profit them nothing if they went without permission. Also, it is not fitting that laymen should enter upon the pilgrimage without the blessing of their priests.

    “Whoever, therefore, shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage, and shall make his vow to God to that effect, and shall offer himself to him for sacrifice, as a living victim, holy and acceptable to God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead or on his breast. When, indeed, he shall return from his journey, having fulfilled his vow, let him place the cross on his back between his shoulders. Thus shall ye, indeed, by this twofold action, fulfill the precept of the Lord, as lie commands in the Gospel, ‘he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”‘”

  • “Which would have come as a vast shock to pope Urban II”

    Ahhh good. You do agree with what I said within my post: that both Judaism and Christians have killed in the Name of God. Now the question: so what should we do today, in the 21st century? Shall we read and interpret Pope Urban II’s statement within its historical context, in which he was asked by the Byzantine Emperor to raise up troops to fight a DEFENSIVE versus OFFENSIVE campaign [that is indeed what the Crusades were, a defensive campaign-one which they ultimately lost] or as an absolute ‘statement’ for all times for Christians to take up arms against all Moslems? If the first is your/our option, then the papal teaching that ‘no one should kill in the Name of God” is not a problem [i.e. no hermeneutic of disruption]. However, if the second is your/our option we have bigger problems than simply someone disagreeing with Pope Francis’ statement about working with the portion of Islam that agrees with this position {no killing in the Name of God; being a religion of peace, etc]

  • I think Botolph that history is a good deal more complicated than we in the twenty-first century normally realize, and that the Catholic Church has a very great problem in this area with most of its heritage prior to Vatican II being shunted down a memory hole. Evangelii Gaudium is a very good example of this with only one citation to a papal document prior to 1964. In regard to Islam and Christianity the simple truth is that the most common relationship between the two faiths is one of war since the birth of Islam, unless one counts the fifth class existence that Christians luckless enough to be born in Islamic lands endure. I understand that the Vatican currently, largely to spare Christians in Islamic countries, adopts the language of diplomacy regarding Islam, but the rest of us need not participate in this humbug of historical amnesia of the past and wishful thinking for the future.

  • Certainly, I think that Muslims should not endorse religious violence, and I support those who believe their religion rejects it.


    And there’s the rub…a fair reading of the Koran will produce a distribution of convictions, but a significant portion of honest readers will fall in two worrisome categories. The first category will find it commendable to behead a man based on a pro-military T-shirt, or to throw acid in the face of a sexually wayward female dependent. The second might consider such actions unpalatable, but since Islam has no Pope or priests, and leaves to each believer the task of working out his or her path, they would also find it presumptuous to oppose or interfere with those in the first category. And that should be alarming to all of us.


    Yes, there are many others who would shrink in horror at such deeds and work to oppose them, but as much as I commend and encourage them, I do not see how they can consider themselves faithful followers of what is in the Koran, and I can understand why some would say they are not very good Muslims. (I feel similarly grateful for, and puzzled by, the atheists who go around acting selflessly and charitably.)


    I myself don’t agree with those who, after reading the Bible, claim that we must all sell our goods and follow a life of mendicant poverty, or violently protest at a nuclear facility, or oppose the teaching of evolution (or, more worryingly, avoid all contacts with Jews and homosexuals) but I cannot claim, based on the Bible alone, that those who have come to such conclusions are acting un-Biblically. For better or worse, there will always be at least a minority faction in most any Christian body (at least any sola scriptura body) that will be motivated to engage in that kind of behavior.


    Likewise, there is something inherent in Islam as it has been practiced and interpreted that will, for the foreseeable future, predispose a significant portion of its followers to violence and cruelty. It will take a significant change in doctrine (or, equivalently, a significant shift towards secularism) to change that, and any moves in that direction will meet with violent opposition.


    And to follow up on the Islam-has-no-priesthood point, whomever Muslims look to for guidance on what it means to be a true Muslim, I do not believe it will be Francis. I think his reading of “true Islam”, so heavy with wishful thinking, is issued primarily in order to create a balance to his more relevant appeals that those Muslims who are in the business of murdering Copts and Syrian Christians are stopped. In that effort, I wish him well.

  • Donald,

    I see that you and I disagree over whether there is continuity or discontinuity of and within the Church before, during and after Vatican II. I obviously believe that Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity and reform is key. There are many Catholics both progressive and traditionalists who do not. I recognize that. So we will ‘agree to disagree’ here [since this hermeneutic has not (yet at least) been defined De Fide]

    To the point however, I see we disagree over the matter of Islam (and I am no romanticist who believes all Moslems are misunderstood etc) I have already given the context of how and why the brief statement was made within the Council concerning Moslems: the desire to make a statement by the Eastern Churches given our positive statements concerning Judaism and the Jews. VII, drawing on Scripture, the Fathers of the Church etc. put forth an understanding (could we say: vision?) of the Church in this synthesis [given by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985]: “The Church as communion is the Sacrament of Salvation for the world”. The Church sees a fundamental unity and communion (if not full) among all Christians in and through the sacrament of Baptism. While ‘communion’ is our identity, how do we relate to/and how do non Christians relate with/to us? The Church uses the specific term: ‘relates/relatedness’. In other words, while Christians are in communion with (of not yet fully) the Church, we are in relatio to and with non-Christians most especially with the Jews but also with Moslems who ‘worship the One God, the Creator, the merciful’, and who ‘claim Abraham’. These are not really ‘political’ statements. They are a positive expression of how we are indeed in relatio with the rest of humanity. We believe that we, as communion are the Sacrament of Salvation for the world. There can be no sacrament and no salvation if we are not in some relatio with the five billion other human beings in this world and more specifically, the one billion followers of Mohammed [There are 7 billion people, a little more than 1 billion are Catholic, another one billion are other Christians not in full communion with the Church]

  • To me it’s obvious the Pope meant that the BEST OF ISLAM is non-violent

  • However, given that I don’t think the Koran is an inspired holy book, and that I don’t think Islam is a true religion, I’m not clear how I can say which reaching of the Koran is “correct” in religious terms. I suppose it kind of like how I’ve have atheists tell me that it’s ludicrous to read the Bible and not hold that it authoritatively teaches creationism or geocentrism. I can tell them that that’s not the right way to read the bible, but since they don’t accept that the Church and Tradition hold the key to understanding scripture, I don’t really have a way to prove my point with them.

    Seems to me that Jesus gave us an answer already. (and not just relating to believers, but life in general)
    Matthew 7:16-20 (NIV)
    “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

    Is the fruit of Islam peace? Or war?

  • From St. Augustine: We should love Muslims in Christian charity, i.e, bring them the Gospel. For as long as they live they may come to a better mind and join the “blessed endeavor.”

  • I cannot recall whether it was Robert Spencer or Daniel Pipes who said “moderate Islam is a cultural habit; radical Islam is authentic Islam”.

    What bothers one about the contemporary episcopate in the West is the alacrity with which they slide into Eurotrash attitudes. So, a state governor with a death warrant on his desk is sure to get a call from the local ordinary and perhaps the papal nuncio, no matter what the convict in question did to whom. And here again we see a bishop promoting social fictions that the political apparat and the chatterati find convenient. The Holy See under John Paul adopted a diplomatic posture that was functionally pacifist. The Holy See’s diplomatic service was also a great promoter of various and sundry supranational institutions, which just seems perverse. It is embarrassing, and depressing.

  • T,Shaw,


  • This is an excellent topic. I resolve to take time to read all of your comments. I’ll hazard a brief observation of mine. By their works you shall know them and history is replete with the works of the followers of Mohammad. However, Pope Francis is wise to tread lightly around such a dangerous creature.

  • Botolph,

    A big problem is the fact that there are persons that would judge that comment (hat tip to St. Augustine) and Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospels) essentially to be offensive.

    AD: I love you, man!

    “Eurotrash attitudes”

    “social fictions”

    “the political apparat”


    “functionally pacifist”

    “sundry supranational institutions”


  • An interesting element of Islam we all want to observe is the behavior of the followers outside of arabic culture. We all know the immense “control” the region has on the world’s muslim population — and will it ever mature to a point that allows for a less combative influence??

  • Botolph writes: “….we are in relatio to and with non-Christians most especially with the Jews but also with Moslems who ‘worship the One God, the Creator, the merciful’, and who ‘claim Abraham’. …”

    Does the Catholic Church understand Allah …”the One God, the Creator, the merciful”….to be the same Trinitarian God we worship in Catholicism?

    If not, doesn’t the entirety of Catholic tradition and divine Revelation require us to convert Moslems to Christ, not just engage in tolerance?

  • Slainte,

    Yes, in so much as all ‘men’ by using their intellect-reason can come to know that God exists, that He is one, and that He is the Creator of the everything. God has first revealed Himself in and through creation, thus giving evidence of Himself to all people (and leaving no excuses for those refusing to believe or worshiping many gods etc). What we are speaking of here is what the Catechism teaches as the first two covenants [with Adam: marriage and Noah: family] The next Covenant in which God reveals Himself is the Covenant with Abraham. It is here that things get ‘tricky’ Jews and Christians believe that this Covenant was fulfilled and realized with Isaac and his descendants. Moslems believe that this Covenant was fulfilled with and through Ishmael. While the Covenant of Abraham continues and is furthered with the Covenant with Israel [Moses and David] and now in Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David, the Son of God, Moslems while holding all these biblical figures as prophets do not believe in or hold to these covenants, most especially Jesus Christ.

    They see Jesus, Son of Mary, as the Messiah but not the Son of God. Moslems do not believe He died on the Cross period-and certainly not for our sins. Instead they believe He ascended into heaven, where He specifically carries on a conversation with God saying He did not understand why His disciples ‘made Him god”. They also believe that Christians believe Mary is the third person of the Trinity. This is all in the Quran which is according to Moslem belief, the direct, unhindered, word of God spoken byy God in Arabic and put to parchment by Mohammed

    Slainte, in short, together we worship the one true God, the Creator of the Universe. However, we believe that this One God has revealed Himself in and through Jesus Christ and thus God is a Trinity of Persons, One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They reject that utterly and completely.

  • Matthew 28:19-20

    19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    Catholic missions for hundreds of years spread the Good News globally based upon the foregoing divine directive. I would submit that Ecumenism, to the extent it embraces tolerance, effectively estops Catholic missions from affirmatively evangelizing the Moslems.

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  • Slainte/Botolph: Do we and the Muslims indeed worship the same God? We understand that God is Love. Do they?

  • Slainte,

    First let me make just a slight correction of terms. “Ecumenism” is that activity and spirituality that pertains to, and only to Christians. Ecumenism is based on our common baptism and the faith in the triune God we profess at baptism. By baptism, every Christian is a member of the Church of Christ which subsides in the Catholic Church. However, sadly, not all Christians are in full communion with the Church. Thus ‘ecumenism’ seeks to answer the prayer of Christ at the Last Supper, “Father, that they may be one”. While it is a tough process of conversion, growth in faith and most of all charity, we actually are now seeing some fruit: for example the Anglican Ordinariate, and what is being called the ‘ecumenism of the martyrs’. Not all Christian martyrs today come from the same Church or ecclesial community, yet all are united in the confession of Jesus Christ.

    What you are referring to is “Interfaith” or “Interreligious relations”, case in point, with Islam. Interfaith relations must be founded on genuine RESPECT for the individuals in that ‘faith’ or ‘religion’, even when that respect is not reciprocated. This ‘respect” is not to be equated with the secular bastardized version called “toleration” which is not actually respectful or charitable but actually ghettoizes various religions and their followers into a ‘secular’ ’cause no harm but keep your mouth shut” mentality. “Toleration” is, like ‘multiculturalism’, an ideology that actually believes there is no real (religious) truth so ‘why can’t we just get along’. In so far as ‘toleration’ does not condone killing, religious wars etc, fine, but as I said, it is a bastardization of the real virtue: respect.

    Interfaith Dialogue, if it is really dialogue, should enable for ‘both parties’ to come to the table so to speak as themselves fully. In other words, in real interfaith dialogue Catholics and Moslems can dialogue not only about what they do share in common but their differences, without covering up or glossing them over.One of the key issues in dialogue with Moslems in Moslem countries are the laws against blasphemy. These laws prevent a Christian to say anything about Mohammed other than that he is Allah’s Prophet. In other words, a Christian cannot, under blasphemy laws, state they do not believe Mohammed to be a prophet, etc or could not say that Jesus is not only the Messiah but the Son of God. Since these contradict the Quran, they are considered blasphemy. This obviously does not make for good dialogue (;-))

    An even bigger issue is the Islamic understanding of the fusion of “mosque and state”. Note I said fusion! There is no sense of distinction between Mosque and State in an Islamic country [there are indeed some countries that make some breathing room: for example the Kingdom of Jordan, or the Emirates on the Persian Gulf where Catholics can really breathe etc -as well as all other Christians]. However when you hear of an Islamic revolution etc you can almost bet Sharia Law (religious law) is becoming law of the land and freedom of religion and not just worship will lose. Also in Moslem countries Christians are supposed to pay a ‘tax’ which is really more of a fine for being Christian, with stiff penalties if not paid.

    In Islamic countries there is actual religious oppression and persecution. It varies from country to country, but some have ‘religion police’ while others depend upon mobs. All one has to do is drop a rumor, falsely accuse someone and that person is as good as dead. Christians are dying daily in these countries. Even so called secular Moslem states, such as Turkey have their own way of oppressing. What Turkey has done in connection with the patriarch of Constantinople (attempting to make the patriarchate go out of existence), converting what was once their Cathedral of Hagia Sophia-that had been turned into a Mosque but is now a museum-wanting to convert it again into a mosque; only yesterday they announced they were converting another ancient Greek Church into a mosque.

    What I am getting at is that the foundations of real interfaith dialogue is based on mutual respect not whimpy toleration. These kinds of things must and are being brought to the table in the on again off again interfaith dialogues.

    I will end, Slainte, by distinguishing “evangelization” and “proseletyzing”. Evangelizing is sharing the Gospel, the “good new” of Jesus Christ with those who do not yet know Him. It is done by the witness of lives primarily. Here I am thinking of Charles De Foucald or the Trappist monks of Algeria. Evangelization is incarnate, embodied. It is a daily witness of life and care for others with respect for others. When asked why their/my life is so different, that is when one can give the reason for one’s hope, as Saint Peter puts it in his Letter (1 Peter 3). Proselytizing however is very different. It begins with a real lack of respect for the other, and moves to ‘showing how and why that religion is wrong’ [We Catholicshave experienced it sometimes from Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and even some Evangelicals] Proselytism i nothing more than religious imperialism and conquest. It has nothing to do with the Mission Mandate of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 28.

    Rodney Stark, a sociologist studying Christianity has made note that between 30 AD and 400 AD, the Church increased in its membership by 40% every ten years! How? Through their relationships, first within families and circles of friends, then with their neighbors. Read the Acts again and except for the one time at the Aeropagus in Athens (which was basically a failure) the Apostles went first to the synagogues: in that context it was ‘within the family’ and then attracted some of the Jews and some of the believing Gentiles who were present for Sabbath worship. The apostles announced that what they were waiting for, the Messiah, had come in the Person of Jesus Christ. Later on, after the barbarian invasions etc a new missionary spirit came, as we see in Patrick or Boniface, but again it was not religious imperialism but genuine charity that motivated their missionary zeal

    I believe real interfaith dialogue to be the real foundations and beginning of evangelization in our post modern context and world

  • William Walsh,

    Catholics (Christians) and Moslems believe in One God, the Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth [I am using those words specifically from the Creed]. Notice I left out “the Father”. Because they do not believe substantially in the covenant with Israel (Moses and then David), they do not believe first of all in God’s “fatherly love” for His People, How many times does the Lord God speak of Israel or Ephraim etc as “his son”. For the Moslem, God’s relationship with mankind (and all people are created/born Moslems-if they are not Moslems for whatever reason they are ‘infidels’) is one of Master to servant. The word “Islam” itself means ‘submission’. While they profess God to be merciful, I frankly am not sure what that means., unless it means He is a merciful Master. Islam does not see God as ‘loving’ and definitely not ‘fatherly’.

    William, you bring up that important text from the First Letter of Saint John “God is love” (1 John 4). As I am sure you realize that means more than “God is loving”. It actually is a confession of faith that Jesus Christ has come into the world to reveal God’s love: His love for us in giving us His Son as the expiation for our sins but even deeper: that in His very Being, essence (what makes God God) He is ‘relationship”, ‘Communion” (‘family”) God is Father (not merely father-like) Son and Holy Spirit. Saint Augustine in his long treatise on the Trinity puts it this way: The love between the Father and the Son and the Son and the Father IS the Holy Spirit. Or he also says, in God there is “the Lover'[Father], “the Beloved” [Son] and Love [Holy Spirit]. “GOd is love” is an unbelievably deep, succinct way of speaking of the Most Blessed Trinity.

    The Moslems would and do reject this outright. According to them, Jesus is not the Son so God is not a ‘father’ and there is no ‘holy spirit’. For the Moslems God definitely and definitively is not love. One further note. Of all the religions of the world, only Islam declares categorically and definitively denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Judaism does not (I am not saying that Jews believe He is the Son of GOd, but simply they do not have a defined doctrine concerning Him-very interesting). Only Islam definitively denies the Divinity of Christ-just as definitively as Christians define that He is!

