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.

Ernie Pyle on Omaha Beach

Normandy - American Cemetery (1)

There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”
Colonel George A. Taylor, commander 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944

Now that it is over it seems to me a pure miracle that we ever took the beach at all. For some of our units it was easy, but in this special sector where I am now our troops faced such odds that our getting ashore was like my whipping Joe Louis down to a pulp.

In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.

Ashore, facing us, were more enemy troops than we had in our assault waves. The advantages were all theirs, the disadvantages all ours. The Germans were dug into positions that they had been working on for months, although these were not yet all complete. A one-hundred-foot bluff a couple of hundred yards back from the beach had great concrete gun emplacements built right into the hilltop. These opened to the sides instead of to the front, thus making it very hard for naval fire from the sea to reach them. They could shoot parallel with the beach and cover every foot of it for miles with artillery fire.

Then they had hidden machine-gun nests on the forward slopes, with crossfire taking in every inch of the beach. These nests were connected by networks of trenches, so that the German gunners could move about without exposing themselves.

Throughout the length of the beach, running zigzag a couple of hundred yards back from the shoreline, was an immense V-shaped ditch fifteen feet deep. Nothing could cross it, not even men on foot, until fills had been made. And in other places at the far end of the beach, where the ground is flatter, they had great concrete walls. These were blasted by our naval gunfire or by explosives set by hand after we got ashore.

Our only exits from the beach were several swales or valleys, each about one hundred yards wide. The Germans made the most of these funnel-like traps, sowing them with buried mines. They contained, also, barbed-wire entanglements with mines attached, hidden ditches, and machine guns firing from the slopes.

This is what was on the shore. But our men had to go through a maze nearly as deadly as this before they even got ashore. Underwater obstacles were terrific. The Germans had whole fields of evil devices under the water to catch our boats. Even now, several days after the landing, we have cleared only channels through them and cannot yet approach the whole length of the beach with our ships. Even now some ship or boat hits one of these mines every day and is knocked out of commission.

The Germans had masses of those great six-pronged spiders, made of railroad iron and standing shoulder-high, just beneath the surface of the water for our landing craft to run into. They also had huge logs buried in the sand, pointing upward and outward, their tops just below the water. Attached to these logs were mines.

In addition to these obstacles they had floating mines offshore, land mines buried in the sand of the beach, and more mines in checkerboard rows in the tall grass beyond the sand. And the enemy had four men on shore for every three men we had approaching the shore.

And yet we got on.

Continue reading

Thou Shalt Not Offend

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That seems to be the only commandment that some Catholics apparently think is important:

 

Some of the faithful hoping to practice their Christianity at the church of St. Anthony in Ventimiglia were surprised when they were told by Caritas volunteers they couldn’t recite the rosary and would instead have to pray in silence out of respect to migrants who are living there.

Caritas is ostensibly a Catholic charity, although much of its resources are spent on facilitating mass migration to Europe; the organisation even boasts that it contributes to and seeks to influence European Union (EU) “asylum” policies. Caritas reports that they have been distributing 600 meals a day to migrants in Ventimiglia.

After one of the female parishioners requested that the migrants be taken to another church so that she could recite the rosary, the parish priest, Don Rito, appeared and accompanied her and the other visitors to another church. 

The Northern Italian town of 55,000 people has recently been overwhelmed with hundreds of migrants. More than 50 Africans have been crossing into Ventimiglia every day, hoping that from there they will be able to enter France.  Continue reading

Padre of Guadalcanal

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(This is a post I did in 2009.  It seemed appropriate to repost it today in tandem with my Halsey post.  Father Gehring pray for us that we may have the courage to face our challenges in life and win victories over them.)

 

Frederic Gehring was probably lucky that he was born and reared in Brooklyn.  It has always been a tough town and it prepared him for the adventurous life he was to lead.  Born on January 20, 1903,  he went on to attend and graduated from Saint John’s Prep.  Setting his eyes on being a missionary priest, he entered the minor seminary of the Vincentians, Saint Joseph’s, near Princeton,  New Jersey.  Earning his BA in 1925, he entered the seminary of Saint Vincent’s in Philadelphia.

