Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 26 years. Small town lawyer. President of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center.

Demographics and Democrats

 

 

I am always amused by theories that, on the American political scene, a party has an electoral lock on the White House or that one party will be in control of Congress forever.  Such theories tend to be plentiful just before they are punctured.  The latest popular theory on the left is that the Democrats, due to illegal immigration from Mexico, will soon have total political dominance.  This has been bruited about since the 2000 election, so “soon” is not a precise term.  Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics takes a look at it:

The black vote: Neither of Barack Obama’s wins in 2008 or 2012 were dependent upon African-American turnout.  But it certainly helped.  Had the Republican nominee in 2008 received George W. Bush’s share of the black vote, and had African-American turnout resembled 2004, President Obama’s 2008 lead would have been halved.  In 2012 it would have been reduced to a single point.

The possibility of a reversion-to-mean among African-American voting patterns in 2016 was always a very real one.  If you look at turnout rates as reported by the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey dating back to 2002, African-American rates have always lagged Republican rates by around five points, give or take (though if you control for socioeconomic status, African-Americans are more likely to vote than whites).  This was true in 2010 as well as 2014.  The exceptions were 2008 and 2012, when African-American turnout rates exceeded white rates. 

Now, it was possible that we had entered a period with a “presidential” electorate and a “midterm” electorate, but it was foolish to dismiss the possibility of a mean reversion once a charismatic history-making candidate such as Barack Obama didn’t top the ticket.  With the African-American share of the electorate declining to 12 percent in 2016, I think it’s pretty clear that something along these lines occurred. 

Likewise, with Donald Trump winning a larger share of the black vote than Mitt Romney or John McCain did, and with the midterm electorates looking more like the electorates of 2002 to 2006, we have to take seriously the possibility of a mean reversion there as well.

Hispanics: Analysis focuses on the “fast-growing” Hispanic vote, but the Hispanic share of the electorate has actually increased glacially.  It was 8 percent of the electorate in 2004, 9 percent in 2008, 10 percent in 2012, and 11 percent in 2016. If we rely on the census data for the electorate, it has been even smaller.  The fact that Hispanics are increasingly adopting a “white” identity (what Reihan Salam calls “racial attrition”) may blunt this growth in the future.

Moreover, I’ve long believed that analysis of what motivates Hispanic voters misses the mark.  White and liberal analysts are far too reductionist when it comes to these voters, and for some reason have decided that immigration reform is a make-or-break issue for them.  This ignores an awful lot of contrary evidence, such as the fact that a majority of Hispanic voters told exit pollsters in 2008 that immigration reform wasn’t important to them, or voted Republican anyway.  It ignores the fact that sizeable minorities of Hispanics voted for anti-illegal immigration candidates such as Jan Brewer and Sharron Angle.  It ignores the fact that a large number of Hispanic voters backed Propositions 187 and 209 in California, and so forth.

I was always skeptical (though not entirely dismissive) of the idea that Hispanic voters were on their way to voting like African-American voters. Given that Donald Trump has likely out-performed Mitt Romney among Hispanics, I think it is safe to say that 27 percent represents something of a floor for Republicans.  It could be the case that Republicans will suffer further erosion here over time, but given that, over the long term, the Hispanic vote has gradually become more Republican (Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Jimmy Carter and George McGovern all won larger shares of the Hispanic vote than Obama did in 2012), and that Hispanics become more Republican as they move from the border to the burbs, and that Hispanic immigration has for now leveled off, it may also be the case that the Republican share of this vote will grow.

Whites: I have written extensively about the Republican voting trend among white voters, especially among working-class whites. That is obviously an incredibly salient point in the wake of this election, where whites without college degrees voted like Hispanics, but with the impact Hispanics would have if they constituted 40 percent of the electorate. It is true that there weren’t enough working-class whites to win the election for Trump, as many asserted during the campaign.  But it was closer than a lot of people think.