  • Readers must google ” Islam and abrogation” which will bring you to various posts like this:

    There are peaceful sayings in the Koran but chapter 9 of the Koran is violent and contradicts those ( 9:5 and 9:29 contradict c120 peaceful verses). The problem is chapter 9 was written in the last year of Muhammad’s life and later verses abrogate earlier verses. Peaceful muslims restrict chapter 9 to an historical context in Muhammad’s life but others and especially jihadists do not restrict it to that context but take its violent passages as the latter rule that voids the peaceful passages of the Koran. So it is the opposite development that one sees in the Bible. The Bible moves from the massacres done by Joshua at God’s order through e.g. a smaller one done by Jehu to the House of Ahab to a final one in 70 AD done by God through
    the Romans against Jews in Jerusalem. But as for Christians, Christ rebukes the disciples in Luke 9 because they wish to bring fire down from heaven ( as Elijah did twice to heretical army companies) on a Samaritan town who refused hospitality to Christ because his face was set for Jerusalem and not Mt.Gerizim.
    The Bible moved from Divine and intimately inspired violence toward human and restricted violence as in
    a just war ( cf Rom.13:4). The Koran moved from earlier tolerance passages to the violence of chapter 9….the reverse…keeping in mind that peaceful Muslims do not see 9 as having abrogation authority.

    In the Bible, only God knew when a group’s sin had reached completion. Only then at sin’s completion would God massacre or use a group to do so because He punished groups lightly for centuries before commanding an herem or ban or massacre (read Wisdom 12:10 on that). Read Genesis 15:16…God is telling Abraham it will be 400 years before He loses patience with the Canaanites…” the wickedness of the Amorites will not have reached full measure until then.”. All that while God sought their repentance while they were sacrificing their children to Baal…but they ignored Him. Christ repeats this concept of completed sin from Gen.15:16 as He warns Jerusalem’s leaders in Mt.23:32…” now fill up what your ancestors measured out.”
    Any Jew who heard those words and connected them to Gen.15:16 quaked inside and knew to get out of Jerusalem or warn their young ones because Exodus 20:5 reads: ” I…am a jealous God…inflicting punishment for their ancestors wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation”.
    Remember when Christ told Jerusalem that their preborns would die within their women because they had not known the day if their visitation…third and fourth generation….see Luke 19:44 ” They will smash you to the ground and your children within you ….because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
    That Biblical violence stops at 70 AD because only God knows which groups have reached complete, filled up sin and only God can order an herem that encompasses innocent children who by the way I think are now in Heaven. David’s baby died for David’s sin. Ezekiel tells us by God’s inspiration that ” the son shall not die for the sin of the father”… ie the son will not go to hell for the father’s sin but he can die physically for the father’s sin per David’s example.

    So the Bible moves from great violence by God’s command due to filled up sin….to Christ forbidding the disciples to burn the Samaritans in Luke 9. Christ’s followers are no longer to kill groups because only God knows when a group have completed sin.
    Many muslims see the Koran as moving in the opposite direction…from tolerance to chapter 9 in which killing groups is commanded if they don’t convert etc.

  • Islam is a seventh century heresy in whatever form it takes or shows itself.

    I have repeatedly said here that Pelayo, Queen Isabel the Catholic (and her ancestor, King Alfonso the Avenger), Don Juan of Austria and King John Sobieski showed how best to deal with Islam. Smack it in the teeth.

    There is great evil in the world. Porn, homosexualism, the progressive political garbage, Islam….it takes a strong spine, armed with the Church founded by Christ and His Gospel, to stand against it.

  • It probably is impossible to answer the question raised in the article regarding peace. One thing I know: Islam spread by force. It owes its widespread adherence to force. Every religion, I guess, promotes an ideal or vision of peace and that’s another thing.

  • “it’s problematic to say what is “true Islam” and what is “false Islam” — especially given that I don’t think Islam is actually”

    I really do not see that. After all, I do not need to be a Platonist, or believe “Platonism” to be true, in order to discuss whether Arcesilaus or Carneades or Proclus were faithful to and merely developed Plato’s teaching or “corrupted” it, that is introduced elements foreign to his thought.

    The question is certainly not meaningless; whether anyone has succeeded in answering it is another matter.

  • As I said, Pope Francis is wise to tread lightly around the Islam creature. It is dangerous when aroused. Poor Pope Benedict found that out after his innocent historical observation at Regensburg. The practitioners of the “Religion of Peace” went out and shot an innocent nun to register their objection to the truth. I see Christianity and Islam revealed by the respective results of the degree of devotion to each. The more closely one follows Christ, the more peaceful the Christian. The more closely one follows Mohammed, the more violent the Muslim. Give me lax, cafeteria-type Muslims-in-Name-Only* any day. (* MINOs)

  • Readers must google ” Islam and abrogation” which will bring you to…


    The early, relatively pacific surahs of the Koran are customarily assumed to have been written at the beginning of Muhammad’s “prophecy”, when his followers were a small minority willing to ingratiate and placate others. The later, bloodier ones were written when Muhammad was a victorious warlord.


    I suspect that the lesson that some Muslims draw from this, perhaps in a collective kind of understanding, is the following: they are to blend in and integrate and speak of peace only until they have the means to overthrow or outvote those who stand in their way, at which point, the veil comes off and they can show everyone what they really mean by peace.

  • “Authentic” Islam is found mostly in two sources: the Koran, and the teachings/examples of Muhammad. For topics not covered in these two sources, one looks to the consensus of authoritative Islamic scholars.

    In order to understand the Koran you have to do what knowledgeable Muslims have done for centuries: look to the “tafsirs,” the Koran commentaries that explain the meaning of each verse. More of these are being translated into English, and I recommend the “Tafsir Ibn Kathir.” It is a 10 volume work, and although it was written in the 14th century, it is still considered among the most authoritative tafsirs and it is very popular among Muslims of our day. An authoritative one-volume tafsir is the “Tafsir Al-Jalalayn” written in the 15th century. For comparison sake, there is the “Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan,” which was written and published in Urdu in 1995. There is a four volume English translation of this tafsir covering chapters 1-41 of the Koran, and another translation titled “Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan (Part 30)” which is a small pocket book covering chapters 78-114 of the Koran. You will find general continuity across the centuries in how the verses of the Koran are interpreted.

    This general continuity comes from the fact that in order to understand the Koran, Muslim scholars look to the “hadiths,” reports of the teachings and example of Muhammad related by those who were there with Muhammad. There are six hadith collections that are considered the most authoritative; they have been translated into English and consist of 39 volumes. Here they are:

    Sahih Al-Bukhari
    Sahih Muslim
    Sunan Ibn Majah
    Sunan An-Nasa’i
    Sunan Abu Dawud
    Jami’ At-Tirmidhi

    The two “sahih’s” are considered the most authoritative, with Al-Bukhari being the top.

    Once a subject has been dealt with/decided in the Koran or the teachings of Muhammad, it is set in stone. No one after Muhammad has the authority to change that decision. Although, there can be some disagreement among authoritative scholars on aspects of a particular matter. The best a “moderate” Muslim can do is ignore a particular teaching. But if he chooses to do so, this is best done quietly and not bragged about inside his mosque.

    Over the centuries the authoritativeness of a scholar has been determined by the Muslims themselves, and it continues today.

    The confusion about Islam today stems largely from the reluctance/fear to hold Islam up to the same scrutiny that has been used on other religions. This resulting lack of knowledge results in the spreading of misinformation and myths about Islam. When we combine this with the personal interpretations of Islam by individual Muslims, who might not even know their own religion that well, it creates a sense that there is no “authentic” Islam.

    The answer is to look to their own canonical texts: the Koran, the tafsirs, and the hadith collections.

  • Thank you, Botolph, for your erudite disquisition on God is Love and that “Islam does not see God as ‘loving’ and definitely not ‘fatherly’. It is interesting to contemplate that Muslims track their history from Ismael of whom Genesis 16:12 says, “He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” Genesis 5:18 goes on to say, “The Ishmaelites dwelt from Hevila to Sur, on the border of Egypt on the way to Assur. He died in conflict with all his kinsmen.” One might expect a people to decline an association with an ancestor of such poor reputation but perhaps there is evidence of an ancestral connection to Ismael for the population of the Arabian Peninsula, albeit whimsical to assign the inheritance of a trait by the same.

  • William P Walsh

    Thanks for your kind words. I have made my own thoughts on Islam clear (I hope lol) HOwever one thing keeps coming back to my mind. I do believe the connection of Arabs with Ishmael. Some cultures kept those ethnic and racial memories more vividly than, say Europeans [and any and all of us descended from Europeans] who tend to identify with nation or kingdom,

    This being the case, I keep coming back to something that simply will not go away in my mind. The Arabs-are not descended from Abraham through Isaac, but Ishmael. Therefore they were not ‘privy’ to the covenants with Israel [Moses, and David, from whom the Messiah was/is descended] When Arabs became Christians they were grafted into all of this through Christ. But what of those who didn’t come to Christ, and later followed Mohammed and the Quran. [Here I am not at all saying that Quran is revelation or that Mohammed is God’s prophet] All Arabs descended from Ishamel are still blessed in and through Abraham. Yes, they do not share in, participate all the rest, but what does it mean to be a descendant of Abraham. Paul of course says physical descent is by no means enough. This is absolutely true when we see the glorious inheritance we have in Christ. But does that mean the blessing to Abraham, signing that connection with circumcision, attempting to live in Abraham’s blessing, is and or means nothing? [I am not saying it is enough for salvation etc I am simply saying (since they are obviously not Jews) they are more than ‘pagans’ aren’t they? These are simply my thoughts out loud: my own thoughts, nothing more.

    Then I wonder, since there is so much of a struggle between the elder brother (Ishmael) and Isaac-and his physical (Jews) and spiritual (us) descendants-is not ‘salvation’ for them going to include a deep reconciliation between the two brothers in and through Christ who breaks down the walls of separation, as Saint Paul writes in Ephesians.

    Don’t mind me. These are just ‘musings’, but I am left wondering

110 Responses to We Shouldn’t Turn to the Church for Economic Analysis

  • I do not see that the Holy Father’s remarks go beyond the settled teaching of the Church, as contained in Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical, Populorum Progressio.

    “Founded to build the kingdom of heaven on earth rather than to acquire temporal power, the Church openly avows that the two powers—Church and State—are distinct from one another; that each is supreme in its own sphere of competency. (Cf. Leo XIII, Encyc. letter Immortale Dei 🙂 But since the Church does dwell among men, she has the duty “of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. (Gaudium et Spes)”

    He goes on to say that “Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: ‘You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.’ (De Nabute, c. 12, n. 53) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional. No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, ‘as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.’ When ‘private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,’ it is for the public authorities ‘to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.’ (Letter to the 52nd Social Week at Brest, in L’homme et la révolution urbaine, Lyon: Chronique sociale (1965), 8-9)

    This teaching is clearly moral, not economic, and refers to the respective obligations of individuals and those in authority. When he says, “It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity,” he is, as the Shepherd of Souls, prescribing a duty. It is a pity the bishops do not remind Catholic politicians of this duty more often.

  • I would no more go to the Church for economic analysis than I would look to an economist for an explanation of the role of grace in salvation. When the Pope reminds us all to not forget the poor or to not make money an idol he has the force of his office behind him. The following goes well beyond it:

    “In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and I the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

    This of course is a fairly tendentious translation of what the Pope originally wrote:

    From Joe’s translation at Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam:

    “54. In this context, some defend “spillover” theories which suppose that all economic growth, for which a free market is [most] favorable, by itself brings about greater equity and social inclusion in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve confidence in the generosity of those [people] who wield economic power and in the sacralized mechanisms of that ruling economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

    54 is rendered more acceptable to me by this new translation but still the Pope goes too far beyond his office.

    First, it is clear from this document that the Pope and basic economic knowledge are not on the friendliest of terms, to put it charitably. 204 is a doozy along those lines:

    “204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

    The Pope seems to have no understanding that the types of mandates he proposes are, to use his term, “poison” for any economic growth. The Pope confuses the functioning of markets with the use of the fruits of the market, not an uncommon mistake by socialists or those who embrace socialist superstitions and try to make economies function according to government fiat.

    Second, the Pope seems to have a very optimistic view of the ability of the State to fairly redress inequities in the marketplace. Perhaps the Pope has a “sacralized” view of those who wield the power of the State? If so, that would not be an unusual view for an Argentinian to hold in spite of the overwhelming evidence that State involvement in the Argentinian economy has produced disaster after disaster.

    However, debates about economic systems and the proper role of government intervention in the economy are areas where wise Popes have usually tread lightly because they recognized that they had no special charism to render judgments in those areas. Pope Francis, judging from Evangelii Gaudium, might not be aware that his personal opinions in these areas must be, and will be, subject to the normal give and take, even from faithful Catholics, of argument that results whenever any one proffers an opinion about the economy and the role of the State in it. When the Pope seeks to give prescriptions for the proper functioning of the economy and of the State in it he is departing from the realm of religion and entering the realm of policy and that is always a subject for debate and not mere obedience.

  • Seems as if he’s been gulled by the liberal lie that the free market (where on Earth is that operative?) causes homelessness, hunger, nakedness, poverty.

    They cannot name one major economy wherein, for the past 100+ years, the state/regime/organized brigandage hasn’t massively, and to great harm, imposed central planning, command/control-economy, excessive taxes, inflation, leviathan bureaucratic/regulatory behemoths.

    This morning, all I can think about “economics” is, “I wish I had gotten in Bitcoin at $100!” Wiping away a tear . . .

  • I am no theologian by any imaginable stretch, so I will not deign to speak on the other 199+ pages of the encyclical. But, what I see in the Pope’s touch on economics is something that would make the lefties howl if it’s read a certain way, which in this Pope’s case is pretty easy.
    First, when he seems to attack free-market economics, I think it’s because we see him criticizing current economic conditions here and in Western Europe. Thus, we jump to the conclusion that he’s criticizing free-market capitalism; Holy Cow is he a Communist? No, not at all. That conclusion is incorrect, but not because of what he says. It is our other premise which renders the syllogism incorrect; we don’t have a free-market system in this country. It’s farther in that direction than a lot of the world, but it is not free-market. The Left thinks we do, and from their statist standpoint it looks like we do, but we don’t. At its heart, it is a quasi-fascist oligarchy. The currency is controlled by a central credit monopoly, and its distribution is more comparable to a command economy than an open, free marketplace where any medium of exchange that fits the value of traders’ needs would suffice.
    Special regulations, anti-competitive structures, stifling tort laws, an impenetrable (and now offensive) tax code and a host of other often contradictory and oppressive regulatory layers have turned what could be a blazing fire of innovation and productivity into a smoldering heap of wet leaves. Very little trickles down anymore; in a truly free-market economy, the trickle would be upwards and outwards to begin with.
    In any nation where poverty is obviously present, it is for political reasons. If people cannot find relief from poverty it is because they either cannot leave, or are paid to stay. From the extreme examples of Ethiopia and North Korea to the more subtle American welfare state, almost all poverty is created and sustained by governments, and done so for political reasons. Victim classes and red-herring martyrs play well in lapdog media cultures; this perpetuates the fiefdoms inherent in partisan politics. North Koreans and Cubans are kept poor by American Imperialist exploitation, right? Welfare rolls are kept high by white racist attitudes and lack of opportunity, as everybody knows. In fact, anybody with half a working brain knows those are derisibly false, but they play well to the sheeple who then keep the powers in place.
    What does not help is that contemporary big business strategy has turned from long-term stability to a “make the next quarterly P&L sheet rock!” mentality. “Work Smarter, Not Harder” is anathema to the prospect of shared profits being divided by free choice among those who can choose to simply work hard to get ahead. “Too Big To Fail” should never be an imaginable condition. What happened to the 50-year retirement party? Sure, greater mobility and expanded capacity play a part, but folks will stay where they are happy if given half a chance. When layoffs and rolling cutbacks come and go like squalls in an Indiana spring, though, that stability is simply gone. “Golden parachute” is a concept that would make Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie stand up in their graves.
    Consider this phrase in the encyclical, then: “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and [in] the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” It makes a lot more sense when one considers who it is that wields economic power these days. Is it the street-level proprietor, or even the small business owner? No. It is the government and its pinstripe pals who have betrayed the trust of the people to safeguard our economic capabilities and have begun to work for themselves at the expense of the rest of us.
    MM’s idea that the Church should not “endorse capitalism” is backwards. In its purest form, one cannot “embrace” capitalism any more than one can endorse breathing or waking up every day. Free-market economics is a natural state, and it works best when those involved in its everyday activities embrace the teachings of the Church. MM says “The Church teaches on how we ought to treat each other as people, not what actions will result in the greatest efficiency, the greatest growth, or the greatest profit.” What he seems to miss is that those two are in fact one and the same. Gobry nails it.
    I believe that His Holiness sees a lot more than he lets on, and if he’s not intentionally setting up the left-handed saps for a big fall, he’s certainly letting the “enough rope” theory do its part.

  • I think the problem with this passage is that one phrase was mistranslated from the Spanish (the proper translation would not be ‘inevitably’ but ‘in itself’ or ‘for itself’) and that the translator made use of a term from partisan opinion journalism (‘trickle-down economics’) which maps poorly to actual discourse on economic topics.

    Economic activity occurs within a context where moral choices take place, so the Pope certainly has something to say about that. Agriculture and commerce and industry are a dimension of human life and the Pope certainly has something to say about the relationship of that dimension to the other dimensions.

    Let us posit that the Pope said that markets are not omnicompetent – that the society as a whole has tasks not met through markets. That would be an unexceptional statement. The thing is, la gauche maintains in its head this caricature of the starboard which has all of us thinking like the hero in an Ayn Rand novel. Of course, hardly anyone thinks that way. That implicit caricature, along with the use of buzz terms like ‘trickle-down economics’ leads one to the conclusion that the Pope himself or his secretariat is addled by a mentality one associates with crude opinion journalists. That is disconcerting.