Ordained as a priest on May 22, 1930, he was unable to immediately go to China due to military activity of the Communists in Kiangsi province.  For three years he traveled throughout the US raising funds for the missions in China, and, at long last, in 1933 he was able to pack his bags and sailed for China.  Laboring in the Chinese missions from 1933-1939 in the midst of warlordism, civil war and the invasion of China, commencing in 1937, by Japan must have been tough, but Father Gehring was always up to any challenge.  For example,  in 1938 Japanese planes strafed a mission he was at.  Father Gehring ran out waving a large American flag in hopes that the Japanese would not wish to offend a powerful neutral nation and would stop the strafing.  The Japanese planes did fly off, and Father Gehring was pleased until someone at the mission pointed out that maybe the Japanese had simply run out of ammo!  In 1939 Father Gerhring returned to the States to raise funds for the missions.

 

Immediately following Pearl Harbor, Father Gehring joined the Navy as a Chaplain.  In September 1942 he began an unforgettable six month tour of duty with the First Marine Division fighting on Guadalcanal.  Marines, although they are often loathe to admit it, are a component of the Department of the Navy, and the US Navy supplies their support troops, including chaplains.  (One of my friends served as a Navy corpsman with a Marine unit in Vietnam.  After his tour with the Navy he enlisted with the Marines, was commissioned a Lieutenant, and spent his entire tour with a detachment of Marines aboard an aircraft carrier.  As he puts it, he joined the Navy and spent his time slogging through the mud with Marines.  He then joined the Marines and spent his time sailing with the Navy.)

Guadalcanal marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific.  In August 1942 the US went on the offensive for the first time when the First Marine Division, the Old Breed,  landed on Guadalcanal and took the Japanese air base there.  This set off a huge six month campaign, where US forces, often outnumbered on land, sea and in the air, fought and defeated the Imperial Army and Navy.  The importance of Guadalcanal is well captured in this quote from Admiral William “Bull” Halsey: “Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours”.

Guadalcanal

Upon arrival on Guadalcanal, Lieutenant Gehring quickly became known as “Padre “ to the men of the Old Breed, the title usually bestowed upon chaplains, especially if they were Catholic priests.  He soon became known for wanting to be where the fighting was in order to help the wounded and administer the Last Rites.  Initially this took some of the Marines by surprise.  Jumping into a foxhole during a heavy fire fight, a shocked Marine already in the foxhole, noticing the crucifix dangling from his neck, cried out to him, “Padre, what are you doing here?”  Gehring calmly replied, “Where else would I be?”  He would routinely say Masses so close to the fighting, that the Marines said that he would say Mass in Hell for Marines if he could drive his jeep there.  The Marines quickly decided that it was a lost cause asking the Padre to stay behind the lines.  They were doing well if they could convince him to stay within friendly lines!  Three times he went out on behind the line missions to rescue trapped missionaries on the island, mostly Marist priests and sisters, rescuing 28 of them, assisted by natives of the Solomons.  For this feat he was the first Navy chaplain to be awarded the Legion of Merit by the President. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

There are no great men, there are only great challenges, which ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.

Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

Earlier this week I was watching the movie The Gallant Hours (1960), starring James Cagney as Admiral William Halsey, Jr.  (Halsey hated the nickname “Bull” that the press fastened upon him during the War.)  The film focuses on the time in late 1942 to 1943 when Halsey was theater commander during the Guadalcanal campaign.  This was in tandem with my reading of the latest bio of Halsey, Admiral Bill Halsey:  A Naval Life, by Thomas Alexander Hughes.

Halsey is an interesting figure partially because his public image is so at odds with the reality.  During World War II Halsey was the “Patton of the Pacific”, a fighting Admiral who swore as he viewed the carnage of Pearl Harbor on December 7,  that by the time the US was done the only place that Japanese would be spoken was in Hell.  Halsey in the popular perception was a rampaging bull in a Japanese china shop.