I’m not going to rehash everything here; it is pretty well covered in the links.  I will just make two points.  First, mocking the GOP as the Party of White Voters was, from an electoral perspective, extremely short-sighted.  White voters are still 70 percent of the electorate (probably more). Winning around 60 percent of those voters will win a party an awful lot of elections.  If Trump were to bring college-educated whites back into the fold, that share will grow.

Second, this chart should have really scared Democrats a lot more than it apparently did.

Women: Here, I can be brief.  Analysts are right to examine the gender gap – the distance between the male share of the vote and the female share of the vote – but they are wrong to make predictions based upon it.  As I wrote earlier this year, the gender gap giveth, but it also taketh away. We see this on full display in 2016.  The 24-point spread in 2016 was actually the largest on record.  But like the year with the second-largest spread (2000) and the third-largest spread (1980), it ended in Republican victory.  In fact, looking at the years with the four smallest gender gaps in history (1976, 1972, 1992, 2008) we may reasonably ask ourselves if perhaps large gender gaps tend to hurt Democrats.

Overreach: The major theme of my book is that all party coalitions fall apart because, well, governing is hard and it inevitably forces parties to choose among members of their coalition.  More importantly – and this is where I think realignment theory isn’t just wrong but also counterproductive – parties see their wins as a sign that they’ve finally “won” at politics.  But this hubristic take is always wrong, and usually destructive. Such hubris destroyed the Republican coalition in 1910 when they thought they had won a mandate to pass the self-serving Payne-Aldrich tariff. It weakened the Democratic coalition in 1937 when FDR believed he had a mandate to pack the Supreme Court and pass the Third New Deal.  It destroyed the Republican coalition in 2005 when George W. Bush famously quipped that he had earned political capital and intended to spend it.

I have little doubt that a belief that demographics would save them at the presidential level led Democrats to take a number of steps that they will soon regret, from going nuclear on the filibuster to aggressive uses of executive authority.  But one thing deserves special attention.  A good deal of e-ink has been spilled describing the ways in which the culturally superior attitudes of the left drove Trumpism.  This too, I think, derived from a belief that history had a side and that progressives were on it, combined with a lack of appreciation of just how many culturally traditionalist voters there are in this country. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Four Cardinals

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The letter of the four cardinals to the Pope:

 

1. A Necessary Foreword

 

The sending of the letter to His Holiness Pope Francis by four cardinals derives from a deep pastoral concern.

We have noted a grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the Church. We have noted that even within the episcopal college there are contrasting interpretations of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.

The great Tradition of the Church teaches us that the way out of situations like this is recourse to the Holy Father, asking the Apostolic See to resolve those doubts, which are the cause of disorientation and confusion.

Ours is, therefore, an act of justice and charity.

Of justice: With our initiative, we profess that the Petrine ministry is the ministry of unity, and that to Peter, to the Pope, belongs the service of confirming in the faith.

Of charity: We want to help the Pope to prevent divisions and conflicts in the Church, asking him to dispel all ambiguity.

We have also carried out a specific duty. According to the Code of Canon Law (349) the cardinals, even taken individually, are entrusted with the task of helping the Pope to care for the universal Church.

The Holy Father has decided not to respond. We have interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect.

And so we are informing the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation.

We hope that no one will choose to interpret the matter according to a “progressive/conservative” paradigm. That would be completely off the mark. We are deeply concerned about the true good of souls, the supreme law of the Church, and not about promoting any form of politics in the Church.

We hope that no one will judge us unjustly, as adversaries of the Holy Father and people devoid of mercy. What we have done and are doing derives from the deep collegial affection that unites us to the Pope, and from an impassioned concern for the good of the faithful.

 

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

Cardinal Joachim Meisner

 

2. The Letter of the Four Cardinals to the Pope

 

To His Holiness Pope Francis

and for the attention of His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller

 

Most Holy Father,

Following the publication of your apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, theologians and scholars have proposed interpretations that are not only divergent, but also conflicting, above all in regard to Chapter VIII. Moreover, the media have emphasized this dispute, thereby provoking uncertainty, confusion and disorientation among many of the faithful.

