Donald R. McClarey
The Pope’s statement that the great majority of sacramental marriages are invalid, and the retreat from what the Pope said, is continuing to reverberate. Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Week has advice for Catholics about what to do when a Pope is given to making statements that are contra to the Faith or simply bizarre:
The pope’s statement openly contradicts the constant teaching and practice of the Church, which put great faith in the ability of humans to marry one another, and in the sacraments of the Church to be effective. The pope may be right that we live in a culture marred by impermanence. Previous cultures that the Church stepped into were marred by tribalism, or even local prejudice and tradition. Special pleading is not new to the world with modernity. The presumption of validity still applied to marriage bonds made inside or outside of the Church.
The Church has always held that valid marriage occurs whenever a single man and a single woman freely vow to marry one another, and intend to live faithful to that union for the rest of their lives. They don’t even have to be Catholics. The Church confidently strode into pagan Europe and affirmed the marriage bonds of non-Christians, who had never had a chance to be “catechized” or who married under greater social and familial pressures than any modern Westerner.
It is telling that the Vatican even “corrected” the transcripts of what the pope said, inserting “some” where he really said “vast majority.” That may reflect Francis wishing to step back from what he said, or it may just be an act of charity by Vatican staff to “cover his nakedness,” so to speak.
A pope’s off-the-cuff statements and personal opinions are not, and never have been, infallible guides. This presents no existential crisis for Catholicism.
So, what to do? The best advice, informed by centuries of history, is to just ignore or laugh at the pope when he says something so stupid. Popes in the past have expressed novel and erroneous views on matters of faith before. Pope John XXII argued for erring views on the afterlife. Pope John XII, who raped female pilgrims to Rome, was credibly rumored to have openly professed paganism.
In these cases and others, the “vast majority” of Christians held on to their faith, as best as they understood it, with no reference to their pope’s day-to-day controversies. Now that the meticulously careful theologian Josef Ratzinger is neither the pope, nor the pope’s ghostwriter, we’re likely to deal with many popes expressing themselves in spectacularly unhelpful or stupid ways. Forgive them, and move on. Continue reading
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
Sam Adams, August 1, 1776
(This is a repeat from last year. I can’t improve upon it, except for minor changes that I have made.)
The American Catholic is proud to participate in this year’s Fortnight For Freedom. The Fortnights were started in 2012 by the bishops of this country in response to the unprecedented assault on religious liberty posed by the Obama administration, to remind Catholics of the preciousness of their inheritance of freedom as Americans and Catholics and the necessity of standing up to threats to it. All well and good, and a very worthy cause indeed. However, the leadership of the Church appears to be schizophrenic on this subject. While Caesar seeks to limit the freedom of the Church, too many ecclesiastics respond by wanting to get into bed with Caesar.
The examples of this are legion.
It is the policy of the Church to aid the Obama administration in flouting the immigration laws of this country, acting as a virtual arm of the State in sheltering illegal aliens.
The Church was all in favor of Obamacare, until the Obama administration targeted the Church with the contraceptive mandate.
The Green Encyclical, Laudato Si, released last year, is one long demand for Caesar to engage in an immense power grab, and regulate business and citizens to fight a mythical global warming threat.
The Vatican is supportive of UN activities that spell a mortal danger to economic freedom in the West.
The Church through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds hundreds of left wing pressure groups to call for ever bigger government, and, inevitably, further restrictions on freedom.
Welfare States require huge amounts of tax money and huge amounts of government power. The default position of the Church today when confronting any need traditionally filled by private or Church charity, is to scream for Caesar to come fix things. This bastardized parody of the social teachings of the Church inevitably comes back to bite the Church as Caesar will always exact a price for his favors and under the Obama administration that price is for the Church to bend the knee to contraception, abortion and gay marriage. For all too many of our shepherds that is a small price to pay to keep the government largesse flowing. There is a reason why Christ whipped the money changers from the Temple and why He uttered the phrase to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. These days the Church too often seems willing to bow the knee to Caesar, no matter what Caesar demands, so long as the funds from Caesar keep flowing. Continue reading
The Department of Homeland Security is fully on board with the policy of the Obama administration of let’s pretend that Islamic terrorism does not exist:
A new Department of Homeland Security report urges rejecting use of Islamic terms such as “jihad” and “sharia” in programs aimed at countering terrorist radicalization among American youth.
The Homeland Security Advisory Council report recommends that the department focus on American milliennials by allocating up to $100 million in new funding. It also urges greater private sector cooperation, including with Muslim communities, to counter what is described as a “new generation of threats to the Homeland related to the threat of violent extremism.”