The reality was different.  Halsey, who got his wings at the advanced age of 52, was an inspired commander of carriers.  Strike quick and run was his method in the early days of the War, when his daring carrier raids on Japanese held islands in the Pacific gave a very badly needed boost to national morale.  (“I hauled ass with Halsey” was a fond remembrance of veterans of those raids for decades after the War.)   However, unlike his unwelcome “Bull” image, Halsey was a thoughtful and careful planner, who paid close attention to such un-glamorous, but essential, topics as logistics and intelligence as he plotted every move his forces made.  He was also an officer beloved of his men because of his reputation of making sure that they were taken care of regarding food, leave and mail.  Throughout his career Halsey was known as a sailor’s officer who always looked out for the enlisted men under his command.  (A typical story told about Halsey by his sailors.  On board a carrier sailors were waiting in line for some prized ice cream.  An Ensign decides to cut to the head of his line.  He suddenly hears a stream of profanity directed at him.  He turns around to chew out the sailor cussing him.  He finds out that the man yelling at him is four star Admiral Halsey who has been patiently waiting his turn in the line with his men.) Continue reading

PopeWatch: Anna M. Silvas

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Sandro Magister at his blog at his blog Chiesa brings us the commentary on Amoris Laetitia of Professor Anna M. Silvas, a world renowned authority on the Church Fathers, who teaches at the University of New England and Australian Catholic University.  Her analysis is devastating:

 

And all that was be fore I came to reading chapter eight. I have wondered if the extraordinary prolixity of the first seven chapters was meant to wear us down before we came to this crucial chapter, and catch us off-guard. To me, the entire tenor of chapter eight is problematic, not just n. 304 and footnote 351. As soon as I finished it, I thought to myself: Clear as a bell: Pope Francis wanted some form of the Kasper proposal from the beginning. Here it is. Kasper has won. It all explains Pope Francis’ terse comments at the end of the 2015 Synod, when he censured narrow-minded “pharisees” – evidently those who had frustrated a better outcome according to his agenda. “Pharisees”? The sloppiness of his language! They were the modernists, in a way, of Judaism, the masters of ten thousand nuances – and most pertinently, those who tenaciously upheld the practice of divorce and remarriage. The real analogues of the pharisees in this whole affair are Kasper and his allies.

To press on. The words of n. 295 on St John Paul’s comments on the “law of gradualness” in “Familiaris Consortio” 34, seem to me subtly treacherous and corruptive. For they try to coopt and corrupt John Paul in support precisely of a situational ethics that the holy pope bent all his loving pastoral intelligence and energy to oppose. Let us hear then what St John Paul really says about the law of gradualness:

“Married people… cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties through constancy. And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with a ‘gradualness of the law’, as if there were differing degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness”.

Footnote 329 of “Amoris Laetitia” also presents another surreptitious corruption. It cites a passage of “Gaudium et Spes” 51, concerning the intimacy of married life. But by an undetected sleight of hand it is placed in the mouth of the divorced and remarried instead. Such corruptions surely indicate that references and footnotes, which in this document are made to do some heavy lifting, need to be properly verified.

Already in n. 297, we see the responsibility for “irregular situations” being shifted to the discernment of pastors. Step by subtle step the arguments advance definite agenda. N. 299 queries how “current forms of exclusion currently practiced” can be surmounted, and n. 301 introduces the idea of “conversation with the priest in the internal forum”. Can you not already detect where the argument is going?

So we arrive at n. 301, which drops the guarded manner as we descend into the maelstrom of “mitigating factors”. Here it seems the “mean old Church” has finally been superseded by the “nice new Church”: in the past we may have thought that those living in “irregular situations” without repentance were in a state of mortal sin; now, however, they may not be in a state of mortal sin after all, indeed, sanctifying grace may be at work in them.

It is then explained, in an excess of pure subjectivism, that “a subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent value”. Here is a mitigating factor to beat all mitigating factors. On this argument then, do we now exculpate the original envy of Lucifer, because he had “great difficulty in understanding” the “inherent value” to him, of the transcendent majesty of God? At which point, I feel that we have lost all foothold, and fallen like Alice into a parallel universe, where nothing is quite what it seems to be.