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  • The issue of ‘translation’ is an extremely important one. However, since others and I myself have spent some time on this aspect of the subject I would prefer to address some further concerns.

    Taking the whole “Social Teaching” of the Magisterium of the popes from the time of Leo XIII to Pope Benedict [I am leaving Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium to the side here for a moment] there can be no doubt that the Catholic Church does not believe in “Statism”, the complete monopoly of all aspects of society and culture by the State. This arose first in response to Communism, but the Fascists and National Socialists were ultimately no different. This can be seen especially in the Church’s teaching on the principle of subsidiarity, first put forward by Pope Pius IX in Quadragessimo Anno in 1931.

    There is another important point that needs to be made here, which in my reading, has become very clear. There is a certain ‘reading’ of the Social Teachings of the Church much in the same manner as some read Vatican II. To be specific, some read the publication of Populorum Progressio (and here I am not criticizing or taking a swipe at what Michael Patgerson-Seymour gives us in the above post) as a completely new start to the Social Teaching of the Church. In other words, even with the Social Teachings of the Church there is a ‘hermeneutic of rupture’ and a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’. If isolated from the rest or taken as the primary social encyclical, Populorum Progressio could and has been read in rather ‘progressive’, even ‘socialist’ terms. This is the reason Pope Benedict emphasized Populorum Progressio within the larger corpus of social teaching in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate. I have found the book, “Papal Economics: the Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate” by Macej Zieba O.P. to be extremely helpful on this subject.

    Where does this lead us? Within the Catholic theological world, and in some aspects of the Curia, there is this ‘reading’ of Populorum Progressio in an isolated way, but more specifically, in a way that makes it the key to interpreting all Social Teaching documents etc of the Church. This simply is not an accurate picture of or interpretation of Catholic Social Teaching.

    While the Church has turned away from “Statism” it is still in an active, ongoing and dynamic ‘dialogue’ with “Democratic Capitalism” and “the free market”. In this ‘dialogue’ are we, as Church, not supposed to bring our Gospel and faith to the table? Because we have turned our back on Statism does that mean we ‘must’ accept all aspects of “Democratic Capitalism” and its free market without question or critique? Certainly Blessed John Paul’s social encyclicals ‘critiqued’ Democratic Capitalism and the free market, without in any way condemning it. John Paul saw the Social Teaching of the Church as offering ‘foundational moral principles’ by which one could address, critique and dialogue with social issues and problems of the day. Pope Benedict in his single social encyclical nuanced this a bit by stating that Catholic social teaching is the proclamation of gospel charity within social settings (including economic ones)

    Pope Francis’ relatively brief pointed comments on economic issues are simply that. They are not full blown elaborated social teachings [although it will be interesting to see if and when he does indeed write a social encyclical and what and how he addresses ‘economic issues’] I see them as brief ‘prophetic statements’ meant to both probe and lift up our consciousness concerning how all of us in a global society are ‘dealing with’ ‘the market’.

    He speaks of the Golden Calf: a vivid and prophetic image, meant to ‘get the attention’. The question here is not whether I/we like what he is saying (although all of us think our own ideas are extremely important-including this writer :-)) The question is whether that image of the Golden Calf applies, is accurate, is true? I am not reading individual hearts or minds here, but we have just come out of one long weekend-one that used to be a wonderful relaxing one spent with family and friends as we gave thanks and spent quality time with each other. What did we witness? Some stores even open on Thanksgiving Day itself, taking employees away from their families (are they that different from slaves in these situations?) While in times not that long ago, this was the Christmas buying season because it was all about ‘giving’, that is now banished from all descriptions. Now it is ‘Buy, Buy Buy” For what reason? Well the supposed ‘sales’ but down deep, ‘the Gross National Product” “and the people bowed and prayed…….”

    Pope Francis placed all his comments within a call to give economic issues etc a moral underpinning and responsibility. He condemned, rightly, an ‘economics of exclusion’ and a ‘throw away culture’ (here he is not simply speaking of the waste of material things, but of vast amounts of food when people are starving, but even more importantly, people who are thrown away because they no longer ‘contribute’ economically by work or consuming because of economic status, age, health or other disabilities) The question for all of us is this: in order for us, and/or society ‘to have’ does it by logic necessitate ‘have nots’? Certainly some would answer ‘yes’ to that question. Some, perhaps most do not want to really think about this aspect of things. However, if any society in order ‘to have’ necessitates ‘have nots’, this is not simply not optimal, it is not acceptable, and not moral. It may or may not make good economic sense (however in the long haul it does not-morality is like that-it actually is trying to get us to the best result: happiness) but it is in no way acceptable or moral. All are called to participate in societal life, just as all are called to participate in Divine Life in and through Christ Jesus. No one can be excluded by this call.

    This critique of an economics of exclusion does not countenance a ‘permanent welfare state’ either. The best thing we can do for those excluded by society is to enable them to ‘get off the welfare rolls’ of society, to help them regain their sense of dignity and personal self worth, no longer ‘dependent children’ on the all-knowing welfare bureaucracy and the ruling elites who use all those in these situations to continue their power. Helping to get these people back to work, with jobs that are meaningful and thus creative and life-giving, is the outcome of the critique of the economics of exclusion.

    One final point (I know I have gone long here). Pope Francis calls not for a ‘socialist utopia’ or one Ayn Rand would love. Instead, in the issue of economics he makes a prophetic statement, really a prophetic call, calling for a world in which “Money serves, not rules”. For a people who claim “Jesus Christ is Lord”, that can not be that radical. Right?

  • The Church does not do economic analysis, but she can judge economic systems and offer principles for guidance. That is what the Holy Father did. It seems that a few are making more of these few sentences than they should.

  • Bravo Dawin! A well positioned piece. What I think we all can agree with is the continued quest and attempt to inject ethical behavior into the workplace. Yes, this is a personal trait that can be embraced or ignored … still, I stand behind the position that even when ignored and greed or immorality takes root … the market will correct itself far more efficiently than if governed. That is the freedom and trust issue that most find hard to accept.

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  • I’ve made the joke before that Catholics are to economics as Evangelicals are to evolution. The older I get, the less funny and more wry observation it seems… 😉

    But what the financial crisis has laid bare is that the most conventional version of free market economics was actually dead wrong.

    This is as annoying as hearing about how “Hoover was a do-nothing president.” (aka, it’s exactly wrong) You may as well lay the blame for Mussolini at Catholicism’s feet since hey, Rome is in Italy. Heck, one flaw about the quote is that what is “conventional wisdom” is still very much in debate. If you’re talking about conventional, Keynesian interventionism, yeah I agree that was dead wrong, but that’s not much of “free market” either.

    It would have been a pastoral, doctrinal, and theological disaster if the Church had, over the past twenty years, blindly subscribed to what I’ll now refer to as the Washington Consensus. What in 2006 looked like the invisible hand of the market leading the financialization of the economy turned out to be a disastrous instance of crony-capitalist central planning. And when the Pope denounced it, I was among those condescendingly explaining to him that he didn’t get it. What it turns out is that economists actually know very, very little, and that a lot of what we thought we knew turned out to be wrong. Given this hard-to-swallow fact, the prophetic voice of the Church that reminds us of what must be the ends of economic activity is very salutary.

    Again, depends on who you ask or talk to. Austrian-thought economists certainly came out looking a lot better than others. This is rather annoying.

    Because the Church is not on earth to conduct economic analysis and more than it is on earth to decide whether the sun is at the center of the solar system or the manner of the origin of species. Its job is not to figure out what sort of economic system will result in the highest growth or the greatest equality or any other such thing.

    Amen to that. It has no more right in those areas than say… crop production and trying to figure out what systems and fields will produce the highest yields.

    As such, the best response to Church teaching on economic interactions may not be “the state should require that everyone behave the way the Church says they should”, since that may well not have the intended consequence.

    Amen again! Though you should probably be careful which catholics you tell that too. 😉 Some think the state should very well require everyone behave the way the church wants. (looking at you T.Seber)

    If so, that would not be an unusual view for an Argentinian to hold in spite of the overwhelming evidence that State involvement in the Argentinian economy has produced disaster after disaster.

    Just because the evidence is there that the state involvement has ruined Argentinia, doesn’t mean that state involvement isn’t popular. If I can quote Radio Derb a moment:

    Sixty years ago there was a man in Argentina named Juan Perón, who made himself terrifically popular by promising everything to everyone: low taxes for businessmen, high wages for workers, political plums for the military, price supports for farmers, government jobs for intellectuals, state-subsidized health care for everyone … the whole nine yards. It worked! — for about five years. Then the bills came due, and Argentina’s been bumping along the bottom ever since, the economic wreckage occasionally stirred by a coup or revolution.

    Although I can’t find it now, I remember hearing once that Juan Peron remains very popular in Argentina (can anyone confirm/deny?). And why not? Remember that post on here awhile back about how “cargo cultish” American society has become? It’s just like that. Juan Peron’s ideas were good, so their failure was clearly the fault of… something else. It couldn’t have been because the ideas were flawed because they seemed good to the people.

    I am curious as to the Pope’s opinion on Argentina’s past. Anyone know?

    Because we have turned our back on Statism does that mean we ‘must’ accept all aspects of “Democratic Capitalism” and its free market without question or critique? Certainly Blessed John Paul’s social encyclicals ‘critiqued’ Democratic Capitalism and the free market, without in any way condemning it.

    The older I get the more it seems that every effort to find a “third way” between communism and capitalism are like efforts to find a “third way” between being a virgin and being pregnant. “Oh this time, we’ll just be a little less pregnant.” I’d have to consult some of my books but wasn’t communism once proposed as a “third way” of something. Then we got socialism (like, the mid point between communism and capitalism) now we’re talking distributionism (the mid point between socialism etc). I’m sure I’ll get to see yet ANOTHER “third way” before I die.

    Look, the free market is nothing more than the aggregate of individual actors (aka people). To think that you can somehow affect the group without bothering with every member of said group is to place everything backwards. If you want a more “just” free market (however that is defined) then the answer is simple: you must have more just people. To critique democratic capitalism for man’s sin nature is rather like critiquing Catholicism for the priest abuse. Heck to do so is to buy into the implicit assumptions of Marx, that we should remove free will and human agency from people.

    But then I’ll admit I’m still trying to cleanse myself of Marxist garbage. (a big help was realizing how steeped I was in it thanks to Sarah Hoyt here:

    (note that all quotes in this comment are quotes quotes, not scare or sarcasm)

  • I’m a business manager. I suppose I’m one of those who, at least in my narrow field, wield economic power.

    What I’ve learned as a business manager is that you hire someone for the skills they have and you don’t expect them to do a job that they’ve never been trained to do.

    We have an elected 3rd world Pope. We did not elect an intellectual giant as in B16, nor did we get lucky in electing and grooming a blessed-fighter in JP II.

    We got a simple man, of simple and direct faith.

    He may think he can “pontificate” (I can hear my kids guffawing at that one now) on any subject he chooses, but let’s face facts: He spent most of his life in Argentina, doing daily tasks of a Bishop and not studying Western economics. He is, for lack of a better term, ill-suited to weigh-in on economics.

    The idea that the Holy Spirit would fill his mouth with amazing insights and words on the complexity of economics is a nice thought, but unrealistic.

    He ought to be told that he doesn’t know everything, and he ought to be reminded that what he doesn’t know, he doesn’t know, is the most dangerous of subjects to exhortate anyone about.

    If he limits his words and actions to the areas he knows well — we should all be very glad of the Pope we have.

    However, if he continues to wander aimlessly into woods where he knows not what ferocious beasts await him — we should not be shocked or stunned when he encounters a beast he has never met and tries to shoo-it away with a fly-swatter.

    God Bless the Pope — but more importantly, Holy Spirit fill his mind with the wisdom to know precisely what he does not know about!

  • Economic decisions, choices, actions have a moral component: they can be good or bad. It is important for us to weigh the morality of our economic decisions personally and as a society. Moral theology is not separate from any compartment of our lives; can not be separated from our politics nor from our economic life. We are called to be just and prudent in all of our ways of making a living, using our wealth or property. We can not make moral decisions blindly. The Church is our moral guide helping inform our personal political social (and of course economic) actions. Would I say the Church should not inform my politics?

  • “Would I say the Church should not inform my politics?”

    I should hope not, although I think the Church would have little to say as to most political issues, leaving that up to the wisdom of individual Catholics. I think a similar policy should be followed in economics. Making moral judgments is no excuse for people within the Church pretending to an expertise they manifestly do not possess. Christ’s comment when He was asked to command that a brother give a share of an estate to a sibling is instructive: “But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge or divider over you?”

  • “I am curious as to the Pope’s opinion on Argentina’s past. Anyone know?”

    The Pope has been described as a conservative Peronist, but no facts have been brought forth in the articles I have read to support this characterization.

  • What is hard for some to understand is that the church has never accepted the notion that economics is a science. It is always treated in the social documents as a human institution. Unlike scientific laws about physics, it is not viewed as “the way things are,” such that it requires a special expertise to understand. Instead, it is viewed as the “way we made it.” The church judges economic systems like it judges political systems or cultural practices, asking “Does it conform to the Church’s understanding of the human person and, if not, what principles can guide its change?” That is basically, even if not artfully, what the Pope did.

    Understandably, to some economists this approach is absurd as the church declaring that a particular scientific theory is true or false. But, seen from the perspective of the church, it is not only not absurd, but required.

  • Good points but also: “the wisdom of individual Catholics’ — ruh roh- ! 🙂
    We need guidance. Not that it should be ex cathedra, and these ill advised (IMO) statements by the pope seem to betray a predilection and a parochialism that may be related to his home roots.
    Nonetheless there should be Catholic moral theologians studying macro economics theoretically and in history to help us all know more about how to make our choices… Economics is not a field of study that should be ignored by the Church.
    The pope is learning fast and I hope he will have the humility to recognize his need for a broad spectrum of advisors and that there will be clarifications coming that will help. The Church should not back away from such an important subject, which affects all kinds of human behaviors. Economic stress could be at he bottom of lots and lots of sinful behavior.
    As I understand your quote from Jesus, He is letting them know he is not a temporal lawyer or judge or king, as many Jews were looking for the Messiah to be, but it doesn’t mean He was saying that Christians should not be involved in civil affairs. He goes on to say immediately after that to be on guard against all kinds of greed. (Luke 12 :13 – 15)
    The covenant of love would require moral choices, using our intellects and wills to love, to will the good of others. It does not require the DIRECT involvement of the Church, but the INDIRECT effect of her teachings.

  • It is always treated in the social documents as a human institution. Unlike scientific laws about physics, it is not viewed as “the way things are,” such that it requires a special expertise to understand. Instead, it is viewed as the “way we made it.” The church judges economic systems like it judges political systems or cultural practices, asking “Does it conform to the Church’s understanding of the human person and, if not, what principles can guide its change?”

    Perhaps, but the scarcity we find ourselves in which gives rise to economics come from God’s words Himself:
    “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
    It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
    By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
    until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
    for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

    I also recommend:

  • On the contrary, Catholic economists have been some of the best and most original, and historically have been suppressed. See, e.g., Frederick Soddy.

    Also available as a PDF online for free.

    The role of Catholic economists is absolutely vital, now more than ever, and is needed to counter the eviscerating criminality of the international central monetary system and its banks — outright criminality and intentional fraud run rampant. We need to get a few good Catholics in there to reform the system so that money systems are not only fair and sane, but meet a baseline of legality. Nevermind the morality, just to enforce some legality would be a public good, and Pope Francis is absolutely right to draw attention to it.

  • Reading Francis’s exhortation with care (and in the light of some of the translation issues which have come up) I think it’s fairly clear that Francis is not denying the efficacy of markets as functioning economic mechanisms, but rather condemning those who imagine that because markets allow for greater growth, and growth tends to help society as a whole, that by supporting markets we have now fulfilled the whole of our obligations to our fellow men. Far from it, the fact that on average people do better in a given situation does not mean that some people are not still doing very badly, and that we have a duty to help those people in every way we can.

    Just once, I’d like to hear a priest, any priest make a similiar exhortation about supporting the social-welfare state.

    Is it really charity if Peter supports taxing Paul to pay for Philemon’s EBT card, medicaid, sec. 8 housing voucher, etc.?

  • If you want a more “just” free market (however that is defined) then the answer is simple: you must have more just people. To critique democratic capitalism for man’s sinful nature is … to buy into the implicit assumptions of Marx, that we should remove free will and human agency from people.

    Yes! Or to put it more precisely, some people should remove free will and human agency from other people.
    Free will is necessary for our moral agency. It is necessary to defend it as to defend hope.
    The conversation about free markets runs in parallel to our understanding of free will, and the conversation about free speech.

  • Tasmin wrote, “Yes! Or to put it more precisely, some people should remove free will and human agency from other people.”
    Indeed, but the law is the expression of the general will. As Rousseau points out, “In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; [ce qui ne signifie autre chose sinon qu’on le forcera d’être libre] for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.” [Rousseau, Social Contract I, 7]

  • But the ‘law’ whether of economics or ‘the law of the land’ as an expression of the will of the people, must have some correlation with Eternal Law as it can be known ‘self-evidently’ in natural law, or given and guaranteed by Divine Law.

    We live in an era where law is interpreted in a positivist [note: not ‘positive’] way, completely cut off from the deeper moral law. Even the ancient Greeks (in their plays) and Romans in the best examples at the time of the Republic understood this. Antigone, faced with the order of the king to leave her brother’s body without burial and exposed for shame and ridicule knew she had to follow the deeper moral law to bury her brother! And these were pagans!