The funds would be used for hiring experts and new social media programs and technology to influence young people not to join terror groups.
“The department’s CVE efforts are an attempt to protect our nation’s young people from extremists who prey upon the Millennial generation,” the report says.
“The department must reframe the conversation to reflect this reality and design a robust program around the protection of our youth, which must include predator awareness and an understanding of radicalization. In doing so, our citizens will be better equipped for this threat.”
Under the section on terminology, the report calls for rejecting use of an “us versus them” mentality by shunning Islamic language in “Countering Violent Extremism” programs, or CVE, the Obama administration’s euphemism that seeks to avoid references to Islam.
Under a section on recommended actions on terminology, the report says DHS should “reject religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.”
Government agencies should employ “American English instead of religious, legal and cultural terms like ‘jihad,’ ‘sharia,’ ‘takfir’ or ‘umma,’” states the June 2016 report by the Council’s countering violent extremism subcommittee. Continue reading
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced yesterday that only redacted versions of Omar Mateen’s three 911 calls will be released to the public.
However, Mateen’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS and support for the Boston bombers will not be released as not to ‘re-victimize’ those who lived through the attack.
‘We’ll be releasing a partial transcript of the calls between the killer and the hostage negotiators so people can, in fact, see the type of interaction that was had there,’ Lynch told ABC News.
I say partial because we’re not going to be, for example, broadcasting his pledges of allegiance. We are trying not to re-victimize those who went through that horror,’ she added.
FBI Director James Comey said the shooter was involved in precisely three calls to a 911 dispatcher at approximately 2.30am on June 12.
The minions of leftist billionaire George Soros are active on the Catholic front this election year:
While the IRS revoked the non-profit status of the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in October 2013 for failing to file a form 990 for three consecutive years, the organization recently re-emerged with a progressive voter guide for the November presidential elections. For A Revolution of Tenderness: A 2016 Election Pope Francis Voter Guide, CACG collaborated with other progressive groups—including the Soros-supported Faith in Public Life Catholic Program, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Pax Christi International, and others—to produce a voter guide that claims to “show how we apply the teachings of our Church to the problems of our day with a heart of mercy.”
Like the organization’s previous presidential voting guides, the new guide provides encouragement to Catholics wishing to support candidates who promote progressive positions—sometimes at the expense of the non-negotiable teachings of the Church on life and marriage. Claiming that their long list of social ills are “all related,” the 2016 guide, like the 2012 guide before it, stacks the deck in favor of pro-choice politicians who promise to protect the poor, the environment, and LGBT rights—but not the rights on the unborn or of the family.
Abortion is included as one among several threats to the dignity of the human being:
In this new place of mercy, the last are first, the poor are blessed, and enemies are loved. Black lives matter here. LGBTQ lives matter here; and so too do the lives of refugees, the imprisoned, the unborn, and anyone else who suffers dehumanization, exclusion, and injustice…. Today, human dignity and life is degraded by racism, violence, abortion, war, the death penalty, euthanasia, human trafficking, torture, environmental damage, and poverty.
Still, there is one major difference in the 2016 guide. Rather than calling it a “Catholic” voter guide, this new version is called a “Pope Francis Voter Guide.” In fact, on page one, in an apparent attempt to avert criticism from anyone in the Church hierarchy or the laity, the Pope Francis voter guide celebrates the fact that “…a new community with new rules is established…hierarchies are subverted, concentrated power is decentralized, and prodigal children are welcomed home.” Continue reading
As in years past, The American Catholic will take part in The Fortnight Freedom proclaimed by the USCCB:
Each year dioceses around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day.
The usual open thread rules apply: be concise, be charitable and, above all, be amusing.
THE SON OF GOD, our Lord Jesus Christ, has taught us a prayer; and though He be the Lord Himself, as you have heard and repeated in the creed, the only Son of God, yet He would not be alone. He is the only Son, and yet would not be alone; He wishes to have brothers. For to whom does He say: “Our Father who art in Heaven?” Whom did He wish us to call our Father but His own Father? Did He begrudge us this? Parents sometimes, when they have had one, or two, or three children, fear to give birth to any more lest they reduce the rest to beggary. But because the inheritance which He promised us is such as many may possess and no one be impoverished, therefore has He called into His brotherhood the peoples of the nations; and the only Son has numberless brothers who say, “Our Father who art in Heaven.” So said they who have been before us; and so shall say those who will come after us. See how many brethren the only Son has in His grace, sharing His inheritance with those for whom He suffered death. We had a father and mother on earth, that we might be born to labors and to death: but we have found other parents, God our Father, and the Church our Mother, by whom we are born unto life eternal. Let us then consider, beloved, whose children we have began to be; and let us live so as becomes those who have such a Father. See how that our Creator has condescended to be our Father! Continue reading
A guest post from commenter Fabio Paolo Barbieri :
“He wanted as many kids between him and the audience as possible.”