Because of this, we the undersigned, but also many bishops and priests, have received numerous requests from the faithful of various social strata on the correct interpretation to give to Chapter VIII of the exhortation.

Now, compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility and desiring to implement ever more that synodality to which Your Holiness urges us, with profound respect, we permit ourselves to ask you, Holy Father, as supreme teacher of the faith, called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith, to resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to the dubia that we attach the present letter.

May Your Holiness wish to bless us, as we promise constantly to remember you in prayer.

 

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

Cardinal Joachim Meisner

 

Rome, September 19, 2016

 

3. The Dubia

  1. It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 (305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?
     
  2. After the publication of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?
     
  3. After Amoris Laetitia (301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?
     
  4. After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
     
  5. After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

Continue reading

Breitbart on Abortion

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Mark Shea, fresh from his losing crusade to make pro-abort Hillary Clinton President of the United States, is now attacking pro-lifers who have no problem with President Elect Trump naming former Breitbart CEO Stephen Bannon as his Chief Advisor.  Go here to read Shea’s attack.  Leaving aside the fact that there is no evidence that Bannon is a racist or an anti-Semite, Breitbart has always been firmly pro-life.  Go here and take a look at the Breitbart articles on abortion.  I can understand of course why Mark ignores this.  As his support for Clinton indicates, the fight against abortion is now low on his priority list.

We Can Handle the Truth

 

 

Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report gives us this bit of pure genius:

 

Pope Francis: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

 

Caffara: I think I’m entitled!

 

Pope Francis: You want answers?!

 

Caffara: I want the truth!

 

Pope Francis: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, rigid walls, and those walls have to be knocked down for mankind to progress. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Cardinal Burke? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Tradition and you curse Vatican II. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Vatican II was merely a baby step, but an important first step.

And my magisterium, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, continues on the path! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at during your Chartres pilgrimage, you want me knocking down those walls. You need me to knock down those walls. We use words like “dialogue”, “gradualism”, “mercy”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent tearing down the things that hold mankind back. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very liberation that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “thank you”, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you count your rosaries, and retire to a monastery. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

 

Caffara: Did you intend the heresy?

 

Pope Francis: I did the job that—-

 

Caffara: Did you intend the heresy?!!

 

Pope Francis: YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT I DID!! Continue reading

Not One Thin Dime

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(This is a repost from 2014.  Nothing has changed in regard to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and no faithful Catholic should contribute to it.  Go here to read a letter to the Bishops from the Lepanto Institute in regard to the CCHD.)

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my bride and I usually send Christmas donations to groups we support.  This is the time when we also make a substitute donation to Catholic groups we endorse in lieu of contributing anything to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.  Despite window dressing efforts at reform, the CCHD is still in the business of handing out money, given by good-hearted Catholics who think they are contributing money to help people down on their luck, to left-wing pressure groups, many of whom espouse causes directly contrary to the teachings of the Church.

The Lepanto Institute gives us some details on just what a corrupt organization the CCHD is:

The newly launched Lepanto Institute published a report today, which shows a conflict of interest for Ralph McCloud, the Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

McCloud, who approves grants distributed to community organizing groups on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a member of the board of directors of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ).  Two affiliates of Interfaith Worker Justice received CCHD grants for fiscal year 2014-2015.

The IWJ philosophy is another issue of scandal for an organization that is part of the Catholic Church.

“Ralph McCloud was provided with the facts in 2012, with our showing that the leadership of Interfaith Worker Justice is filled with self-professed pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Marxists,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute.  “By joining the board of directors of IWJ, McCloud has created for himself the very definition of a conflict of interest, and accepted the role of overseeing distribution of funds to an organization in conflict with the Catholic Church’s teaching.”

A report on the leadership of Interfaith Worker Justice is available here.