  • Let me go to the issue of Pope Francis’ theological training, and why, as I’ve noted above, that some of his statements are so seriously flawed that even L’Osservatore Romano criticized his Oct 1 comments with Scalfari (the atheist Italian journalist) and that the Va. website took down a number of his flawed statements (such as “the conscience is autonomous”)about Oct 2nd. Having a great deal of experience with ivory-tower professor-type Jesuits at a few Jesuit U’s, I have ample basis to see the Bergoglio papal leadership foundering on his pre-concepts—preconcepts that they (Jesuits) often toss around to each other self-congratulatingly, untested and rarified ideas that are jarringly discordant with the reality of the world. Now, the pro-Martini/Bologna school/Natl Cath Reporter-types will assail any criticism as personally “contemptuous” (not so: contempt (def) = regarding someone as inferior, base—I do not regard Bergoglio/PF this way), but I do assail his continuously flawed and un-self-critical language—which I have learned to expect from someone, who, like Bergoglio, didnt teach in a high-level theological faculty for years, where his ideas were fire-tested by smart and challenging faculty and students—such as JP2 did and BXVI did. I have pointed out again and again that he never finished his Ph.D at Frankfurt—it is well documented in German-language news sources, such as Tauber Zeitung and others. This shows to me a man who, yes he is Pope, but like Montini, he has serious deficiencies in his training that he brings to the office. The Church will therefore be affected by these deficiencies. Grace builds on nature: if the nature is flawed, the medium of grace may be correspondingly limited. Not always: there is of course a Cure d’Ars, or a Solanus Casey or Joseph of Cupertino, the latter whom couldnt pass any of his theology exams (he was reputed to have a zero on every one, poverello!). But we are in for a rough ride, and as even Lumen Gentium notes (n. 25), the Pope must teach what the CC has always taught and held. There is no other course. As for economic analysis and several other areas, I will look other than EG for guidance.

  • “that some of his statements are so seriously flawed that even L’Osservatore Romano criticized his Oct 1 comments with Scalfari (the atheist Italian journalist) and that the Va. website took down a number of his flawed statements . . .”

    Or maybe they took them down because he did not really say them?

  • Right: CTD “maybe they took them down because he did not really say them”: Now, this is what we are reduced to regarding papal statements by Pope Francis: to the actual point of claiming he didnt say what he said, which is what poor Fr Federico Lombardi had to try to floart. The last several months, usually the interpreters of Francis have been using the “What-the-Pope-REALLY-meant-was…” lead-in). (Rather like “I never said, ‘If you like your healthplan, you can keep it.'”) Let’s just face it: PF makes some really poorly based statements (look at EG for a smorgasbord of them) and it is live action now: he is the spokesman for the Catholic Faith. He brings his notable prejudices (he has said how Card. Martini was his model) to the game: and it is not pretty. He is also all over the place, as Darwin C notes, from how a homily should be said (I hope no one uses his verbosity and lack of focus as an example) to how free-markets should be [I guess] even more regulated, and beating up on the straw man of laissez-faire Gordon Gecko-types. What about the World Bank, Holy Father, who has caused so much pain to so many developing countries, and even to your own country of Argentina, with their grossly punitive monetary actions? What about the WTO, which is little more than a band of brigands, routinely penalizing the US and rewarding rogue nations? The silence is deafening.

  • But in the case of the statements allegedly to Scalfari, there were no notes or recording and it was, by Scalfari’s own admission, his paraphrasing of the Pope’s statements draw from recollection. This is one case where the evidence indicates that it is not what he said.

    I personally have no problem with attributing to the Pope statements he actually said, including Evangellii Gaudium.

  • Right. Scalfari did not say, from all the original statements I have read of his, that he did not take notes, or that he was “paraphrasing” from recollection: only that he hadnt recorded the conversation.

    Fr. Lombardi has had to do damage control on what PF reliably said:

    ‘Pressed by reporters on the reliability of the direct quotations, Lombardi said during an Oct. 2 briefing that the text accurately captured the “sense” of what the pope had said, and that if Francis felt his thought had been “gravely misrepresented,” he would have said so.’ (NCR Oct 5, 2013).

    Let’s face it: in EG, in his own words, PF makes a remarkably uncharitable swipe at the traditionals, calling them “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagians”:”those who ultimately trust only in their won powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past (n. 94.) (gee, sounds like a lot of “Spirit-of-V2” hide-bound progressives to me..) He calls others in the Church “querulous and disillusioned pessimists”(n. 85) and defeatists, even while he says “the Christian ideal will alwyas be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, ..” The statements in the La Repubblica interview are not far from the un-self-critical statements he puts in black-and-white in EG Aand now we have to quibble over the “translation”? Oh, face it, this is PF himself.

  • Steve Phoenix,

    Scalfari himself described his method as paraphrasing:

    In a meeting with the journalists of the Foreign Press Association of Rome, Scalfari maintained that all his interviews have been conducted without a recording device, nor taking notes while the person is speaking.

    “I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that, I write his answers with my own words,” Scalfari explained.

    He conceded that it is therefore possible that “some of the Pope’s words I reported were not shared by Pope Francis.”

    In the letter, he reportedly wrote: “I must explain that I wrote up our conversation in order to let everybody understand our dialogue. Keep in mind that I did not report some things you told me and that I report some things you did not tell me, which I wanted to insert to let the reader understand who you are.”

    Also, I want to make clear my disagreement with your assessment both of Pope Francis’s abilities as a thinker and of his exhortation. I’ve been quite impressed with the depth of the pope’s thinking, though his style is not my preferred one.

  • Yes, Scalfari said he did not take notes “while the person is speaking”, but he make a written account of what was said and present it to PF. I am equally sure it is accurate. Again, I note, as Fr. Lombardi tellingly said:

    ‘Pressed by reporters on the reliability of the direct quotations, Lombardi said during an Oct. 2 briefing that the text accurately captured the “sense” of what the pope had said, and that if Francis felt his thought had been “gravely misrepresented,” he would have said so.’ (NCR Oct 5, 2013).

    PF did not require a retraction or make a correction of these statements.

    As for Evangelium Gaudii, a meandering, unfocused, at times appears-to-be contradictory “work”, I am dismayed that a pope would “put it out” as his vision of the Church. You have got to be kidding.

  • The category mistake here is considering economics as a science like astronomy and biology, when it is really a science like psychology, sociology, anthropology. One thinks of the relation between religion and science quite differently in the two categories. In the natural sciences, morality and religion pertain primarily to the thinking of the scientist. In the human sciences, the pertain to that which is thought about, namely, human behavior.

  • No Jim Englert, economics is a hard science. Maybe it could be described as the study of the intersection of hard and soft sciences but its laws do not change based upon our whim. You can no more put an end to poverty, chickens in every pot, or healthcare for all any more than you suspend gravity or death for a day just because you find it more “just” or “right” that they not apply to us that day.

    I suggest you read the John C Wright article I linked to earlier in this thread.

  • How can any study be considered a hard science if the subject involves human behavior? Human persons are by creation body, mind, and soul (and because of the latter not subject to the material laws of creation) and by the Fall flawed in our capacities and prone to unpredictability. The presumption that we can “know” and develop a theory of man is a form of hubris and an attempt to make man God.

    I understand how non-believers can think that economics is a hard science, but the concept seems irreconcilable with Christian (and other) theologies.

  • Much of the dismal science is a hard science. For example, if the corn crop is bad the price of corn is going up. Employers are not going to pay wages which exceed the profit of their business, and if they are foolish enough to do so they will be swiftly bankrupt. Humans in their folly, collectively and individually, can attempt to ignore such aspects of econ 101, but disaster inevitably results when they do.

  • What Donald said.

    Though CTD, let’s look at some basic economic observations, and you tell me at what point man is trying to become God.

    (and most of these are quotes from:
    “Humans would rather survive, than not.”
    “[Y]ou cannot keep your cake and eat it too.”
    “[T]here aint no such thing as a free lunch.”
    “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

    Finally I’ll quote JCW again as a caution that you’re being suckered in by a heresy:

    This is why discussions between Marxists and economists are mostly fruitless. One side, the economists, regards the subject matter as a matter of scientific logic, able to be rationally debated with reference to reality; whereas the other side, the so-called scientific socialists, regards the subject matter as an epiphenomenon of psychological defects on the part of the Benighted, and psychological perfection or enlightenment on the part of the Elect, and no rational debate is possible or even needed, because reality is a fluid waste-product of a materialist dialectic unfolding with the inevitability of Calvinist double predestination throughout the stages of history.

  • Some of those statements are not necessarily true. But even if we accept what they purport to mean, they are mostly statements of mathematics, not economics.

    In any event, the Church clearly view economics as a branch of moral philosophy because of her understanding of the human person as revealed by God, unlike her approach to sciences like astronomy and biology. For the Catholic, any attempt to develop a theory of man (including his behavior) absent Revelation is heresy.

  • Some of those statements are not necessarily true.

    Oh this should be entertaining. Do tell. Please, be specific and cite examples.

    But even if we accept what they purport to mean, they are mostly statements of mathematics, not economics.

    …Yeah, so guess what economics deal a lot with.

    Again to quote: “Economics studies the invariant relations of cause and effect surrounding human action, particularly economic phenomena. Economists deal with categories like cause and effect, cost and benefit, barter, currency, scarcity, priority, price, interest, time-preference, trade barriers, transaction costs, and so on and on. There are invariants in the phenomena that fit these categories.”

    For the Catholic, any attempt to develop a theory of man (including his behavior) absent Revelation is heresy.

    So according to you, biology and medical science must be the worst heresies ever invented.

  • “So according to you, biology and medical science must be the worst heresies ever invented.”

    Now you’re not even paying attention to what I’m writing.

    Nor are you addressing the fundamental issue: How do you square your view of economics as a hard science with the church’s view of it as subject of moral philosophy (see Caritas in Veritate and the Compendium of Social Doctrine, to name a few)?

    If you don’t accept the church’s view, so be it. But for the Catholic, the only question is whether Pope Francis’ comments are consistent with what the church has previously taught. Whether they agree with a non-theistic view of economics is not much of an issue and perhaps dangerous because it, like Marxism, would embrace a flawed understanding of the human person.

  • I would say that this quote of Saint Augustine is apropros in regard to much of economics:

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    Rubbish in economic matters is rubbish no matter what sort of wrapper is put around the rubbish.

  • What did I say earlier? “Catholics are to economics as Evangelicals are to evolution.” Keep proving it, CTD.

    Nor are you addressing the fundamental issue: How do you square your view of economics as a hard science with the church’s view of it as subject of moral philosophy (see Caritas in Veritate and the Compendium of Social Doctrine, to name a few)?

    Pretty much what Donald said. It’s not “my view” it’s a question of, “is it true” whether economics is a (fairly) hard science or not. If the Church wants to set itself up as reality based or truth based or whatever, then that means its views and doctrines must change if reality contradicts them.

  • Imagine if the Pope’s economics began and ended with an exhortation to refrain from coveting thy neighbor’s goods. Oh, but that sounds too much like Ayn Rand so we mustn’t have any of that.

  • “Imagine if the Pope’s economics began and ended with an exhortation to refrain from coveting thy neighbor’s goods”

    Isn’t there a Commandment on that?

    Oh wait! I forgot! The gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price negate the Ten Commandments. It’s OK to steal from him who works to give to him who refuses to work.

  • Most of us would probably agree that the study and/or application of economics is more akin to say, the study of personal health — where the amount of dynamic variables is so massive as to make isolation of any one difficult. Our health is affected by our behaviors, our genetic makeup, our environment, our social order, etc. There maybe scientific realities present, but the sum aggregation of so many dynamic happenings clouds their unique performance. God tells us our bodies are sacred. We can surmise God wishes our health to be optimal. Similarly, the laws and application of economics occur. If economic levels are to be optimized, many of believe that this is best achieved with a free enterprise in place (with the right amount of property rights and governance). Many would also say that this freedom is also the most just and treats the individual (and their rights) with far more respect than that of big brother’s controlling hand. So then, as the church is not the keeper of an specific economic dogma — she can speak of individual economic desires … the “science” needed to achieve it is wide open.

  • “an epiphenomenon of psychological defects on the part of the Benighted, and psychological perfection or enlightenment on the part of the Elect, and no rational debate is possible or even needed, because reality is a fluid waste-product of a materialist dialectic unfolding with the inevitability of Calvinist double predestination throughout the stages of history.”

    I am putting this on a t-shirt. Good thing I wear a XXl.

  • “Imagine if the Pope’s economics began and ended with an exhortation to refrain from coveting thy neighbor’s goods”

    Indeed, but what if my neighbour has filched them from the common stock? St Ambrose teaches, “”You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”

    Similarly, commenting on the gleaning laws (Lev. xix. 9, 10 and Deut. xxiv. 20, 21) the learned Rollin remarks that,” God has not only given the poor the power to gather grapes in the vineyards and to glean in the fields and to take away whole sheaves but has also granted to every passer-by without distinction the freedom to enter as often as he likes the vineyard of another person and to eat as many grapes as he wants, in spite of the owner of the vineyard. God Himself gives the first reason for this. It is that the land of Israel belonged to Him and that the Israelites enjoyed possession of it only on that onerous condition.”

  • Indeed, but what if my neighbour has filched them from the common stock? St Ambrose teaches, “”You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.”

    1) Tragedy of the commons.
    2) What is the “common stock”? How is such even determined?

  • “1) Tragedy of the commons.
    2) What is the “common stock”? How is such even determined?”

    Are you denying the Church’s teaching on the universal destination of goods?

  • Nate Winchester and ctd

    I have myself been caught up in conversations that turned into debates on this blog. Reading both of you I am wondering if you are saying similar things but are like two ships passing in the night.

    Nate if I am correct you are saying economics is indeed a hard science

    ctd you are saying that economic issues lie within the Church’s moral theology

    first am I correct in my descriptions for each of you?

    My second comment would then be this

    If economics is a hard science does that mean there are no moral dimensions to it, as we see for example in astronomy’s studies of Quasars and Black Holes or Physics studying String Theory? If I am correct this might zero in on the central issue.

    Of course I also could be wrong and pardon me for this intrusion 😉

  • “ctd you are saying that economic issues lie within the Church’s moral theology.”

    Yes. Though to be more accurate, I am saying that the Church herself says that.

  • Good distinctions, Botolph.

    I’d add: Even a hard science clearly has moral implications. For instance, it is unquestionably a matter of hard science whether the atom can be split, a fission chain reaction can be created, and thus whether it is possible to build a nuclear bomb. However, it is a moral question whether it is right to drop that bomb on a city.

    Also, if this isn’t just muddying things further, I’d argue that economics acts like a hard science most of the time. For instance, it’s a general rule that if some commodity is scarce (call it chocolate chip cookies) and everyone wants it, the price will go up until enough people are priced out of the market to reach a point of stablization. If you artificially limit the price at a “fair” one below the market price, you cause a shortage (people will snap them up at the low price, then hoard them or sell them off at higher prices via a secondary market.)

    However, all of this falls within a “all other things remaining equal” qualifier which accounts for potential changes in human behavior. Sometimes, due to cultural and moral values or other factors, a society will regulate itself in other ways. So, for instance, it could be that instead of snapping up all the cookies and starting a black market, strong cultural and moral forces will come into play causing people to find some way of distributing the cookies without hitting a shortage.

    That said, “all other things being equal” often works in the short run within a given cultural context, and so it’s possible to act as if economics is a hard science within certain limits, and to do so without in any way either prohibiting the Church from speaking on the morality of personal actions within the marketplace, or denying human free will and moral agency.

  • St Thomas teaches “Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own: but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law, as stated above (57, 2,3). Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.” [ST IIa IIae Q66, II,obj 1]

    Thus, as Mirabeau explains, “Property is a social creation. The laws not only protect and maintain property; they bring it into being; they determine its scope and the extent that it occupies in the rights of the citizens.” So, too, Robespierre, “In defining liberty, the first of man’s needs, the most sacred of his natural rights, we have said, quite correctly, that its limit is to be found in the rights of others. Why have you not applied this principle to property, which is a social institution, as if natural laws were less inviolable than human conventions?”

    The gleaning laws, cited above, and which formed part of the civil law of the Jewish commonwealth, are an excellent example of such a modification. No doubt, the wisdom of legislators could suggest others.

  • “If economics is a hard science does that mean there are no moral dimensions to it”

    There are moral dimensions to most things that humans engage in. A Pope may well preach to a group of plumbers that they must not overcharge for their work, but if he then goes on to tell them how to fix a leaky faucet he better have technical knowledge in that field. God does not grant the Popes an elastic infallibility that allows statements on technical areas to be without flaw simply because a Pope can work a moral flag in there somewhere. For example, a Pope may decry high unemployment as a moral evil. If he then attempts to prescribe how the unemployed should be put to work his policy suggestions are not infallible and are subject to the give and take of argument as with the policy ideas of everyone else.

  • Many excellent comments here. As a long-time student of economics, I would side with those who point out that the field is fundamentally a social science that predicts human behavior based on three assumptions: perfect information; perfect rational behavior; and self-interest. These are useful assumptions, but of course simplistic. The first two are simply never true and the last is impossible to define given different human priorities. Moreover, properly understood the last often does (and always should) embody more than material or economic self-interest, but must accomodate transcendent values such as concern for others. While the free-market certainly accommodates charitable works and gifts, it has no mechanism to predict such things.

    Personally, I agree with and applaud Darwin’s post (especially the next to last paragraph) as well as Art Deco’s comment of Tuesday morning. The danger of free markets rests with those adherants who understand them as somehow mechanically yielding perfectly just outcomes. Of course they don’t. Just because I can pay someone less than a living wage, doesn’t mean that I always should. It depends on a lot of things — things that no government bureaucracy will ever be able to evaluate effectively, but things that each of us daily have a duty to evaluate as best we can.

