Donald R. McClarey
This seems to be tempting fate:
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican says it’s not taking any extra security measures to protect Pope Francis during his weekend trip to majority Muslim Albania despite reports of Islamic militants returning from the Mideast.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Monday that Francis would use the same open-topped vehicle he uses in St. Peter’s Square when he greets crowds in the poor Balkan nation Sunday. Vatican security officials are “calm” ahead of the 11-hour visit, he said.
Francis has said he wanted to visit Albania to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was brutally wiped out during communist rule, and to showcase how Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims are working together now to govern the country.
Italian news reports, citing unnamed sources, have said Albanian law enforcement had flagged to Interpol concerns that Muslim militants who trained in Iraq and Syria had returned and might pose a threat to Francis. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!”
Dr. Samuel Johnson
As faithful readers of this blog know, I am in favor of Scotland voting to break away from the UK. Go here to read my reasons why. I welcome Groundskeeper Willie to the cause, particularly because of his keen insight into the Scottish national character, as he demonstrates below in mentioning some of the mortal enemies of the Scots:
Update: Ah, PJ O’Rourke has joined the chorus calling for Scottish Independence:
This coming Thursday the Scots will vote on whether to make Scotland an independent nation. And I hope they do because it will be a disaster.
I don’t say this as a prejudiced Irishman. Even though the thistle-arse sheep-shagger Scots swiped Ulster and sent a herd of Presbyterian proddy dogs and porridge wogs to squat on our land and won the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 by using unfair—indeed, unheard of —- organization, discipline, and tactics on an Irish battlefield. We Micks only hold a grudge about such things for 300 years or so. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I wish I were more surprised by this:
CBS Sports rejected a 30-second ad consisting entirely of a little girl saying the Pledge of Allegiance, telling the sponsor simply that the ad was “too political” to air.
Windermere Real Estate/Tri-Cities owner Dave Retter says he thought the cute video showing his granddaughter saying the Pledge of Allegiance, shown after the anniversary of 9/11 and before the quintessentially American sport, a rodeo, would be part of the coverage of the Wrangler Champions Challenge rodeo, shown on September 14. Retter’s company was one of two companies sponsoring the broadcast of the rodeo.
The brief ad had no reference to any political party, simply consisting of a little girl with her hand over her heart reciting the pledge recited in schools across the country for decades and the words “…our future” preceding it. Despite the harmless nature and clearly positive intentions of the ad, CBS rejected it on grounds of being “too political.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Pat Archbold’s prediction at Creative Minority Report on the Synod on the family:
See, Cardinal Kasper’s speech was a full frontal assault on the teaching of marriage and as a result there was considerable public push back by many Cardinals and others. This is not how things are done. I actually believe that his speech was a strategic assault to test defenses. When introducing doctrine undermining change into the Church, the last thing you want is to be clear that is what you are doing. That is why I don’t expect the synod itself to be a disaster. Rather, I expect it to be like that nice crisp autumn night, the perfect sleeping weather, something so comfortable you fall asleep, even though it is a clear sign that winter is approaching.
Rather than a direct assault on marriage, I expect the opposite. What I expect is a nice flowery document re-stating the Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage. It will include language about the pastoral care of souls in troubled situations, but it will be generally orthodox. But at some point, whether this year or next, or in a post synodal document by the Pope, they will recommend the Bishops conferences to study and implement pastoral guidelines to help those in this situation.
No mandate, no direct assertions on what to do, but just a call for Bishop conferences to study the problem and implement pastoral practices in line with the synodal documents. That is when the horse will be permanently out of the barn.
The traditionally minded will scream bloody murder while the “everything is awesome” Catholics will only refer to the document of the synod as the mostest wonderfulist re-statement of Catholic teaching ever, ignoring what his happening on the ground.
In the meantime, the Vatican will move at a glacial pace to correct any abuses. After a few years, it will issue some weak document asking the Bishops not to abuse things. This document will be completely ignored in praxis and will only serve the purpose of throwing it in traditionalist faces when they complain about the obvious. You know the drill.