“In 2012, my colleagues and I published a report on one of the two IWJ affiliates that are currently receiving grants from the CCHD which are in violation of CCHD guidelines,” Hichborn said.

For Fiscal Year 2014-2015, two affiliates of Interfaith Worker Justice received grants from the CCHD totaling $85,000: Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center and The Micah Center.

“How can an individual serve the Church while sitting on the board of IWJ, and in fact approve grants for affiliates of this organization?  It seems impossible,” Hichborn concluded.  “Our Blessed Lord said that man cannot serve two masters, but in the case of IWJ and the CCHD, that is precisely what McCloud is trying to do.”

And this:

The Lepanto Institute issued a report exposing the activities of an organization which received a $35,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  According to the report, the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) launched its own gay straight alliance in 2014, participated in a homosexuality activism coordination event in 2013, and its director of operations signed a letter supporting same-sex marriage.

“CCHD grant guidelines are very clear.  CCHD says it will not fund organizations which are taking actions in violation of Catholic moral teaching,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute.  “This is just one more in the long list of failures in the CCHD’s self-proclaimed rigorous screening process.”

The CCHD’s grant guidelines state, “Organizations that receive CCHD funds must not participate in or promote activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2357 specifically states, regarding homosexual acts, “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

“What’s perplexing is that in 2012, The Reform CCHD Now coalition sent a profile on the problems with NWBCCC to the Archdiocese of New York, and the response we received was that they decided not to fund that organization before we even sent them the letter,” said Hichborn.  “So, why are they funding them this year, now that it’s clear that things have gotten worse?” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Saint Thomas More

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Steve Skojec at One Peter Five invokes Saint Thomas More in reference to the Four Cardinals who have the courage to ask the Pope for an explanation in regard to the doctrinally dubious Amoris Laetitia:

 

 

 

This is not the first time Francis has chosen to show his hand by refusing to offer clarity where the only alternative is heresy.

We saw this in his refusal to respond to the 19 theological censures against Amoris Laetitia authored by 45 theologians and Catholic scholars around the world.

We saw it when he chose to ignore the Filial Appeal signed by over 800,000 Catholics, asking him to uphold Church teaching on marriage and the family.

And if what has been reported to us is true, we know how angry such efforts make him. How he is alleged to have lashed out at the 13 cardinals who confronted him with yet another letter before the second synod — and how he scolded them in public when the synod was done.

It is of vital importance that these four cardinals, having released this document to the public, do not back down. Three of the four are already retired; Cardinal Burke is the lone exception, and he already lives in political exile for his efforts.

St. Thomas More allowed his life to be taken rather than accept a distortion of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the papal authority bound by God to uphold it. No consequence should deter these prelates — or any others — from standing their ground. The faithful are desperate for leadership from their shepherds. Career implications are a pittance in comparison to an executioner’s axe.

We have a pope who has given every indication that he welcomes and embraces material heresy; it is long past time that he be tested for the obduracy of his adherence to it.

The cardinal authors of the letter take pains to make their allegiance clear:

We hope that no one will judge us unjustly, as adversaries of the Holy Father and people devoid of mercy. What we have done and are doing derives from the deep collegial affection that unites us to the Pope, and from an impassioned concern for the good of the faithful.

Indeed. We are loyal papists all, and we ask the man currently occupying the throne of St. Peter to show similar docility to the majesty of his august office.

After all, we are the pope’s good servants, but God’s first. Continue reading

Ten Simple Ways to Lose a Presidential Election

 

I always thought that Bill Clinton had preternatural political skills.  During Hillary’s campaign this year his appearances tended to be lackluster and he gave off an air of frustration.  Perhaps this is why:

 

 

In the waning days of the presidential campaign, Bill and Hillary Clinton had a knock-down, drag-out fight about her effort to blame FBI Director James Comey for her slump in the polls and looming danger of defeat.

‘I was with Bill in Little Rock when he had this shouting match with Hillary on the phone and she accused Comey for reviving the investigation into her use of a private email server and reversing her campaign’s momentum,’ said one of Bill Clinton’s closest advisers.

