May 20 1861: Kentucky Proclamation of Neutrality

“I hope to have God on my side but I must have Kentucky.”  Anyone, North or South, who could read a map would have agreed with that sentiment of Abraham Lincoln for their side in 1861.  With Kentucky part of the Confederacy, the South would have a broad rampart in which to defend Tennessee and the Deep South.  With Kentucky part of the Union, the North had a clear hand to punch into Tennessee, capture Memphis and Nashville, and begin dual invasions down the Mississippi and into Georgia and Alabama.

Kentucky was a house bitterly divided.  Governor Beriah Magoffin, although not a full fledged secessionist, had little sympathy for Lincoln’s attempt to preserve the Union by force.  The Kentucky legislature leaned towards the Union, and in June elections in Kentucky Unionists would win nine of 10 Congressional seats and a 76-24 majority in the state House of Representatives and a 27-11 majority in the state Senate.

One thing all Kentuckians could agree on was an effort to avoid the War coming to Kentucky.  A Proclamation of Neutrality was passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor on May 20, 1861.  On the same day North Carolina became the eleventh state to join the Confederacy, underlining the impossibility of neutrality in the conflict.

On September 4, 1861 Confederate forces seized Columbus, propelling Kentucky fully into the arms of the Union.  The Dark and Bloody Ground would be one of the prime battlefields of the War.



Saint Thomas Aquinas on Pentecost

“Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” (Ps. 103:30)[28]

We should speak about Him without whom no one can speak rightly, about Him who gives speech and gives the power to speak copiously. And indeed, it is impossible to speak rightly without Him. Nor should one marvel at what is said: “Who can know the sense [sensum]” of the truth of God “unless he shall send His Spirit from the Most High?” (Wis. 9:17).[29] Without a feeling [sensu] for the truth, no one speaks what is true. In like manner, the Holy Spirit makes all the saints speak copiously, and for this reason Gregory says: “Those whom He fills, He makes wise.”[30] The same thing is manifest today [on Pentecost], when “the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in various tongues” (Acts 2:4). Therefore, even though we are mute, we shall ask that He who gives abundant speech shall give me words to speak.

“Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.” Today Holy Mother Church solemnly celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles—a sending which the Prophet besought, when moved by the Spirit of prophecy he said: “Send forth Thy spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” These words give us four things to consider: (1) what is proper to[31] the Holy Spirit himself, (2) His sending,[32] (3) the power of the one sent, and (4) the matter receptive of this power. The Prophet says, then: “Send forth”: behold, the sending; “Thy Spirit”: behold, the Person sent; “and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew”: behold, the effect of the one sent; “the face of the earth”: behold, the matter receptive of this effect.[33]

What is proper to the Holy Spirit

First, I say that what is proper to the Holy Spirit is indicated when the prophet says: “Thy Spirit.” Notice that the name “spirit” seems to convey four things: subtleness[34] of substance, perfection of life, impulse of motion, and hidden origin. So, first of all, the name “spirit” seems to convey subtleness of substance. For we are accustomed to call incorporeal substances “spirit.” Similarly, we call subtle bodies such as air or fire “spirit.” Hence we read in the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Lk. 24:39). And this is the way that “spirit” is distinguished from things that have heavy matter, things that are composed out of flesh and body.[35] Secondly, the name “spirit” seems to convey perfection of life.[36] For as long as animals have breath [spiritum] they are alive, and when their breath leaves them, they perish. “Thou takest away their breath, and they die and return to their dust” (Ps. 103:29). And in Genesis, Noah called into his boat “all flesh in which there was the breath of life [spiritus uitae].”[37] Thirdly, the name “spirit” seems to convey impulse of motion, for it is in this way that we give the name “spirit” to winds.[38] And in the Psalms it says about this: “He spoke and there arose a storm of wind [spiritus], the winds of storms shall be the portion of their cup.”[39] Men are also said to act “with spirit” when they do something forcefully, as Isaiah has it: “the spirit of the robust, like a whirlwind driving against the wall” (Is. 25:4).[40] Fourthly, the name “spirit” customarily names a hidden origin, as when someone, feeling troubled and not knowing the cause of what is troubling him, attributes it to a “spirit.”[41] So we read in John: “The wind [spiritus] blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes” (Jn. 3:8).

In line with these four things, we can seek out what is proper to the Holy Spirit. Proceeding in reverse order, He is called “the Holy Spirit” on account of His being the hidden origin of things,[42] impulse of motion, holiness of life, and subtleness of substance. First, I say that one thing proper to the Holy Spirit is His being the hidden origin of things. Faith teaches us and reason persuades us that all visible and changeable things have a hidden cause. What is that cause? God. Hence the Apostle says: “God is the one who created all things” (Heb. 3:4). It is certain that whatsoever is other than God is created by God. But in what manner did God create all things? It was not by a natural necessity, as fire burns; rather, He produced all things by His own will: “All things whatsoever that He willed, He did” (Ps. 113:ii, 3).[43] A craftsman makes a house by will, but is also urged on by necessity or usefulness—say, that he may earn a profit or dwell in that house. But God did not make the world from a will of needy desire, for He does not need our goods.[44] Why, then, did He make the world? Surely not from a needy desire, but from a loving will.[45] Here’s a comparison: an artisan who conceives a beautiful house in his mind, not because he needs to build it, but simply loving the house’s beauty—that artisan’s love would bring the house into being.[46] But what is the cause and root of the production of hidden things? Surely love. Hence we read in the Book of Wisdom: “Thou lovest all the things which are, and Thou hast hated none of the things which Thou didst make” (Wis. 11:25).[47] And blessed Dionysius says that “divine love does not allow itself to be without seed.”[48] This love is the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the account in Genesis of the beginning of creation says that “the Spirit of the Lord was borne over the waters” (Gen. 1:2), namely, in order to produce matter and bring things into being. Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit which is the source [principium] of being for all things. The Holy Spirit, whose property is love, therefore has [the note of being creation’s] hidden origin.[49]

Secondly, “Holy Spirit” conveys impulse of motion. For we see in the world diverse motions: natural motions and, in men and angels, voluntary motions. Where do these diverse motions come from? They must come from a first mover, namely, from God. “Thou shalt change them and they shall be changed” (Ps. 101:27).[50] And God moves by will. But what is the first motion of the will? Surely love. And what sort of activity belongs to love?[51] I say: he who is moved by love rejoices by love over the thing loved and sorrows over what is contrary to it. Hence in the first chapter of Ezekiel we read: “Where the force of the Spirit was,” that is, the inclination of divine love, “there they were carried” (Ezek. 1:12).[52] And in truth, all things that are in the world are moved by the Holy Spirit, as the book of Esther testifies when it says: “There is no one who could resist His will” (Esther 13:9).[53] This Holy Spirit whose feast we celebrate today is the source of all motion. Now, some things in the world are moved from within themselves, while some things are moved by others; the living are moved from within themselves, the lifeless are [only] moved by others. The source of all motion is alive, rather is life. Thus the Holy Spirit, in so far as He is the source of all motion, is life. “With Thee is the fountain of life” (Ps. 35:10).[54] And because He is life, He therefore gives life. Great then is the Holy Spirit in all things that are, and move, and live. “In him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). All things therefore have motion and being from the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, if we consider the subtleness of substance in the Holy Spirit, we shall see that He is love. And whose love? That of God, and of those who love God. It is of the very nature of [this] love that the Holy Spirit has subtleness of substance.[55] And on the part of the one loved [amati], He is the love by which God loves God and by which the Father loves the Son. The Book of Wisdom says: “For there is in her,” meaning the wisdom of God, “the spirit of understanding,” which makes men understand.[56] In Greek, “holy” signifies cleanness.[57] Truly, the love by which a man loves bodily things is not clean, for since the lover is united by love to that which he loves, the lover is made unclean to the extent that he mixes himself up with such a thing. For just as silver is debased when mixed with an impure metal, so your soul is debased if is mixed up with inferior or lower things by love of them.[58] But when your soul is joined to a higher thing, then the love is called holy. Now, there are some who want to be devoted to God and yet who neglect the salvation of their neighbor; such an attitude is not from the Holy Spirit.[59] The Apostle Paul was solicitous over his neighbor’s salvation, for which reason he says: “I have become all things to all men, that I might be of profit to all” (1 Cor. 9:22). Again, there are some who are manifold but deceitful.[60] Not thus is the Holy Spirit, for He is manifold in such a way that He, remaining utterly one, bestows Himself upon diverse things. Again, He is subtle because He makes a man withdraw from earthly things and cling to God. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Ps. 26:4).[61] “It is good for me to cling to God” (Ps. 72:28).[62]

Fourthly, this Holy Spirit not only gives being, being alive, and being in motion; nay more, He makes men holy.[63] Hence the Apostle says: “He was predestined God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4). No one is holy unless the Holy Spirit makes him holy. And how does He make someone holy? I say: He brings it about that what I have just been describing appears in all whom He makes holy, for He renders them subtle, and contemptuous of temporal things. As it says in John’s Gospel: “Do not love the world nor those things which are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). Again, He bestows spiritual life upon those whom He makes holy, as it says in Ezekiel: “Behold I will place the spirit within you, and you shall live” (Ezek. 37:5). The spiritual life owes its very existence to the Holy Spirit.[64] “If you live by the Spirit, walk also by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Again, the Holy Spirit, who makes people holy, by His own force moves them to work well.[65] “He [the saint] comes as a rushing stream, which the wind [spiritus] of the Lord drives forward” (Is. 59:19). Some men are lazy, and these do not seem to be driven by the Holy Spirit. Hence on that verse of Acts, “Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2), the Gloss says: “the grace of the Holy Spirit knows nothing of slow efforts.”[66] Again, the Holy Spirit leads them back to the hidden origin through which we are united to God; in the words of Isaiah, “the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to a place you do not know” (1 Kings 18:12[67]), that is, to the heavenly inheritance. “Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the right land” (Ps. 142:10).[68] What is proper to the Holy Spirit is now clear: He is the origin of living, of being, and of moving.

2. The sending of the Holy Spirit

Let us look into the second [point], namely the sending of the Holy Spirit, which is marvelous and unknown to us, because the Holy Spirit is sent without needing to be sent,[69] without change of Himself, without subjection, and without separation.

I say, first, the Holy Spirit is sent without His needing to be sent. When someone is sent to a place so that an event may happen which could not happen unless he were sent, this would be a sending out of necessity. But this has no place in the sending of the Holy Spirit, whom the Book of Wisdom describes as “having every power, beholding all things” (Wis. 7:23).[70] What, then, is the reason for the sending of the Holy Spirit? Our neediness; and the necessity of this neediness of ours comes partly from human nature’s dignity, and partly from its deficiency. For the rational creature excels other creatures because it can actually reach the enjoyment of God, which no other earthly creature can do.[71] “The Lord is my portion, said my soul” (Lam. 3:24). Some seek their portion in this world, such as those who seek worldly honor or dignity. But the Psalmist says: “It is good for me to cling to God” (Ps. 72:28).[72] You should consider that all things that are moved to some end must have something moving them toward that end. Those that are moved to a natural end have a mover in nature; but those that are moved to a supernatural end, namely to the enjoyment of God, must have a supernatural mover. Now, nothing can lead us to our end unless two things are presupposed, for someone is led to an end by two things—knowledge and love. The kind of knowledge in question is supernatural: “No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it arisen in the heart of man, what God hath prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). “Never have they heard, nor perceived with ears, nor has eye seen, O God, without Thee, what Thou hast prepared for those who await Thee” (Is. 64:4).[73] Now, whatever a man knows, he knows either by discovering it himself or by learning from another. Vision serves discovery and hearing serves learning, and for this reason it is said that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” showing that it [the final end] altogether transcends human knowledge. It exceeds human desire, too, and that is why Scripture says: “nor hath it arisen in the heart of man.” How, then, is man led to know it? It was necessary for heavenly secrets to be made known to men; it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to be invisibly sent, in order to move man’s affections so that he may tend toward that end. And thus it says: “Eye hath not seen.” How, then, do we know? “God hath revealed it to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit examineth all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). “Who would be able to know Thy thought [sensum], unless Thou gavest wisdom and sent the Holy Spirit from the Most High?” (Wis. 9:17).[74] Therefore the Holy Spirit is sent not owing to any need of His, but for the sake of our benefit.

Again, the sending takes place without any change in Himself. There is change when a messenger is sent from place to place, but the Holy Spirit is sent without any change of place because He is the true God, unchangeable. “While remaining in Himself, He renews all things” (Wis. 7:27).[75] How, then, is He sent? He draws us to Himself, and in that way He is said to be sent, as the sun is said to be sent to someone when he comes to share in the sun’s brightness.[76] So it is with the Holy Spirit, and for this reason Scripture says about uncreated Wisdom: “Send her from the heavens and from the seat of Thy greatness, that she may be with me” (Wis. 9:10).[77] Again: “He hath sent His own Spirit, crying out Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:5). These sendings are diffused “throughout all the nations” (Wis. 7:27) and are carried into holy souls. When the “fullness of time” had come, the Son of God was sent in the flesh (Gal. 4:4), and thus it was becoming that the Holy Spirit, too, be visibly sent—but not in such a way that He took up a created nature into the unity of His Person, as the Son did with human nature.

Again, the Holy Spirit is sent without subjection.[78] Servants are sent by lords because they are subject to them. It was for this reason that certain heretics falsely believed that the Son and the Holy Spirit were lesser than the Father, namely, because they were sent by Him. But the Holy Spirit makes us free,[79] and therefore He is no servant. He is sent by His own judgment, for “the Spirit blows where He wills” (Jn. 3:8), and He is said to be “sent” only on account of the Father’s identity as origin.[80] We sometimes find [Scripture saying] that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father, sometimes by the Son; but the Greeks do violence to this truth [in hoc faciunt uim], for they say that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, not from the Son, and in saying this they proceed in a simplistic manner [ruditer].[81] Where the Son speaks of the sending of the Holy Spirit, he adjoins the Son to the Father or the Father to the Son, for our Lord speaks in one place of “the Comforter, whom the Father will send in my name” (Jn. 14:26), and in another place He says: “When the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father” (Jn. 15:26). “From the Father” indicates, therefore, authority of origin.