Eddie Foy, Jr.
The Seven Little Foys (1955) is a highly interesting Bob Hope comedy/drama. It is amusing like most Bob Hope films, but I have also found it intriguing because Hope portrays Foy at the beginning of the film as a selfish loner who wants absolutely nothing to do with a wife, let alone kids. In the film his ambitions to lead a selfish solitary life are thwarted by love. First, love for his wife and then, after her death, love for their numerous children. At the end of the film we even see love of God starting to enter into Foy’s life, as he goes to Mass for the first time in years. His attempt to lead a life devoted to self alone ends in flat failure!
Like most Hollywood films some of the details of the actual Foy and his children are distorted, but it does not deter from the central message of the film. Humans only have true happiness by loving others and doing good for them. It seems a simple enough concept, and it certainly lies at the heart of Catholicism, but most of the evil in the world is a testament to how elusive many people find this core truth of human life.
Seeing Foy throughout the film grow into the role of father, with many hurdles, makes it a great film for Father’s day. Go here for film clips from the film.
I cannot leave this film without showing the clip of the legendary dance routine between Bob Hope and James Cagney, reprising his role from Yankee Doodle Dandy as James M. Cohan. Cagney had his salary for the role donated to charity, regarding it as a tribute to Eddie Foy, who in the twenties had helped out struggling young actors, including Cagney.
What do you need friends for?… you’ve got all the friends and enemies you need right here in the family.
Eddie Foy (Bob Hope), The Seven Little Foys (1955)
The latest droppings from the mind of Mark Shea:
This mockery of gooey fake piety…
When Christians offer “thoughts and prayers” not as prelude to obeying, but as prophylactic *against* obeying the fifth commandment, God’s Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles.
Not, of course, that I agree that thoughts and prayers are useless. On the contrary, I think them vital since I believe that the Gun Cult is a demonic spiritual stronghold just as abortion is. I think that conscious, deliberate prayer *against* that stronghold, undertaken by spiritual warriors at every Mass, will be an invaluable part of defeating and destroying this enemy of human life and this disgraceful and warping stain on the prolife movement and the witness of the Church. I believe Catholics must implore our Lord to send his mighty angels to break the grip of principalities and powers and spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places who hold people in thrall to fear and selfishness and blind them to the need to place the fifth commandment above their cultic devotion to the gun. But of course, such prayer will indeed be prelude to action, not studied inaction shrouded in pious goo.
My bride and I enjoyed going to a used book sale last Thursday that we have been attending for about the last fifteen years. We spent $38.00. As usual Don the spendthrift purchased most of the books:
1. My bride purchased A Guide Through Narnia by Martha G. Sammons (1979) (Essays on C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” – but it was with the travel books, so I was expecting more of a Narnian gazetteer for travelers), The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle (2012) (Historical romance novel set in the Victorian era; our Anglo-Indian heroine’s costume in the cover art is late Regency, though, and she hops into bed with our quasi-Masonic hero about half a dozen chapters in; not worth finishing), Lose 200 Lbs. This Weekend by Don Aslett (2000) (Another of his “de-clutter your life” books) and Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide (1999) (The most recent they had there — presumably the collectors are hanging onto anything more recent; what I really needed was a print version of info I’d already found online about the collectible figurines I’m selling on eBay, plus tips on how to pack them for shipping).
I purchased all the rest:
2. The Battle: A History of the Battle of Waterloo by Alessandro Barbero (2003)-I like the fact that the author begins his book with quotes from Wellington indicating what folly it was to attempt to write the history of this battle.
3. Ivory Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown (2015)-Speculation on the origin of nine medieval chess pieces.
4. The Arms of Krupp (1968-paperback 1970)-William Manchester’s history of the German family of weapons manufacturers.
5. The French and Indian War by Walter R. Borneman (2006)-The French and Indian War has been attracting more attention recently by scholars, which is a good thing. The various French wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth century had an enormous impact on the colonies that would become the United States. Our first steps toward a unified nation were taken as a result of these conflicts, and many of the men who led our forces in the American Revolution learned the trade of war in the greatest and last of these struggles.