‘Bill didn’t buy the excuse that Comey would cost Hillary the election,’ said the source. ‘As far as he was concerned, all the blame belonged to [campaign manager Robby] Mook, [campaign chairman John] Podesta and Hillary because they displayed a tone-deaf attitude about the feeble economy and its impact on millions and millions of working-class voters.

‘Bill was so red in the face during his conversation with Hillary that I worried he was going to have a heart attack. He got so angry that he threw his phone off the roof of his penthouse apartment and toward the Arkansas River.’

Bill has a luxurious penthouse apartment with an outdoor garden at the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock.

During the campaign, Bill Clinton felt that he was ignored by Hillary’s top advisers when he urged them to make the economy the centerpiece of her campaign.

He repeatedly urged them to connect with the people who had been left behind by the revolutions in technology and globalization.

‘Bill said that constantly attacking Trump for his defects made Hillary’s staff and the media happy, but that it wasn’t a message that resonated with voters, especially in the rust belt,’ the source explained.

‘Bill always campaigned as a guy who felt your pain, but Hillary came across as someone who was pissed off at her enemy [Trump], not someone who was reaching out and trying to make life better for the white working class.’

According to the source, Bill was severely critical of Hillary’s decision to reject an invitation to address a St. Patrick’s Day event at the University of Notre Dame.

Hillary’s campaign advisers nixed the idea on the grounds that white Catholics were not the audience she needed to reach.

Go here to read the rest.  The Hillary Clinton campaign was a monument to political malpractice.  Here are ten simple ways to lose a presidential election.  The Clinton campaign was guilty of each one of them.

  1. Campaign theme-Don’t have one.  Clinton’s theme was the vapid Stronger Together.  She might as well have been running on Apple Pie.  Trump’s campaign theme of Make America Great Again, tied in with his constant assertion that nothing works in America anymore.  That most people believe that something is deeply wrong with the country is borne out by the polls that constantly show most Americans believing that the country is on the wrong track.
  2. Ignore the Election Calendar-Americans routinely toss out the party in power after eight years.  Any member of the same party running after a two term president is going to have an uphill climb and should plan accordingly.
  3. Despise your Adversary-Ignore his strengths and concentrate on what a loathsome character he is in your eyes.
  4. Campaign Lackadaisically-Clinton, perhaps due to her health, often had one or two campaign events a day.  Trump would usually have four to five massive rallies all about the country.
  5. Identity Politics-Split the American people up into warring factions and cater to some of them.  Forget that other factions will almost always deeply resent this favoritism.
  6. Believe the Polls-If the polls show you ahead, relax and attempt to coast to victory.
  7. Enthusiasm-Ignore that your adversary has lots of it on his side and you have nil.  Assume that a good ground game can compensate for the fact that most of your voters view you, at best, as a typical pol.
  8. Economy-Pretending that the economy is good at a time when millions of workers have abandoned job searches as futile is a sure path to popularity on election day.
  9. Rely upon the Media-If the media is on your side relax, even if most voters view the media as unreliable.  The voters were probably just joking when they began repeating the old Soviet joke:  There is no truth in Pravda (Truth) and there is no news in Izvestia (News).
  10. Believe your own Hype-The handouts you give to the media should be accepted as Gospel Truth in campaign headquarters.  Yell good news to the rafters and ignore bad news.

 

 

 

 

Politically Correct Eat Their Own

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

 

This is too hilarious:

 

Several professors on Grounds collaborated to write a letter to University President Teresa Sullivan against the inclusion of a Thomas Jefferson quote in her post-election email Nov. 9.

In the email, Sullivan encouraged students to unite in the wake of contentious results, arguing that University students have the responsibility of creating the future they want for themselves.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,’” Sullivan said in the email. “I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.”

Some professors from the Psychology Department — and other academic departments — did not agree with the use of this quote. Their letter to Sullivan argued that in light of Jefferson’s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs, she should refrain from quoting Jefferson in email communications.