Again, the Holy Spirit is sent without separation, because the Spirit of unity excludes separation. Hence the Apostle urges: “Take good care to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The Holy Spirit gathers together [congregat], as we are taught in John’s Gospel [when Jesus prays to the Father]: “That they may be one in us,” through the unity of the Holy Spirit, “as we also are one” (Jn. 17:21-22). This union is begun in the present through grace, and will be consummated in the future through glory, to which may He lead us, who together with the Father and the Son lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.[82]

Evening Collation[83]

“Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” This morning we spoke some words, as well as we were able to do,[84] about what is proper to the Holy Spirit, and about His sending. Now it remains for us to speak about the effects of the Holy Spirit, and to whom it belongs to receive those effects.

3. The effects of the Holy Spirit

Regarding what is set forth in the words of the Psalmist, we are given to under­stand a twofold effect of the Holy Spirit, namely, creation and renewal: “they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” If we wish to take these words according as “creation” suggests the production-into-being of the things of nature, the Holy Spirit is in this way the Creator of all things, as Judith says: “Thou didst send forth Thy Spirit, and they were created” (Jud. 16:17).[85] But let us now speak of a different creation. As common usage has it, those who are promoted to a higher state, such as the episcopacy or another dignity, are said to be “created.”[86] In this way all those who are promoted to be sons of God are said to be created, as if to say, promoted. Hence blessed James says: “[Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth] that we might be the beginning of His creation” (Jas. 1:18).[87] The Lord wished to establish a new creature, and so in the Book of Wisdom we read: “God created all things that they might exist” (Wis. 1:14)—namely, in their natural existence; and He willed to re-create them, in order that they might exist in the existence of grace. The Apostles were the firstfruits of this re-creation. This re-creation is spoken of in Galatians: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:15). What does this mean? Before, there were pagans [gentiles], and referring to this Paul says “uncircumcision”; after, there were circumcised Jews, yet this condition availed nothing unless they were re-created through the grace of Christ.[88] This creation is the effect of the Holy Spirit.

You should know that this re-creation is made up of steps. It can be looked at, first of all, with respect to the grace of charity; secondly, the wisdom of knowledge; thirdly, the harmony of peace; and fourthly, the constancy of firmness.

Just as you see that when men are brought into natural existence the first thing they obtain is life, so it ought to be the same with the existence of grace. But through what does a man live in the existence of grace? Surely through charity. “We know that we have been carried over from death into life because we love the brethren” (1 Jn. 3:14). Whoever does not love his brother, regardless of whatever sort of good work he may do, is dead. Charity is the life of the soul, for just as a body lives through its soul, so the soul lives through God, and God dwells in us through charity. “He who abides in charity abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn. 4:16). In today’s Gospel we heard: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). But the man who does not do the will of God does not perfectly love Him, for “it belongs to friends to will and not will the same thing.”[89] In the homily of today’s office, Gregory says: “Love’s proof is in love’s work.”[90] But you say: we just aren’t able to fulfill the commands of God. I say: you aren’t able to fulfill them by your own powers, but through the grace of God you certainly can do so! Hence the Evangelist adds: “My Father will love him”—God shall not fail a man—”and we will come to him,” that is, we will be present to him (Jn. 14:23). By that presence [of God in our hearts], we [Christians] will be able to dedicate our powers to fulfilling God’s commands. Concerning this charity for fulfilling God’s commands, we read in Ephesians: “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works” (Eph. 2:10). Where does this charity in us come from? The Holy Spirit. “The charity of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). He who has a share of daylight has that light from the sun; in the same way he who has charity has it from the Holy Spirit. Therefore: “Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created”—namely, in the being of the life of grace, through charity.

You see that men, when they become true lovers, make efforts to know the will of God.[91] “It belongs to friends to have one heart,” as it says in Proverbs,[92] and God reveals His secrets to His friends.[93] And this is the second step of the creation which is from the Holy Spirit: that they [who are re-created] may know God in wisdom. “But I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15:15). Hence, recognition of truth is also from the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn. 14:26). Now, however much a man may be taught exteriorly, it will profit him nothing unless the grace of the Holy Spirit is interiorly present.[94] As the Gospel says, “The anointing will teach you concerning all things.”[95] And He not only teaches the truth, but will even call it back to mind. [It is as if our Lord were saying:] “I myself am able to teach you, but you do not by this fact believe or want to fulfill what I teach. But He who brings it about that you believe and that you fulfill what you hear, He will call things back to mind.” The Holy Spirit does this because he inclines the heart to give assent and to carry out what it hears. Hence our Lord says: “Everyone who has heard and learned from my Father comes to me” (Jn. 6:45).[96]

The third step of creation has to do with concord of peace. St. James distinguishes between earthly and heavenly wisdom, and taking up what is proper to heavenly wisdom he says: “The wisdom which is from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation” (Jas. 3:17). But earthly wisdom is unchaste because it causes the affection to be corrupted by the love of earthly things. Hence we read in one of the canonical epistles [in Canonica]: “Whatever they know of these things, by these things they are corrupted” (Jude 10).[97] Again, earthly wisdom makes men peevish and quarrelsome, but the wisdom which is from above draws one to God, for it is “peaceable, modest, persuadable.” Quarrels arise from three things. First, when someone is not modest. As it says in Proverbs: “He who thrusts himself forward and makes himself big incites quarrels” (Prov. 28:25).[98] Again, some men are stubborn in their opinion, nor do they allow themselves to be persuaded of anything but what they have in their own head; heavenly wisdom, on the contrary, is “persuadable.” Again, worldly wisdom does not allow its wise men to come to an agreement with another, but heavenly wisdom brings about agreement among good men, and is therefore “peaceable.” But who is it that makes the peace? The Holy Spirit, for “he is not a God of dissension but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). Hence it says in Ephesians: “Take good care to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The Lord exhorts us to preserve this peace when He says: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth do I give unto you” (Jn. 14:27). This peace is twofold. One is in the present—the peace in which we now live, yet in such a way that we must still fight off vices; such is the peace the Lord “left with us” right now. The other is the peace that shall be in the future, without fighting; and about this the Lord says: “not as the world giveth do I give unto you.”[99] Now, some want peace only to be able to enjoy good things [more easily].[100] The Book of Wisdom says about this: “Living in a great war of ignorance, they judged so many and so great evils to be peace” (Wis. 14:22).[101] But what is true peace? Augustine says that peace is “security of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, and the fellowship of charity.”[102] Peace has a threefold object: oneself, one’s neighbor, and God. Peace is needed with regard to oneself, so that reason may not be infected by errors or darkened by passions, and concerning this, Augustine says that peace is “security of mind.” There should also be tranquility in affection, and concerning this he says “tranquility of soul.” Again, there should be simplicity in intention, and concerning this he says “simplicity of heart.”[103] Peace toward one’s neighbor is the “bond of love,” and peace with God is the “fellowship of charity.” Is not peace then utterly necessary for us? Surely it is. The Lord made His testament for the sake of peace, and those who do not want to keep the testament cannot receive the inheritance; thus those who do not want to keep peace cannot arrive at the heavenly inheritance. But what if someone were to say: “I want to have peace with God, but not with my neighbor”? The answer: such a thing is impossible. Hence a certain saint says: “No one can have peace with Christ who is out of harmony with a Christian.”[104] Therefore, the third step of creation is the harmony of peace, and so the prophet Isaiah declares: “I have created the fruit of the lips, peace” (Is. 57:19).[105]

The fourth step is constancy of firmness, and this too is from the Holy Spirit. Hence the Apostle says to the Ephesians: “according to the riches of His glory, may He grant you to be strengthened with inner might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16). And in Ezekiel: “The Spirit entered into me and I stood upon my feet” (Ezek. 2:2). And in the Gospel: “Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). And in the Book of Wisdom: “God created man incorruptible” (Wis. 2:25).[106]

Therefore, the first effect of the Holy Spirit is that He creates.

The second effect is a renewal which consists of four things: grace that cleanses, justice that is ever making progress, wisdom that illuminates, and glory that attains consummation.

I say that the effect of renewal through the Holy Spirit consists, first of all, of the grace that cleanses. Sin is a sort of old age of the soul, and a man is only freed from this old age through justifying grace, by which he is cleansed from sin. Hence the Apostle writes: “As Christ has risen from the dead, so also let us walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).[107] Where does this newness come from? The Holy Spirit. So the same Apostle writes to Titus: “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the laver of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). All sins are forgiven through that laver, and in this way man is renewed.

Secondly, this renewal consists in the justice that is ever making progress. If one should walk, grow tired, and become weak, and then he rests, his powers seem to him to be renewed; and when a man works diligently,[108] he is renewed when he gains further power for working. About this renewal Job says: “My glory shall be renewed, and the bow in my hand shall be repaired” (Job 29:20). The glory of the saints is the testimony of conscience. A man is renewed when he is quick to fight against vices. Isaiah describes it: “They shall take wings as eagles, they shall fly and not fail” (Is. 40:31),[109] namely, for running in the way of God’s commandments (Ps. 118:32).[110] But who causes this running? The Holy Spirit. “He led us out through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness that does not stumble, and the Spirit of the Lord was his leader” (Is. 63:13-14).[111]

Thirdly, renewal comes about through the wisdom that illuminates. When a man comes to new knowledge of more of the good things of God, he is renewed. About this renewal it says in Colossians: “Put on the new man who is created according to God.”[112] The “new man” [nouus homo] indicates Christ, because His was a novel [noua] kind of conception,[113] “not from the seed of man, but from the Holy Spirit”[114]; a novel kind of birth, because His mother remained a virgin after birth; a novel kind of suffering [passio], because it was without guilt[115]; a novel kind of rising from the dead [resurrectio], because it was quick and renewing, for He rose quickly and in glory[116]; a novel kind of ascension, because he ascended by His own power, not by that of another, as did Enoch and Elijah.[117] And so it is said in Ecclesiasticus: “Show signs anew and work wonders” (Sir. 36:6). And because all things are renewed through Christ, therefore on solemnities we use new vestments in church, that we may “sing to the Lord a new song”[118]—as though to signify that he who is renewed by the exterior cleanness of his clothing is renewed interiorly in his mind by grace. By “stripping off the old man,” i.e., the habit of sins with its deeds, “and putting on” the habit of virtue which is not lacking in [good] deeds, “the new man,” i.e., the rational mind, will be renewed “in the knowledge of God” (Col. 3:9-10).[119] As Romans has it, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14). And from whom does that wisdom come? The Holy Spirit, as Job testifies: “As I see, there is a spirit in men, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding. [They that are aged are not the wise men, neither do the ancients understand judgment]” (Job 32:8-9).[120]

Fourthly, renewal comes about through the glory that attains consummation, when the body is renewed, the oldness of punishment and guilt being taken away. We read about this in the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; [and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind]” (Is. 65:17). And where does this renewal come from? The Holy Spirit. He is the pledge of our inheritance, and it is He who leads us into the heavenly inheritance. He who needs to be created and renewed shall obtain this from the Holy Spirit.

4. The recipient of these effects

But who receives that renewal? “The face of the earth”: that is, the whole world, which at one time was filled with idolatry. Today, the Lord gave to the Apostles the gifts of the charisms.[121] It was of them that the prophet Isaiah said: “They who enter with force,” namely, the force of the Holy Spirit, “from Jacob shall fill the face of the earth with seed” (Is. 27:6).[122] And “face of the earth” refers to the human mind, for just as it is through the face that we see in a bodily manner, so it is through the mind that we see in a spiritual manner, as it says in Genesis: “God created man from the slime of the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7). But in order that the human mind may receive that renewal, it should have four things: it should be clean, uncovered, directed, and stable and firm.

Of the first, we read in Matthew: “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face” (Mt. 6:17), namely, with tears of compunction, and then you will be able to receive the renewal of the Holy Spirit. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 50:12).[123]

Secondly, the face of the mind should be open and uncovered. The prophet says: “His face is covered with fatness” (Job 15:27).[124] Some have the face of their mind covered over with the darkness of ignorance. [Job, on the contrary, asserts:] “Darkness has not covered my face” (Job 23:17).[125] And the Apostle: “But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face,” namely, a face not covered over by affection for earthly things, “are transformed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Thirdly, the face of the mind should be directed toward God, as we read in the prayer: “Now I turn my face toward Thee, and direct my eyes toward Thee” (Tob. 3:14).[126] How do we turn our face toward God? By a right intention; it is thus that we obtain the renewal of the Holy Spirit. Hence it says in the Gospel of Luke: “He will give the good Spirit to those who ask him” (Lk. 11:13).[127] Again, if you are turned [to God] through obedience, He will give the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. Likewise, we should also turn our face toward our neighbor, as Tobit says to his son: “Do not turn your face away from any poor man, and the face of God will not be turned away from you” (Tob. 4:7). Hence the Apostles received the Holy Spirit when they were together (Acts 2:1-4).[128]

Fourthly, the face of the mind should be firm. It is written of Anna, mother of Samuel, “her countenance was no more changed in various ways” (1 Sam. 1:18),[129] and for this reason she received the Holy Spirit. And the book of Job says: “Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear” (Job 11:15). The Holy Spirit is given to persons like these. That is why it says in the Gospel: “And eating together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”[130] But if they had gone away [from Jerusalem], they would not have received the Holy Spirit. “He who perseveres shall be saved” (Mt. 10:22; 24:13). In our prayers today, we shall ask the Lord to grant us this grace of perseverance.[131] Amen.