    I would also add that the injunction that goods belong to all must be understood as applying only to true necessities. This injunction has much more practical force with respect to the West’s relationship with parts of Africa and Central America than it does with the present US welfare state. Properly understood this injunction has nothing to do with wealth or income disparity as such, and the extent to which government taxation policy is an appropriate instrument for delivering on this injunction is a matter of prudential judgment, but even this very conservative (social and economic) Catholic acknowledges that there is nothing morally wrong for a free society to choose tax and government policy to execute on this injunction properly understood.

    Finally, I also emphatically agree that our Holy Father seems a bit too eager to speak loosely about things he fails to fully understand. Coercive government policies designed to help the poor often backfire horribly, and it is of little comfort to those harmed to remind them we meant well. Being smart and well-intended, is not substitute for being right and well-informed.

  • Another aspect we all know, but has not been discussed specifically … is the viewpoint of “macro” vs “micro” economics. Most of our principals center around the marco side (all of which direct the micro in effects) — yet — any church teaching and PF care only about the micro (specifically the individual). Most statements are proclaimed to the micro-side of the equation. Yet, the debate rages on as to the macro policies that should best be used to generate the results.

  • Darwin and Donald,

    Thanks for your posts. Darwin you further developed and did not muddy the waters at all-at least for me. And Donald, you need to know that indeed I would not call PF if I needed a plumber (surprised lol?)

    Thanks to all posting. Economics is not my field. I am learning something on almost each post. I obviously do believe that economic issues have moral dimensions and therefore the Church is called to be involved and speak. I agree however, that bishops statements for a particular economic bill can be too specific and, yes, even over reaching. As for PF, I am not convinced he over reached on the overall economic material in EG, however I am also still waiting for a clarification on the translation of that material as well.

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  • Economics, Nate Winchester, may well be a difficult science, but it is not a ‘hard’ science. Being other than that does not mean it amounts to nothing more than whims. Psychology and sociology are more than whim-sical. What economics has in common with them is that its subject matter pertains to human behavior, i.e., meanings and values.

    There are differences among physicists and biologists. Yet if one happens upon a discussion among randomly gathered physicists or biologists, after having been involved in a similar discussion among psychologists, one will be struck by what will now appear to be the virtual unanimity of physics.

    Randomly gathered economists in conversation would resemble one of these prior conversations far more than the other.

    The ‘laws’ of economics pertain to real social and cultural contexts. Given the context of resources, institutions, personality-structures, etc., that have emerged from innumerable patterns of human choices over a long haul, yes, regularities (‘laws,’ if you prefer) arise. But they are not some universal truth. Nothing comparable to understanding the fundamental nature of physical energy.

    Economic ‘laws’ may tell us about a great deal about how things actually work in a given complex nest of human meanings and values. They tell us nothing, though, about whether those meanings and values are really human. Here, the likes of popes can come in handy.

  • “They tell us nothing, though, about whether those meanings and values are really human. Here, the likes of popes can come in handy.”

    The likes of a pope will not alter the law of supply and demand or the law that markets are the best mechanism to meet the material needs of most people.

  • I’d add: Even a hard science clearly has moral implications. For instance, it is unquestionably a matter of hard science whether the atom can be split, a fission chain reaction can be created, and thus whether it is possible to build a nuclear bomb. However, it is a moral question whether it is right to drop that bomb on a city.

    Hah, Darwin I was about to use that very example and you beat me to it. So what he said.

    As a long-time student of economics,…Of course they don’t. Just because I can pay someone less than a living wage, doesn’t mean that I always should.

    It’s hard to believe anyone that claims to “study economics” when they then use “living wage” unironically.

    Economics, Nate Winchester, may well be a difficult science, but it is not a ‘hard’ science. Being other than that does not mean it amounts to nothing more than whims. Psychology and sociology are more than whim-sical. What economics has in common with them is that its subject matter pertains to human behavior, i.e., meanings and values.

    But they are not some universal truth. Nothing comparable to understanding the fundamental nature of physical energy.

    Oh right, because I forgot it was only up to our whim that crops grow and animals hop onto our plate. Why, if you’ve got 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and 7,000 people to feed, it’s only whim that keeps everyone from eating their fill.

    No it is not “whim” that drive economics. It’s Genesis 3:19- “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food”. The pope can’t make crops grow by standing in the field and preaching to the seed that the poor must be fed. Bishops can’t preach to the flock of chickens about the needs of man and have the flock run off to pluck themselves and throw themselves into the cooking pots of every house in the world. A newborn babe left in the woods does not have food fall on it and a shelter extend over it just because it is human and has rights. To decide that all this work and effort reality requires is a “whim”… well I guess opting to die is always an option but then there’s no need to further address you is there?

    Economic ‘laws’ may tell us about a great deal about how things actually work in a given complex nest of human meanings and values. They tell us nothing, though, about whether those meanings and values are really human. Here, the likes of popes can come in handy.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You don’t have to take my word for it, read John C Wright’s essay: He’s a far better, wiser (plus Catholic) man than me. Like he points out, it doesn’t matter whether a human is involved or not. Even an alien from the other side of the galaxy will be bound by the same economic laws that we are and can no more escape them “by whim” than we can.

  • So, I read Wright. If SciFi dude is your thing, go for it. Not mine.

    Two simple points, and then a reading suggestion of my own.

    Wright’s wrong, I think, in his behavioral reductionism, i.e., understanding human behavior straightforwardly in terms of cause and effect. If Wright’s right, then so was B.F. Skinner, and we should all just move into Walden Two. I think he’s wrong. I think meanings and values are realities — a truly human ontology — and that they comprise a third thing between cause and effect. You do catch the Geist of our Zeit, though, in positing cause-effect reductionism. Here in the economic sphere. Many do so in the sexual sphere, others the military. . .

    Secondly, by inserting Wright’s essay into this conversation, you insert Marx by invisible (sleight of) hand, as it were. This reduces the discussion to an either/or: Marxism or markets. Leave the bogeyman out of it, though, and intelligent — perhaps even reasonable and responsible — conversation is possible. If you insist on reducing all to the dualism, all that’s left is ideological squabbling. Whoever ‘wins’ such, yippie.

    To concretize this, take a topic much talked about these days: health care. If one insists on purity of market forces, this scenario unfolds: I’m having a heart attack, I go to the hospital; I have no insurance, no money, no reasonable hope of having the requisite resources to pay later for the care I need now. Market forces have no way to ‘value’ my life, to find it ‘meaningful.’ But even people who talk a great deal about ‘market solutions’ to health care, don’t really mean it; at least most don’t. They recognize that this is different than if I need a car, go to a dealership, without money, without credit, but truly do ‘need’ the car. Most people recognize a difference between the two scenarios, and that difference is not a matter of cause and effect, it’s not a matter of market forces, it’s a matter of an underlying human consensus of meaning and value of what kind of society we want to live in. Our disagreements in this regard don’t tend to be between Marx and the markets, as Wright would have it, but, rather, about ‘how much’ and ‘how’ to limit/shape/direct market forces in terms of the meanings and values we manage to share, which we call ‘culture.’

    Pope Francis isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a Marxist. But he isn’t a free-marketeer, either. What he’s raising are questions of culture — both the content of the meanings and values that are constitutive of our human existence, and the manner in which that content renders economic exchange a bit more complex than cause-and-effect.

    What shapes my reading of Francis is what meager understanding I’ve managed to attain of Karl Polanyi’s “The Great Transformation.” His understanding of the rupture in European society and culture attendant upon the industrial revolution is not without value in attempting to understand what is happening in societies and cultures of the Southern hemisphere as they are ‘drawn’ (others would say ‘sucked’) into the neoliberal system.

    Wright’s idealized market produces the best material life for the most people. But even if one grants that — which I don’t when stated as bluntly and blandly as he did — but even if one does, the question remains: what of those who are not among ‘the most’? It may be possible to demonstrate that the disruptions of social and cultural patterns of living that have occurred have reduced rates of ‘poverty,’ but they have also transformed the meaning of poverty. Subsistence farm families living around villages may well have been ‘poor,’ but there was ‘wealth’ there, too, but not wealth as quantifiable by Friedman’s boys. When that land is taken by large market forces, these persons/families/communities are dislocated into the very different poverty of the urban barrios.

    Pope Francis knows something of that great transformation, that disruption, that neither you nor your auctoritas seem to know. Marketeers who speak Schumpeter’s phrase, “creative destruction,” attend too little to what is being destroyed: persons, families, communities. Their glib speech seems the identical twin of Stalin’s remark that in order to make an omelet, you need to break a few eggs. The real difference between Milton Friedman and Josef Stalin simply pertains to who gets to break the eggs and who gets to eat the omelet. The pope simply understands that persons, families and communities are neither eggs nor omelets. And he invites us to that understanding. A bit much to ask of some, perhaps

  • “The real difference between Milton Friedman and Josef Stalin simply pertains to who gets to break the eggs and who gets to eat the omelet.”

    That and some 50 million dead Soviets. And freedom. And no persecution of the Church. And no Gulags. And—but I think you get the idea.

  • So, I read Wright. If SciFi dude is your thing, go for it. Not mine.

    Oh look, ad hominem. “Well if the pope dude is your thing, go for it. Not mine.” See? I can do it too. Of course most people realize that truth is true no matter who says it. Two plus two always remains four whether Wright, the Pope or even Hitler says it. I mostly refer to John because he’s far more eloquent than I.

    Wright’s wrong, I think, in his behavioral reductionism, i.e., understanding human behavior straightforwardly in terms of cause and effect. If Wright’s right, then so was B.F. Skinner, and we should all just move into Walden Two. I think he’s wrong. I think meanings and values are realities — a truly human ontology — and that they comprise a third thing between cause and effect.

    That’s not… look: Cause- You ate all your seed corn. Effect- You got no corn to grow next year, hope you enjoy starving, idiot! Now I’m really interested in what “third thing” is somehow going to come between that cause and effect which will magically plant corn in your field and cause it to grow. That’s all economics is. You ate your seed corn. Well you’re going to die unless you do something else. You’re going to have to get some more seed corn from somewhere or someone whether by purchase, foraging, robbery or donation. But if nothing is done, the effect is obvious: starvation. If you’ve got some proof or evidence that there’s another option, then by all means share since it means you’ve hacked reality.

    Secondly, by inserting Wright’s essay into this conversation, you insert Marx by invisible (sleight of) hand, as it were. This reduces the discussion to an either/or: Marxism or markets. Leave the bogeyman out of it, though, and intelligent — perhaps even reasonable and responsible — conversation is possible. If you insist on reducing all to the dualism, all that’s left is ideological squabbling. Whoever ‘wins’ such, yippie.

    It’s as much “either/or” as any discussion is an either/or. Either something is true, or it’s a lie. To toss that out is to make conversation impossible. Either control, or freedom. There’s no third way, only how far along the spectrum you are towards one or the other. You may as well argue that we can do without the dualism of God and Satan.

    To concretize this, take a topic much talked about these days: health care.

    Oh goody, this is going to be a laugh.

    If one insists on purity of market forces, this scenario unfolds: I’m having a heart attack, I go to the hospital; I have no insurance, no money, no reasonable hope of having the requisite resources to pay later for the care I need now.

    No, let’s be realistic and expand the scenario. You and six other people are having heart attacks and go to the hospital. There’s only 2 doctors available. Let’s say that for all 7 of you, if treatment isn’t started within the next 20 minutes, you’ll die. However, once treatment begins, it cannot be stopped or paused until 15 minutes (at which point patient is “stabilized”). So tell me, only 4 of you can be saved out of 7. Which 4 should it be? How should such be determined? And remember, you’ve only got around 4 extra minutes to decide. Heck I’ve spent a lot of time around emergency rooms because of past jobs, there are usually a lot of people waiting in there. Why should you or anyone else have priority over any other patient? Is your heart attack more of a concern than someone else’s stroke? Chop chop Jim because you don’t have weeks to figure this out, you have seconds.

    Market forces have no way to ‘value’ my life, to find it ‘meaningful.’

    I have news for you: the WORLD doesn’t value your life or find it meaningful. If you are trapped on a deserted island, will fresh water burst from the ground at your feet when you’re thirsty? Will food fall out of the sky when you’re hungry? Will the weather avoid the island so it doesn’t damage poor valuable you with exposure?

    You can climb to the top of any mountain and cry out to the heavens about your value and meaning all you want, and it won’t put food in your belly, water on your lips or shelter over your head. God warned us of such at the very beginning when Adam screwed up.

    Most people recognize a difference between the two scenarios, and that difference is not a matter of cause and effect, it’s not a matter of market forces, it’s a matter of an underlying human consensus of meaning and value of what kind of society we want to live in. Our disagreements in this regard don’t tend to be between Marx and the markets, as Wright would have it, but, rather, about ‘how much’ and ‘how’ to limit/shape/direct market forces in terms of the meanings and values we manage to share, which we call ‘culture.’

    It is as much a matter of cause and effect as going to an empty car lot and not getting a car is. You’ve done nothing to answer the essential question. Where do the doctors come from? Their time is finite, they cannot be in two places at once so how do you pick which patient is seen before the others? Do you use this tonnage of iron to make scalpels or needles or hospital beds? Should you send this ambulance to the east side of town or the west for this patient?

    You can “feel” and “value” however you want. Everyone in the entire world can feel and value however they want but it won’t produce a new scalpel, train a new doctor, or build a second ambulance. And until you grasp this fact, you may as well propose that patients be brought to the hospital via unicorn.

    The rest of your post is just utter insanity but I have to clarify one thing:

    Marketeers who speak Schumpeter’s phrase, “creative destruction,” attend too little to what is being destroyed: persons, families, communities.

    No, “creative destruction” is just businesses going out of businesses. Besides what’s the alternative? Say we have a buggy whip factory right as the car is becoming popular. Oh but according to you, we can’t close this factory down, that would be too disruptive to the “community” and “families”. So then what? Every piece of leather sent to that factory to be turned into a buggy whip (which no one wants) is a piece of leather not going to say… a hospital for its supplies. And where is the money to pay the workers going to come from? Are you going to make buying buggy whips mandatory? Just send straight tax money to the workers? (at which point, why not set them to digging & filling ditches?)

    See? No matter what, any time someone says the markets need to be just a little less free, they always end up a shade of Marx.

    Pardon me, but I prefer to deal with reality, and currently free markets are by far the greatest tool we have to do so.

  • Jim,
    I agree with much of what you wrote. But like Donald, I think you are being quite unfair to Friedman. Friedman did think that generally speaking the gent who feeds the chickens, harvests the eggs, and makes the omelet is entitled to eat the omelet, but he would also agree with that sharing the omelet with a gent who is truly hungry (as opposed to ready for dinner) is a moral good. He would generally (though not dogmatically — after all he was the first proponent of a negative income tax) object to the idea that it is appropriate to force the first gent to feed the second gent, but it is an injustice to confuse Friedman with Ayn Rand. Friedman never objected to the idea that moral goods can and should transcend markets; he simply believed that the dignity of man requires the liberty to do good, and liberty cannot be squared with coercion. Moreover, he was a pragmatist in that he understood that economic liberty does a better job of distributing omelets, especially to those who are hungry, than command economies and redistribution schemes.

  • Nate,
    Believe what you wish, but I received my BA in economics in 1979 and though now concentrate in the field of taxation, I’ve never lost interest.
    Let me share a story with you. In 1973 a 16year-old young man worked as a short order cook at an A&W on Chicago’s southwest side. The $1.30 per hour he earned was important to him since he was trying to pay for his Catholic high school tuition. One day that young man discovered that his co-worker was earning $1.80 per hour even though he performed the same tasks, was not superior in the execution of those tasks, and had comparable seniority. That young man then demanded an explanation from the owner, who told him, “you do realize that Mark’s father has passed and he is supporting his mother and little sister, don’t you”? I (yes that young man was me) learned an important lesson that day. Yes, the owner did not have to pay Mark extra; but he did it because it was right. I would never want to government to regulate such things, but human decisions, while necessarily influenced by markets, are not always ruled by them. Free markets allocate resources in a way that allows for much higher living standards generally, but when markets are free participants can make decisions that transcend simple market forces, and that is a good thing.

  • In addition to Jim’s excellent comments, I think he touches upon the problem – reductionism. From the Catholic perspective nothing is just its material (or cause and effect, etc). Corn is not just food, omelets are not just omelets, health care is not just a procedure, work is not just work, and so on. As the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church explains everything, especially anything related to human activity, has a value that cannot be reduced to its mere materials or instrumentality. Because it is a human activity, reducing economics to mere laws of science void of any value ultimately diminishes the human person and denies the Incarnation.

  • “Because it is a human activity, reducing economics to mere laws of science void of any value ultimately diminishes the human person and denies the Incarnation.”

    All science involves human activity. Most economic activities, for example farming, involve the application of science. To warn when people make proposals that fly in the face of science or simple common sense does not “diminish the human person” or “denies the Incarnation” but rather is the admirable trait of calling malarkey malarkey, no matter who is spouting it. God is ill served when people forego the brains He gave us because someone in authority is saying something stupid and it is being bruited about that we have a religious duty to agree with the stupid thing just said.

    Judging from this quote I suspect that Pope Francis might agree with the sentiments expressed above: “Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.”

  • Too many currents aswirl here for a mediocre swimmer like me to manage, but I’ll try a few strokes.