The contemporary left gives lip service to freedom of speech, but where they are in power they actively seek to ban the speech of those who disagree with them. We see this clearly on campuses where speech codes, anathema to any concept of freedom of speech, are the order of the day. It is no accident, as Marxists used to say, that representatives of the Democrat party are busily seeking to jettison the concept of free speech when it comes to elections. Kevin Williamson gives us the details at National Review Online:
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent is the lowest form of crime. If you are a drone in the hive of the Left, it is possible — easy, in fact — to believe both of those things at the same time.
Free speech just won an important victory in a federal courtroom, though it is shameful that the case ever even had to go to court. Ohio had enacted a plainly unconstitutional law that empowered a government panel to determine whether criticisms offered in political advertisements were sufficiently true to be permitted in the public discourse. Those who have followed the IRS scandal, the Travis County, Texas, prosecutorial scandals, or Harry Reid’s recent effort to repeal the First Amendment will not be surprised that this measure was used as a political weapon against a conservative group, in this case the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. SBA List criticized a Democratic House member for having voted for the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), noting that the law will implicate American taxpayers in the funding of abortions, an entanglement previously minimized through measures such as the Hyde Amendment. Despite the fact that the ACA regime would, among other things, permit federal subsidies for abortion-funding insurance plans, the Ohio Inquisition ruled the ad impermissible, and banned it.
Fortunately, an Obama appointee whose ability to read the letter of the law had not been utterly drummed out of him ruled that the Ohio Inquisition obviously violated longstanding free-speech protections, the First Amendment notable among them. Last week, a similar case in Minnesota came to a similar conclusion.
Democrats pushing the measure to repeal free speech pretend that it is a campaign-finance measure, but the only criteria it establishes for Congress to ban an advertisement — or a book, or a film, or a television show, or a magazine — is that money is expended in an attempt to influence a political outcome. Under those rules, the Ohio Inquisition’s successful move to ban billboards critical of an embattled Democratic congressman would have been totally acceptable under the provisions of a gutted First Amendment.
The Ohio Inquisition, and the Minnesota Inquisition, and Harry Reid’s war on the First Amendment are hardly isolated episodes. Consider that the same Texas prosecutor that has indicted Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts for the so-called crime of exercising his constitutional authority to veto a bill — a bill providing funds to that prosecutor’s office — is now preparing to indict University of Texas regent and whistleblower Wallace Hall, on charges of . . . hmm.
The charges against Mr. Hall are odd even by the standards of Rosemary Lehmberg, the vodka-pickled Texas prosecutor whose videotaped tirade after a DUI arrest — she threatened to have sheriff’s deputies jailed if she was not given special treatment — led to Governor Perry’s veto of funds for her office, on the theory that he could not in good conscience sign off on funding for an agency under such non-credible leadership. Mr. Hall is accused of leaking private information regarding academic records; short of that, prosecutors want to charge Mr. Hall with the crime of leading people to “speculate” about certain information protected by privacy rules. For the record, I should note that, though I never have spoken to the man, the party to whom Mr. Hall is accused of leaking information and whose speculation he is accused of encouraging is me. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
One of the more frustrating aspects of the current pontificate is the lack of information about Pope Francis prior to his pontificate, especially information about him as a man. DICI has put up an eye-opening interview about the Pope given by his niece:
In an interview posted at the Argentine website Tierras de América on August 12, 2014, the niece of Pope Francis, Maria Inés Narvaja, confides several observations about her uncle’s personality. She describes him as someone who is very attentive to the poorest of the poor. But, according to her, from a political perspective, Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not like labels. In looking at him, one might wonder “what side he is on. Certainly he cares a lot about social justice, but you never know whether he is on the left or the right,” she explained. “Maybe because theologically he is rather conservative, but pastorally he is rather progressive.” Another character trait that Maria Inés Narvaja emphasizes is Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s great discretion and his reluctance to speak about personal things, especially about his problems. “He is remarkably impenetrable,” she declares, adding that he is “very reserved”.
In this interview she also mentions her marriage, at first a civil marriage, with a man who was waiting for the declaration of nullity of his previous union by the ecclesiastical authorities. Four years later, she finally married in the Church. “During that whole period, he (my uncle) was a father to me and I am very grateful to him,” she explains. “He does not judge you, he will never tell you what you must do.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.
It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.
If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.
If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame.
If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.
If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.
If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in who are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.
Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
When home ties are loosened; when men and women cease to regard a worthy family life, with all its duties fully performed, and all its responsibilities lived up to, as the life best worth living; then evil days for the commonwealth are at hand. There are regions in our land, and classes of our population, where the birth rate has sunk below the death rate. Surely it should need no demonstration to show that wilful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement; a sin which is the more dreadful exactly in proportion as the men and women guilty thereof are in other respects, in character, and bodily and mental powers, those whom for the sake of the state it would be well to see the fathers and mothers of many healthy children, well brought up in homes made happy by their presence. No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.
Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message (State of the Union) to Congress (1906)
An interesting series beginning on PBS tonight: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. A seven part Ken Burns history marathon it will examine the lives of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Burns is a fairly strident liberal Democrat so it will be interesting to see if FDR and Eleanor are treated as plaster saints, or if we will sight any interesting analysis of those complex figures.
Theodore Roosevelt was a cousin of Franklin and an uncle to Eleanor. He loomed large over their lives, Theodore acting as conservator of the drunken, suicidal Elliott, his beloved black sheep brother, the father of Eleanor, and Franklin seeking to model himself and his career after his famous fifth cousin. Ironically, the contrasts between Theodore and Franklin are stark. Theodore’s brand of progressive Republicanism was rejected by his party, while Franklin was successful in remodeling the Democrat party into the embodiment of the progressive nostrums of his time. Theodore was an extremely moral man who exercised absolute fidelity to his two wives, his first wife having died on the same day as his mother. Franklin Roosevelt was a precursor of such bounders as JFK, LBJ and Bill Clinton who exercised the moral probity of low rent Casanovas. Theodore Roosevelt, a man made to be a war president, was president in a time of profound peace for the nation; FDR achieved his lasting fame as commander in chief during World War II. Theodore’s political career ended in defeat in 1912, the Grim Reaper preventing a possible resurgence in 1920, Roosevelt having mended political fences with the Republican Party by his constant criticism of Wilson during World War I. FDR knew unprecedented political success as President, setting the dangerous precedent of being elected four times to the office, and only the Grim Reaper ending his grip on the White House. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Microaggressions Klavan? I think this is a new term for thin skinned nitwits who do not have real problems in their life to be upset about. Go here for some additional examples. My personal favorite:
A Facebook friend posted a picture of a PSA billboard encouraging parents to teach young boys to be respectful of women and the friend added her observation, as a teacher, that young men will meet such expectations if placed before them.
A male commenter added, “And the same can be said for young girls, when they are expected to act like ladies.” Made me feel defensive and unsafe, as though I only deserve respect if I adhere to a strict behavioral code that meets some dude’s definition of a “lady”. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Yonkers, NY––Blake Jennings, lead guitarist at St. Therese Parish in Yonkers, New York is outraged over what he calls “years of concerts being interrupted by the Mass.” The 56-year-old accountant and father of three has played with his band at the 9:30 Folk Mass since 2009. “Our fans love us,” Jennings said, after Sunday Mass. “You can see it in their eyes…the way they droop down, lazily closing as we play…as if they’re entering into some kind of ecstasy. Or the way some in the parish are so moved they just can’t stand another moment of joy, and simply walk out…presumably to get some air.” But according to Jennings, many in the band have been becoming ever frustrated with the frequent interruptions to their concerts. “Father’s always interrupting…always trying to upstage us. First it’s a gospel, then a homily, eventually the words of consecration…there’s always something with this guy.” Jennings has recently begun a petition, and hopes to get 2,000 signatures to send to the diocese. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The Star-Spangled Banner. Two centuries ago America was going through rough times. Engaged in a War with Great Britain, Washington DC had been burned on August 24, symbolic of a war that seemed to be turning against the United States. With the fall of Napoleon in April of 1814, the British were now free to punish the upstart Yankees who had dared challenge Great Britain. Now the British were preparing to seize the port of Baltimore with a force of 5,000 troops and 19 warships.
British plans began to go awry from the outset. At the battle of North Point on September 12, 3200 Maryland militia gave a good account of themselves against 4,000 British regulars inflicting 350 casualties for slightly fewer American casulaties, and retreated in good order to the fortified line around Baltimore. Among the British killed was the commander Major General Robert Ross, a peninsular veteran of Wellington’s army, shot down by American riflemen.