Pentecostal Oath



The king stablished all his knights, and gave them that were of lands not rich, he gave them lands, and charged them never to do outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no mean to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succor upon pain of death. Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, ne for no world’s goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book III, Chapter XV


Lawrence McClarey: In Memoriam



Lawrence Charles McClarey

Birth:  September 5, 1991

(Feast day of Saint Lawrence Justinian)

Death:  May 19, 2013



[38] For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 38-39



Bishop Barron on “Judging”

I just finished reading “Seeds of the Word” by Bishop Robert Barron. It’s a 275 page book that contains 84 chapters. Well, they’re not really chapters; they’re more like a soup of essays; somewhat like reading 84 blog posts broken into 4 parts, all about finding God in the secular world around us: (1) God in film, (2) God in Books, (3) God in politics and (4) God in the culture.

You might think that God can no longer be found in our secularized society, but Bishop Barron proves otherwise, and it stands to reason. If all humans are made in the image and likeness of God and have a created and immortal soul, then it seems plausible that we all have a natural yearning for the Creator, even if only subconsciously. And if Truth tends to find its way to the surface, we can find God in unlikely places if we know where and how to look.

There are potentially many juicy tidbits to share from the aforementioned book, but one that capture my attention in particular had to do with “judging”. Perhaps we are too often reminded of Matthew 7:1 which says “Stop judging, that you may not be judged”. This can give the impression that we are not to judge anything about a person…ever. But this is not a prohibition against recognizing sin, but against condemning others in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of our own faults.

Bishop Barron reminds us that we are a society obsessed with tolerance, acceptance, non-judgmentalism and inclusion, and at the same time we are obsessed with judging others.1. We love to judge and it shows in our culture. How so? Think of shows like The Voice, Judge Judy, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent and a cluster of cooking shows that are all about “judging”, and judging rather harshly at times. In addition, the most severe judges seem to be the most popular. Think of Howard Stern, Gordon Ramsay, Judge Judy and Simon Cowell. Reality TV sometimes really does show us reality!

When someone sings bad, or cooks bad, or whatever, we want them told in no uncertain terms. When someone does well, we want them praised and applauded. We seem to have a natural hunger for truth and justice. Deep down we know that judgment in terms of discerning “Truth” is indispensable to a happy life and a healthy society. As mentioned above, Truth tends to find its way to the surface, even if not in the most idyllic way. As we suppress our need to judge things properly, we should expect that “judging” will continue to pop-up in the culture, but in disguise.

Knowing the truth from a lie and living a healthy and happy life involves authentic judgment. Bishop Barron offered an analogy to explain further.2 Consider any living thing. A living organism will take in what is good (like food) and avoid what is bad (like predation) and must have some way to judge between the two. If a living thing beings to lose its judicious ability, it will begin to pass-up what is good and permit what is bad. As a result, it will get sick and eventually die or be killed. Once dead it will be absorbed into its surrounding environment and thus indistinguishable from it.

Bishop Barron goes on to explain that the rise of the “nones” (those with no religious preface) in the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey stem disproportionately from liberalized mainstream Protestant churches. Churches with squishy and lazy doctrine are fertile ground in which to grow “nones”. A church that can no longer take in what is good and avoid what is bad becomes like a sick organism that ultimately dies, decays and gets absorbed by its surrounding environment. The end result is that their theology becomes basically indistinguishable from the core logic and values of the surrounding culture. If this is the case, then what’s the point of identifying yourself as a member of any such church in the first place?

May God save us all from non-judgmentalism, lest mankind must answer “no” to a question that Jesus asked long ago, “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

“How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly!”

Elizabeth Gaskell


  1. Robert Barron, Seeds of the Word (Des Plaines, IL: Word on Fire, 2017) pp. 196-198.
  2. Barron, Seeds of the Word, p. 186.

The Simpsons Do Ayn Rand


We struggle to be just. For we cannot help feeling at least a sympathetic pain before the sheer labor, discipline, and patient craftsmanship that went to making this mountain of words. But the words keep shouting us down. In the end that tone dominates. But it should be its own antidote, warning us that anything it shouts is best taken with the usual reservations with which we might sip a patent medicine. Some may like the flavor. In any case, the brew is probably without lasting ill effects. But it is not a cure for anything. Nor would we, ordinarily, place much confidence in the diagnosis of a doctor who supposes that the Hippocratic Oath is a kind of curse.

Whittaker Chambers, Big Sister is Watching You, National Review, December 28, 1957






Gary Cooper thought the speech of Howard Roark was rambling and confusing and didn’t make sense.  Ayn Rand was furious that the full speech from her novel was not given in the film.  Critics savaged the film.  The film can be enjoyed if viewed as a parody of a movie based on a bad novel.  If considered in that manner, the film is a laugh fest!


PopeWatch: More BOMFOG

One of the interesting aspects of the Vatican since Vatican II is the overall poor job that the Popes have done in leading the Catholic Church, with the partial exception of John Paul II, and, to a lesser extent, Pope Benedict, and the attention that the Vatican has paid to matters in which clerics have no special competence.  Nowhere is this more the case that in the area of economics, where Catholics who know something about the dismal science have to blush with shame at most of the droppings from the Vatican on that subject.

These musings usually read as if they were parodies written by someone imitating Saint Thomas More writing about Utopia:  texts to belabor current conditions without containing a clue as to how realistic change for the better could possibly be initiated.  They usually contain genie-like invocations of the power of the State to control the economy, seemingly oblivious to the disasters such control has often led to throughout history and particularly during the last century.  They are usually written in the most cloying, unctuous language frequently deploying BOMFOG at length.  The late Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches that his chief goal was   “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!”  To people who know much about his political career, that invocation could be either considered to be a sick joke or a dark comedy.  His aides used to refer to these statements as BOMFOG.  The more high-falutin’ the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within.   Pope Francis has just issued what could almost be regarded as a parody of a parody of these exercises in economic ignorance and baroque and opaque prose.

What PopeWatch wrings from this tortured text is the usual when it comes to this Pope:

  1.  Markets are to be subject to extreme skepticism.
  2.  Government regulation of the economy is a positive good, and the more the better.
  3.  Governmental debts should be made to magically disappear.
  4.  The Vatican believes that it knows how markets operate when it clearly does not.
  5.  The Vatican favors international regulation of the global economy, paying scant attention, as always, of how this would be accomplished and the likely devastating impact on global markets.
  6.  The Vatican never grasps that regulation is always a source of graft, and that the more that governments intervene in markets, the more large corporations will seek to intervene in the political  process.
  7.   Buried in the text is the prediction that a “moderate” tax on transactions in “offshore banking institutions”, one of the chief boogeymen of the Pope, global hunger could be ended.  In that small aside, which PopeWatch suspects was a direct contribution of the Pope to this Sargasso Sea of verbiage, we see both the utopianism of the Pope, his never ending faith in government action, and his steadfast belief that poverty is a problem that could be solved but for these greedy merchants,
  8.  The Vatican casts about a lot the phrase “the common good” without ever pondering that surely a growing economy is good for the majority of people and that many of his prescriptions would strangle that particular common good.
  9.   The Vatican has fallen in love with the buzzword “transparency” when it comes to economic matters, which is rich considering the hidden machinations of the Vatican Bank and the finances of the Church that remain completely opaque.
  10.    This entire text brings to mind the immortal phrase of Hayek:  “The pretense of knowledge.”

Below is the text.  It epitomizes this observation from the first volume of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy:

“The analysis was the most difficult of the three by all odds. When Holk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications – in short, all the goo and dribble – he found he had nothing left. Everything cancelled out.

Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn’t say one damned thing, and said it so you never noticed.”



“‘Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones’. Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17.05.2018


I. Introduction

1.  Economic and financial issues draw our attention today as never before because of the growing influence of financial markets on the material well-being of most of humankind. What is needed, on the one hand, is an appropriate regulation of the dynamics of the markets and, on the other hand, a clear ethical foundation that assures a well-being realized through the quality of human relationships rather than merely through economic mechanisms that by themselves cannot attain it. This ethical foundation needs to inform a range of persons but especially those working in the fields of economy and finance. In this situation a synthesis of technical knowledge and human wisdom is essential. Without such a synthesis, every human activity tends to deteriorate. But where it exists, it can foster progress towards the integral and concrete well-being of the human person.

2.  The integral development of every person, of every human community, and of all people, is the ultimate horizon of the common good that the Church, as the “universal sacrament of salvation,”[1] seeks to advance. In the fullness of the good, which has its origin and consummation in God and is fully revealed in Jesus Christ, the head over all things (cf. Eph 1:10), lies the ultimate goal of every ecclesial activity. Such well-being flourishes as an anticipation of the Kingdom of God, which the Church is called to proclaim and establish in every sphere of human enterprise[2], and is the special fruit of that charity which, as the bright path of ecclesial action, is expressed even  in the social, civil and political realms. This love for society “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are eminent forms of a charity that affects not only relationships between individuals but also ‘macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones’.” That is why the Church sets before the world the ideal of a ‘civilization of love’.”[3] Love for the integral good, inseparable from love for the truth, is the key to authentic development.

3. The Church pursues this aim with the certainty that in every culture, there are multiple areas of ethical agreement that express a common moral wisdom[4] and form the objective order upon which the dignity of the person is founded. From the solid and indispensable basis of such an order arise the clear and common principles that establish the fundamental rights and duties of the human person without which the control and abuse of the most powerful would come to dominate the entire human scene. This ethical order, rooted in the wisdom of God the Creator, is therefore the indispensable foundation for building a worthy community of persons, regulated by truly just laws. This is all the more evident where human beings, despite striving wholeheartedly for the good and the true, often succumb to vested interests, tyrannies, and iniquitous practices that cause grave suffering for all humanity, and especially for the weak and defenceless.

In order to liberate every realm of human activity from the moral disorder that so often afflicts it, the Church recognizes among her primary duties the responsibility to call everyone, with humble certainty, to clear ethical principles. The shared human reason, that ineffaceably characterizes every person, demands an enlightened discernment in this regard. Moreover, human rationality searches, in truth and justice, for the solid foundation that sustains its operation and maintains its sense of direction.[5]

4. Therefore, the proper orientation of reason can never be absent from any area of human activity. It follows that there can be no area of human action that legitimately claims to be either outside of  or impermeable to ethical principles based on liberty, truth, justice and solidarity.[6] This is true for those areas in which the political and economic laws apply: “Today, with a view towards the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life.”[7]

Every human activity, in fact, is called to bear fruit, to use generously and equitably the gifts that God provides to all, and to nourish with lively confidence the seeds of goodness implanted in the whole of creation as a promise of abundance. The call to bear fruit is a continual invitation to human freedom, even if sin is always ready to undermine the original divine plan.

For this reason, God encounters man in Jesus Christ. Drawing us into the marvellous event of his Resurrection, he “redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between human persons”[8] and works for a new order of social relationships founded on the truth and love, and supplying yeast for the transformation of history. In such a way, he anticipates in the course of time that Kingdom of Heaven which he has come to proclaim and inaugurate in his person.

5. Although global economic well-being appears to have increased in the second half of the twentieth century with an unprecedented magnitude and speed, at the same time inequalities proliferate between various countries and within them.[9] Moreover, the number of people who live in conditions of extreme poverty continues to be enormous.

The recent financial crisis might have provided the occasion to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and a new regulation of financial activities that would neutralise predatory and speculative tendencies and acknowledge the value of the actual economy. Although there have been many positive efforts at various levels which should be recognized and appreciated, there does not seem to be any inclination to rethink the obsolete criteria that continue to govern the world.[10] On the contrary, the response seems at times like a return to the heights of myopic egoism, limited by an inadequate framework that, excluding the common good, also excludes from its horizons the concern to create and spread wealth, and to eliminate the inequality so pronounced today.

6. At stake is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being “excluded and marginalized”[11] from  development and true well-being while a minority, indifferent to the condition of the majority, exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth. Therefore, it is time to initiate the recovery of what is authentically human, to expand the horizons of minds and hearts, to recognize faithfully the exigencies of the true and the good without which no social, political and economic system could avoid bankruptcy, failure, and, in the long term, collapse. Selfishness, in the end, does not pay while it makes everyone pay a high price; hence, if we want the real well-being of humanity, “Money must serve, not rule!”[12]

For this reason, the competent and responsible agents have the duty to develop new forms of economy and of finance, with rules and regulations directed towards the enlargement of the common good and respect for human dignity along the lines indicated by the social teachings of the Church. With this document, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose competence extends to moral questions, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, offers some fundamental considerations and clarifications in support of such development and in defence of human dignity.[13] It is especially necessary to provide an ethical reflection on certain aspects of financial transactions which, when operating without the necessary anthropological and moral foundations, have not only produced manifest abuses and injustice, but also demonstrated a capacity to create systemic and worldwide economic crisis. This discernment is offered to all men and women of good will.


II. Fundamental Considerations

7. Some basic considerations are evident to all who seek to understand the historical situation in which we are now living.  It is beyond the scope of this document to discuss the legitimate disagreements among their diverse theories and schools of thought (apart from the desire to contribute towards dialogue among them). Furthermore this document acknowledges that there do not exist universally valid economic formulas for every moment. Nevertheless, this document intends to offer an interpretation of the situation in which we find ourselves.

8. Every human reality and activity is something positive, if it is lived within the horizon of an adequate ethics that respects human dignity and is directed to the common good. This is valid for all institutions, for it is within them that human social life is born, and thus it is also true for markets at every level, including financial markets.

It must be noted that the systems that give life to the markets—before deploying the anonymous dynamics made possible by ever more sophisticated technologies—are in fact founded on relationships that involve the freedom of individual human beings. It is evident therefore that the economy, like every other sphere of human action, “needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred.” [14]

9. It is evident that without an appropriate vision of the human person, it is not possible to create an ethics, nor a practice, worthy of the dignity of the human person and the good that is truly common. In fact, however neutral and detached from every basic concept one may claim to be, every human action, even in the economic sphere, implies some conception of the human person and of the world, which reveals its value through both the effects and the developments it produces.