A series of quotations from St Thomas Aquinas are brought to bear, on which I am not qualified to comment, except to say that, obviously, proper verification and contextualization are strongly indicated. N. 304 is a highly technical apologia for moral casuistry, argued in exclusively philosophical terms without a hint of Christ or of faith. One cannot but think that this was supplied by another hand. It is not Francis’ style, even if it is his belief.

Finally we come to the crucial n. 305. It commences with two of the sort of throwaway caricatures that recur throughout the document. The new doctrine that Pope Francis had flagged a little earlier he now repeats and reasserts: a person can be in an objective situation of mortal sin – for that is what he is speaking about – and still be living and growing in God’s grace, all the “while receiving the help of the Church”, which, the infamous footnote 351 declares, can include, “in certain cases”, both confession and holy communion. I am sure that there are by now many busily attempting to “interpret” all this according to a “hermeneutic of continuity”, to show its harmony, I presume, with Tradition. I might add that in this n. 305, Pope Francis quotes himself four times. In fact, it appears that Pope Francis’ most frequently cited reference through “Amoris laetitia” is himself, and that in itself is interesting.

In the rest of the chapter Pope Francis changes tack. He makes an inverted admission that his approach may leave “room for confusion” (n. 308). To this he responds with a discussion of “mercy”. At the very beginning in n. 7 he declared that “everyone should feel challenged by chapter eight”. Yes we do, but not quite in the blithe heuristic sense he meant it. Pope Francis has freely admitted in time past that he is the sort of person who loves to make “messes”? Well, I think we can concede that he has certainly achieved that here.

Let me tell you of a rather taciturn and cautious friend, a married man, who expressed to me, before the apostolic exhortation was published: “O I do hope he avoids ambiguity”. Well, I think even the most pious reading of “Amoris Laetitia” cannot say that it has avoided ambiguity. To use Pope Francis’ own words, “widespread uncertainty and ambiguity” (n. 33 ) can certainly be applied to this document, and I venture to say, to his whole papacy. If we are put into the impossible situation of critiquing a document of the ordinary magisterium, consider whether in “Amoris Laetitia” Pope Francis himself is relativizing the authority of the magisterium, by eliding the magisterium of Pope John Paul, specially in “Familiaris Consortio” and “Veritatis Splendor”. I challenge any of you to soberly reread the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”, say nn. 95-105, and not conclude that there is a deep dissonance between that encyclical and this apostolic exhortation. In my younger years, I anguished over the conundrum: how can you be obedient to the disobedient? For a pope too, is called to obedience – indeed, preeminently so. Continue reading

Such Transparent Crooks

 

 

I will say this for the current administration:  it has no peer for brazen lawlessness:

 

The State Department said it would take 75 years for the release of emails from top aides to Hillary Clinton from during her time as secretary of State.

Lawyers said it would take that long to compile the 450,000 pages of records from former Clinton aides Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan and Patrick Kennedy, according to a court filing from last week, which was first reported by CNN.

“Given the Department’s current [Freedom of Information Act] workload and the complexity of these documents, it can process about 500 pages a month, meaning it would take approximately 16-and-2/3 years to complete the review of the Mills documents, 33-and-1/3 years to finish the review of the Sullivan documents, and 25 years to wrap up the review of the Kennedy documents — or 75 years in total,” the State Department said in the filing.

In March, the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a pair of lawsuits requesting the release of emails and records from Clinton and her top aides during and after her time at the State Department.

“The Obama administration has failed to comply with records requests in a timely manner as required by law,” Chairman Reince Priebus said in a March statement, noting that the RNC had previously requested the documents from State last October and December. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Let’s Pretend

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Below we have a typical example of what passes for economic thought at the Vatican.  Let’s pretend for the moment that this isn’t the case.  Let’s pretend that the statement by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic is, instead, a serious economic proposal.  Examine it please in the comboxes and explain the likely impact of attempting to implement an economic proposal that simultaneously attempts to:

  1.  Increase jobs, especially for the young.
  2.  Producing a “new and more inclusive” economic model, whatever that would be.
  3.  Passing from “a revenue directed economy” to a “social economy”, whatever that would be.
  4.   Avoids replacing workers with advanced technology.
  5.   Promotes economic activity that fosters knowledge and human and social development.
  6.   Gives workers a “just and living wage.”
  7.   Fights “climate change”.