“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,” the letter read. “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

The letter garnered 469 signatures — from both students and professors — before being sent out via email Nov. 11. Signees included Politics Prof. Nicholas Winter, Psychology Prof. Chad Dodson, Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Corinne Field, College Assistant Dean Shilpa Davé, Politics Prof. Lynn Sanders and many more. Asst. Psychology Prof. Noelle Hurd drafted the letter. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Four Cardinals

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Four Cardinals wrote a letter to the Pope on September 19, 2016 asking for clarification in regard to portions of Amoris Laetitia.  Having received no response, the four Cardinals have gone public.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us the details:

ROME, November 14, 2016 – The letter and the five questions presented in their entirety further below have no need of much explanation. It is enough to read them. What is new is that the four cardinals who had them delivered to Francis last September 19, without receiving a reply, have decided to make them public with the encouragement of this very silence on the part of the pope, in order to “continue the reflection and the discussion” with “the whole people of God.”

They explain this in the foreword to the publication of the complete text. And one thinks right away of Matthew 18:16-17: “If your brother will not listen to you, take with you two or three witnesses. If then he will not listen even to them, tell it to the assembly.”

The “witness” in this case was Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Because he too, in addition to the pope, had been a recipient of the letter and the questions.

The five questions are in fact formulated as in the classic submissions to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Formulated, that is, in such a way that they can be responded to with a simple yes or no.

As a rule, the responses given by the congregation explicitly mention the approval of the pope. And in the routine audiences that Francis gave to the cardinal prefect after the delivery of the letter and the questions, it is a sure bet that the two talked about them.

But in point of fact the appeal from the four cardinals received no reply, neither from Cardinal Müller nor from the pope, evidently at the behest of the latter.

*

The four cardinals who signed this letter and are now making it public are not among those who a year ago, at the beginning of the second session of the synod on the family, delivered to Francis the famous letter “of the thirteen cardinals”:

> Thirteen Cardinals Have Written to the Pope. Here’s the Letter (12.10.2015)

The thirteen were all members of the synod and in full service in their respective dioceses. Or they held important positions in the curia, like cardinals Robert Sarah, George Pell, and Müller himself.

These four, however, while all are recognized for their authoritativeness, have no operational roles, either for reasons of age or because they have been dismissed.

And that makes them more free. It is no mystery, in fact, that their appeal has been and is shared by not a few other cardinals who are still fully active, as well as high-ranking bishops and archbishops of West and East, who however precisely because of this have decided to remain in the shadows.

In a few days, on November 19 and 20, the whole college of cardinals will meet in Rome, for the consistory convoked by Pope Francis. And inevitably the appeal of the four cardinals will become the subject of animated discussion among them.

The ebb and flow of history. It was at the consistory of February 2014 that Francis gave the go-ahead for the long trek that resulted in the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” when he entrusted to Cardinal Walter Kasper the opening talk, in support of communion for the divorced and remarried.

Right away at that consistory the controversy broke out with the greatest intensity. And it is the same one that divides the Church even more today, including at the highest levels, seeing how the unclear suggestions of “Amoris Laetitia” are being contradictorily interpreted and applied.

Kasper is German and, curiously, two of the cardinals who – on the side opposite his – have published the present appeal are also German, not to mention Cardinal Müller, who signed the letter “of the thirteen” and now has received this other no less explosive letter.

The division in the Church is there. And it conspicuously runs through precisely that Church of Germany which represents for many the most advanced point of change.

And Pope Francis remains silent.  Perhaps because he thinks that “oppositions help,” as he explained to his Jesuit confrere Antonio Spadaro in giving over for publication the anthology of his discourses as archbishop of Buenos Aires, which have been in bookstores for a few days.

Adding:

“Human life is structured in oppositional form. And that is also what is happening now in the Church. Tensions need not necessarily be resolved and regulated. They are not like contradictions.”