In this sense, our contemporary age has shown itself to have a limited vision of the human person, as the person is understood individualistically and predominantly as a consumer, whose profit consists above all in the optimization of his or her monetary income. The human person, however, actually possesses a uniquely relational nature and has a sense for the perennial search for gains and well-being that may be more comprehensive, and not reducible either to a logic of consumption or to the economic aspects of life.[15]

The fundamentally relational nature of the human person[16] is characterized essentially by a rationality that resists a reductionist view of one’s basic needs. In this regard, it is impossible to be silent in the face of today’s tendency to reify every exchange of “goods” as if it were no more than a mere exchange of “things.”

In reality, it is evident that in the transmission of goods among persons there is always something more than mere material goods at play, given the fact that the material goods are often vehicles of immaterial goods whose concrete presence or absence decisively determines the quality of these very economic relationships (for example, trust, equity, and cooperation). It is at this level that one can well understand that the logic of giving with nothing in return is not an alternative to, but rather is inseparable from and complementary to the exchange of equivalent goods.[17]

10. It is easy to note the advantages of a vision of the human person understood as constitutively inserted in a network of relationships that are in themselves a positive resource.[18] Every person is born within a familial environment, enjoying a set of pre-existing relationships without which life would be impossible. The human person develops through the stages of life thanks to pre-existing bonds that actualize one’s being in the world as freedom continuously shared. These are the original bonds that define the human person as a relational being who lives in what Christian Revelation calls “communion”.

This original nature of communion, while revealing in every human person a trace of the affinity with God who creates and calls one into a relationship with himself, is also that which naturally orients the person to the life of communion, the fundamental place for one’s fulfillment. One’s own recognition of this character, as an original and constitutive element of our human identity, allows us to look at others not primarily as potential competitors, but rather as possible allies, in the construction of the good that is authentic only if it is concerned about each and every person simultaneously.

Such relational anthropology helps the human person to recognize the validity of economic strategies that aim above all to promote the global quality of life that, before the indiscriminate expansion of profits, leads the way toward the integral well-being of the entire person and of every person. No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the preferential option for the poor.[19] These are three principles that imply and necessarily point to one another, with a  view to the construction of a world that is more equitable and united.

For this reason, progress within an economic system cannot measured only by quantitative and profit-driven standards, but also on the basis of the well-being that extends a good that is not simply material. Every economic system is legitimate if it thrives not merely through the quantitative development of exchange but rather by its capacity to promote the development of the entire person and of every person. Well-being and development both demand and support each other,[20] calling for sustainable policies and perspectives far beyond the short term.[21]

In this regard, it is particularly desirable that institutions such as universities and business schools both foresee and provide, as a fundamental and not merely supplementary element of their curricula of studies, a formational dimension that educates the students to understand economics and finance in the light of a vision of the totality of the human person and avoids a reductionism that sees only some dimensions of the person. An ethics is needed to design such formation. The social doctrine of the Church would be a considerable help in this connection.

11. Well-being must therefore be measured by criteria far more comprehensive than the Gross Domestic Product of a nation (GDP), and must take into account instead other standards, for example, safety and security, the growth of “human capital”, the quality of human relationships and of work. Profit should to be pursued but not “at any cost”, nor as a totalizing objective for economic action.

The presence of humanistic standards and cultural expressions that value generosity turn out to be both useful and emblematic here. Thus the discovery and implementation of the true and just as good in themselves, become the norms for evaluation.[22] Profit and solidarity are no longer antagonists. In fact, where egoism and vested interests prevail, it is difficult for the human person to grasp the fruitful interchange between profit and gift, as sin tends to tarnish and rupture this relationship. In a fully human perspective, there is actualized an interchange between profit and solidarity that, thanks to the freedom of the human person, unleashes a great potential for the markets.

An enduring call to acknowledge the human quality of generosity comes from the rule formulated by Jesus in the Gospel, called the golden rule, which invites us to do to others what we would like them to do for us (cf. Mt 7, 12; Lk 6, 31).

12. Economic activity cannot be sustained in the long run where freedom of initiative cannot thrive.[23] It is also obvious today that the freedom enjoyed by the economic stakeholders, if it is understood as absolute in itself, and removed from its intrinsic reference to the true and the good, creates centers of power that incline towards forms of oligarchy and in the end undermine the very efficiency of the economic system.[24] 

From this point of view, it is easy to see how, with the growing and all-pervasive control of powerful parties and vast economic-financial networks, those deputed to exercise political power are often disoriented and rendered powerless by supranational agents and by the volatility of the capital they manage. Those entrusted with political authority find it difficult to fulfil to their original vocation as servants of the common good, and are even transformed into ancillary instruments of interests extraneous to the good.[25]

These factors make all the more imperative a renewed alliance between economic and political agents in order to promote everything that serves the complete development of every human person as well as the society at large and unites demands for solidarity with those of subsidiarity.[26]

13. In principle, all the endowments and means that the markets employ in order to strengthen their distributive capacity are morally permissible, provided they do not turn against the dignity of the person and are not indifferent to the common good.[27]

At the same time, it is clear that markets, as powerful propellers of the economy, are not capable of governing themselves.[28] In fact, the markets know neither how to make the assumptions that allow their smooth running (social coexistence, honesty, trust, safety and security, laws, and so on) nor how to correct those effects and forces that are harmful to human society (inequality, asymmetries, environmental damage, social insecurity, and fraud).

14. Moreover, besides the fact that most of its operators are singularly animated by good and right intentions, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the financial industry, because of its pervasiveness and its inevitable capacity to condition and, in a certain sense, to dominate the real economy today, is a place where selfishness and the abuse of power have an enormous potential to harm the community.

For this reason, it must be noted that in the economic-financial world there are conditions in which some methods, though not directly unacceptable from an ethical point of view, still constitute instances of proximate immorality, that is, occasions that readily generate the kind of abuse and deception that can damage less advantaged counterparts. For instance, to commercialize certain financial instruments is in itself licit, but in a asymmetrical situation it would be possible to take advantage of a lack of knowledge or of the contractual weakness of either counterpart. In itself this amounts to a violation of due relational propriety, which is already a grave violation from an ethical point of view.

The complexity of numerous financial products currently renders such asymmetry an inherent element of the system itself and puts the buyers in a position inferior to those who commercialize these products—a situation that from several aspects leads to the surmounting of the traditional principle of caveat emptor. This principle, on the basis of which the responsibility to assess the quality of the good acquired should rest above all with the buyer, in fact presupposes a parity in the capacity to safeguard the proper interests of the contractors. This actually does not exist in many cases both from the evident hierarchical relationship that comes to be established in certain types of contracts (for example, between the lender and the borrower) as well as in the complex structuring of numerous financial instruments.

15. Money in itself is a good instrument, as are many other things at the disposal of the human person, and is a means to order one’s freedom and to expand one’s possibilities. Nevertheless, the means can easily turn against the person. Likewise, the financial dimension of the business world, focusing business on the access of money through the gateway of the world of stock exchange, is as such something positive. Such a phenomenon, however, today risks accentuating bad financial practices concentrated primarily on speculative transactions of virtual wealth, as well as negotiations of high frequency trading, where the parties accumulate for themselves an excessive quantity of capital and remove the capital from circulation within the real economy.[29]

What was sadly predicted a century ago has now come true today. Capital annuity can trap and supplant the income from work, which is often confined to the margins of the principal interests of the economic system. Consequently, work itself, together with its dignity, is increasingly at risk of losing its value as a “good” for the human person[30] and becoming merely a means of exchange within asymmetrical social relations.

Precisely in this inversion of the order between means and ends, where work as a good becomes an “instrument,” and money an “end”, the reckless and amoral “culture of waste” finds a fertile ground. It has marginalized great masses of the world’s population, deprived them of decent labor, and left them “without possibilities, without any means of escape”: “It is no longer simply the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside, or those on the fringes or its disenfranchised, but rather they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.[31]

16. In this regard, we cannot but think of the irreplaceable social function of credit whose performance looms large to qualified and reliable financial intermediaries. In this sphere, it is clear that applying excessively high interest rates, really beyond the range of the borrowers of funds, represents a transaction not only ethically illegitimate, but also harmful to the health of the economic system. As always, such practices, along with usurious activities, have been recognized by human conscience as iniquitous and by the economic system as contrary to its good functioning.

Here financial activity exhibits its primary vocation of service to the real economy: it is called to create value with morally licit means, and to favour a dispersion of capital for the purpose of producing a principled circulation of wealth.[32] For instance, very positive in this regard, and to be encouraged, are arrangements of cooperative credit, microcredit, as well as the public credit, in the service of families, businesses, the local economies, as well as credit to assist developing countries.

Especially in this context—where the positive potential of money can be best actualized–is it clear that it is morally illegitimate to expose to an undue risk the credit deriving from civil society by deploying it predominantly for speculative purposes.

17. What is morally unacceptable is not simply to profit, but rather to avail oneself of an inequality for one’s own advantage, in order to create enormous profits that are damaging to others; or to exploit one’s dominant position in order to profit by unjustly disadvantaging others, or to make oneself rich through harming and disrupting the collective common good.[33]

Such a practice is particularly deplorable from the moral point of view when the intention of profit by a few through the risk of speculation even in important funds of investment,[34]  provokes artificial reduction of the prices of public debt securities, without regard to the negative impact or to the worsening of the economic situation of entire nations. This practice endangers not only the public efforts for rebalancing, but also the very economic stability of millions of families,  and at the same time compels government authorities to intervene with substantial amounts of public money, even to the extent of artificially interfering in the proper functioning of political systems.

The speculative intention, often in today’s economic-financial environment, risks supplanting all other principal intentions that ground human freedom. This factor is devouring the immense patrimony of values that renders our civil society a place of peaceful coexistence, encounter, solidarity, renewed reciprocity and of responsibility for the common good. In this context, words such as “efficiency”, “competition”, “leadership”, and “merit” tend to occupy the entire space of our civil culture and assume a meaning that ends up in impoverishing the quality of exchanges, reducing them to mere numerical coefficients. 

What is demanded is an initiative, above all, for the renewal of humanity in order to reopen the horizons towards that abundance of values which alone permits the human person to discover himself or herself, and to construct a society that is a hospitable and inclusive dwelling place with room for the weakest, and where wealth is used for the benefit of all—places where it is beautiful for human beings to live and easy for them to have hope.


III. Some Clarifications in Today’s Context

18. In order to offer concrete and specific ethical bearings to all economic and financial agents, from whom there come more and more appeals in this regard, we now present some further clarifications, formulated with a view to opening the paths by which human beings can become truly human by promoting both human dignity and the common good.[35]

19.  Thanks to globalization and digitalization, the markets can be compared to a giant organism through whose veins, like life giving sap, flow huge amounts of money. This analogy allows us to speak of the “health” of such an organism when its means and structures are functioning well, and the growth and diffusion of wealth go hand in hand. The health of a system depends on the health of every single action performed. In a healthy market system, it is easier to respect and promote the dignity of the human person and the common good.

Correspondingly, every time unreliable economic-financial instruments are introduced and diffused, they put the growth and the diffusion of the wealth into serious danger creating systemic problems and risks that amount to the “intoxication” of the organism.

We understand the demand, felt more and more today, that public authorities should provide a certification for every product generated by financial innovation, in order to preserve the health of the system and prevent negative collateral effects. To favor economic health and to avoid manipulation are an inescapable moral imperative for all the stakeholders engaged in the markets. Also this demand shows how urgent is a supranational co-ordination among diverse structures of local financial systems.[36]

20. Such well-being nourishes itself on a multiplicity and diversity of resources, which form a kind of economic and financial “biodiversity”. This biodiversity represents an added value to the economic system and needs to be favored and safeguarded through adequate economic-financial policies, with the aim of assuring to the markets the presence of a plurality of persons and healthy instruments with a richness and diversity of characters. When it is positive, it is sustained and, on the contrary, by way of the negative, it hinders those who degrade the functionality of the system that produces and spreads wealth.

In this regard, it must be noted that the task of producing added value within the markets in a healthy way is realized by a unique function of cooperation. A loyal and intensive synergy of agents easily achieves that surplus of value towards which every economic achievement aims.[37]

When human beings recognize the fundamental solidarity that unites them with all of humanity, they realize that they cannot keep only for themselves the goods that they possess. When one habitually lives in solidarity, the goods that he or she possesses are used not only for one’s own needs, but they multiply themselves, also producing unexpected fruits for others.[38] It is here that we clearly notice how sharing may not be “only the distribution but also the multiplication of goods, the creation of new bread, of new goods, of new Good with a capital “G”.[39]

21. Experience and evidence over the last decades has demonstrated, on the one hand, how naive is the belief in a presumed self-sufficiency of the markets, independent of any ethics, and on the other hand, the compelling necessity of an appropriate regulation that at the same time unites the freedom and protection of every person and operates to create healthy and proper interactions, especially with regards to the more vulnerable. In this sense, political and economic-financial powers must remain distant and autonomous and at the same time directed, beyond all proximate harms, towards the realization of a good that is basically common, and not reserved only for a few privileged persons.[40]

Such regulation is made even more necessary in view of the fact that among the major reasons for the most recent economic crisis was the immoral behavior of agents in the financial world, where the supranational dimension of the economic system  makes it easy to bypass the regulations established by individual countries. Moreover, the extreme volatility and mobility of capital investments in the financial world permit those who control them to operate smoothly beyond every norm that does not aim at an immediate profit, often blackmailing by a position of strength even legitimate political authority.

Hence, it is clear that the markets are in need of solid and strong bearings, macro-prudential rather than normative, more shared than uniform; there is also need of continuously updated regulations that can respond to market flux. Similar bearings must guarantee a serious control of the quality and reliability of every economic-financial product, especially of those more structured. In addition, when the velocity of the innovative processes produces excessive systemic risk, the economic operators must accept the obligations and limits that the common good demands, without attempting to bypass or diminish their purpose.