 

 

Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva at the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva.

Mr President,

1. The Delegation of the Holy See congratulates the ILO for its committed service to social development through the collaborative action of workers, employers and governments, as it prepares to celebrate its 100th Anniversary. The preamble of its Constitution, which states that there shall be no lasting peace without social justice, continues to provide a strong warning and a welcome encouragement to guide our reflection on the “future of work”1.

2. We feel today a sense of urgency as much as we feel a sense of responsibility. The information contained in the reports and analyses of this Organization regarding the inability to create a sufficient number of dignified and stable jobs is a cause of serious concern.

3. We would like to stress, as done in the previous session, the pressing issue of youth unemployment. Despite a mild recovery in the 2012-2014 period, the youth unemployment rate remains well above its pre-crisis level. For millions of young people around the world finding a decent job is still a lengthy hard struggle. As Pope Francis reminds us, “we cannot resign ourselves to losing a whole generation of young people who don’t have the strong dignity of work”2. The final goal of the International Community has to be a recovery based on substantial job creation with reference to the principle of subsidiarity that allows each individual and each business to be the protagonist of the development of society as a whole. It is a moral obligation. “If we want to rethink our society, we need to create dignified and well-paying jobs, especially for our young people”3.

4. To do so requires coming up with new, more inclusive and equitable economic models, aimed not at serving the few, but at benefiting ordinary people and society as a whole. It would involve passing from a revenue-directed economy, profiting from speculation and lending at interest, to a social economy that invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training. At the same time, a wave of technological innovation is altering the capacity of modern manufacturing and service activities to generate jobs. Continue reading

Potty War: Let’s Pretend

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David Solway at PJ Media gets to the heart of not only Potty War but what ails the West in general:  a pernicious, wholly political, game of let’s pretend:

 

It is as if the Soviet pseudo-scientist Trofim Lysenko has risen from the grave and, by a mordant historical irony, infected not the burgeoning Russian empire but a weak and decadent West that has succumbed to a sterile and perilous sort of intellectual vernalization—a term glibly misused by Lysenko to describe the process, mistakenly thought heritable, of forcing winter cereals to behave like spring cereals. As plant biologist Richard Amasino writes, Lysenko’s belief that vernalized transformations could be inherited “fit the Marxist ideology that…a Marxist society could produce heritable changes in attitude, and, thus, if the proper environment was provided, future generations would consist of improved citizens. Lysenko’s efforts,” he continues, “to obtain or fabricate results that supported a political ideology…had disastrous consequences for Russian genetics.” Where the speculative and the real are in flagrant contradiction, the results are almost always catastrophic.

The West is now busy at work across the entire field of social, cultural and political life promoting its own version of Lysenkoism, a misconceived exercise of supposedly vernalizing reality by transforming fact into fantasy and truth into lie for the purpose of creating the perfect society and the redeemed human being, transferable across the generations. Its assumptions about the world are guided not by common sense or genuine science but by the precepts of ideology and political desire.

Examples abound of the ubiquitous tendency to replace ontology with myth, the determinate with the fluid and the objective with the delusionary. A modest inventory of such noxious miscontruals would include:

  • Biological sexual differentiation must yield to voluntary gender identity.
  • A cooling climate is obviously warming.
  • The demonstrable failure of socialism wherever it has been tried is proof that it has not been properly implemented.
  • Democratic Israel is an apartheid state.
  • Islam with its record of unstinting bloodshed is a religion of peace.
  • Illegal immigrants are undocumented workers.
  • Terrorism is workplace violence.
  • A child in the womb is a mass of insensible protoplasm.
  • The killing of the old and the ill is merciful, even when the recipient of such tender concern is not consulted.
  • There is no such thing as truth, an axiom regarded as true.
  • Green energy is a social and economic good irrespective of crony profiteering, exorbitant cost, wildlife devastation, and unworkability in its present state.
  • Storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis and mortality itself are natural phenomena, but Nature, which cares nothing for human life, is nonetheless sacred, vulnerable and at the mercy of human indifference.
  • Women are disadvantaged in the workforce, academia and society at large despite the fact that high-end hiring practices, legal judgments, custody protocols and university appointments, as well as student enrollment, wholly favor women to the detriment of men.
  • An enemy is a friend.
  • Criminality is innocence.
  • Losing is winning.
  • Prosperity is avarice.
  • Redistributing wealth, i.e., robbing the affluent and productive, is a form of compassion and basic justice.
  • Those who claim victim status are always credible.
  • Accumulating debt is an economic stimulus.
  • Big government is a boon to mankind.
  • War is passé (so 19th century).
  • Diplomacy and talk—the higher Twitter—will prevail over barbarism.
  • The most gynocentric society ever created is a rape culture.
  • Palestine is a historically legitimate nation.
  • Uniformity of thought and action equals cultural diversity.
  • An exploded lie merely confirms what it lies about (e.g., Rigoberta Menchu).
  • Morality is relative.
  • Merit is an unearned distinction.

Or in other words, what is, is not, and what is not, is. Continue reading

Winston Churchill

The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.

Winston Churchill, September 19, 1946

 

 

I can never view the above scene from the movie Into the Storm (2009) without choking up.  The movie relates Winston Churchill’s time as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II.  The anniversary of D-Day caused me to think of the man who will always be associated with Allied victory in that conflict   The half-American Churchill did more than any other single man to consign Hitler and his grisly gang of murderous thugs to the pages of history, and to have Hitler’s vaunted thousand year Reich die at twelve years in ashes and total defeat.  He kept his country going until America intervened after Pearl Harbor, a time when victory seemed all but hopeless.  However, Churchill remained confident that, as he had warned a Nazi official in the thirties, if need be Britain would lead the world against them to bring down their tyranny.

His apogee of course was during VE Day.  Hailed by his countrymen as the man who won the War, he told them that they had won the War, along with their Allies, and it had merely been his privilege to voice the roar of the British lion.

Then the British electorate promptly tossed him from power in the first post war elections in July of 1945.  Such is politics.  Continue reading

PopeWatch: Is the Pope Catholic?

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Father Z directs our attention to a post by British Catholic gadfly Damian Thompson:

 

At Heat Street, Damian Thompson asks: “Is the Pope Catholic?”

That site is a mess to read, so let’s see some of it here.  My emphases and comments:

Is the Pope Catholic? Here’s Why Many of Pope Francis Flock Aren’t Sure

Pope Francis, we learned this week, will take part in a service next year to celebrate a great moment in Christian history.

The Reformation.

Yes, you read that right. ‘Pope celebrates Reformation’ sounds like an Onion headline, but it’s actually going to happen – when Francis travels to Sweden next year to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s first furious broadside against Rome.  [Here’s one Catholic who won’t be celebrating the Reformation.  I’ll be flipping to the back of my Missale Romanum for Votive Masses Pro fide propagatione, and ad tollendum schisma and  contra persecutores Ecclesiae….]

Liberal Catholics, liberal Protestants and the secular media will cheer when he does so. They will drown out the groans of traditional Catholics for whom this is yet another feelgood stunt by a pope who isn’t interested in theology. [That doesn’t sound like an unqualified “Huzzah!”, does it?]

And only the very sharp-eared will hear the rattle of decapitated skeletons – both Catholic and Protestant – turning in their graves.

The Reformation jamboree will pay lip service to the ‘tragedy’ of the 16th-century martyrs. But if those bones could speak, I suspect they’d say the real tragedy is the spectacle of Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican leaders glossing over the doctrines for which they died.

One thing is for sure. Benedict XVI, if he were still pope, wouldn’t be throwing himself into the Reformation festivities. Indeed, it’s hard to think of anything Francis has done that his retired predecessor really approves of.

‘Exactly!’ say Francis’s millions of admirers. ‘Benedict was a dinosaur who tried to turn the clock back. Francis is sweeping out the Vatican stables. He’s making Catholicism more compassionate. And did you see him with George Clooney?’