    My “SciFi dude” condescension was wrong, as ad hominems tend to be. I should have simply said this: I find his essay neither insightful nor eloquent. Here’s a kernel, at least, of why I render this judgment. If you are going to speak of Martians being subject to economic laws — especially if you are a Catholic doing so — isn’t it essential to ask at least these questions: (1) Have Martians experienced a Fall? Or is their’s a non-lapsarian existence? (2) If they are fallen, have they been sent a Savior? Have they heard a Word? (3) Are they like humans, each a member of a common species? Or are they like angels, each a separate species?

    And would not such questions matter in thinking about whether they would be subject to the same economic ‘laws’ as humans? I didn’t introduce the Martians. But if they’re going to be brought into the conversation, these questions seem urgent and apt. One can presume that Martians will be subject to the ‘law’ of gravity without such inquiry. But not economic ‘law.’ And this is to the point of ‘placing’ economics as a science. Neither Fall nor Redemption nor sharing “common destiny” (de Lubac) as a species pertains to the hard sciences. Each pertains integrally, though, to psychology, sociology, anthropology. . . and economics.

    As for this assertion — “You may as well argue that we can do without the dualism of God and Satan” — we, indeed, had better be able to do without it. There is no such dualism. And to posit the existence of such is heresy. Yet Manichee seems ever among us.

    I note, Nate, that you complicated my medical question. But never answered it. The world may be, as you insist, indifferent to the value of my life. Our society, though, is not. There is an insistence on care, even for the indigent. And that insistence comes from no market forces, but from a tempering of those forces by both law and custom. That both such law and custom are susceptible to erosion is evident in the place of abortion in our social and cultural life. That development is probably a good thing for the health of markets; it is decidedly not a good thing for the health of our society and culture. And the more we cede care of health and life solely to market dictates, further such erosion seems likely.

    Mike and Donald, you rightly castigate my careless besmirching of Friedman. I used the name as a cipher, which one should never do to a human person, living or dead. Behind the rhetorical excess, though, lies an insistence that there is a market ideology, as well as a Marxist one. Both deal death. Scale and scope are different, and my rhetoric can be read as minimizing the Stalinist horrors — an inexcusable lapse. Having done so distracted from my intended point that there have been horrors aplenty in the Latin American experience of neo-liberal economics. One can speak of ‘democratic capitalism,’ but in the experience of many in these societies it was not democratically chosen, but imposed. One need not embrace the entire thrust of Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” to accept that much of her analysis of the role of torture and death squads in that imposition is on target.

    Which brings me full circle back, Nate, to “creative destruction.” I did not argue that there is no point, no truth, in the phrase. I did — and do — argue that all too often it is used all too glibly. Catholicism treasures continuity and tradition, not just in doctrine and ritual, but in life. Is leery of ruptures in all these spheres. This doesn’t mean that there should never be such destruction or ruptures. But the Catholic sensibility that has been given to me, handed on to me, as such a great grace, is suspicious of such, and glib speech about such grates.

  • There are a couple different apologias for market forces going on here, so what I say may not apply to all others’ beliefs, but here goes:

    I would argue that economic “laws” are dependent really on just two things:
    1) No one is capable of having perfect information in a complex system, because there is simply too much to know
    2) Scarce resources

    I suppose whether these would apply to Martians with an unfallen nature depends on what you imagine an unfallen nature to be like. For instance, could an unfallen Martian still be injured and need medical care? Would an unfallen Martian still need to consume resources (such as food) to stay alive? Would an unfallen Martian be all knowing?

    Let’s imagine that unfallen Martians are much like us in their needs and capacity for knowledge, but that they have complete and perfect love for one another. A Martian miner is mining and refining graphite. He sells it to Martians who make pencils and Martians who make tennis rackets. (Tennis is very popular on Mars due to the slightly lower gravity.)

    Then, a Martian invents a medical device which performs some wonderful function, but making it in sufficiently quantity to take care of all those who need it will use up 40% of the annual supply of graphite. How are the Martians to allocate the remaining 60% of graphite between the pencil and racket makers? They could cut back the supply to both equally, but how do they know whether Martians value graphite pencils or graphite rackets more? And it’s harder than that, what if some Martians are happy to switch to graphite substitute pencils, but others value graphite pencils very much. And some Martian tennis players are happy to switch to steel rimmed rackets, but others would give up much to keep buying graphite? They can never gather enough information to understand the exact preferences of every Martian on the topic, nor can each Martian end-consumer know exactly how highly he or she values graphite products compared to all the others. But there is one very simple thing they can do: Raise the price of graphite pens and graphite rackets and allow individual Martians to decide whether the products are still worth buying at the new price. After a brief period of price turbulence, both products will reach a new stable price point and only those Martians who place that much value on the products will continue to buy them.

    In other words, they can solve the problem by having a market. And although unfallen persons might treat each other very differently at a personal level, the market workings in an unfallen world would be pretty similar: more scarce resources would increase in price and more common resources would decrease in price, providing market actors with the information they needed to decide what to acquire and what not to.

    Now let’s go back to our own fallen world and Jim arriving at the hospital.

    I would argue that his inability to pay does not preclude his treatment in a market system any more than a market system precludes my painting my mother’s living room without charging her for my labor. The hospital and doctor are in possession of resources (time, space and supplies) and they are fully capable (and, indeed, legally and morally required) of using those resources to help a person who comes in in need of lifesaving treatment.

    One could imagine a “market ideology” which held that there is a moral norm that one should never do anything unless one earns money by doing so, but economic laws certainly do not contain any such ideology any more than the law of gravitation requires that we throw collies off fire escapes.

    What economic laws do mean is that the time of the doctors and the resources of the hospital have to come from somewhere, at at some level (via prices) they have to tie to the value that we put on the care being given. Sure, someone will say that every life has infinite worth, but this isn’t actually true in terms of time and resources. Imagine that you stumble into the ER with a life threatening ailment which the doctors can heal, but only if every doctor within a 100 mile radius comes and spends the next week working on it, leaving all other patients untreated. Should that happen? No. And in economic terms the reason is because society cannot “afford” that. Society can and should allocate resources (wether by taxing and spending or by charity or by requiring that doctors provide free care to the indigent and make it up by charging everyone else more) to provide necessary care to the indigent. But there is the limit to how much care can be provided, and that limit is set by the amount of resource that society is able to devote to that. In market terms “how much it costs”.

    Economics simply tells us that if a doctor spends half his time treating people who can’t pay that either:
    – He will make half as much as if he had all paying patients
    – Someone else will have to pay him on behalf of those who can’t pay
    – Other people will have to provide him with “free” goods and services to make up for the goods and services he can’t afford to buy because he wasn’t paid for half his work

    Economics does not tell us whether or not the doctor should treat someone who comes in but has no money. It just tells us the consequences of his doing so.

  • Excellent comment as always, Darwin.

  • I’d argue that economics acts like a hard science most of the time.


    I would argue that economics is also inherently deceptive most of the time, surpassing even statistics in its mendacity. in ways that real hard sciences are not. Physics or chemistry does not involve any “should” or any moral imperative. As important as those are, they are strictly “meta” to the subject being studied. Economists, on the other hand, are always too ready to tack on a “therefore, we should…” statement far too early in their “research”, if only implicitly, and ultimately that’s what they end up arguing about.


    As Jim and Nate’s discussion over emergency health care shows, there is no way to deal with such matters without a specific context and scope. I am also reminded of the turnaround regarding immigration made by what I’ll the call the gravitational center of conservative opinion. Once upon a time, mainstream conservatism was strongly pro-immigration. Nowadays, conservatives are more likely to gripe about the financial and other obligations and costs incurred by the new immigrants (especially the illegal ones. Interestingly, in doing so, they are implicitly assuming the ongoing existence of a safety net that makes papal grumbling about laissez faire economics even more puzzling if it is being directed at the US).


    So even though the 1% element of the right is still in favor of cheap and compliant nannies and gardeners, and also cheap engineers and other H-1B visa holders to keep their costs down, the rest (I’m ignoring egghead libertarians) worry more about what is going to happen to the under- and middle-class job holders who will actually have to make way for the new job seekers. Of course, both sides of the issue were always present in any immigration debate, but even though the economics of the issue have not changed, the “should” and the moral imperative meta-discussion has.


    Given all that, I think both Jim and Nate are right, but they are talking about different aspects of the issue. It’s a problem inherent in economics, in that without the “should” arguments, the discipline is nakedly irrelevant. Pure mathematicians do not care if anyone will find a use for their research — for them, the beauty is quite enough. Economists seem to understand that their discipline is far too lacking in beauty to warrant such devotion.

  • I recall an editorial I read (and transcribed) in France

    For generations we were disciplined, pacified and made into subjects, productive by nature and content to consume. And suddenly everything that we were compelled to forget is revealed: that “the economy is political.” And that this politics is, today, a politics of discrimination within a humanity that has, as a whole, become superfluous [une politique de sélection au sein d’une humanité devenue, dans sa masse, super-flue]. From Colbert to de Gaulle, by way of Napoleon III, the state has always treated the economic as political, as have the bourgeoisie (who profit from it) and the proletariat (who confront it). All that is left is this strange, middling part of the population, the curious and powerless aggregate of those who take no sides: the petty bourgeoisie. They have always pretended to believe that the economy is a reality-because their neutrality is safe there. Small business owners, small bosses, minor bureaucrats, managers, professors, journalists, middlemen of every sort make up this non-class in France, this social gelatine composed of the mass of all those who just want to live their little private lives at a distance from history and its tumults. This swamp is predisposed to be the champion of false consciousness, half-asleep and always ready to close its eyes on the war that rages all around it.”

  • Well! For me that opens another way of looking at it Michel P-S! Lots of food for thought there

  • Or perhaps this petty bourgeouise normally has the common sense to eschew the endless grand political solutions offered for the endless grievences that have been contrived as a path to power for the contrivers, but instead they just want to exercise their brains and brawn to raise their children with food and shelter as they ignore the “brights” whose idea of productivity is to divide people into classes they can represent in a phony ideological war. Perhaps they see the economy as real and the ideologies as phony.

  • Mike Petrik
    But that is the paradox. On the one hand, the middle class is against politicization – they just want to sustain their way of life, to be left to work and lead their life in peace (which is why they tend to support authoritarian coups which promise to put an end to the crazy political mobilisation of the masses, so that everybody can get on with their proper work). On the other hand, they – in the guise of the threatened, patriotic hard-working, moral majority – are the main instigators of grass-root mass mobilization (in the guise of the Rightist populism) In Europe, they are the backbone of the neo-fascist, anti-immigrant parties that form the only serious opposition to the post-political EU consensus.
    As a class, they are being eliminated by down-sizing, out-sourcing and globalisation.

  • Michael PS – oh yes, why very good points my chap .. why in fact, they seem to be summed up, if you will, on this very clip …. (pfff)

  • Fair point, Michael. In other words, don’t underestimate the ability of any person or group to be convinced that it too has a grievance and has been terribly wronged by some other person or group. The instigators of these contrived class wars are usually not even really evil, just afflicted with an unwholesome admixture of pride, naivity and the need to *feel* good about themselves.

  • Although the discussion reminds me a bit of the tale of four or five blind men assaying an elephant, the difference would be that the elephant is a creation of God (came into being without the help of humans) whereas the economy is constructed by mankind…with sometimes clarity of vision and more often clouded, sometimes by large
    groups of people banded together in ethos or ideology, sometimes just lemmings

    I am not saying the participants here are blind men! Just saying the economy is a mystery and none of our best opinions are adequate.
    Moral theology does apply to our personal and collective economic behavior, and personal choices are ultimately key

  • So where are we in this matter? No one can or should go to the Church for economic answers, economics is not the Church’s expertise or mission. However, ‘the humanum’, what it means to be human is, because it is only in Christ that the fullest revelation of what it means to be ‘man’ is revealed. Only in Christ are the deepest questions of ‘man’ answered. Only in Christ can we discover ‘man’s true dignity. Only in Christ that the deepest meaning of human life discovered in the “Law of the Gift”

    I am left with three questions from this discussion:

    1. Is not economics a human science, that precisely because it is human, is not only open to, but needs the moral/ethical dimension for it to “.prosper”?

    2) If so, how can we work to make sure ” mammon” is not a “golden calf” but instead serves and does not rule?

    3)With this in mind how best can we work together within a democratic capitalist system (vs any state hegemony or socialist utopian. Nightmare) to decrease to the point of disappearing an economy of exclusion which denigrates and even denies the dignity of each person from the moment of conception to natural death?

  • lol I left out a phrase in my post: The humanum is the expertise and mission of the Church. Sorry lo

  • Botolph, a fine summation. And for these reasons we can appreciate that the needed improvement in the moral fabric and behavior of our society is achieved, not in or through economic circles, but in our Lord and savior. The change of heart brings about a change in behavior – whether from a mother, father, senator, congressman, clerk, lawyer, doctor, manager or business owner. Grass roots, slowly and at times painfully planted and watered. To this end our mission to go forth is all that more important …. and the actions, words and faith that each of us bring, matters. The primary goals being more and better Christians, preferably catholic — not necessarily a mission to bring about more capitalists or socialist.

  • Two quips — from two very wise men — pretty well exhaust what I might have to add as to ‘where we’re at’ in this conversation (both this particular conversation, and of this general conversation of which our exchange here is an instance).

    The Canadian Jesuit, Bernard Lonergan, best known as philosopher and theologian, devoted a great deal of his life to thinking about economics. Asked once if economics is a science, he responded, ‘if it is, it’s at a stage of development roughly comparable to that of chemistry in the thirteenth century.’

    And Daniel Patrick Moynihan — himself no slouch as a social scientist — insisted that social scientists (and he definitely included economists here) have virtually no expertise whatsoever when it comes to recommending public policy. In fact, he insisted that they have virtually no credible skills in predicting the consequences of particular policies. What they are able to do — even occasionally do well — is evaluate the consequences of policy choices that have been enacted.

    In a word, modesty.

    Re-reading this entire conversation leads me to think that at least my part in it got off track by engaging in the hard/soft dichotomy as to the sciences. My whole point in joining the conversation was to respond to the original author’s assertion that he wouldn’t look to the Church for economic guidance any more than for astronomical guidance. I suggested a category mistake had been made in associating these two sciences. But ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ don’t get to the point. The distinction I was positing was between the ‘natural’ sciences and the ‘human’ sciences. Yes, all the sciences are human on the side of the subject, involving the human operations of the human minds of human scientists. But the objects of study of some sciences also involve the operations of human minds and wills and hearts and vices and virtues, while others do not.

    The fact that many economists do not recognize/acknowledge the significance of that distinction for scientific methodology has much to do with why Fr. Lonergan located economics as he did.

    And, yes, insisting that economics is a ‘human’ science means that the Church may have something to offer here. But I would share hesitancy about any direct, all too easy contribution. I’m not arguing for a ‘moral’ dimension to economics. I’m simply suggesting that economists will never attain to significant intellectual understanding of reality without grasping that the realities they are attempting to understand are intrinsically dependent on the operations of human beings, and accordingly that their operative assumptions as to what a human being is will lead to both insights and oversights. Today’s economic science seems to me riddled with oversights precisely because of highly inadequate notions of what it is to be a human being.

    But I’m not sure there really is any more ‘moral’ component to economics than there is to astronomy. The moral urgency comes with what we do with the findings of either science. And how much authority we give to those sciences. And how much modesty we demand of them.

    A final train of thought. A whole bunch of economics graduate students were dispatched as missionaries from the University of Chicago to Pinochet’s Chile. ‘Missionaries’ because they were filled with ‘oughts.’ Lots of good ideas, no doubt. But so little awareness (so similar to their descendants in the economics wing of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad a few decades later) that thinking of markets-as-such is an abstraction. In reality markets only exist and function in contexts, which have histories and cultures and developed traditions of virtue and vice. And imposition of radical change on the basis of well-intentioned theory (whether theories of Marx or markets) tends to be bloody, whether in Havana or Santiago.

    And the Church has something to say about blood. First and foremost, pay attention to those who are bleeding. Nate grabbed stock images from standard economics textbooks: buggy whip factories and eating seed corn. But we aren’t talking about either of those things here.

    We aren’t talking about a farmer eating his seed corn, because we’re talking about whole societies of farmers who don’t have land anymore. It’s now owned by anonymous and distant corporations (‘subsidiarity’ anyone?) growing coffee. And even if there are a few farmers still left with land, their corn doesn’t provide seed anymore; it needs to be purchased anew each growing season from the seed company. Which may be a good thing or bad; but outdated examples reveal outdated thinking.

    All of which is just to say: attend to the concrete. This entire conversation has been ‘Northern’ in tone and substance. It couldn’t be otherwise, all of us, it seems, being Yanquis. But two-thirds of our Church are Southerners (and I don’t mean Dixie). To be sure, they aren’t of one mind and don’t speak with one voice. But Jorge Bergoglio’s is a significant voice, and speaks for many. We should listen.

  • Jim,

    I believe we are in agreement about most points. The one exception [and I might be misreading what you said] is “I’m not sure there is really is any more ‘moral component’ to economics than there is to astronomy”. If I am reading you correctly we greatly differ here. Astronomy has next to zero moral component unless NASA spies a very large meteor streaking toward earth and the question is whether or not to attempt to intercept it [I know enough astronomy that how and to what degree etc are important as well]. However, the moons of Jupiter and how they interact around their home planet not only do so with extremely little impact on ‘man’ but do so according to gravity etc. Since there is no choice in their operations,then there is no morality.