The current globalization of the financial system requires a stable, clear and effective coordination among various national regulatory authorities, with the possibility, and at times, the necessity of sharing binding decisions promptly when required, in the face of the threats to the common good. Such regulatory authorities must always remain independent and bound by the exigencies of equity and the public benefit. The understandable difficulties in this regard should not discourage the search for and imposition of concordant normative systems consolidated among different nations but with supranational scope.[41]

The regulations must favor a complete transparency regarding whatever is traded in order to eliminate every form of injustice and inequality, thus assuring the greatest possible equity in the exchange. Likewise, the asymmetrical concentration of information and power tends to strengthen the more stronger economic agents and thus to create hegemonies capable of unilaterally influencing not only the markets, but also political and regulatory systems. Moreover, where massive deregulation is practiced, the evident result is a regulatory and institutional vacuum that creates space not only for moral risk and embezzlement, but also for the rise of the irrational exuberance of the markets, followed first by speculative bubbles, and then by sudden, destructive collapse, and systemic crises.[42]

22. Systemic crisis can be more effectively avoided if  there were a clear definition and separation among banking responsibilities for the management of credit, of the ordinary daily management of credit, of investment savings, and of  mere business.[43] This is intended as much as possible to avoid situations of financial instability.

A healthy financial system also requires the maximum amount of information possible, so that every agent can protect his or her interests in full, and with complete freedom. It is in fact important to know if one’s capital is used for speculative purposes, and also to know the degree of risk and the adequate price of the financial products to which one subscribes. Much more than the usual savings of the familiar type, it is a public good to protect and search for an adverse optimization of risk. The saving itself, when entrusted in the expert hands of financial advisers, needs to be administered well, and not just managed.

Among the morally questionable activities of  financial advisers in the management of savings, the following are to be taken into account: an excessive movement of the investment portfolio commonly aimed at increasing the revenues deriving from the commission for the bank or other financial intermediary; a failure from a due impartiality in offering instruments of saving, which, compared with some banks, the product of others would suit better the needs of the clients; the scarcity of an adequate diligence or even a malicious negligence on the part of financial advisers regarding the protection of related interests to the portfolio of their clients; and the concession of  financing on the part of the banking intermediator in a subordinate manner to the contextual subscription of other financial products issued by the same, but not convenient to the client.  

23. Every business creates an important network of relations and in its unique way represents a true intermediate social body with a proper culture and practices. Such culture and practices, while determining the internal organization of the enterprise, influence also the social fabric in which it operates. At this level, the Church recalls the importance of the social responsibility of each venture,[44] wherein the ad extra is congruent with the ad intra.

In this sense, wherever mere profit is placed at the summit of the culture of a financial enterprise, and the actual demands of the common good are ignored, every ethical claim is really perceived as irrelevant. This is reported today as a fact and is very much widespread even in the prestigious business schools. Every ethical claim is actually perceived as irrelevant and juxtaposed to the entrepreneurial action. This is very much highlighted from the fact that, in the organizational logic, those who do not adjust to business targets of this type are penalized both at the retributive level and at the level of professional recognition. In these cases, the objective of mere profit easily creates a perverse and selective logic that often favours the advancement of business leaders who are capable, but greedy and unscrupulous, and whose relationship with others is prevalently driven by a selfish and personal gain.

In addition, such logic has often pushed managements to establish economic policies aimed not at increasing the economic health of the companies that they serve, but at the mere profits of the shareholders, damaging therefore the legitimate interests of those who are bearing all of the work and service benefiting the same company, as well as the consumers and the various local communities (stakeholders). This is often incentivized by substantial remuneration in proportion to immediate results of management, but not likewise counterbalanced by equivalent penalization, in the case of failure of the objectives, though assuring greater profits to managers and shareholders in a short period, and thus ending up with forcing excessive risk, leaving the companies weak and impoverished of those economic energies that would have assured them adequate expectations for the future.

All of these factors easily create and diffuse a profoundly amoral culture—in which one often does not hesitate to commit a crime when the foreseen benefits exceed the expected penalty. Such behaviour gravely pollutes the health of every economic-social system It endangers the functionality and seriously harms the effective realization of that common good, upon which is necessarily founded every form of social institution.

Exactly here, the natural circularity that exists between profit, a factor intrinsically necessary for every economic system, and social responsibility, an essential element for the survival of any form of civil coexistence, reveals its full fruitfulness and exposes the indissoluble connection, that sin tends to hide, between the ethics respectful of persons and the common good, and the actual functionality of every economic financial system. Such virtuous circularity is favoured, for example, by the pursuit of the reduction of the risk of conflict with the stakeholders in order to nurture greater inner motivation of the employees of a company.  The creation of added value here, the primary objective of the economic financial system, must demonstrate, with all of its implications, its practicality inside a solidified ethical system founded on a sincere search for the common good. Only from the recognition, and from the realization, of the intrinsic connection that exists between economic reasoning and ethical reasoning, can a good indeed spring forth, that may benefit all of humanity.[45] Therefore, in order to function well, the market needs anthropological and ethical prerequisites that it is neither capable of giving for itself, nor producing on its own.

24. If, on the one hand, credit-worthiness demands a prudent activity of selection for identifying the really worthy beneficiaries capable of innovation, protected from unhealthy collusions, then on the other hand, in order to withstand effectively the risks encountered, the banks must have a suitable management of assets, so that an eventual division of the losses may be limited to a greater extent and may fall above all on those actually responsible for losses.

Certainly, the delicate management of savings, besides appropriate legal regulation, calls for culturally adequate paradigms, together with the practice of careful revisiting, from an ethical perspective, the relationship between the bank and the customer, as well as a continuous defence of the legitimacy of all relevant transactions.

Along these lines, an interesting suggestion that should be tried out, is the institution of Ethical Committees within the banks, to support the Councils of Administration. This is done in so far as the banks are helped not only to protect their balance from the consequences of sufferings and loses, and towards an effective coherence between the collective mission and the financial practices, but also to adequately sustain the actual economy.

25. The creation of titles of credit is extremely risky. They operate under the guise of creating a fictitious value without proper quality control or a reliable assessment of credit, and can enrich those who arrange them, but easily creates insolvency to the detriment of those who then have to withdraw them. This is all the more so if the critical burden of these stocks are passed from the institute that issues them on to the market on which they are spread and diffused (for e.g. security of the subprime mortgages) This practice creates wide ranging harm, and potentially systemic difficulties. Such manipulation of the markets contradicts the necessary health of the economic-financial system, and is unacceptable from the point of view of the ethics respectful of the common good.

Every credit share must correspond to a potentially real value, and not merely to a presumed one that is difficult to verify. In this sense, a need for a public regulation, and an appraisal super partes of the work of the rating agencies of credit, becomes all the more urgent, with legal instruments that make it possible to sanction the distorted actions and to prevent the creation of a dangerous oligopoly on the part of a few. This is even more true in the presence of the system of credit brokerage, in which the responsibility of the credit granted is passed on from the original lender to those who assume them.

26. Some financial products, among which the so called “derivatives”, are created for the purpose of guaranteeing an insurance on the inherent risks of certain operations often containing a gamble made on the basis of the presumed value attributed to those risks. At the foundation of such financial instruments lay contracts in which the parties are still able to reasonably evaluate the fundamental risk on which they want to insure.

However, in some types of derivatives (in the particular the so-called securitizations) it is noted that, starting with the original structures, and linked to identifiable financial investments, more and more complex structures were built (securitizations of securitizations) in which it is increasingly difficult, and after many of these transactions almost impossible, to stabilize in a reasonable and fair manner their fundamental value. This means that every passage in the trade of these shares, beyond the will of the parties, effects in fact a distortion of the actual value of the risk from that which the instrument must defend. All these have encouraged the rising of speculative bubbles, which have been the important contributive cause of the recent financial crisis.

It is obvious that the uncertainty surrounding these products, such as the steady decline of the transparency of that which is assured, still not appearing in the original operation, makes them continuously less acceptable from the perspective of ethics respectful of the truth and the common good, because it transforms them into a ticking time bomb ready sooner or later to explode, poisoning the health of the markets. It is noted that there is an ethical void which becomes more serious as these products are negotiated on the so-called markets with less regulation (over the counter) and are exposed more to the markets regulated by chance, if not by fraud, and thus take away vital life-lines and investments to the real economy.

A similar ethical assessment can be also applied for those uses of credit default swap (CDS: they are particular insurance contracts for the risk of bankruptcy) that permit gambling at the risk of the bankruptcy of a third party, even to those who haven’t taken any such risk of credit earlier, and really to repeat such operations on the same event, which is absolutely not consented to by the normal pact or insurance.

The market of CDS, in the wake of the economic crisis of 2007, was imposing enough to represent almost the equivalent of the GDP of the entire world. The spread of such a kind of contract without proper limits has encouraged the growth of a finance of chance, and of gambling on the failure of others, which is unacceptable from the ethical point of view.

In fact, the process of acquiring these instruments, by those who do not have any risk of credit already in existence, creates a unique case in which persons start to nurture interests for the ruin of other economic entities, and can even resolve themselves to do so.

It is evident that such a possibility, if, on the one hand, shapes an event particularly deplorable from the moral perspective, because the one who acts does so in view of a kind of economic cannibalism, and, on the other hand, ends up undermining that necessary basic trust without which the economic system would end up blocking itself. In this case, also, we can notice how a negative event, from the ethical point of view, also harms the healthy functioning of the economic system.

Therefore, it must be noted, that when from such gambling can derive enormous damage for entire nations and millions of families, we are faced with extremely immoral actions, it seems necessary to extend deterrents, already present in some nations, for such types of operations, sanctioning the infractions with maximum severity.

27. A central point of the dynamism that rules the financial markets is the level of the taxation of interests relative to interbank loans (LIBOR), whose measurement acts as the guide for the rates of interest in the monetary market, as well as in the rate of the official exchange of the different currencies handled by the banks.

These are some of the important parameters which have significant effect on the entire economic-financial system as they influence daily the substantial transfer of money between parties that approve contracts actually based upon the measure of these rates. The manipulation of the measuring of these rates constitutes a severe ethical violation with wide ranging consequences.  

The fact that this could have happened impunitively for many years shows how fragile and exposed to fraud is a financial system not sufficiently controlled by regulations, and lacking proportionate sanctions for the violations in which its stakeholders often encounter. In this environment, the establishment of real “networks” of connivance, among those persons who were instead predisposed for the correct fixing of those rates, form, by coincidence, a criminal association, particularly harmful for the common good, which inflicts a dangerous wound to the health of the economic system. It must be penalized with adequate punishments and be discouraged from repetition.

28.  Today the principal agents that operate in the world of finance, especially the banks, must be endowed with internal organisms, which ensure a function of compliance, or of self-control of the legitimacy of the major steps in the decision-making process and of the major products offered by the company. However, it is necessary to point out that, at least until the very recent past, the practice of the economic-financial system is often significantly based on a  purely “negative” judgment of the function of compliance, that is to say, on a merely formal respect of the limits established by the law. Unfortunately, from this arose also the frequency of a practice, elusive of normative controls, wherein actions were directed toward bypassing the normative principles in place without contradicting explicitly the norms themselves in order to escape sanctions.

In order to avoid this, it is therefore necessary that the judgement of compliance enter on the merit of various operations from “positive” perspective that seeks verify their effective correspondence with the principles that inform the current norms. According to many, the execution of the function in this manner would be facilitated if it helped the institution of Ethical Committees, operating along with the Councils of Administration, which may constitute a natural interlocutor made up of those who should guarantee, in the concrete functioning of the bank, the conformity of behaviour to the existing norms.    

In this sense, it is important that within the company there would be some guidelines which allow the facilitation of a similar corresponding judgement, so that one can discern in fact, which ones, among the operations, may technically be achievable and practical from the ethical point of view (a question that arises, for instance, in a very relevant way for the practices of tax avoidance). In such a way, one may pass from a merely formal adherence to a substantial respect of the regulations.

Moreover, it is desirable that even in the normative regulatory system, the financial world may foresee a general clause that declares illegitimate, with consequent accountability of the assets, all the persons to whom these are attributable, and whose predominant aim may be predominantly to bypass the existing norms.

29.  It is no longer possible to ignore certain phenomena in the world, such as the spreading of the collateral banking systems (Shadow banking system). These, although well understood within themselves, and also the types of intermediaries whose functioning does not immediately appear disapproved, in fact have led to the loss of control over the system on the part of various authorities of national securities. Hence, they have knowingly favored the use of the so-called creative financing in which the primary aim of the investment of the financial resources is above all speculative in character, if not predatory, and not a service to the actual economy.  For instance, many agree that the existence of such “shadow” systems may be one of the contributing causes that advanced the development, and the global diffusion, of the recent economic-financial crisis started in the USA with subprime mortgages in the summer of 2007.   

30. Such speculative intent, on which the world of offshore finance thrives, while offering also other legitimate services, through the widely diffused channels of tax avoidance, if not directly of evasion and the recycling of money deriving from crimes, contributes to an additional impoverishment of the normal system of production and of the distribution of goods and services. It is difficult to distinguish if many such situations give life to particular instances of proximate or immediate immorality. Certainly, it is by now evident that such realities, where they unjustly subtract vital nourishment from the real economy, can hardly find justification both from the ethical point of view and from the point of view of the global efficiency of the economic system itself.

On the contrary, there seems to be all the more evident a negligible degree of correlation between the unethical behaviors of the operators and the existing bankruptcies of the system in its complexity. It is now undeniable that ethical scarcity exacerbates the imperfections of the mechanisms of the market.[46]

In the second half of the last century, the offshore market of euro-dollars, the financial space of exchange outside every official normative framework, was born. The market expanded from an important European country to other countries of the world, paving way to a real alternative financial network to the official financial system and the jurisdictions that protect them.