But that’s just the point. Here it is a matter of contradictions. Yes or no. These and no others are the fitting answers to the five questions of the four cardinals, on the crucial points of Church doctrine and life brought into question by “Amoris Laetitia.”

Now it’s their turn.

In addition to Italian, English, French, and Spanish, the whole document is also available in Portuguese and German translations:

> Criar clareza. Alguns nós por resolver em “Amoris laetitia” – Um apelo

> Klarheit schaffen. Ungelöste Knoten von “Amoris laetitia” – Ein Appell

Continue reading

A Hard Fought Presidential Election

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One hundred years ago the United States went through a presidential election that was hard fought and narrowly decided.  Woodrow Wilson, the only Democrat elected President since the Civil War, except for the two terms of Grover Cleveland, largely owed his election in 1912 to the Republican schism that caused Theodore Roosevelt to run as the candidate  of the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party, winning more votes than the Republican candidate President William Howard Taft, and ensuring victory for the Democrats.

The Republican Party standard bearer, Charles Evans Hughes, resigned from the Supreme Court to run.  A moderate, Hughes mollified and unified the Republican Party conservative and progressive factions.  This was underlined when Theodore Roosevelt declined the nomination of the Progressive Party, announcing his support for Hughes.  Wilson now faced a united Republican party.

The Democrats, ironically in light of subsequent developments centered their campaign around the slogan, “He kept us out of war.”  Hughes barnstormed the nation, as did Theodore Roosevelt who tirelessly campaigned for Hughes.  Hughes attacked increasing business regulation by the Wilson administration as an infringement on traditional American freedom.

Ultimately Wilson won on November 7, 1916, with a popular vote margin of 600,000 out of 17 and a half million votes cast, and an electoral vote count of 277-254. 266 electoral college votes were needed to win and the election was decided by California’s 13 electoral votes, which took several days to count, keeping the nation in suspense.  Less than four thousand votes, out of almost a million cast, constituted Wilson’s victory margin over Hughes. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Red Pope

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One Peter Five brings us the latest dropping from our Red Pope:

 

In yet another interview with Eugenio Scalfari (see our standard rebuttal to “you can’t trust Scalfari!” here), this exchange was reported to have taken place:

You told me some time ago that the precept, “Love your neighbour as thyself” had to change, given the dark times that we are going through, and become “more than thyself.” So you yearn for a society where equality dominates. This, as you know, is the programme of Marxist socialism and then of communism. Are you therefore thinking of a Marxist type of society?

It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom”. [emphasis added]

One of the most hotly contested criticism of Pope Francis is that he is ideologically aligned with Marxists. We’ve covered some of the connections before, so I won’t rehash them here. What seems fair to say is that this is the most direct admission yet that Francis identifies his program of social justice as something compatible with Communism – itself an intrinsic evil. Continue reading

Democrat Trifectas

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Political junkies refer to states where one party controls the legislature and the governorship as trifectas.  The Democrats have four states in which they have trifectas.  The Republicans have twenty-four such trifectas.

Schadenfreude: Doctor Feser Illustrates When it is Permissible

Language advisory as to the above video due to foul mouthed liberals.

Philosopher Edward Feser takes a look at schadenfreude:

 

Bill Vallicella asks: Is there a righteous form of schadenfreude?  The Angelic Doctor appears to answer in the affirmative.  Speaking of the knowledge that the blessed in heaven have of the damned, Aquinas famously says:

It is written (Psalm 57:11): “The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge”…

Therefore the blessed will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked…

A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways.  First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked.  Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy.  And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly.

End quote.  So, the idea is this: On the one hand, the suffering of a person is not as such something to rejoice in, for suffering, considered just by itself, is an evil and, as Aquinas goes on to say, “to rejoice in another’s evil as such belongs to hatred.”  However, there can be something “annexed” to the suffering which is a cause for rejoicing.  For example, if we are able to develop a virtue like patience by way of suffering, that is something to rejoice in, and thus in an indirect way the suffering can in that case legitimately be a cause of rejoicing.  But another sort of thing which can be annexed to a person’s suffering is justice, as when a person suffers some harm as a deserved punishment.  And someone’s getting his just deserts is in Aquinas’s view something to rejoice in.  Hence, Aquinas concludes, in an indirect way the suffering of the wicked can be something to rejoice in.