On September 13, the British, now commanded by Colonel Arthur Brooke, approached Baltimore. Estimating that the Baltimore defenses were held by 22,000 militia and 100 cannon, Brooke was unable to launch an attack unless the British fleet could enter Baltimore Harbor to beat down the American defenses by naval bombardment. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
What was formerly known as the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City continues to demonstrate that tolerance these days is most definitely a one way street:
A conservative Roman Catholic group severed its 20-year ties with the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Thursday, a week after event organizers took the unprecedented step of allowing a gay group to march under its own banner in the procession.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said it pulled out of the March 2015 event because the parade committee denied an anti-abortion group from marching with banners while bending its rules to allow the gay group to do so, League President Bill Donohue said in a statement.
“For the past two decades I have been the parade’s most vocal defender of its rules,” Donohue said. “Repeatedly, I have said that gays have no more been banned from marching than pro-life Catholics have.”
The organizers have said the parade, the largest in the nation, is open to all marchers. But gay and anti-abortion groups had been prohibited from displaying their own banners, pins or other signs with their affiliations. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.
Harry Truman, Diary entry-July 25, 1945
A bit late for the annual Saint Blog’s August Bomb Follies, but here is a new Prager University video by Father Wilson Miscamble defending Harry Truman’s decision to use the atomic bombs to bring World War II to a rapid conclusion. I will repeat here what I wrote back on July 24, 2012 after Father Miscamble made an earlier video on the subject:
Getting the annual Saint Blogs August Bomb Follies off to an early start. Father Wilson Miscamble, Professor of History at Notre Dame, and long a champion of the pro-life cause, defends the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the video above. The video is a summary of the conclusions reached by Father Miscamble in his recent book, The Most Controversial Decision. Go here to read a review of the book by British military historian Andrew Roberts. Go here to read a review of the book by Father Michael P. Orsi. Go here to read a review by Michael Novak.
I echo the conclusions of Father Wilson Miscamble and appreciate his heroic efforts to clear up the bad history and inane American self-flagellation that has distorted a very straight-forward historical event. I also appreciate his willingness to take the heat that his position has caused him. Go here to read his response to a critique by Professor Christopher Tollefsen. This portion of his response is something I have noted in regard to many critics of Truman, an unwillingness to address the consequences of not dropping the bombs:
It is when one turns to alternate courses of action that the abstract nature of Tollefsen’s criticisms becomes apparent. He criticizes Truman’s actions as immoral but offers no serious proposal regarding a viable alternative. Elizabeth Anscombe had naively suggested that Truman alter the terms of surrender, but such an approach only would have strengthened the hand of the Japanese militarists and confirmed their suicidal strategy. Tollefsen concedes that “it might well be true that greater suffering would have resulted from a refusal to use the atomic weapons in Japan,” but he backs away from any genuine discussion of what Truman should have done and of what that “greater suffering” might have involved. He provides no evidence that he has considered this matter at all. But should philosophers be able to avoid outlining what they would have done in the demanding circumstances that Truman confronted? I have always thought that moral reflection wrestles with the awful and painful realities. Tollefsen seems to want to stand above the fray, to pronounce Truman’s actions as deeply immoral and to leave it at that. It would have brought greater clarity to this discussion if he had confronted the alternatives seriously.
If Tollefsen were to engage the military issues involved in the war in the Pacific, I suspect he would be forced to raise further objections to the American military practices pursued well before the Enola Gay flew toward Hiroshima. Take as but one example the early 1945 Battle for Manila, in which approximately one hundred thousand Filipino civilians were killed. Some were killed by the Japanese, but many of this large number were killed by aggressive American air and artillery bombardments used, without particular regard for civilian casualties, as the American forces sought to dislodge an established enemy that refused to surrender. These harsh tactics could not meet Tollefsen’s criteria with regard to means. Given his unbending approach on moral absolutes, I assume he would condemn the action; but just what military means would he support in trying to defeat a foe that considered surrender the ultimate disgrace and who fought accordingly? Similarly, Tollefsen could hardly approve of the military force utilized in the taking of Okinawa and the high number of civilian casualties that resulted.