It must be noted, in this regard, if the formal reason which is given to legitimize the presence of the offshore sites is that of permitting the institutional investors not to be subjected to a double taxation; firstly in the country of their residence and secondly in the countries where the funds are domiciled, in reality, these places, to a considerable extent, have become an opportunity for financial operations often border line, if not beyond the pale, both from the point of view of their lawfulness under the normative profile and from that of ethics, meaning an economic culture, healthy and free from the intentions of tax avoidance.

Today, more than the half of the commercial world is orchestrated by noteworthy persons that cut down their tax burden by moving the revenues from one site to another according to their convenience, transferring the profits into fiscal havens, and the costs into the countries of higher taxation. It appears clear that all these have removed decisive resources from the actual economy and contributed to the creation of economic systems founded on inequality. Furthermore, it is not possible to ignore the fact that those offshore sites, on more occasions, have become usual places of recycling dirty money, which is the fruit of illicit income (thefts, frauds, corruption, criminal associations, mafia, war booties etc.)

Thereby disguising the fact that the so-called offshore operations do take place in their official financial places, some States have consented to obtain profit even from crimes, thinking however of not being responsible as the crimes did not take place formally under their jurisdiction. This represents, from the moral point of view, an evident form of hypocrisy.   

In a short period, such a market has become a place of major transition of capital, because its configuration represents an easy way for realizing different and essential forms of tax avoidance. Therefore, we understand that the offshore domestication of many important societies involved in the market is very much coveted and practiced.

31. Certainly, the tax system prepared by the various nations does not seem to be always equal. In this regard, it is relevant to keep in mind how such inequity often disadvantages the economically weaker persons and favors the more endowed, and is capable of influencing even the normative systems that regulate the same taxes. In fact, an imposition of the taxes, when it is equal, performs a fundamental function of equalization and redistribution of the wealth not only in favor of those who need appropriate subsidies, but it also supports the investments and the growth of the actual economy.

Tax avoidance on the part of primary stakeholders, those large financial intermediaries, who move in the market, indicate an unjust removal of resources from the actual economy, and this is damaging for the civil society as a whole.

Due to the non-transparency of those systems, it is difficult to establish with precision the amount of assets that are transacted in them. However, it was calculated that a minimum tax on the transactions accomplished offshore would be sufficient to resolve a large part of the problem of hunger in the world: why can’t we undertake courageously the way of a similar initiative?

Furthermore, it has been established that the existence of offshore sites has encouraged also an enormous outflow of capital from many countries of low income, thus creating numerous political and economic crises, impeding them from finally undertaking the path of growth and a healthy development.

For this reason, it is worth mentioning that more often different international institutions have denounced these practices and many governments have righty tried to limit the flow of the offshore financial bases. Many positive efforts have been undertaken in this regard, especially in the last decade. However, they could not successfully impose accords and norms adequately efficient until now. On the contrary, the normative frames proposed even by the international authoritative organizations in this regard have been often unapplied, or made ineffective, because of the notable influence that those bases are capable of exercising towards many political powers, thanks to the large amount of capital in their possession.

All this, while contributing grave damage to the good functionality of the actual economy, indicates a structure that, as it is formed today, seems to be totally unacceptable from the ethical point of view. Hence, it is necessary and urgent to prepare at the international level the suitable remedies to those unjust systems. Above all, practicing financial transparency at every level, (for example, the obligation of public accountability for the multinational companies of the respective activities and the taxes paid in each country in which they operate through their subsidiary groups) along with incisive sanctions, imposed on those countries that repeat the dishonest practices (tax evasion and avoidance, recycling of dirty money) mentioned above.

32. The offshore system has also ended up aggravating the public debt of the countries whose economies are less developed. It was in fact observed how the accumulated private wealth of some elites in the fiscal havens is almost equal to the public debt of the respective countries. This highlights how, in fact, at the origin of that debt there are often economic losses created by private persons and unloaded on the shoulders of the public system. Moreover, it is noted that important economic players tend to follow, often with the collusion of the politicians, a practice of division of the losses.

However, it is good to point out how often the public debt is also created by an incautious, if not fraudulent, management of the public administrative system. These debts, those financial losses that burden the various nations, pose today one of the major obstacles to good functioning and growth of the various national economies. Numerous national economies are in fact burdened by having to cope with the payment of interest, which derives from that debt, and must therefore dutifully undertake structural adjustments to suit this need.

In the face of all of this, on the one hand, the individual States are called to protect themselves with appropriate management of the public system through wise structural reforms, sensible allocation of expenses, and prudent investments. On the other hand, it is necessary at the international level to put every country in front of its unavoidable responsibility to allow and favor the reasonable exit routes from the spirals of debt, not placing it on the shoulders of the States, and therefore on that of their citizens, meaning upon millions of families carrying untenable financial burdens.

So also the effort is mediated politically, by way of a reasonable and concurred reduction of the public debt, especially of the kind held by persons of such economic solidity capable of offering it.[47] Similar solutions are required both for the health of the international economic system in view of avoiding the contagion of a potentially systematic crisis, as well as for the pursuit of the common good of all people mutually.

33.  All that we have been talking about so far is not only the work of an entity that operates out of our control, but that is also in the sphere of our responsibilities. This means that we have within our reach important instruments capable of contributing towards the solutions of many problems. For instance, the markets live thanks to the supply and demand of goods. In this regard, every one of us can influence in a decisive manner by giving shape to that demand.

It becomes therefore quite evident how important a critical and responsible exercise of consumption and savings actually is. Shopping, for example, a daily engagement with which we procure the necessities of living, is also a form of a choice that we exercise among the various products that the market offers. It is a choice through which we often opt, in an unconscious way, for goods, whose production possibly takes place through supply chains in which the violation of the most elementary human rights is normal or, thanks to the work of the companies, whose ethics in fact do not know any interest other than that of profit of their shareholders at any cost.  

It is necessary to train ourselves to make the choice for those goods on whose shoulders lies a journey worthy from the ethical point of view, because also through the gesture, apparently banal, of consumption, we actually express an ethics and are called to take a stand in front of what is good or bad for the actual human person. Someone spoke of the proposal to “vote with your wallet”. This is in reference to voting daily in the markets in favor of whatever helps the concrete well-being of all of us, and rejecting whatever harms it.[48] 

They must also have the same considerations towards the management of their savings, for instance, directing them towards those enterprises that operate with clear criteria inspired by an ethics respectful of the entire human person, and of every particular person, within the horizon of social responsibility.[49] Furthermore, in general, each one is called to cultivate procedures of producing  wealth that may be consistent with our relational nature and tend towards an integral development of the human person.


IV. Conclusion

34.  In front of the massiveness and pervasiveness of today’s economic-financial systems, we could be tempted to abandon ourselves to cynicism, and to think that with our poor forces we can do very little. In reality, every one of us can do so much, especially if one does not remain alone.

Numerous associations emerging from civil society represent in this sense a reservoir of consciousness, and social responsibility, of which we cannot do without. Today as never before we are all called, as sentinels, to watch over genuine life and to make ourselves catalysts of a new social behavior, shaping our actions to the search for the common good, and establishing it on the sound principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Every gesture of our liberty, even if it appears fragile and insignificant, if it is really directed towards the authentic good, rests on Him who is the good Lord of history and becomes part of a buoyancy that exceeds our poor forces, uniting indissolubly all the actions of good will in a web that unites heaven and earth, which is a true instrument of the humanization of each person, and the world as a whole. This is all that we need for living well and for nourishing a hope that may be at the height of our dignity as human persons.

The Church, Mother and Teacher, aware of having received in gift an undeserved deposit, offers to the men and women of all times the resources for a dependable hope. Mary, Mother of God made man for us, may take our hearts in hand and guide them in the wise building of that good that her Son Jesus, through his humanity made new by the Holy Spirit, has come to inaugurate for the salvation of the world.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has approved these Considerations adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Dicastery and ordered its publication.

Rome, January 6, 2018, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.


+ LUIS F. LADARIA, S.I.                                                                        PETER CARD. TURKSON

Titular Archbishop of Thibica                                                                     Prefect of the Dicastery

Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith                         for Promoting Integral

                                                                                                           Human Development


X GIACOMO MORANDI                                                                       BRUNO MARIE DUFFÉ

Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri                                                                Secretary of the Dicastery

Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith                    for Promoting Integral

                                                                                                  Human Development




[1] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 48.

[2] Cf. ibid., 5.

[3] Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ (24 May 2015), 231: AAS 107 (2015), 937.

[4] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate (29 June 2009), 59: AAS 101 (2009), 694.


[5] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio (14 September 1998), 98: AAS 91 (1999), 81.

[6] Cf. International Theological Commission, In Search of a Universal Ethic: A New Look at the Natural Law, 87:

ttp://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20090520_legge- naturale_en.html.

[7] Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 189: AAS 107 (2015), 922.

[8] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 178: AAS 105 (2013), 1094.

[9] Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, 1: L’Osservatore Romano (24-25 October 2011), 6.

[10] Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 189: AAS 107 (2015), 922.

[11] Id., Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 53: AAS 105 (2013), 1042.

[12] Ibid., 58: AAS 105 (2013), 1044.

[13] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis humanae, 14.

[14] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate (29 June 2009), 45: AAS 101 (2009), 681.

[15] Ibid., 74: AAS 101 (2009), 705.

[16] Cf. Francis, Address to the European Parliament (25 November 2014), Strasbourg: AAS 106 (2014), 997-998.

[17] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 37: AAS 101 (2009), 672.   

[18] Cf. ibid., 55: AAS 101 (2009), 690.

[19] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollecitudo rei socialis (30 December 1987), 42: AAS 80 (1988), 572.

[20] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1908.

[21]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 13: AAS 107 (2015), 852; Apostolic Exhortation  Amoris laetitia

     (19 March 2016), 44: AAS 108 (2016), 327.

[22]   Cf. For example the motto, Ora et Labora that recalls the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia, in its simplicity,

      indicates that prayer, especially liturgical, while opening for us a relationship with God who, in Jesus

      Christ and in his Spirit, reveals himself as the Good and True, also offers in this manner the appropriate   

      form as well as the way to construct a better and truer world that is more human.

[23]   Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus (1 May 1991), 17, 24, 42: AAS 83 (1991), 814, 821, 845.

[24]    Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno (15 May 1931), 105: AAS 23 (1931), 210; PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio (26 March 1967), 9: AAS 59 (1967), 261; Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 203: AAS 107 (2015), 927.

[25]   Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 175. On the necessary connection between economy and politics cf.

Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 36: “Economic activity cannot solve all social problems

through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common  

      good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne                   in   mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth             creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.”

[26]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 58: AAS 101 (2009), 693.

[27]  Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World        Gaudium et spes, 64.

[28]  Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno, 89: AAS 23 (1931), 206; Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter   Caritas in veritate, 35: AAS 101 (2009), 670; Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 204: AAS 105 (2013), 1105.

[29]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 109: AAS 107 (2015), 891.

[30]  Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens (14 September 1981), 9: AAS 73 (1981), 598.

[31]   Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 53: AAS 105 (2013), 1042.

[32]   Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 369.

[33] Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo anno, 132: AAS 23 (1931), 219; Paul VI, Encyclical Letter

    Populorum progressio, 24: AAS 59 (1967), 269.

[34]  Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2409.

[35]   Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio, 13. Some important indications were already offered in this regard (cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, 4: L’Osservatore Romano, 24-25 October 2011, 7). We now intend to proceed in the line of a similar discernment in order to encourage a positive development of the economic-financial system and to contribute towards the elimination of those unjust structures that limit potential benefits of them.

[36]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ ,198: AAS 107 (2015), 925.

[37]   Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 343.

[38]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 35: AAS 101 (2009), 670.

[39]   Francis, Address to Participants in the Meeting “Economy of Communion”, Sponsored by the Focolare Movement (4 February 2017): L’Osservatore Romano (5 February 2017), 8.

[40]  Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollecitudo rei socialis, 28: AAS 80 (1988), 548.

[41]   Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 67: AAS 101 (2009), 700.

[42]   Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice And Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and

     Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, 1: L’Osservatore Romano (24-25 October 2011), 6.

[43]   Cf. ibid., 4: L’Osservatore Romano (24-25 October 2011), 7.

[44]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 45: AAS 101 (2009), 681; Francis, Message for the      Celebration of the 48th World Day of Peace (1 January 2015), 5: AAS 107 (2015), 66.

[45]  Cf. Benedict, Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 36: AAS 101 (2009), 671.

[46]  Cf. Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, 189: AAS 107 (2015), 922.

    [47]  Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See (8 January 2007):

     L’Osservatore Romano (8-9 January 2007), 6-7.

[48]  Cf. Id., Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate, 66: AAS 101 (2009), 699.

[49]  Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 358.


More analysis next week.




Anyone else planning to see this over the Memorial Day weekend?

I am not expecting much so perhaps I will be pleasantly be surprised. Playing outlaws with hearts of gold is a tricky business. Make them too villainous and the audience loses all sympathy with them. Make them too nice and you lose the storytelling possibilities. Of course since we know how everything turns out, perhaps it doesn’t matter. The film will make several ton loads of money whatever its quality, and give obsessed Star Wars fans living in the basements of their mothers something new to fight about for the next few years.


Europe is Committing Suicide

And the Argentinian Pope is cheering the process on at the death bed.  Ironic that a continent which survived two world wars and the outbreak of two of most destructive ideologies in the History of Man is succumbing to the multicultural rubbish of our time.  However, education is a powerful force, and since circa 1965 more than two generations of Europeans have been taught to despise their cultures, their religions and their nations.  The result is the current slow motion death of the welfare states of Europe as the rulers of Europe call on the Islamic populations of Africa and the Middle East to supply the work force that Europeans refuse to create through procreation.  I have often thought that God has a superb sense of humor, and that humor is sometimes displayed when he allows peoples to solely take the wheels of their own destinies for a while.