This is in Aquinas’s view true even when the suffering is eternal, if that is what is deserved.  Indeed, he judges that the joy of the blessed would be incomplete without knowledge of the infliction of these just deserts:

Wherefore in order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.

Now, that’s schadenfreude, big league.

Putting the question of hell to one side, though, we can note that if schadenfreude can be legitimate even in that case, then a fortiori it can be legitimate in the case of lesser instances of someone getting his just deserts, in this life rather than the afterlife.  For example – and to take the case Bill has in mind — suppose someone’s suffering is a consequence of anti-Catholic bigotry, brazen corruption, unbearable smugness, a sense of entitlement, groupthink, and in general from hubris virtually begging nemesis to pay a visit.  When you’re really asking for it, you can’t blame others for enjoying seeing you get it.  Continue reading

Prediction of Trump Victory Made on March 2, 2016

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(If faithful readers of the blog will permit me the indulgence of resurrecting this post from March 2 of this year.)

I’m not sold on the idea that Clinton is unbeatable, least of all by Trump who, when it comes to the Clintons’ variety of thermo-nuclear scorched earth politics, is the equivalent of a cockroach.

Ernst Schreiber

Hattip to commenter Ernst Schreiber for the idea behind this post.

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a strong opponent of Donald Trump.  I view him as an ignorant blowhard, a Democrat in a skimpy Republican disguise, and a disaster in the making of epic proportions if he should be elected President.  I will not vote for him if he is the Republican nominee, an easy call for me since if Illinois is in play Trump is heading for a landslide win in any case.  However, unlike many Trump critics my opposition to him does not have anything to do with his electability in the fall.  If Clinton is the Democrat nominee I think it likely that Trump will win.  Here is why.

1. Clinton Smear Machine-Unlike most candidates I think Trump is largely immune to smears.  Throughout his career he has been subject to a largely bad press.  Except for cannibalism and incest Trump has been charged with every crime imaginable and with some that truly do tax the imagination.  I doubt if there is much more that could be revealed to harm him.  Like Huey Long, the Kingfish of the Depression Era, he thrives on bad press and attacks.

2.  Colorful Career-As loathe as I am to admit it, there are elements in Trump’s career that will probably play well with the voters, including this incident, go here to read it, where Trump intervened to stop a violent mugging in progress.

3.  Wrong Clinton-I always said that Clinton had preternatural political skills, however that was Bill Clinton, who could probably have won an election after being discovered in bed with either a live boy or a dead girl.  His spouse on the other hand is a miserable politician who got beaten like a drum by Obama in 2008 and who has struggled to beat an elderly socialist this year.

4.  Empty Promises-Democrats have thrived over the years on making empty promises to voters with a straight face.  No one can out empty promise Donald The-Mexicans-Are-Going -To-Pay-For-The-Wall Trump!

5.  Outsider-This is clearly a year when the voters want an outsider.  Trump, the croniest capitalist, would seem to be the consummate insider, except when compared to Hillary Clinton.  In the primaries Trump has been able to paint himself as an outsider, and compared to Clinton it is not quite so laughable a claim.

6.  Scandals-Beltway pundits clearly underestimate public anger over Benghazi.  Tie that in with the e-mail crime scandal, and doubtless a lot of juicy tidbits being excavated by Trump’s opposition research, and Clinton will be on the receiving end of endless negative attack ads that would have bounced off her husband but likely will do damage to her.

7.  Jugular-Republicans frustrated by a too gentlemanly form of campaigning by their candidates will have nothing to complain about from Trump.  He will begin with throwing the kitchen sink against Clinton and proceed on from there. Continue reading

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