6. The Achievement of Samuel Johnson by W. Jackson Bate (1955)-A look at the writing and thought of one of my favorite literary curmudgeons.
7. Bomber Offensive by Noble Frankland (1970)-One of the myriad Ballantine buck books on World War II that I gobbled up as a teenager.
8. Abraham Lincoln by Thomas Keneally (2003)-One of the brief Penguin Lives where established authors write a short life of some famous individual. The authors usually have no special expertise as a biographer of the subject they are writing about. As one might expect, this experiment has produced mixed results.
9. Leadership in War by Sir John Smyth (1974)-A look at British generals in World War II by a Brigadier General and holder of the Victoria Cross. (The Brit equivalent to the Medal of Honor.)
10. Patton: A Study in Command by H. Essame (1974)-A well written look at Patton by a British Major General who commanded a brigade in World War II.
11. Aristotle For Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy by Mortimer Adler (1978)-I have long been a fan of the work of the late Mortimer Adler. A leader of the revival of interest in Saint Thomas Aquinas in the twenties, he founded the Great Books Program. He spent his life explaining to moderns in the West their intellectual heritage. A non-observant Jew, he long was attracted to Catholicism. Baptized as an Episcopalian in 1984, the faith of his wife, he was baptized into the Faith in 1999, two years before his death. Continue reading
The charge of the Scots Greys scene from the movie Waterloo (1970), one of the greatest of war flicks. Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Christopher Plummer as Wellington gave bravura performances. My favorite section of the film: Continue reading
I am beginning to think that the easiest way to understand this Pontificate is to imagine a screenplay about a papacy written by George Orwell that is also a black comedy. With furor among Catholics around the globe over the Pope’s remark that the great majority of sacramental marriages are invalid the Vatican has attempted to send the comment down the Memory Hole:
Editor’s note: This article was updated June 17 to include a clarification by the Vatican: Pope Francis approved a revision to the official transcript to say that “a portion” of sacramental marriages are null, instead of “the great majority.”
So everything now is hunky, dory!
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Pope Francis said Thursday that the majority of the words that come “spilling” out of his mouth are invalid because most of the time he doesn’t understand that what he says is permanent.
“We live in a culture of the provisional,” the Pontiff said, responding to a question about the “crisis of his pontificate.”
Francis said he often doesn’t comprehend the importance of what he’s saying when speaking off-the-cuff, which he said is “indissoluble.”
“Sadly in today’s pontificate, I don’t understand that what I say will have ramifications for not only my pontificate, but of the many pontificates to come,” he said. “I say something random, and people do not know what it means. And because people listen to me with the philosophy that I am the Pope, they believe I have fully contemplated and formulated what I am saying, which is, in many cases, not the case. This then makes what I say null.”
Francis went on to say that when Catholics have to spend most of their working lives defending what he says, and having to write blog posts or responses to comments on a combox asking if the “pope really said such and such,” clearly there is something invalid in many of the “weird, weird, weird” things that somehow manage to find their way from his brain to his mouth. Continue reading
A very brave man has died:
The last surviving Catholic priest imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp has died at the age of 102, more than 70 years after surviving a Nazi death march.
The Rev. Hermann Scheipers died on June 2 in Ochtrup, Germany, the Catholic website Aleteia said.
He spent more than four years at Dachau after being arrested in 1940, reportedly for supporting Polish forced laborers. “Here, you are defenseless, without dignity or rights,” Scheipers recalled being told on arriving at the Nazi camp.
Go here to read the rest.
2,579 Catholic priests, seminarians and brothers were thrown by the Nazis during World War II into Dachau. 1,780 of these were from Poland. Of these, some 868 priests perished, 300 in medical “experiments” or by torture in the showers of the camp.
The remaining priests, seminarians and brothers came from 38 nations. Besides the Poles the largest groups were 447 German and Austrian priests, 156 French priests and 46 Belgian priests.
Something for the weekend. You’re A Grand Old Flag sung by James Cagney in the film biopic of George M. Cohan Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Cohan wrote the song in 1906 after an encounter with a Union veteran of Gettysburg who was carrying a torn American battle flag. The old soldier smiled at Cohan and said the flag was “A grand old rag!”
I cannot have a post that mentions the film Yankee Doodle Dandy without showing the scene of Cagney as Cohan tap dancing down the White House steps. Cagney did the scene completely impromptu. Continue reading