At which point I’m the one letting out a groan, together with lots of Catholics who, like me, were initially charmed by the Argentinian pontiff’s laid-back style.

Let’s get one thing straight. Pope Francis is not a ‘great reformer’, as one sycophantic biographer dubbed him. He’s pushed through just one overdue reform – simplifying the church’s marriage annulment procedures. [The annulment thing… oh boy, don’t get me started.  However, were Francis to accomplish only a financial reform of the Curia, that would be something noteworthy for a pontificate.]

 

Continue reading

Atheist Rally a Bust

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What if they gave an atheist rally and nobody came?  From the blog The Friendly Atheist we find out what happened at Reason Rally 2016 in Washington DC:

 

Where Was the Crowd for the Reason Rally?

No official crowd estimates have been released. But even in the early afternoon, when the crowd was likely at its peak, nothing I saw suggested “15,000 to 20,000” in attendance, as the organizers told Religion News Service. I’d put the range at about half of that, but we’ll see.

Did something go wrong?

Let me say up front that I don’t think this is *that* big of an issue. If the people who showed up had a good time and left the event energized and committed to activism back home, that’s a better gauge of success than some arbitrary attendance figure. But a low turnout still takes a lot of the air out of what was an otherwise great event.

So let’s talk about what may have contributed to that.

 

Continue reading

June 6, 1944: D-Day-FDR Prayer

(The video inserts material not related to D-Day.  I will give it a pass.  D-Day, with the passage of the decades, has become a symbol of the entire US war effort in World War II, an effort which deserves to be remembered.)

 

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas – whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Amen.

June 6, 1984: Reagan’s Speech on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day

 

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine-guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only ninety could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Scholas Occurrentes

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa describes the Pope’s enthusiasm for Scholas Occurrentes:

 

 

 

ROME, June 3, 2016 – More than a dozen public meetings in less than three years, almost always with a steady stream of stars from sports and entertainment. There is no other creature of his for which Francis shows greater affection: the last time was Sunday, May 29, with the pope’s guests being none less than George Clooney and Richard Gere.

This beloved creature of his is called Scholas Occurrentes, schools for encounter. And it came to light in Buenos Aires when he was archbishop there.

This is how the pope described its birth, in one of the video conferences with which he loves to address students of the Scholas all over the world from the Vatican, on September 4, 2014, with the two founders by his side:

“Scholas was born… I was about to say by accident, but no, it was not by accident. It was born from an idea of this gentleman here, José María del Corral, assisted by Enrique Palmeyro. It was born by forming a network of ‘escuelas de vecinos,’ neighborhood schools, to build bridges among the schools of Buenos Aires. And it has built many bridges, and now even transoceanic bridges. It began as a small thing, as a dream, as something that we didn’t know if it would succeed, and today we can communicate among ourselves. Why? Because we are convinced that young people need to communicate with each other, they need to show their values and share their values. Young people today need three fundamental pillars: instruction, sports, and culture.”

Today there are more than 400,000 Scholas Occurrentes, in about eighty countries on five continents. And since August 15, 2015 they have been a “pious foundation” of pontifical right, established as such by a chirograph of Pope Francis:

> Quirógrafo

The chirograph recognizes their aims as “congruent with the mission of the Church.”

But if one explores the official website of the Scholas, with the programs, objectives, activities, one can find nothing, absolutely nothing that is specifically Christian, much less Catholic: Continue reading

June 6, 1944: The Great Crusade

 

 

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

(Signed, ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower’) Continue reading

A Jesuit, A Dominican and a Franciscan

 

Aquinas

 

Time for a little Catholic humor, this time using the staple of Order jokes:

A Jesuit, a Dominican and a Franciscan are driving cars and have a terrible pile up.  All three are killed instantly, go to their particular judgments and receive instant admission to Heaven.  Here are their reactions as they view the vistas of the Kingdom of Love Eternal:

Franciscan:  “This is exactly how Father Francis said it would be!”

Jesuit:  “This is exactly how I thought it would be!”

Dominican:  “Hey, wait a minute!  What’s the Jesuit doing here?”

Tell your jokes in the comboxes.

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