    However, there is choice, freedom, in economic activity. True, 2+2=4; can’t argue that. However, if one of those two is yours, the other two is mine, neither of us has the right to ‘take’, ‘steal’, manipulate the market so that one of those two’s becomes the others. Make sense? While of course economics has become very complicated, its constant moral component, present from the time of the first human couple, has been ratified and guaranteed by Sinai: Thou Shalt not steal.

    Once we agree on that, then the other two questions can be, should be and need to be tackled.

  • I guess this all becomes part of the issue. Stealing is wrong. 2+2=4. But as noted, economics, being a social science, is very imprecise. So we know that stealing is wrong but we really can’t be completely sure that some economic activities constitute stealing. One can have a valid opinion that we are dealing with 2+2. Another may argue that it is 2+3. So a (legitimate) divergence of opinion given the state of an imprecise science. Thus one can conclude given the premises in the first that one activigty is licit and with the latter set of premises that it is stealing.

    The Pope talks about “unfettered capitalism.” But really, does such exist? If not, is his point merely theory and has no practical implication. Is he talking 2+3 when the problem is really one of 2+2?

    The problem then becomes when the Church enters such a fray and takes a side in what is a licit divergence of opinion – something that is properly the task of the laity when it involves ordering the activities of the world. This is where I think those in the Church hierarchy error.

  • Philip,

    You raise a great point and one I have been pondering for a bit since the publication of Evangelii Gaudium. There have been questions of translation, however, for a moment, let’s put those aside and take this at face value. The Pope mentions “unfettered capitalism” and you rightly ask, “But really, does such exist?” I can’t speak for every nation or economy, but it certainly does not exist in America. However, I have begun to realize that that is exactly what the Pope is getting at. Let’s just say for the sake of argument, that there are no countries in which an ‘unfettered capitalism’ exists. A economic system in which money rules and does not serve, excludes without impunity [see I am beginning to see that this is what Pope Francis is going after: “unbridled capitalism”. But why should he bother doing this, if it does not really exist. Because in the increasing globalization of economy, with transnational corporations above the rules and regulations of any country [and these companies do exist] the DESIRE to remake the economic world into a world of ‘unbridled capitalism’ does exist-and thus the prophetic challenge.

    A lot of my reflection on this has come while reading the discussion going on in this series of posts. I myself got bogged down in some of the more immediate stuff, but sitting back and relfecting on what was said by Pope Francis and the economic world, I recognized that, just as in the 80’s-90’s we entered into a vast new cyberworld, so now we are entering into a vast new global economic world.

    For example, I saw an article that stated a young man (married?) got into a fight with his wife or girlfriend in China [Peoples’ Republic] at a mall that was at least seven levels high. They were fighting because they had been CHRISTMAS shopping for five hours, had bags and bags of bought items and she wanted to go to another store for shoes. He argued she had plenty of shoes, they needed to go home etc. She called him a cheapskate, and was spoiling the CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. At which point he threw down all the bags he was carrying and jumped over the seventh level banister plunging to his death-taking out some CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS on the way down. Philip, I read this in shock-at a couple of levels. However, note that it took place in so called Communist China, that he jumped from the seventh level (place must have been huge), that this couple were CHRISTMAS SHOPPING in a marxist country of which most of the population, even if religious are not Christian. Yet it was, like here, time for Christmas shopping. I bet there were many American stores in that mall as well.

    I am more convinced now than before that Pope Francis’ remarks (and that basically is what they are-not full formal teachings as in an encyclical) are prophetically addressing not what is, but what ‘powers that be’ want to exist: an unfettered capitalism. The pope already knows the problem of socialism etc. He was one of the leaders against ‘liberation theology’ in Latin America-so he is no ‘lover’ of marxism or its softer cousin socialism. He is going after capitalism that desires to be unfettered by morality. And I say “Amen”

  • “Because in the increasing globalization of economy, with transnational corporations above the rules and regulations of any country [and these companies do exist] the DESIRE to remake the economic world into a world of ‘unbridled capitalism’ does exist-and thus the prophetic challenge.”

    I will leave to others whether such companies exist. It seems that most companies labor under an unbundance of multinational regulations.

  • That should read “abundance.”

    Again I appreciate your posts. But I think such is subject to debate. Your discussion of what happened in China appears to be more about materialism and consumerism then Capitalism. And thus we’re back to whose premises are correct.

  • Philip,

    Thanks for your response. Let me say this, I am not so sure I can separate “materialism and consumerism from capitalism” I don’t think that all who believe in a free market are materialists or consumerists, however, are materialism and consumerism not a fruit of a ‘capitalism’ in which mammon rules and not serves? See the issue is whether money rules or serves. There is, can be and should be a ‘free market’ in which money serves the common good. However, it is all too easy, and all too common to devolve into a situation and even a system in which money is the bottom line and not people.

  • “…however, are materialism and consumerism not a fruit of a ‘capitalism’ in which mammon rules and not serves?”

    I would say accidents of rather than essential to.

  • Botolph,
    Given the general worldwide rise of highly regulated social welfare states, the risk of unfettered capitalism seems pretty remote. Nor is there much of a risk of a world that accepts a capitalism that is unfettered by morality. The real risk is that which is presented by a “first world’ that no longer accepts morality as properly understood by the Church, and is exporting this lack of acceptance to the rest of the world. The enemy is not capitalism; the enemy is growing lack of faith and the abandonment of Christendom and cultures grounded in faith in exchange for an emergence of a secular world. Capitalism is basically a red herring. Those of us who advocate for free markets generally recognize that free markets, even assuming perfect information and perfect rational behavior, do not always yield outcomes that are socially optimal. After all, people make bad decisions and have bad luck. We must look out for each other accordingly. While certainly government can be an agent for such efforts, it is difficult to untether such government efforts from the notion of “entitlement,” and the evidence strongly suggests that entitlement programs are dehumanizing and eventually counterproductive.
    The bottom line is that the Holy Father’s statements are either unhelpful and obvious truisms or naive and mischievous miscalculations.

  • Philip,

    In you repeating back my quote, I realized I was vague in what I meant. Here is what I actually meant: Are not materialism and consumerism the fruit of a form of capitalism in which mammon rules and does not serve. In other words, I readily affirm not all forms of capitalism are like this.

  • Mike Petrik,

    I agree with all your comments in your last post, except the last paragraph concerning the pope’s remarks. We of course can agree to disagree. However I wonder if ‘we’ could flesh the issue out a bit more.

  • Botolph, I suppose it is true that men can view capitalism as a way of life rather than an economic system, but aside from a handful of Randian Objectivists, no one really sees it that way. Instead, men simply fall short in their treatment of their fellow man as they do in all circumstances. Consumerism is simply a variant of materialism, and materialism is a normal human temptation in any system.

  • “In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and I the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

    The key is the word “greater.” If he had instead stated “perfect,” his statement would be harder to quarrel with. Free markets have done more to lift people out of poverty that the Church has ever done, and that is not a criticism of the Church. I suspect that the Holy Father does not really understand the markets built in limitations on economic power. I also suspect that he is mistakenly assigning the injustices he has witnessed in South America to markets instead of corrupt legal and political systems.

    That said, it is true that markets can behave ruthlessly even as the press living standards ever higher. Some people do lose, and such losses are real and important. But it ultimately makes no sense to stop the rise of the auto industry in order to protect blacksmiths from the very real pain of unemployment and loss of station.

  • Mike Petrik,

    Your second to last post (doubting many see capitalism as a way of life) has given me pause and will reflect upon it. I sense that what you are saying is true-and perhaps i have never thought of it in quite the way you have put it. Thank you for that.

    In your last post, I sense we are in agreement, Your ‘correction’ of Pope Francis’ wording from ‘greater’ to ‘perfect’ makes a great deal of sense. BTW His statements on economic matters while significant etc, are not an exercise of papal magisterium, wit infallibility etc. I know that while ‘defending’ him from those thinking he is marxist etc[no one in here by the way] I have also been able to take time to really listen to people who, like yourself obviously know economics far more than any knowledge I have. I myself question the Pope’s use of the phrase ‘trickle-down economics’ (assuming it is not a translation issue), just on the grounds that it is a term that does not belong in an apostolic exhortation [no matter what the economic veracity is involved] The term is almost universally used perjoratively and I think we can and or should expect more from a papal document.

  • “Sursum corda”
    Thanks Botolph for your story about the supposedly communist Chinese couple struggling through (the Miasma*) trying to be true somehow to a Christmas spirit that none of us really really understand… and on “the seventh level” (what a great ancient biblical implication is there for us to see or not see) of the shopping tower.

    *I’m using that term just now as a reference according to the Greek understanding of an unfettered and contagious power as I am thinking a bit darkly about the way so many seem to think of the economy as Having A Life Of Its Own, having outstripped its human constructors.

    That the unfortunate Chinese couple was endeavoring to live out some kind of spiritual ideal, reaching for the “Christmas spirit” even though the government controllers of the economy have tried to dissuade generations of their family from Christmas and from Christ is a remarkable sign of .. the unseen hand… of God. People will lift up their hearts. They will! Even in the worst economic circumstances, in the abject powerlessness over their physical lives, people will lift up their hearts.
    One of my favorite”s parts of the Mass . “Sursum corda”

  • I’m watchful of some who gravitate toward treating “isms” and “markets” as having intelligence and decision making all by themselves. It’s the people behind them, at the individual level, who engage in the markets. The market is agnostic. We hope the people are centered with a moral foundation along with a rational conscious, which did not seem to be the case with the quotes Chinese. Greed exists at a personal level … not through an “ism”.

  • “Greed exists at a personal level … not through an “ism”

    Great point. Those not greedy need not feel insulted. Capitalism doesn’t make a sharing person greedy. socialism won’t make a greedy person generous.
    But we are not to cool to accept the fact that we too can be warned -by the Vicar of Christ- against the lure or traps that we could be tempted to.

  • The bottom line is that the Holy Father’s statements are either unhelpful and obvious truisms or naive and mischievous miscalculations.


    The same might be said of economics in general. Consider Sanislaw Ulam’s challenge to Paul Samuelson to name something non-trivial that economics has given us, and the brevity of Samuelson’s reply.

  • HA,
    Sure, the same might be said of anything. People, including Ulam, say all kinds of dumb stuff. In any case, whether Ulam’s challenge, or your assertion, has any merit is not relevant to the Holy Father’s statements. And brevity is not a vice.

  • Sure, the same might be said of anything. People, including Ulam, say all kinds of dumb stuff.

    Really? If anyone were to claim that the advances made in physics, chemistry and other hard sciences, not to mention math, were trivial or obvious truisms, now that would be saying some dumb stuff indeed.


    As it is, the fact that a Nobel-prize winning author of the standard bible of economics (as far as a significant percentage of economics undergrads are concerned) offered up one centuries-old result in reply to Ulam’s question is highly significant. You’re right that brevity is not a vice — in that particular instance, it speaks volumes. Not that I could have done any better than Samuelson, were anyone to ask the same question of me. The only additions I might make to the list would be with results that influence economics, but were not derived there. For example, the neurophysiology of risk/reward (and how the areas of the brain that are pleasured by a winning bet are different from those that experience pain when a bet fails, which lends some insight into how trading and gambling works), and the efficacy of the tit-for-tat strategy that game theorists have studied, but again, neither of those are the province of economics. Maybe Nash equilibrium would also be suitable, but that is still a strikingly small list, and besides, I am not sure what the Nash equilibrium has done for me lately (in comparison, with say, lasers or the Haber process).


    When I hear the Pope pronounce upon economics, I am struck by what he might have had to offer on the subject of lobotomies 50 years ago, or leeches a few centuries ago. The Pope might well have argued that it would be wrong to deprive the poor of lobotomies if the rich are able to “benefit” from such a therapy, and he might encourage richer nations to train the doctors of poorer nations so as to make any such therapies widely available, and that would all be laudable in its own way, yet it would also be tragically lacking. And that is what I think of when I see the Pope (or his translators) harp on straw-man versions of capitalism while saying precious little on the dangers of leftist approaches to poverty and injustice.

  • I’m sure the Pope’s view has its flaws, however, not to be U.S.-centric about it but at a time when the only Republican economic talking point is “cut spending” (not necessarily bad mind, just that it’s not an overall economic plan/societal vision) and previous ’12 stuff about makers/takers from certain quarters I think it’s healthy to have discussions about what a conservative economic vision should look like, and acknowledging certain flaws with how things’re going, whether they naturally arise out of capitalism or not.

  • Mike Petrik wrote, “Free markets have done more to lift people out of poverty that the Church has ever done.”

    But does this lead to grater “justice and inclusion”? Commerce has been the great solvent of social relations, the framework on which justice and inclusion depend.

    Dr Johnson gave an early example of this, in the West of Scotland, “In the Islands, as in most other places, the inhabitants are of different rank, and one does not encroach here upon another. Where there is no commerce nor manufacture, he that is born poor can scarcely become rich; and if none are able to buy estates, he that is born to land cannot annihilate his family by selling it. This was once the state of these countries. Perhaps there is no example, till within a century and half, of any family whose estate was alienated otherwise than by violence or forfeiture. Since money has been brought amongst them, they have found, like others, the art of spending more than they receive; and I saw with grief the chief of a very ancient clan, whose Island was condemned by law to be sold for the satisfaction of his creditors.”

    He adds, “The Laird is the original owner of the land, whose natural power must be very great, where no man lives but by agriculture; and where the produce of the land is not conveyed through the labyrinths of traffick [sic], but passes directly from the hand that gathers it to the mouth that eats it. The Laird has all those in his power that live upon his farms. Kings can, for the most part, only exalt or degrade. The Laird at pleasure can feed or starve, can give bread, or withhold [sic] it. This inherent power was yet strengthened by the kindness of consanguinity, and the reverence of patriarchal authority. The Laird was the father of the Clan, and his tenants commonly bore his name. And to these principles of original command was added, for many ages, an exclusive right of legal jurisdiction.”

    Capitalism, in the form of commerce, destroyed that form of organic community.

  • Yes, commerce adds stress to the human condition by adding freedom. Life would probably be less stressful if we lived lives unfettered by economic change and the stresses it so induced, knowing our stations, poor or rich, were secure. I don’t see how such reduction in liberty adds to justice, however.

  • And I would add that feudalism is only organic insofar as might makes right is organic.

  • Old does not necessarily mean organic. With any economic change there are always winners and losers and early in the change the losers tend to heavily outnumber the winners. Nostalgia then tends to color the past in rose colored hues. Sir Walter Scott during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution gave a great impetus to the process with his colorful tales of medieval life such as Ivanhoe. Scott was a great Romanticist but a poor historian, as historians of his day were quick to point out.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Probably no people in Europe enjoyed greater political freedom than the Highland clans and septs before the 1745 Rebellion. North of Stirling, the power of government was negligible, except where the Crown could exploit their mutual hostility and the clans were, for practical purposes, self-governing. The same is true of the Border families. In fact, the domestic authority of the heads of houses rendered government largely superfluous.

    Michael Petrik

    Fudalism was the very reverse of “might makes right.” The superior was one man; his vassals were numerous, well-armed and skilled in their use, through feud and raid. His whole power lay in their loyalty. The attachment of his followers to their chief cannot be over-stated and their readiness to avenge any real or imagined affront often led to “tulzies,” or scuffles.

    Thus, Edinburgh witnessed the famous street skirmish in 1520 between the Hamiltons and the Douglases, known as “Cleanse the Causeway,” when the latter, as Pitscottie records, ” keiped both the gaitt and their honouris”; and that in 1551 between the Kerrs and the Scotts, two Border families,

    “When the streets of High Dunedin
    Saw lances gleam and falchions redden,
    And heard the slogan’s deadly yell
    Then the Chief of Branxholm fell.”

    Sixteen years later, Robert Birrel notes in his diary, “”The 24 of November [1567], at 2 afternoon, ye laird of Airthe and ye laird of Weeims mett upone ye heigh gait of Edinburghe ; and they and ther followers faught a verey bloudey skirmish, quher ther wes maney hurte one both sydes vith shote of pistol.”

    Cassell’s indispensable Old & New Edinburgh records scores of such incidents.

  • Botolph: You caught my quandary as to morals/economics. I was thinking on the fly, and perhaps expressed what I was thinking less than clearly. Not in any way questioning the moral dimension of economic living, acting; in fact, trying to insist on it. Just wondering whether it might be possible, perhaps even advisable, to think of economics-as-a-science as a more circumscribed endeavor. It’s fairly evident just in this very conversation, how little consensus there is as to explanation even of economic matters of fact — and this conversation, given where it is occurring, involves a very narrow range of opinion, given the likelihood of who would be drawn here.

    If the science of economics has developed no governing consensus as to method for explaining facts, perhaps seeking meaningful moral insight from that science is asking a bit much. But this would mean that the societal role of scientific economics would constrict considerably. My sense is that there are more than a few economists who want to insist that their science is not a moral one, but who still want to be able to speak/write ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ galore. So, perhaps positing a moral dimension to the science is, on the one hand, asking too much of economists, and, on the other, ceding too much ground to them.

    HA: As to lobotomies and leeches, your remark may be on target in describing some people with a singular focus on distribution of goods. The focus of Pope Francis, I think, is not so singular. It seems substantially broader. It’s a bit much to imagine him — even granting the inevitability of blind spots in anyone’s thinking at particular times — as a lobotomy enthusiast. There seems to be a fairly strong keep-your-junk-to-yourselves dimension of his thinking, as well as a share-the-wealth dimension. Not that he has expressed himself at sufficient length and depth that certain judgment is possible here. But he seems possessed of an abiding concern for the integrity of local cultures that are being disrupted by the rapid advance of globalized commerce. I’m pretty sure this would have protected him from any temptation to advocate poking holes in people’s brains, just because the norteamericanos were doing so. As for leeches, I suspect they had plenty of their own. Both images seem inapt.