I suspect that Professor Tollefsen would be willing to say that it would be better to do absolutely nothing and to live with the consequences, if I may use that word, than to use morally questionable tactics. But the decision not to act undoubtedly would have incurred terrible consequences. Surely such inaction would carry some burden of responsibility for the prolongation of the killing of innocents throughout Asia, in the charnel house of the Japanese Empire. Is it really “moral” to stand aside, maintaining one’s supposed moral purity, while a vast slaughter is occurring at the rate of over two hundred thousand deaths a month? Isn’t there a terrible dilemma here, namely, which innocent lives to save? Would Tollefsen really have rested at peace with the long-term Japanese domination of Asia? Would that be a pro-life position?
Let me confess that I would prefer that my position had the clarity of Professor Tollefsen’s. It is a large concession to admit that Truman’s action was the “least evil.” Arguing that it was the least-harmful option open to him will hardly be persuasive to those who see everything in a sharp black-and-white focus. Yet this is how I see it. If someone can present to me a viable and more “moral way” to have defeated the Japanese and ended World War II, I will change my position. I suppose my position here has some resonance with my support for the policy of deterrence during the Cold War. I could recognize the moral flaws in the strategy but still I found it the best of the available options, and the alternatives were markedly worse. Interestingly, I think the author of Veritatis Splendor thought the same thing and he conveyed that view to the American bishops as they wrote their peace pastoral letter.
I trust that my pro-life credentials will not be questioned because I refuse to denounce Truman as a “mass-murderer.” Unlike Tollefsen, I do not think that my position initiates the unraveling of the entire pro-life garment. I believe Truman pursued the least-harmful course of action available to him to end a ghastly war, a course that resulted in the least loss of life.
Harry Truman knew that if he ordered the dropping of the bombs, a very large number of Japanese civilians would be killed. He also knew that if he did not drop the bombs it was virtually certain that a far larger number of civilians, Allied, in territory occupied by Japan, as well as Japanese, would be killed, as a result of the war grinding on until the war ceased due to an invasion of Japan, continued massive conventional bombing of Japan, or a continuation of the blockade which would result in mass famine in Japan. He also knew that an invasion of Japan would have led to massive, almost unthinkable, US military casualties, to add to the 416,000 US deaths and 670,000 US wounded that World War II had already cost. The morality of Truman’s dropping of the bombs has been a subject of debate since 1945. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the practical and moral consequences of Truman failing to act. Father Miscamble is to be congratulated for examining this facet of Truman’s Dilemma. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
A possible positive sign for the Synod on the Family. One of the usual suspects, Father Thomas Reese, who was editor of America until he got bounced under pressure from the Vatican in 2005, has a gloomy assessment, from his heterodox point of view, at The National Catholic Reporter, of the upcoming synod:
The list of those attending the Synod of Bishops on the family is a disappointment to those hoping for reform of the Curia and for those who hope that the laity will be heard at the synod.
The appointment of 25 curial officials to the synod on the family is a sign that Pope Francis still does not understand what real reform of the Roman Curia requires. It makes me fear that when all is said and done, he may close or merge some offices, rearrange some responsibilities, but not really shake things up.
According to current law, moto proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo, an extraordinary synod is made up of major episcopal leaders of the Eastern Catholic churches, presidents of episcopal conferences, and three religious chosen by the Union of Superiors General. It also states, “The cardinals who head offices of the Roman Curia will also attend.” The pope may also appoint additional bishops and clerical and lay observers.
Having curial officials as members of a synod fails to recognize that they should be staff, not policymakers. They could attend the synod as staff but should not be voting members. For the most part, they should be observers and not speakers. They have all the other weeks of the year to advise the pope. This is the time for bishops from outside of Rome to make their views known.
If Francis and the Council of Cardinals is not willing to change the makeup of the Synod of Bishops, it is hard to believe they will really fix the Roman Curia. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Francis Scott Key set his poem The Defense of Fort McHenry, which became The Star Spangled Banner, to the tune of the English song To Anacreon In Heaven. This was not the first of his poems he had done this to. The first was his composition When the Warrior Returns which he wrote in 1805 in honor of heroes of the First Barbary Pirates war. Here is the text of the poem: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading