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.

Terri Schiavo Was Unavailable For Comment



Dr. Peter Saunders wrote

The Sunday Times today tells the story of Martin Pistorius, a South African man who ended up paralyzed and comatose following a throat infection at the age of 12. His awareness began to improve four years later and by the age of 19 had fully returned.

However it was a further five years before a therapist noticed that he was trying to communicate. The penny eventually dropped that he had been aware of everything going on around him for almost ten years whilst everybody had assumed he was unconscious.

As the opening question in what NPR says is a new program on human behavior called “Invisibila” [“how invisible things shape our behavior and our lives”], Lulu Miller asks

What would you do if you were locked in your body, your brain intact but with no way to communicate? How do you survive emotionally when you are invisible to everyone you know and love?

Miller writes in more detail, but the picture of Martin’s early years is grimly the same. In the late 1980s, at age 12 he came down with a mysterious disease which got progressively worse (the best guess doctors could make was cryptococcal meningitis). Interestingly, Miller never uses what came to be the final diagnosis: locked-in syndrome

Eventually he lost even his ability to make eye contact and finally his capacity to speak. His parents were told to take him home to prepare for his death, but Martin did not die.

His parents’ steadfast commitment to his care is remarkable. For example, his dad, Rodney, got up at the crack of dawn, Miller writes, and would

get him dressed, load him in the car, take him to the special care center where he’d leave him.

“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney says.

That was their lives, for 12 years

Still Miller does not paint Martin’s parents as some sort of plaster saints. Joan Miller, not thinking her son was “there” to could hear her,

vividly remembers looking at Martin one day and saying: “‘I hope you die.’ I know that’s a horrible thing to say,” she says now. “I just wanted some sort of relief.”

What she couldn’t know of her boy who “just kept going, just kept going,” was that the now-39-year-old Martin heard her perfectly, not from the beginning of his “vegetative” state, but from about two years later when he was around 14. Continue reading

The Critics of Pope Francis Are Not the Problem


One of the interesting features of Saint Blogs as of late is the near hysterical reaction in some quarters to any criticism of Pope Francis.  Even a cursory study of Catholic history reveals that criticism of Popes by faithful Catholics goes back to Saint Peter.  Yet, somehow, criticism of this Pope is verboten in the eyes of some bloggers.  (Mark Shea, that is your cue:)

The stinking, sweaty, panic-stricken hatred of the pope from the kind of “faithful conservative” Catholicism represented by Maureen Mullarkey is getting more and more palpable–and respectable among the increasingly deranged right wing.  This was not written on a bathroom wall where it belongs.  It was not published on some blog published from Ignatius Reilly’s basement.  This was published by First Freakin’ Things.

The object of Mark’s ire was a blog post on First Things by Maureen Mullarkey.  Go here to read it.  Criticism like Shea’s caused the editor of First Things to disavow the blog post.  Go here to read his comments.

The hilarious thing about this episode is that, in the age of the internet, bloggers like Shea think they can stifle critics of the Pope.  It can’t be done, and it is futile to attempt to do so.  Besides, silencing of the critics, even if by some miracle it could be accomplished, would not alleviate the underlying problems that give rise to the criticisms.  Steve Skojec at One Peter Five understands this: Continue reading

PopeWatch: Deviant Forms of Religion



“Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment. Truly, if the Hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who stir up sedition in the City, desist not, We shall certainly stir thee up against them: Then will they not be able to stay in it as thy neighbours for any length of time: They shall have a curse on them: whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain (without mercy).”

Quran 33:57–61

Pope Francis believes that he understands what motivated the terrorists who slew twelve in Paris last week:

Pope Francis on Monday denounced the religious fundamentalism that inspired the Paris massacres and ongoing Mideast conflicts, saying the attackers were enslaved by “deviant forms of religion” that used God as a mere ideological pretext to perpetuate mass killings.

In his annual foreign policy address to Vatican-based ambassadors, Francis called for a unanimous response from the international community to end “fundamentalist terrorism” in the Mideast. And he called for Muslim leaders in particular to condemn “extremist interpretations” of their faith that seek to justify such violence.

Francis said the Paris attacks were the result of a “throwaway culture” in which human beings and even God are rejected outright. Referring to the “tragic slayings” in Paris, Francis said those responsible had become “enslaved” by new fads and “deviant forms of religion.”

“Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext,” he said. Continue reading

The Stilwell Road and Merrill’s Mauraders

Released in 1945, The Stilwell Road, narrated by Ronald Reagan while he was a Captain in the Army Air Corps, tells the story of the forgotten theater of the War, the China-Burma-India theater where the Allies, fighting over some of the most rugged terrain on Earth, wrested victory from the Japanese.  The Stilwell Road refers to a section of the Burma Road by which Nationalist China was supplied by the United States and Great Britain during the War.

The unit known as Merrill’s Marauders is mentioned in the film.  Officially designated by the uninspiring title of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the press tagged them as Merrill’s Marauders and thus they have come down through history. 3000 volunteers, most of them veterans of the fighting in the Pacific, including some veterans who volunteered from military stockades and who were known as The Dead End Kids, the Marauders were organized to fight behind Japanese lines.  Led by Brigadier General Frank Merrill, the Marauders were trained in the deep penetration tactics supported by air drops pioneered by British General Orde Wingate, with Merrill throwing in some American touches, for example the importance of marksmanship, as old as Roger’s Rangers, wilderness fighters of the French and Indian War, famed for their long distance raids. Continue reading

Pope Francis Democrat?

Pope Francis Democrat


Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat state senator in Pennsylvania, in Politico talks up his old friend Martin O’Malley, soon to be the former Governor of Maryland, as the Democrat standard bearer in 2016 and hails him as a “Pope Francis Democrat”:


But, as one who has watched O’Malley up close during his years as governor, I find him more interesting and unusual in the modern Democratic Party. He’s a social justice Catholic—or, as some have called him, a Pope Francis Democrat—in the tradition of Mario Cuomo and Robert Kennedy. 

Consider O’Malley’s outspoken leadership last summer on the crisis of refugee children on America’s border with Mexico. When demagogues claimed that frightened ten year olds from El Salvador are a threat to our way of life, O’Malley asked Americans to remember the biblical injunction of hospitality to strangers and protection of children. He brought together faith leaders in Maryland to find the right refuges for young refugees in his own state. According to the federal government, more than 2,200 of these children have found refuge in Maryland. 

That’s the Martin O’Malley I know — acting on the values he learned from his family, from his Jesuit high school teachers, and from his college years at the Catholic University. And acting with the leadership skills of an Irish Catholic Democrat he learned in seven years as mayor of Baltimore and eight years as governor of Maryland. 

Today, Maryland is first in median family income, a top three state in income mobility, and first in K-12 education and boosting college affordability five years in a row. And Maryland is one of only nineteen states to recover all the jobs lost in the Great Recession. That’s change working families can take to the bank. 

O’Malley didn’t do this all by himself. But, with his Catholic social justice values and Irish political skills, he’s led Maryland’s progress for the past eight years. These are the traits he brings to the national stage. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Is He Pope?






Throughout the history of the Church, whenever a Pope proves less than congenial to groups within the Church, often times the argument is eventually made that the Pope has been invalidly elected and is not therefore Pope.  PopeWatch thinks that Catholics on the wrong side of a Pope find this thought comforting.  They are not in disagreement with Peter, because the present incumbent is not a true Pope.  Popewatch finds these arguments on an intellectual par with those who contend that some amendment to the Constitution is not valid because of an alleged infirmity in the process.  It is a disagreement over substance masquerading as a procedural argument.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has comments by a Canon Law Professor, Geraldina Boni, regarding the election of Pope Francis:
I would like to add a few strictly canonistic remarks on a question that has been the object of extensive attention, above all on the web.

I observe that the journalist Elisabetta Piqué, in the book “Francis. Life and revolution,” reported concerning the election of Pope Francis (and this leak is said to have been confirmed by several cardinals):

“After the voting and before the reading of the ballots, the cardinal scrutineer, who first of all mixes up the sheets placed in the ballot box, realizes that there is one too many: there are 116 and not 115 as there should be. It seems that, by mistake, one of the cardinals has placed two sheets in the box: one with the name of his choice and one blank, which had stuck to the first one. These things happen. It can’t be helped, this round of voting is immediately cancelled, the sheets will be burned later without having been seen, and a sixth round of voting will come next.”

It is not worth it to dwell over the conjectures that unfailingly follow the conclusion of every conclave, based on presumed revelations on the part of subjects bound to strict secrecy. In any case, on the basis of this report Antonio Socci, in the volume “He is not Francis. The Church in the great storm,” has backed the idea of the nullity of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election. […]

Even supposing that the electoral operations took place as they are depicted, Socci’s reconstruction has no juridical foundation.

According to paragraph no. 65 of John Paul II’s apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis,” which regulates the conclave, the ballot must be rectangular in form and must bear on the top half, printed if possible, the words “Eligo in summum pontificem,” while the bottom half must leave room to write the name of the candidate. So the ballot is made in such a way that it can be folded in two. The compilation of the ballot must be done secretly by each cardinal elector, who must write clearly, in handwriting as unrecognizable as possible, the name of the one he chooses, taking care not to write more than one name as in this case the vote would be nullified, and then fold the ballot twice. It therefore appears (and from other instructions of the aforementioned apostolic constitution as well) that the ballots are not placed within an envelope, but are simply folded.

According to no. 66, then, the scrutiny includes: 1. the placement of the ballots in the box provided; 2. the mixing and counting of these; 3. the tally of the votes. It is therefore absolutely plausible that it was precisely at the moment of counting and not of the tally (as attested to by Piqué, who moreover is held to be perfectly credible by Socci) that the hands of the scrutineer encountered the two ballots, the only ones that were actually opened – but not obviously perforated – with the confirmation of a blank ballot inadvertently attached to the one marked with the name.

It was therefore entirely correct to apply scrupulously to the letter no. 68 of the constitution [which prescribes that “If the number of ballots does not correspond to the number of electors, the ballots must all be burned and a second vote taken at once”]. Moreover, no. 5 of the same constitution explicitly rules out the possibility of interpreting the act of election, requiring the norms to be applied just as they appear. Even if the scrutineer opened those two ballots with the reasonable intention of confirming the accidental attachment of a blank sheet to a marked one, this would certainly not constitute a problematic irregularity, nor would it turn the counting phase into that of the tally, each of these being disciplined by its own norms guided by specific “rationes.” […]

It is only after the counting that one must move on to no. 69 [the tallying of the ballots]: it is undeniable how the additional ballot that slipped through the counting phase and went on to that of the tally was in any case due, intentionally or not, to a single cardinal, and an extra ballot is always, apart from the person to whom it can be attributed, an irregularity. But if such an irregularity, according the norms of John Paul II, is always problematic in the preliminary phase of the counting (no. 68), it is no longer so in that of the tally, in particular when the ballots are folded in such a way as to appear to have been compiled by a single elector. […]

Even if it is true that the scenario that took place during the conclave of 2013, at the moment of the counting, meaning that of two ballots folded together, partially corresponds to the one considered in no. 69 that regulates the tally, this does not mean that one can apply a norm set down for another phase of the electoral procedure (and with another “ratio”). It is precisely the rigidity of the apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” (emphasized by Socci himself), enhanced when it comes to the act of election – cf. the aforementioned no. 5 – that categorically excludes it. If on the contrary no. 69 were improperly applied, violating the obligation to adhere to what no. 68 rigorously imposes, this could possibly create a problem of the validity of an election.

So since no. 68 was applied completely legitimately, from the juridical point of view this fourth round the voting is incontestably “tamquam non esset,” and it was not to be included and numbered among those that actually took place that day, meaning juridically valid and complete, arriving at the point of the tally. This also eliminates the objection that the maximum number of four rounds of voting per day was exceeded. […]

Nor is it idle to point out that the constitution of John Paul II does not sanction even a simoniac election with invalidity. […] And neither does it do so if the election is the result of pacts, agreements, promises, or other commitments of any kind between cardinals (see the other conjecture of a team of four cardinals thought to have planned Bergoglio’s election as advanced recently by Austen Ivereigh in the book “The Great Reformer. Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope”).

Antonio Socci finally argues: “Even if only one doubtful judgment were to be expressed about the validity of the procedures followed that March 13, 2013, it can be maintained that the conclave must be redone because doctrine teaches that ‘dubius papa habetur pro non papa’ (a dubious pope is to be considered as not a pope), as the great Jesuit cardinal and doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine writes in the treatise ‘De conciliis et ecclesia militante.’”

On the contrary, even if it really happened as depicted, the procedure followed, as has been shown, would have been entirely “ad normam iuris.” The election of Pope Francis, having reached the stipulated majority at the fifth scrutiny (the first, of course, took place on May 12), would be valid, there would be nothing to “correct,” there would be no doubt, much less “positive” and “insoluble” (as the law postulates), over its validity.

Given the complete lack of juridical foundation for such suppositions, even if the information on which they are based is to be given credit, there also disappears the bugaboo – recklessly agitated – of the current occupancy of the chair of Peter by a dubious pope. In any case, canon law has constantly and unanimously taught that the “pacifica universalis ecclesiae adhaesio” is an infallible sign and effect of a valid election and of a legitimate papacy. And the adherence of the people of God to Pope Francis can in no way be brought into doubt. Continue reading

January 12, 1865: Davis Note to Blair

Lincoln v. Davis


Go here to read about the peace initiative of Francis P. Blair who travelled to Richmond to meet with President Davis.

Jefferson Davis was a very shrewd man, much shrewder I think than most historians have given him credit for being.  He realized that little could be expected from negotiations with Lincoln because Lincoln would never agree to Confederate independence, the one non-negotiable issue as far as both Lincoln and Davis were concerned.  Additionally, he regarded a joint Union Confederate war against the French in Mexico, the core of the Blair initiative,  to be a fairly bizarre proposal.  However, he was eager to negotiate.  The Confederate military situation was beyond dire.  If the negotiations led to Confederate independence, victory would be snatched at the last instant.  If, as Davis expected, the negotiations led to nothing, he could tell his people that he had attempted negotiations and the Union would not negotiate in good faith, and all that remained was a last ditch struggle to secure on the battlefield what the North would never concede on the negotiating table.   Here is the note that he gave to Blair to take back to Lincoln:  Continue reading

The Wile E. Coyote of Liberal Catholic Pundits



Among the born again ultramontanists so much in fashion on the Catholic Left in this country since the advent of Pope Francis, is Michael Winters of the National Catholic Fishwrap Reporter.  Robert George has designated him the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal Catholicism in a root and branch take down at First Things:

For reasons I cannot fathom, Michael Winters of the National Catholic Reporter seems determined to cast himself as the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal Catholicism. His elaborate efforts to capture his prey—his roadrunners are those “culture warrior” bishops (such as Charles Chaput of Philadelphia) and Catholic intellectuals who are too zealous for his taste in defending the Church’s teachings on life, marriage, and sexual morality—inevitably backfire, usually comically and sometimes humiliatingly. But he intrepidly keeps at it, hoping against hope, I suppose, that his next effort will finally bring success.

Earlier this week, I was the roadrunner, as from time to time I am. I had offered four points to bear in mind about the teaching authority of the papal magisterium as we await the encyclical letter Pope Francis is preparing on our moral obligations concerning the natural environment. They were drawn from the teaching of the Church herself (in Lumen Gentium and the Catechism) about magisterial authority. But Wile E. Coyote perceived in my stating them a nefarious purpose:

Professor George . . . set[s] out a nearly pitch-perfect set of talking points for minimizing the impact of whatever it is the Holy Father will say, that is, advancing his own conservative political agenda.

And, he thinks, he can prove it!

He quotes this sentence from my post:

The pope has no special knowledge, insight, or teaching authority pertaining to matters of empirical fact of the sort investigated by, for example, physicists and biologists, nor do popes claim such knowledge, insight, or authority.

Now anyone who knows anything about Catholic teaching on papal authority knows that this proposition is, not to put too fine a point on it, undeniable. If the pope wants to know whether it is going to rain tomorrow, he has no hotline to the Holy Spirit on the subject. Weather patterns are (to hew closer to the Church’s understanding of its authority) no part of the deposit of faith, complete at the death of the last Apostle, which the Pope and the bishops with him are protected from error in formally defining and clarifying over time. When it comes to meteorology, the pope has to do what you and I and everyone else must do: Consult the meteorologists. 

But Wile E. Coyote nevertheless thinks he’s finally got the prey in his grip. So he goes for it.

The sentence, he labors to explain, “suffers from several difficulties. First, the pope does have knowledge that you and I do not have, and that I suspect Professor George does not have: He listens to the bishops throughout the world and knows what concerns they have regarding the environment and other matters of moral concern.”

Let’s hit the pause button for a chuckle. I had pointed out that popes have no special knowledge regarding matters of empirical fact of the sort investigated by natural scientists. Mr. Winters tries to contest the point by saying that popes “listen to the bishops throughout the world and know what concerns they have regarding the environment and other matters of moral concern.” Thus does Wile E. Coyote’s explosive go off in his hand. Continue reading

Homily of Pope Benedict on the Baptism of the Lord


From 2013:

Dear brothers and sisters!
The joy arising from the celebration of Christmas finds its completion today in the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. To this joy is added another reason for those of us who are gathered here: in the Sacrament of Baptism that will soon be administered to these infants, the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested, enriching the Church with new children, enlivening and making them grow, and we cannot help but rejoice. I wish to extend a special greeting to you, dear parents and godparents, who today bear witness to your faith by requesting Baptism for these children, because they are regenerated to new life in Christ and become part of the community of believers.

The Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism, which we have heard today according to St Luke’s account, shows the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to adhere to the plan of the Father, to be obedient to His loving will for mankind in all things, even to the sacrifice on the Cross. Having reached adulthood, Jesus begins His public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive from John the baptism of repentance and conversion. What happens may appear paradoxical to our eyes. Does Jesus need repentance and conversion? Of course not. Yet He Who is without sin is placed among the sinners to be baptized, to fulfil this act of repentance; the Holy One of God joins those who recognize in themselves the need for forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion – that is, the grace to turn to Him with their whole heart, to be totally His. Jesus wills to put Himself on the side of sinners, by being in solidarity with them, expressing the nearness of God. Jesus shows solidarity with us, with our effort to convert, to leave behind our selfishness, to detach ourselves from our sins, saying to us that if we accept Him into our lives, He is able to raise us up and lead us the heights of God the Father. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to speak, a mere exercise of the mind and will. Jesus was really immersed in our human condition; He lived it to the utmost – although without sin – and in such a way that He understands weakness and fragility. Therefore He is moved to compassion; He chooses to “suffer with” men, to be penitent together with us. This is the work of God that Jesus wishes to accomplish: the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and to cure those who are sick, to take upon Himself the sin of the world.
What happens at the moment when Jesus was baptized by John? In the face of this humble act of love on the part of the Son of God, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit is visibly manifested in the form of a dove, while a voice from on high expresses the pleasure of the Father, Who recognizes the Only-begotten Son, the Beloved. It is a true manifestation of the Holy Trinity, which gives testimony to the divinity of Jesus, to His being the promised Messiah, the One whom God has sent to free His people, so that His people might be saved (cf. Is 40, 2). Thus is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in the first reading: the Lord God comes with power to destroy the works of sin and His arm exercises dominion to disarm the Evil one; but keep in mind that this arm is the arm extended on the Cross, and the power of Christ is the power of the One who suffers for us: this is the power of God, differing from the power of the world. Thus God comes in power to destroy sin. Jesus truly acts as the good shepherd, that feeds His flock and gathers it together so that it will not be scattered (cf. Is 40, 10-11), and offers His own life that it might live. It is through His redemptive death that man is freed from the dominion of sin and reconciled with the Father; and through His resurrection that man is saved from eternal death and is made victorious over the Evil one.
Dear brothers and sisters, what happens in Baptism, which will soon be administered to your children? What happens is this: they will be united in a profound way and forever with Jesus, immersed in the mystery of His power, that is, in the mystery of His death, which is the source of life, in order to share in His resurrection, to be reborn to new life. See the miracle that is repeated today for your children: receiving baptism, they are reborn as children of God, partakers of the filial relationship that Jesus has with the Father, able to turn to God and call upon Him with full trust and confidence: “Abba, Father!” On your children, too, the heavens are opened, and God says: “these are my children, with whom I am well pleased.” Inserted into this relationship and freed from original sin, they become living members of the unique body which is the Church, and are enabled to live fully their vocation to holiness, so as to inherit eternal life, obtained for us by the resurrection of Jesus. Continue reading

January 11, 1865: Mission to Richmond


Francis P. Blair


Francis P. Blair, patriarch of the politically powerful Blair family of Missouri, had spent virtually all of his life politically well-connected.  In the 1820’s he had been an ardent supporter of Andrew Jackson.  He had taken over the failing paper The Washington Globe, and transformed it into a political powerhouse, the chief organ of the Democrat Party.  From the wealth he amassed as a result, he built his Blair House in Washington, and made it a site for the powerful to dance attendance upon him, in search of advice and the use of Blair’s immense influence.  In spite of owning slaves himself, in the 1840s he became convinced that the expansion of slavery into new territories had to cease.  In the 1850’s he was instrumental in the foundation of the Republican Party and he became a supporter of Lincoln.  With his son Montgomery Blair as Postmaster General, and his son Frank as Congressman and Union general, along with the immense influence he had not only in Missouri but also in Maryland, when Blair spoke Lincoln listened. Continue reading

Ferrara v. Shea



Break out the popcorn!  The latest in the longstanding Ferrara v. Shea feud:



The “Francis effect” appears to be driving Mark Shea over the edge as he doggedly stays the neo-Catholic course of defending the indefensible no matter how indefensible it becomes. Given a Pope who has just cooperated with the Abortion President to sell out the oppressed Catholics of Cuba, with thanks from both Obama and Cuba’s communist dictator, and who approved a synodal document calling for appreciation of the “positive elements” in concubinage and “valuing” the “orientation” and the “gifts and qualities” of “homosexual persons,” Shea is now faced with a growing army of messengers that have to be shot, including a few cardinals and bishops.

Shea is beside himself over a searing critique of this pontificate by Maureen Mullarkey that appeared in—oh the horror!—First Things. He cannot believe it: “This was not written on a bathroom wall where it belongs.  It was not published on some blog published from Ignatius Reilly’s basement.  This was published by First Freakin’ Things.” Yes, First Freakin’ Things, the preeminent journal of “moderate” Catholic opinion that could never be accused of “rad trad” leanings.A bewildered Shea wants to know: “First Things: What happened to you guys?” Francis happened, that’s what. Now, if Shea were a reasonable man he would recognize that there just might be a serious problem with this pontificate when even First Things begins voicing objections to such elements of the Bergoglian program as “his clumsy intrusion into the Middle East and covert collusion with Obama over Cuba” and his “sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements”—a reference to Francis posing between two environmental activists while holding an anti-fracking T-shirt.

Continue reading

PopeWatch: A Big Raffle



From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

As spiritual leader of over 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis has received hundreds of gifts from devotees and world leaders since his election in 2013. But now Pope Francis is cleaning out his closet and raffling off items that range from a Fiat to the papacy to raise money for the poor, according to the Holy See.

The pope’s raffle of items that not only include the papacy, but will also reportedly include every item in the Vatican Library, as well as every member of the Curia, will end this Thursday when the winning numbers will be announced on the Vatican website.

Among the 13 items Francis is giving away are a leather suitcase, a Homero Ortega Panama-style hat, an espresso coffee machine, the Chair of St. Peter, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and Cardinal Burke. Continue reading

Battle of New Orleans-The Song


Something for the weekend.  On January 8, 2015 we reached the 200th anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, so Jimmie Driftwood’s Battle of New Orleans seems appropriate.  Driftwood, when he was a teacher, wrote the song in 1936 to help his students differentiate between the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War.  After Driftwood became a full time singer and composer, he often sang the song.  Johnny Horton made it a mega hit in 1959 with his rendition.

After it became a hit, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, visited Newfoundland.  The song was banned for the term of her visit by the provincial government.  My sainted mother who loved the Queen, but also had to the full the Irish rebel spirit, used to regale me with tales of the lengths that Newfies went to make sure that the song was played continuously during the Queen’s visit as a result!

Newfies were hanging record players out of their windows, the volume cranked up full blast playing the song. Her comment on this fiasco is that if the idiots in government hadn’t attempted to ban it, no one would have been playing it. I think my attitude towards government began to be forged by this example of folly related to me at a very young age at my mother’s knee!


Continue reading

Donohue Continues to Beclown Himself

I especially enjoyed his attempted analogy of this situation with a woman who is beaten for twenty years and then blows her husband’s brain out.  Any of you who have ever contributed a dime to Donohue’s worthless organization should demand every cent back.  Discrimination against Catholics and general anti-Catholic bigotry are serious issues and Donohue, in exchange for a burst of publicity, has made certain that no one is ever going to take him seriously again.  Time for Donohue to find another means to earn his daily bread.

PopeWatch: Pessimism







Rorate Caeli posts an absolutely fascinating interview that French Catholic historian Odon Vallet gave with Le Journal du Dimanche.  Vallet, a liberal, is very pessimistic that Pope Francis can achieve his goals:


INTERVIEW – Historian Odon Vallet interprets pope Francis’ very harsh words for the Curia, the group of influent personalities in the Vatican. On Monday [December 22, 2014], the Pope presented a list of the 15 “infirmities” that affected the interior of the Holy See, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “existential schizophrenia”. Odon Vallet is a historian of religions and the author of “God and religions in 101 Q & As” [Dieu et les religions en 101 questions-réponses], [published by] Albin Michel, and he sees a pope who is isolated and weakened.

[Le Journal du Dimanche] How to explain such harshness of Pope Francis towards the members of the Curia?

[Vallet] His words are indeed very harsh. Pope Francis speaks of “mental petrification” within the Curia. After the last Synod (editor’s note: on the family), the Pope sees that his adversaries are at the heart of the government of the Church. In particular, without naming them, the American, African, and Italian bishops.

Do these words express a difficulty in achieving the reforms he set out to do?

Nothing allows us to assume that he will be able to accomplish his reforms. I gather that he has an under-50% chance of accomplishing them. The reform of the Council of Trent (16th century) took 18 years, and required six popes… Pope Francis is 78, his undertaking in the renewal of the Church will be very difficult. Even more so because he has 90% of the Curia against him.

On the other hand he is very much appreciated by the faithful…

He is just as popular in Europe as he is in difficulty with those who are near him. Popularity can give rise to jealousy. Remember the crowd that applauded Jesus at Palm Sunday, and that spat on him on Good Friday.

Do you see in this speech a pope who is cornered, or a chief who is trying to affirm his authority?

Pope Francis comes from the Jesuit school. They advocate discernment and moderation. Today, the supreme pontiff resembles above all an intensive-care physician. I recall that he has already compared the Church to a hospital. Maybe he should have the interest of having his speeches read [beforehand] by more diplomatic persons, because those who approve of them in substance disagree with their form.

But who is he fighting against? Why is he this isolated within the Vatican?

When he was elected, he understood the problems of the Curia poorly. That which he found out went beyond his fears. Even if he has named people close to him, he would need 10 to 12 years to turn the bishops to his side. The problem of the curia is the same of that huge cruiser that ran aground the Italian shores. We can imagine that the cardinals and the bishops set up such a strong inertia in the Vatican machinery that Francis can do nothing about it. His worst enemies are those who praise him in the crowd.

Has he already lost the battle against his internal adversaries?

At this moment, he is in the process of losing it. Silence is gold…and he sets up a whole [new] category of persons against himself each day with his declarations. If I were pope Francis, I would put a cardinal in charge of saying good things about people and of putting oil in the cogwheels, instead of throwing it into the fire.

Can you see pope Francis resigning?

Yes. Even though he can still reverse the trend. His speech is perhaps a way of saying, “I will die standing.” Continue reading

January 9, 1815: Report to Monroe

Battle of New Orleans 2


The day after the battle of New Orleans, Jackson wrote his report to James Monroe, Secretary of War.:

Sir: 9th Jan: 1815

During the days of the 6th. & 7th. the enemy had been actively employed in making preparations for an attack on my lines. With infinite labour they had succeeded on the night of the 7th in getting their boats across from the lake to the river, by widening & deepening the Canal on which they had effected their disembarkation. It had not been in my power to impede these operations by a general attack: Added to other reasons, the nature of the troops under my command, mostly militia, rendered it too hazardous to attempt extensive offensive movements in an open Country, against a numerous & well disciplined army.- Altho my forces, as to number, had been increased by the arrival of the Kentucky division – my strength had received very little addition; a small portion only of that detachment being provided with arms: Compelled thus to wait the attack of the enemy I took every measure to repell it when it would be made, & to defeat the object he had in view. Genl. Morgan with the Orleans Contingent the Louisiana Militia, & a strong detachment of the Kentucky troops occupy an entrenched Camp, on the opposite side of the river, protected by strong batteries on the bank erected & superintended by Commodore Patterson.

In my encampment every thing was ready for action, when early on the morning of the 8th the enemy, after throwing a heavy shower of bombs & congreve rockets, advanced their columns on my right & left, to storm my entrenchments. I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the firmness & deliberation with which my whole line received their approach:-more could not have been expected from veterans, inured to war. For an hour the fire of the small arms was as incessant & severe as can be imagined. The artillery too, directed by officers who displayed equal skill & courage did great execution. Yet the columns of the enemy continued to advance with a firmness which reflects upon them the greatest credit. Twice the column which approached me on my left was repulsed by the troops of genl. Carrole – those of genl. Coffee, & a division of the Kentucky Militia, & twice they formed again & renewed the assault. Continue reading

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