    Donald R. McClarey: Romanticism, to be sure, is a danger. So, too, is rationalism. The former yields too much sway to moral sentiments, the latter too little. Too-easy talk of the inevitability of “winners and losers” in the economic game is a case in point. Yes, avoid judgments that are simply emotive. But, also, yes, stand squarely in the midst of those who are experiencing the most catastrophic consequence of emerging economic patterns, see/hear/smell/taste/touch life as they do, and allow that experience a significant place in the emergence of our economic imaginations, inquiries, insights, reflections, judgments, deliberations, and actions. Romantics wreak great suffering; so do rationalists.

  • “Too-easy talk of the inevitability of “winners and losers” in the economic game is a case in point.”

    It isn’t too easy talk Jim, it is a simple statement of fact, just as the creation of huge welfare states, that are now manifestly in their death throes, created winners and losers. Good intentions do not excuse us from the consequences of actions that are simply congealed folly, and a refusal to acknowledge the most basic of economic laws is a fine example of congealed folly.

Vatican: Church Teaching On Divorce Not Changing

Tuesday, October 22, AD 2013

Among Catholics who hope (or fear) that Pope Francis’s new style indicates that Church doctrine and practice are up for grabs, the announcement of a synod to be held next year to discuss marriage and the family, and particularly the pastoral care of divorced and remarried Catholics, caused some stir. However, a document put out by the head of the CDF makes is clear that the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage (and the inability of those living with someone they are not sacramentally married to to receive communion) will not be changed and indeed cannot be changed. If clarity is what you like in Church documents, Abp. Muller brings it in spades:

After the announcement of the extraordinary synod that will take place in October of 2014 on the pastoral care of families, some questions have been raised regarding the question of divorced and remarried members of the faithful and their relationship to the sacraments. In order to deepen understanding on this pressing subject so that clergy may accompany their flock more perfectly and instruct them in a manner consistent with the truth of Catholic Doctrine, we are publishing an extensive contribution from the Archbishop Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The problem concerning members of the faithful who have entered into a new civil union after a divorce is not new. The Church has always taken this question very seriously and with a view to helping the people who find themselves in this situation. Marriage is a sacrament that affects people particularly deeply in their personal, social and historical circumstances. Given the increasing number of persons affected in countries of ancient Christian tradition, this pastoral problem has taken on significant dimensions. Today even firm believers are seriously wondering: can the Church not admit the divorced and remarried to the sacraments under certain conditions? Are her hands permanently tied on this matter? Have theologians really explored all the implications and consequences?

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16 Responses to Vatican: Church Teaching On Divorce Not Changing

  • this makes it sound like those who are re married are damned to hell because a marriage didn’t work out…is this what we are to understand??

  • J.A.C.,

    A person is never damned to hell by either the Lord or the Church. Ultimately, each of us are judged in our response to the Gospel of Christ-how we have or have not cooperated with the abundant grace offered ib Christ. Certainly this Gospel includes all the moral teaching of Christ, including His teaching on marriage and divorce: marriage is between one man and one woman in a life giving and love giving union for life. He forbade divorce. He did so, not because of a lack of mercy or compassion but because what divorce does to both spouses and the children involved.

    According to “the Law of Moses” a man could easily divorce his wife. What many do not realize is that when divorced, women were rejected and abandoned, many becoming prostitutes not so they could get sex but so they could eek out a living, as sad as that is, in His teaching Jesus forbids divorce. He forbids a man to get a divorce and forbids a woman from getting a divorce-thus stating that both are equal in marriage.

    The disciples are astonished when Jesus teaches this- just as we are astonished by this teaching. The disciples cry out, “if this is the case, it is better that a man does not marry”. What is really interesting is that only in three teachings do His disciples find it hard to believe what Christ teaches: about Christ’s approaching passion and death (Mark 8); about the Eucharist (John 6) and about marriage (Mark 10 and Matthew 5 and 19)

    The Church cannot just decide to undo or overturn or just forget this teaching. Now, especially today, the Church is looking to how best to address all the issues facing Catholics in and outside of marriage.nthat is what will be addressed in the upcoming extraordinary Synod in 2014.

    Ultimately, J.A.C. The Church is about proclaiming the grace of Christ which transforms us through ongoing conversion, sustains in the sacraments, in this case especially those in the sacrament of holy matrimony. We tend to forget this grace which can empower a couple to live their married life ‘in the Lord’, living out Christ the Bridegroom and the Church, the Bride’s loving and fruitful union.

    For those who sadly gone through divorce there is always the offer of mercy when the person asks, seeks and knocks for it

  • This is the most correct statement I have yet read:

    “The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice. If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God’s mercy to man.”

  • JAC,

    I think Botolph covered this pretty well, but just to respond as well:

    – The Church does not teach that any particular person is going to tell, though she does teach that certain people (saints) are in heaven.

    – Getting divorced civilly (formally separating from someone one is married to) is not necessarily a sin at all. However, if a valid marriage can not be dissolved, so if one attempts to remarry, that person is in fact living in adultery. It’s the remarriage that is the sin, not necessarily the divorce.

    – Someone is not definitively “going to hell” until the particular judgement, after death. Barring someone who is living in a state of sin from communion is not a way of saying “you’re going to hell” but rather a call to repentance — a clear and visible reminder that the person’s actions are separating him from Christ and that only through repentance can he regain union with Christ and His sacraments.

  • Point of Information: This answer (divorce + remarriage = adultery) is not only found in “Church Teaching.” The Gospels quote Christ Jesus’ clear and concise teaching on divorce/remarriage. The only “grounds” may be infidelity/unchastity. See Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:9, Mark 19:11-12; Luke 16:18.

    The choice may be too hard for post-modern man/woman, who increasingly turns away.

    In addition to selling your property and giving the money to the poor, I think, Christ also taught to abandon “carnal knowledge” outside sacramental, procreative marriage . . . Both concepts shocked (How then can anyone attain the Kingdom?) the Apostles.

    Here’s my down and dirty. What God has joined, let no man put asunder. You make a vow for better or worse, in sickness and health, until death. If you can’t take it and run out, what does that say about you? In short, everyday you choose: good or evi; life or death; the here-and-now/carnal “comfort” or the rewards of eternal life . . .

    Christ descended from heaven to convert us. He didn’t come to say, “There there . . . ” Christ Jesus purchased with His life, death, and Resurrection the rewards of eternal life. We ought to try to imitate Him (the bravest man since the day of creation, too).

    In this case, I am not a “pollyanna.” I am in a troubled marriage for over 35 year. I can’t count the times I murmured “Forgive all injuries!” Remember, we are poor, banished children of Eve, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears, and begging Mary to pray for us to be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

  • I also posted this comment in Don’s post on the subject, but thought I’d post it here, as well.

    I may be missing something here, but this is my take on this new document. My guess is that this part of the document described by Sandro Magister will prove to be the exception that swallows the rule (there’s that ugly word “rule” again):

    “But Müller also recognizes that in a context like that of the present “invalid” marriages are very numerous.

    “Exactly as Pope Francis had noted, again on the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, when he recalled that his predecessor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Quarracino, used to say: “For me half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.”

    “But if null marriages are so great in number, how will the diocesan tribunals be able to examine all of them, juridically ascertaining their invalidity?

    “Müller does not pose this question explicitly in his document. However, he cites a 1998 article by Joseph Ratzinger republished in “L’Osservatore Romano” of November 30, 2011, in which the predecessor of Pope Francis explored the pros and cons of a hypothetical solution: the possible recourse to a decision in conscience to receive communion on the part of a divorced and remarried Catholic, in the event that the lack of recognition of the nullity of his previous marriage (on account of a sentence maintained to be erroneous or because of the difficulty of proving its nullity in the tribunal procedure) should contrast with his well-founded conviction that the marriage is objectively null.

    “It can be presumed that the synod of bishops of October 2014 – to which Pope Francis has entrusted the question – will examine precisely this “Ratzinger hypothesis” in order to innovate in this matter, albeit with the reaffirmation of the absolute indissolubility of marriage.”

    In short, the Church will reaffirm the absolute indissolubility of marriage, but will further liberalize the availability of declarations of nullity, as well as the so-called “inner forum” thing that Magister refers to as the “Ratzinger hypothesis”.

    And I’m not convinced that, at least in the short term, this isn’t the correct solution. We know we have at least a generation of poorly catechized Catholics who have gotten married for all sorts of reasons without a proper grounding in the Church’s teachings on marriage. Cardinal Quarracino was probably correct in his assessment that “… half of marriages are null, because they get married without knowing that it is forever, because they do it for social convenience.” Perhaps, in the short term, the Church should be more, for lack of a better word, liberal in its assumptions about how many marriages are in fact sacramentally invalid.

    However, the Church’s position going forward should be this:

    “Okay, going forward, now you’re on notice. To get married in the Church, you’re going to have to go through INTENSIVE catechetical training on the indisolubility of marriage. Converts are going to have to go through that same training as part of RCIA, and once they’re in the Church have their marriages convalidated in a Catholic marriage rite. After that, then we REALLY mean business that those marriages are FOREVER. No declarations of nullity will be granted except in the cases of obvious invalidity.”

  • Jay brings out another profound aspect on the difficulties concerning marriage in our day. Many entering into Holy Matrimony are doing so because they want a church wedding. I do not question that they have made a decision to get married versus living together. This needs to be said and appreciated. However, that being said, given the culture in which they/we live, with so many having first lived together, coming from families where divorce and frequently remarriage are part of their own history, how many can even enter into a lasting, faithful and exclusive relationship.

    A further dimension however is even more serious for the Church. Holy Matrimony is a sacrament of faith. One needs faith to enter it, celebrate it and live it. We have couples entering into Holy Matrimony who are baptized (which gives the baptized infant the beginnings of faith) however they have not come to a full faith through the proclamation of the Kerygma (basic gospel message that is the foundation of faith) or further catechesis (which cannot and should not end with Confirmation as if that sacrament were a graduation from CCDS and out of the Church)

    There is no dispute that catechesis in the 60’s, 70’s and even the 80’s was itself in turmoil. That has been solved overall (yes there are places etc where it is still a mess) especially with the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the norm for all catechesis. What is still lacking however is the lack of consciousness that the real norm is that thevChurch is a community of adult disciples. This means, after a point each individual adult Catholic must take up the responsibility of ongoing and ever deepening conversion and ongoing and ever increasing faith.

    To apply this to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony-are those asking for the sacrament really believers? Without faith Many are ponting out (Benedict chief among them) there is no real sacrament thus it can be annulled Next year’s Synod will be fascinating

  • The framing of the canon of the Council of Trent is noteworthy. “If any one says, that the Church has erred, in that she has taught, and does teach [Si quis dixerit, ecclesiam errare, quum docuit et docet], in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties; and that both, or even the innocent one who gave not occasion to the adultery, cannot contract another marriage, during the life-time of the other; and, that he is guilty of adultery, who, having put away the adulteress, shall take another wife, as also she, who, having put away the adulterer, shall take another husband; let him be anathema. (Sess XXIV c 7)”

    The rather convoluted phrasing, “that the Church has erred, in that she has taught,” was designed to avoid anathematizing those Greek Fathers who had acquiesced in the laxer practice, but did not, like the Reformers, accuse the Latin Church of erring in its interpretation of scripture, especially, Matt 19:9, μη επι πορνεια ; probably no three words have attracted such a wealth of commentary.

  • Michael Paterson Seymour has brought up the important issue of the “exception clause” found in Matt 19.9. The issue is the meaning of the Greek word porneia. In general, the word can be interpreted as sexual immorality, more specifically, adultery. Thus the allowance by the Reformation of marriage to be ended by adultery.

    However, the Roman Catholic Church has not seen adultery in of itself as the basis of declaring a marriage annulled-basing its position on the words of the Lord Himself.

    The Church has as.its patrimony, in it’s Tradition the first council of the Church, that which took place in Jerusalem in 49 AD with Peter, Paul and James, as well as others present to discern what the Spirit was saying to the Church at that time. Among other decisions was the reception of Gentiles into complete membership in the Church. Gentiles were prohibited what was already part of the Covenant with Noah. Among those prohibitions was “porneia”, understood to be illicit sexual unions. It is in light of the meaning of this use of the word porneia that the Church sees the exception clause in Matthew’s Gospel.

  • Botolph

    Yes, especially because μοιχαται = commits adultery (from μοιχεύω) occurs in the same verse. This suggests that πορνεια means something different, otherwise one would expect Our Lord to have used the unambiguous μοιχεία, if that was what He meant.

    That one meaning of the word is incest is clear from ! Cor 5, where St Paul calls the behaviour of the man who married his father’s wife, “τοιαύτη πορνεία ἥτις οὐδὲ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν” [Such pornia as is not found among the nations (gentiles/pagans?)]

    Again, in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18, the exception is not included, suggesting it was a mere aside, pointing to a case so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning, something that goes without saying, such as incest or bigamy.

    By the by, μη επι πορνεια gets 2,450,000 hits in Google, so I doubt if there is anything I can usefully add.

  • Pingback: Divorced & Remarried Catholics -
  • If it really is so impossible for someone who lives in a divorce-culture to enter a valid marriage, shouldn’t the Church forbid priests to witness marriage ceremonies at all? For example, in the U.S.A., 50% of the marriages end in divorce, so the Church could conclude that all the people in the U.S. are raised in a divorce culture, influenced by this culture, and probably enter invalid marriages – so to protect from this, we should simply forbid Church marriages.
    How many fathers of the bride are going to be comfortable walking their daughter down the aisle when the Church itself, according to the Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, says that many Christians probably enter invalid marriages because today’s mentality is opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage?

    Repeatedly in Müller’s article, he referred to people who “find themselves” in second marriages. People don’t “find themselves” in second marriages. Someone abandoned the first marriage by a free will choice. When a Catholic makes that choice, the Church could be a better shepherd to those lost sheep that abandon marriage – when the abandonment occurs – not years later after a second “so-called” marriage happened.

    During the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the pastoral care for families, they could study the situation of professed Catholics abandoning marriage while acting as if they are doing nothing wrong. In the US, marital abandoners feel justified because they think they deserve an annulment.

    There is a whole section in canon law on the pastoral care for those in troubled marriages relative to separation and divorce. Marriages could be saved and scandal prevented if the Church started practicing the law as it was intended (c. 104, 1151-1153, and 1692). The Church can teach about the difference between morally legitimate reasons for separation of spouses compared to martial abandonment which is a grave offense against nature and immoral.

    For more information see LINK to Annotations and Commentary on the Code of Canon Law recommended by the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Search 1692Annot.html#violatedivinelaw

  • Bai Macfarlane,

    If it really is so impossible for someone who lives in a divorce-culture to enter a valid marriage, shouldn’t the Church forbid priests to witness marriage ceremonies at all?

    Since the Church also teaches that it is a mortal sin to live together as husband and wife without being validly married, this would mean that the Church should condemn a culture to live in sin or die out due to lack of families, rather than, say, doing it’s duty by teaching anew the indissolubility of marriage.

    But I get the impression this was not put out there as a real suggestion anyway, but rather as an attempt to refute the suggestion that a large percentage of marriages attempted in the modern US are not in fact valid marriage.

    I don’t think, however, that’s necessarily a big stretch. Remember, we’re not just talking about church weddings by practicing Catholics. We’re talking about all marriages — a Catholic who marries his girlfriend in front of a justice of the peace in Las Vegas; or a couple of non-denominational Protestants who get married in a religious ceremony; anyone. I don’t think it’s a reach to say that many of these people do not mean what the Church means by marriage when they get married. And yet, if one of these people shows up, divorced and in a second marriage, wanting to enter or re-enter the Church 20 years later, one of the first things that the Church will end up having to look at is whether that second marriage is valid or not.

    This is where it’s important to keep in mind that when we talk about these issues for the whole Church, we’re not just talking about people like us. You’re right, of course, when you say:

    Repeatedly in Müller’s article, he referred to people who “find themselves” in second marriages. People don’t “find themselves” in second marriages.

    But a lot of the time, the situations that our priests and bishops are having to sort out are not ones in which active and catechized Catholics get divorced and remarried — after all, we already have some roadblocks in the way of that in that you can’t contract a second marriage in the Church without having the validity of the first examined — but rather situations where someone who was baptized Catholic but has effectively been away from the Church for over twenty years shows up in his mid forties, in a second marriage with several children, and wanting to come back into the Church. Obviously, the Church has a good reasons for wanting that person to come back to the Church and bring his children up in the faith. However, the question of these marriages has to be sorted out.

  • I don’t think it’s a reach to say that many of these people do not mean what the Church means by marriage when they get married. And yet, if one of these people shows up, divorced and in a second marriage, wanting to enter or re-enter the Church 20 years later, one of the first things that the Church will end up having to look at is whether that second marriage is valid or not.

    OK, that takes care of Deal Hudson. How about the lady once known as Mrs. Geoffrey Vining?

    (This can be a depressing subject).

  • An eminent Scots lawyer once observed, “It is a curious fact, though true, that there must always be a considerable number of persons who could not say off-hand whether they were married or not. It is only when the question has been decided by a consistorial tribunal that their doubts can be removed. But although they do not know if they are married, and no one could tell them with certainty till the action was tried, it is nevertheless true that they must be either one or the other. There is no half-way house.”

    That is inevitable under any system of law, ecclesiastical or civil.

  • In a valid marriage or not, one is considered married until the church says one is not married. In cases of adultery one is free to divorce. One is not free or entitled to re-marry. Being in a failed marriage can prove that one is not mature enough to be married and is not marriage material.