The motto of our times:  Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.


But the Problem is the Evil NRA!

Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooter, had a long history of disciplinary problems at the high school he later shot up, disciplinary problems that were ignored due to a program to avoid having minority students (Blacks and Hispanics) sent to the criminal justice system.  This is after months of Broward County school officials denying that he was in the so-called Promise Program.


Runcie had insisted that Cruz was not in the Promise program, but he did an abrupt shift this week and said Cruz had been referred to it in 2013 for vandalizing a bathroom. Cruz did not complete the three-day stint, the district said, but administrators haven’t said why.

A couple of months later, he was sent to a special school for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. As a tot, he was found to be developmentally delayed and had been considered a special needs child in school, entitled to certain services and protections under law.

Some parents and community leaders have criticized the superintendent for misleading the public about Cruz, and the school district appears not to be able to make sense of all of the records it has on him.

“To me, it’s an indication that the various discipline programs in place at the district are confusing, poorly implemented and executed, and clearly if we take the district at its statement, they’ve been difficult to track,” said Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was one of 17 people shot to death in Cruz’s Valentine’s Day massacre. “If the records are this difficult to find, clearly it would be difficult to know whether this is helping students or not.”

Despite Cruz’s history of discipline problems, neither the schools nor police ever steered him to the justice system.

A video on social media shows him with a bullet at school. Police reports have him batting his elderly mother with a vacuum hose, destroying property and pulling a gun on her and his brother.

On Feb. 5, 2016, the Broward Sheriff’s Office got an anonymous call that Cruz posted on Instagram that he “planned to shoot up the school.” He was never disciplined or charged, even though it’s a felony in Florida for someone to threaten to “discharge any destructive device” with the intent to harm someone.


Go here to read the rest.  There were a whole host of red flags indicating that Cruz was a seriously deranged kid who was a potential danger to others, and they were all ignored.  Far easier to blame guns than to admit that we have  highly expensive education and justice systems that perform about as well as the Keystone Kops when it comes to protecting others from potentially dangerous lunatics.


PopeWatch: Twittering Nuns



The Vatican has issued new guidelines for cloistered nuns, reminding them that they’re supposed to live separated from the world and in silence — and therefore shouldn’t be tweeting too much or downloading too much news.

The instructions from the Vatican’s office for religious orders cover a host of administrative and financial issues. Included are norms for when a monastery must be closed because the number of nuns shrinks to the point that the community is no longer viable — an increasingly frequent occurrence.


Go here to read the rest.  Presumably the same rules would apply to monks.  Social media tends to have a pernicious impact on quite a few people.  In regard to religious, PopeWatch suspects that social media acts as a solvent, dissolving the desire of many to live apart from the world.  If the world is with you 24-7, the battle against the world, the flesh and the Devil is lost before it begins.  A sobering thought for those of us who live in the world.


Artificial Intelligence and the Vatican;
The Vision of Science-fiction*

“… Catholic teaching has more definite things to say about ensoulment and what the soul is than do science and philosophy. There is much disagreement amongst the advocates of AI and philosophers about who and what might be endowed with consciousness and real intelligence, much less who or what might be given a soul.”
—Robert Kurland,   “Can Computers Have a Soul?”


Here’s an  article about the Vatican using artificial itelligence (AI) techniques to reproduce ancient articles—written in Gothic and Medieval scripts—in its secret archives.  The techniques modify conventional OCR (Optical Character Recognition) methods to recognize script characters (which are really jazzed up in these manuscripts).   There is no real “artificial intelligence” involved, since the heuristics are set forth by the programmers, and not independently composed by the OCR program.

Nevertheless, the age of AI is upon us, and as in other frontier areas of Catholic Doctrine, we might expect a forthcoming Encyclical “de Animis Intelligentiarum Artificiosarum” (“about the Souls of Artificial Intelligences”) in the not too distant future, among other surprising Encyclicals that have appeared.   I’m not sure what might be in such an encyclical, although I’ve written about AI ensoulment in the article linked in the opening quote.  However, what I think may not agree with what our Holy Father has to say.

And, since I don’t really have any idea of what Pope Francis might think about the ensoulment of AI devices,  let’s examine what science-fiction has to say.  The linked article has a section on science fiction stories about AI and the Catholic Church, so I won’t repeat that discussion here.  Rather, let’s see what this literary genre (which has often predicted the future) says in general about the Catholic Church.  Maybe this will enable us to get a glimplse of what would be in an Encyclical about the souls of artificial intelligences.


Science-fiction authors have not always treated the Church kindly.  I recall one story by George R.R. Martin (yes, the author of “Games of Thrones”), The Way of Cross and Dragon, in which the bishop on an extrasolar planet is a cephalopod.  This bishop sends a Jesuit Inquisitor to deal with a heresy, a planet where a religion of “Liars” follow a fake gospel of  Judas Iscariot.  The Jesuit deals with the heresy but in doing so, loses his faith, realizing (in the story) that he too is a Liar.

In another story, “Good News from the Vatican,”  a robot is elected as Pope (many of the College of Cardinals are robots).   The newly elected Pope Sixtus  chooses a new motto, “orbi et urbi et digiti,” and at the end of his (its?) welcoming address, blesses the people while ascending into heaven by attached jets.

There are  other novels and stories equally disdainful of the Church.  Perhaps this antagonism stems from Catholic teaching looking backward in time, to Revelation and Tradition,  whereas science fiction looks to the future:

SF [science fiction] frequently argues that if organized religion is to be a positive force in the future of humankind, it must change drastically to meet the spiritual challenges of the future.”
Gabriel McKee, The Gospel According to Science Fiction, p. 183

Perhaps Pope Francis, unbeknownst to us, has read about this challenge posed by science fiction and is attempting to accommodate Catholic teaching to what’s happening NOW.  We should not be surprised, therefore, if an Encyclical is forthcoming about the souls of artificial intelligences, and perhaps some robot, martyred by Catholic zealots, is beatified.


*For those of you too  young to recognize what the red orb in the image is, it’s the “eye” of HAL 9000, the psychotic artificial intelligence in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  The Latin for the forthcoming Papal Encyclical is the best I could do, recalling two years of high school Latin and searching the web to find endings for feminine, genitive, plural nouns and adjectives.

**Here are several articles, containing references, on the theology of science-fiction:

I. Some SF Gospels;
II. Paradise Not Lost?
III. Does Data Have a Soul?
IV. End Times
V.  Genesis and Darwin’s Radio


A Good Gal With a Gun

“God created men, Colonel Colt made them equal

Old West Adage




He picked on the wrong mother:

An armed, off-duty Brazilian military police officer was hailed as a hero Sunday after surveillance footage showed how she foiled a robbery on a family near a school.

Katia da Silva Sastre, 42, was standing near a group of women and children outside a Sao Paulo private school when the gunman, identified as 21-year-old Elivelton Neves Moreira, attempted to rob them at gunpoint. The women were celebrating a Mother’s Day event.

Little did the gunman know, Sastre was carrying a pistol of her own and shot Moreira three times in the chest, according to the Daily Mail. The footage showed Moreia falling backward onto the street and kicking the gun out of his reach.

Moreia later died in the hospital, according to The Sun.

Sastre was attending the event with her daughter when the gunman approached.

“I didn’t know if he was going to shoot the kids or the mothers or the security guard at the school door,” she said. “I just thought about defending the moms, the children, my own life and my daughter’s.”

Go here to read the rest.  A gun is a tool, no better and no worse than the man or woman wielding it.





Theodore Roosevelt on Lincoln and Free Speech

On May 16, 1918 Congress passed an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917,  This Amendment is known to history as The Espionage Act of 1918.  Here is the text:


Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports, or false statements, …or incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct …the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, or …shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States …or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully …urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production …or advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both….

About 2000 people were prosecuted under the Espionage Act and the Supreme Court upheld the Sedition portion against a challenge that it violated the First Amendment.  A temporary war time measure, Congress repealed it along with many other war time measures on December 13, 1920.

Theodore Roosevelt was concerned that the Act would be used by the Administration to stifle criticism of the President, and he took up his pen in May of 1917 and wrote the following article:




PATRIOTISM means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him in so far as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth–whether about the President or about any one else–save in the rare cases where this would make known to the enemy information of military value which would otherwise be unknown to him.

Sedition, in the legal sense, means to betray the government, to give aid and comfort to the enemy, or to counsel resistance to the laws or to measures of government having the force. of law. There can be conduct morally as bad as legal sedition which yet may not be violation of law. The President–any President–can by speech or action (by advocating an improper peace. or improper submission to national wrong) give aid and comfort to the public enemy as no one else in. the land can do, and yet his conduct, however damaging to the, country, is not seditious; and although if public sentiment is sufficiently aroused he can be impeached, such course is practically impossible.

One form of servility consists in a slavish attitude–of the kind, incompatible with self-respecting manliness–toward any person who is powerful by reason of his office or position.. Servility may be shown by a public servant toward the profiteering head of a large corporation, or toward the anti-American head of a big labor organization. It may also be shown in peculiarly noxious and un-American form by confounding the President or–any other official with the country and shrieking “stand by the President,” without regard to whether, by so acting, we do or do not stand by the country.


A distinguished Federal judge recently wrote me as follows:
“Last November [1917?] it seemed as if the American people were going to be converted into a hallelujah chorus, whose only function in government should be to shout ‘Hallelujah!’ ‘Hallelujah!’ for everything that the Administration did or failed to do. Any one who did not join that chorus was liable to imprisonment for treason or sedition.
“I hope that we shall soon have recovered our sense as well as our liberty.“The authors of the first amendment to the Federal Constitution guaranteeing the right of assembly and of freedom of speech and of the press. did not thus safeguard those rights for the sake alone of persons who were to enjoy them, but even more because they knew that the Republic which they were founding could not be worked on any other basis. Since Marshall tried Burr for treason it has been clear that that crime cannot be committed by words, unless one acts as a spy, or gives advice to the enemy of military or naval operations. It cannot be committed by statements reflecting upon officers or measures of government.
“Sedition is different. Any one who directly advises or counsels resistance to measures of government is guilty of sedition. That, however, ought to be clearly distinguished from ‘discussion of the wisdom or folly of measures of government, or the honesty or competency of public officers. That is not sedition. It is within the protection of the first amendment. The electorate cannot be qualified to perform its duty in removing incompetent officers and securing the repeal of unwise laws unless those questions may be freely discussed.
“The, right to say wise things necessarily implies the right to say foolish things. The answer to foolish speech is wise speech and not force. The Republic is founded upon the faith that if the American people are permitted freely to hear foolish and wise speech, a majority will choose the wise. If that faith is not justified the Republic is based on sand. John Milton said it all in his defense of freedom of the press: `Let truth and error grapple. Who ever knew truth to be beaten in a fair fight?’ ”



Abraham Lincoln was in Congress while Polk was President, during the Mexican War. The following extracts from his speeches, during war-time, about the then President ought to be illuminating to those persons who do not understand that one of the highest and most patriotic duties to be performed in his country at this time is to tell the truth whenever it becomes necessary in order to force our government to speed up the war. It would, for example, be our highest duty to tell it if at any time we became convinced that only thereby could we shame our leaders out of hypocrisy and prevent the betrayal of human rights by peace talk of the kind which bewilders and deceives plain people.
These quotations can be found on pages 100 to 146 of Volume I of “Lincoln’s Complete Works,” by Nicolay and Hay.

In a speech on January 12, 1848, Lincoln justified himself for voting in favor of a resolution censuring the President for his action prior to and during the war (which was still going on). He examines the President’s official message of justification and says, “that, taking for true all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification, and that the President would have gone further with his proof if it had not been for the small matter that the truth would not permit him.” He says that part of the message “is from beginning to end the sheerest deception.” He then asks the President to answer certain questions, and says: “Let him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts and not with arguments. Let him remember that he sits where Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer as Washington would answer. Let him attempt no evasion, no equivocation.” In other words, Lincoln says that he does not wish rhetoric, or fine phrases or glittering statements that contradict one another and each of which has to be explained with a separate key or adroit and subtle special pleading and constant reversal of positions previously held, but straightforward and consistent adherence to the truth. He continues that he “more than suspects” that the President “is deeply conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels that innocent blood is crying to heaven against him”; that one of the best generals had “been driven into disfavor, if not disgrace, by the President” for insisting upon speaking unpalatable truths about the length of time the war would take (and therefore the need of full preparedness); and ends by saying that the army has done admirably, but that the President has bungled his work and “knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show there is not something about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity.”
Remember that this is Lincoln speaking, in war-time, of the President. The general verdict of history has justified him. But it is impossible to justify him and not heartily to condemn the persons who in our time endeavor to suppress truth-telling of a far less emphatic type than Lincoln’s.

Lincoln had to deal with various critics of the “stand by the President” type. To one he answers that, “the only alternative is to tell the truth or to lie,” and that he would not “skulk” on such a question. He explains that the President’s supporters “are untiring in their efforts to make the impression that all who vote supplies or take part in the war do of necessity approve the President’s conduct,” but that he (Lincoln) and his associates sharply distinguished between the two and voted supplies and men but “denounced the President’s conduct” and “condemned the Administration.” He stated that to give the President the power demanded for him by certain people would “place the President where kings have always stood.” In touching on what we should now speak of as rhetoric, he says

“The honest laborer digs coal at about seventy cents a day, while the President digs abstractions at about seventy dollars a day. The coal is clearly worth more than the abstractions, and yet what a monstrous inequality in the price!” He emphatically protests against permitting the President “to take the whole of legislation into his hands”–surely a statement applying exactly to the present situation. To the President’s servile party supporters he makes a distinction which also readily applies at the present day: “The distinction between the cause of the President . . . and the cause of the country . . . you cannot perceive. To you the President and the country seem to be all one. . . . We see the distinction clearly enough.”
This last statement was the crux of the matter then and is the crux of the matter now. We hold that our loyalty is due solely to the American Republic, and to all our public servants exactly in proportion as they efficiently and faithfully serve the Republic. Our opponents, in flat contradiction of Lincoln’s position, hold that our loyalty is due to the President, not the country; to one man, the servant of the people, instead of to the people themselves. In practice they adopt the fetichism [sic] of all believers in absolutism, for every man who parrots the, cry of “stand by the President” without adding the proviso “so far as he serves the Republic” takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the king could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent freeman can take such an attitude.

The Wisconsin legislature has just set forth the proper American doctrine, as follows
“The people of the State of Wisconsin always have stood and always will stand squarely behind the National Government in all things which are essential to bring the present war to a successful end, and we condemn Senator Robert La Follette and all others who have failed to see the righteousness of our nation’s cause, who have failed to support our government in matters vital to the winning of the war, and we denounce any attitude or utterance of theirs which has tended to incite sedition among the people of our country.”

In view of the recent attitude of the Administration as expressed through the attorney-general and postmaster-general I commend to its attention the utterances of Abraham Lincoln in 1848 and of the Wisconsin legislature in 1918. The Administration’s warfare against German spies and American traitors has been feeble. The government has achieved far less in this direction than has been achieved by a few of our newspapers and by various private individuals. This failure is aggravated by such action as was threatened against The Metropolitan Magazine. The Metropolitan–and the present writer–have stood and will continue to stand, “squarely behind the national government in all things which are essential to bring the present war to a successful end” and to support “the righteousness of the nation’s cause.” We will stand behind the country at every point, and we will at every point either support or oppose the Administration precisely in proportion as it does or does not with efficiency and single-minded devotion serve the country.

From this position we will not be driven by any abuse of power or by any effort to make us not the loyal servants of the American people, but the cringing tools of a man who at the moment has power.
The Administration has in some of its actions on vital points shown great inefficiency (as proved by Senator Chamberlain’s committee) and on other points has been guilty of conduct toward certain peoples wholly inconsistent with its conduct toward other peoples and wholly inconsistent with its public professions as regards all international conduct. It cannot meet these accusations, for they are truthful, and to try to suppress the truth by preventing the circulation of The Metropolitan Magazine is as high-handed a defiance of liberty and justice as anything done by the Hohenzollerns or the Romanoffs. [Roosevelt uses these royal families as examples of German and Russian tyranny, respectively.] Such action is intolerable. Contrast the leniency shown by the government toward the grossest offenses against the nation

with its eagerness to assail any one who tells unpleasant truths about the Administration. The Hearst papers play the German game when they oppose the war, assail our allies, and clamor for an inconclusive peace, and they play the German game when they assail the men who truthfully point out the shortcomings which, unless corrected, will redound to Germany’s advantage and our terrible disadvantage. But the Administration has taken no action against the Hear[s]t papers. The Metropolitan Magazine has supported the war, has championed every measure to speed up the war and to make our strength effective, and has stood against every proposal for a peace without victory. But the Administration acts against the magazine that in straightforward American fashion has championed the war. Such discrimination is not compatible with either honesty or patriotism. It means that the Administration is using the great power of the government to punish honest criticism of its shortcomings, while it accepts support of and apology for these shortcomings as an offset to action against the war and, therefore, against the nation. Conduct of this kind is a grave abuse of official power.

Whatever the Administration does, I shall continue to act in the future precisely as I have acted in the past. When a senator like Mr. Chamberlain in some great matter serves the country better than does the Administration, I shall support that senator; and when a senator like Mr. La Follette perseveres in the course followed by the Administration before it reversed itself in February, 1917 [urging that the U.S. stay out of World War I], I shall oppose him and to that extent support the Administration in its present position. I shall continue to support the Administration in every such action as floating the liberty loans, raising the draft army, or sending our troops abroad. I shall continue truthfully to criticise any flagrant acts of incompetency by the Administration, such as the failure in shipping matters and the breakdown of the War Department during the last fourteen months, when it appears that such truthful criticism offers the only chance of remedying the wrong. I shall support every official from the President down who does well, and shall oppose every such official who does ill. I shall not put the personal comfort of the President or of any other public servant above the welfare of the country.

In a self-governing country the people are called citizens.  Under a despotism or autocracy the people are called subjects. This is because in a free country the people are themselves sovereign, while in a despotic country the people are under a sovereign. In the United States the people are all citizens, including its President. The rest of them are fellow citizens of the President. In Germany the people are all subjects of the Kaiser. They are not his fellow citizens, they are his subjects. This is the essential difference between the United States and Germany, but the difference would vanish if we now submitted to the foolish or traitorous persons who endeavor to make it a crime to tell the truth about the Administration when the Administration is guilty of incompetence or other shortcomings. Such endeavor is itself a crime against the nation. Those who take such an attitude are guilty of moral treason of a kind both abject and dangerous.


Requiescat In Pace: Tom Wolfe

Well, this was a pretty good day until I learned that Tom Wolfe had died at age 88, far too young.  With his white suits, and gentle manner, Wolfe seemed to be a figure out of time, a classic Eighteenth Century Virginia gentleman somehow marooned in the New York City of the 20th and 21rst centuries. He was constantly out of step with the New York cultural milieu he inhabited with his life long marriage to one woman and his heretical opinions on everything from Vietnam to Evolution.  His literary idol was Emile Zola:

“My idol is Emile Zola. He was a man of the left, so people expected of him a kind of Les Miserables, in which the underdogs are always noble people. But he went out, and found a lot of ambitious, drunk, slothful and mean people out there. Zola simply could not – and was not interested in – telling a lie. You can call it honesty, or you can call it ego, but there it is. There is no motivation higher than being a good writer.”


However, Wolfe, in my opinion, wrote better than Zola:

Las Vegas has become, just as Bugsy Siegel dreamed, the American Monte Carlo—without any of the inevitable upper-class baggage of the Riviera casinos. At Monte Carlo there is still the plush mustiness of the nineteenth century noble lions…. There are still Wrong Forks, Deficient Accents, Poor Tailoring, Gauche Displays, Nouveau Richness, Cultural Aridity—concepts unknown in Las Vegas. For the grand debut of Monte Carlo as a resort in 1879 the architect Charles Garnier designed an opera house for the Place du Casino; and Sarah Bernhardt read a symbolic poem. For the debut of Las Vegas as a resort in 1946 Bugsy Siegel hired Abbot and Costello, and there, in a way, you have it all.

I look forward to reading his observations on the world to come when I reach the world to come.  Although not a believer, Wolfe deplored the absence of religion in modern life:
Anyone who thinks that religion is bad for society is out of his mind. We are now beginning to see what happens when you don’t have it. People get depressed when they don’t have something to believe. I think the contemporary conception of the human mind has become more and more depressing. This is my problem with the atheists, people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. They’re saying that there is no ghost in the machine, that it’s all physical. And if it’s all physical, it’s going to obey certain laws. And the endpoint of the argument is that there is no free will. That you and I are machines that have had a certain genetic foundation, and as soon as we know enough about that, we’ll be able to predict what’ll happen when you meet me. We just need the information. That’s a very depressing thought.
Depressing and untrue, as I trust you were happy to find out yesterday Mr. Wolfe.  Atque Vale.


Cops and Traffic Stops

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts explains to Mark Shea why my advice on traffic stops to clients is almost always the best procedure to follow:  be polite, be business-like and do not argue with the cop.  If there is something wrong  with the stop we can fight it in court.  Cops are like the rest of us, good, bad and indifferent, and most of them, in my experience, respond well to simple politeness.  Actually politeness works well in most areas of life, and should never be confused with weakness.   It costs nothing to be courteous, even in an adversarial situation, and usually pays a dividend. If 35 years of litigation has taught me anything, it has taught me that.



Yes, Mark, he was likely concerned, even if he didn’t feel threatened.

Mark Shea, in typical form, grabbed onto this story:

Here is the story.  Now, I won’t get into the case itself.  I have no clue what happened.  I’m still old-fashioned enough to believe that we hear from all sides, and seek evidence, before rendering a verdict.  If they investigate and find out he was in the wrong, he should be disciplined.  I’m OK with that.  If he feels he was wrongly suspended, let’s see what happens.  I’m OK with that.  Call me silly and stupid and a white racist Nazi sexist, but I still find comfort in a society that values presumption of innocence, due process, the need for evidence, hearing all sides of a story, and basic justice for all.

No, I’ll touch on Mark’s quips based on something I’ve learned as one of my sons trains for work as a police officer (instead of going to school to be an accountant).  I didn’t know this, but according to the officers who are training him, traffic stops are the most unnerving thing you do.

Why?  Because you have no clue what you’re getting into, that’s why.  Unlike anything else, it is a blank slate.  As the officers training him explained, when you get called to do almost anything else you have an idea what you’re getting into.  Bank robbery?  Domestic troubles?  Guarding the stadium on game day?  Entertaining a birthday party? Terrorist attack?  You know what you’re up against and you prepare accordingly.

But traffic stops are the worst of all worlds.  Often you are on your own, alone, and away from backup.  You have no clue who is in the car or what is happening.  It could be a woman in labor, a teenager with a new license, an elderly man, a drug smuggler, an arms dealer, a fugitive, a serial murderer, or someone looking for pancakes house. It could be a 65 old grandmother with diabetes.  Or it could be a 65 year old grandmother with diabetes who has her 24 year old armed fugitive son in the back seat.  You don’t know.  And you have no way of knowing until you arrive at the side of the car.  That, apparently, is the most unnerving moment of any cop’s day: That point right before you arrive at the side of the car during a traffic stop.  Which is why they have exact procedures for how the cops are to approach the car, all aimed at their safety.  Ultimately, you have only the driver’s cooperation and good will to hope for.

Even then you don’t know, since anything can happen.  Just because a person seems normal, calm, rational, or harmless, doesn’t mean they don’t have a .45 sitting under the seat.  It doesn’t mean that they’re not up to something.  Criminals come in all shapes and sizes and behaviors.  Sometimes they’re not criminals.  Sometimes they’re just people who lose control, just as cops can lose control.  You don’t know.

But guess what?  A funny thing about those cops?  They’re actually human beings.  I realize the Left has done a bang up job with the whole ‘Sanctity of life stops dead when it no longer benefits the Left’ shtick.  But a consistent life ethic means consistency.  It doesn’t just mean ‘Life is beautiful … whenever the Left says so’.  People should, you know, listen to the police officer, and do what he says.  Duh. And that includes not assuming he’s a psychoNazi racist murderer who deserves no respect, who can be ignored in kind, and had best let Greedo shoot first before he responds.

In a sane world of morals, principles, values, truth, common sense, justice, and civility founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, the person does what my Dad did when he was mistaken for a fugitive years ago: comply with the cops.  Even though they swarmed his car, guns out, yelling for him to keep his hands visible, he decided to go crazy and … do what they said.  Know what happened then?  They checked, found out he was the wrong person, apologized, my Dad said they were just doing their job, he drove on to work, they continued their search, and that was it!  Wow.  It’s like crazy decent and sensible.  Heck, it’s almost respectful!  Thank goodness we’re done with that era.  Can’t have any of that in a Leftist paradise.

So Mark, the answer to your question is yes.  If that officer had any brains, he was worried.  Perhaps he felt threatened.  Perhaps he overreacted.  Real people in the real world get it.  I fear we’ve created a generation of armchair messiahs who can’t help but ponder how others can be so weak and flawed and imperfect.

Oh, and I get why a demographic told daily that their country hates them and wants them dead would be nervous, too.  None of this is to ignore the travesty of the Left’s manipulation and exploitation of the African American community that has no doubt left many blacks in America quite shaken.  It’s just a perspective from a parent who can’t help but wish accounting was in his son’s future, rather than police work in the age of:



Of even:
Go here to comment.  Now some sage advice as to traffic stops from Chris Rock:  (strong, strong language advisory as to the below video)


PopeWatch: A Firebell in the Night

Sandro Magister is sounding the alarm:



Attention. The conflict that has exploded in Germany for and against communion for Protestant spouses should have exceeded the threshold of alarm for the unity of the whole Church, to judge by the warnings issued in recent days by several cardinals to the pope. Warnings of a severity that has no precedent, in the five years of the pontificate of Francis (in the photo, on the set with Wim Wenders).

The backstory can be found in this post from Settimo Cielo of May 2, just before the encounter between the opposing parties when they were called to Rome by the pope:

> One Cardinal, Seven Bishops, and Four New “Dubia.” This Time on Intercommunion

The meeting between the German cardinals and bishops and the Vatican authorities took place on May 3 in the offices of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. But it concluded without any sort of decision. In the evening, a laconic statement simply revealed that “Pope Francis values the ecumenical efforts of the German bishops and asks them to find, in a spirit of ecclesial communion, a unanimous result if possible.”

And it is precisely this deflection – backed by the pope – to a further encounter among the German bishops, to be resolved by a vote, that has unleashed the reactions of some of the highest ranking cardinals, absolutely convinced that questions of faith cannot be resolved by vote and without the universal Church being involved.


The first of these is Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht.

“The response of the Holy Father is completely incomprehensible,” he wrote in no uncertain terms in a commentary published in the United States on the “National Catholic Register” and in Italy on “La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.”

And he explained:

“The Holy Father has informed the delegation of the German episcopal conference that it must discuss again, and try to find unanimity. Unanimity about what? The practice of the Catholic Church, based on her faith, is not determined and does not change statistically when a majority of an episcopal conference votes in favor of it, not even if unanimously.”

And again:

“The Holy Father should have given the delegation of the German episcopal conference clear directives, based on the clear doctrine and practice of the Church. He should have also responded on this basis to the Lutheran woman who asked him on November 15, 2015 if she could receive Communion with her Catholic spouse, saying that this is not acceptable instead of suggesting she could receive Communion on the basis of her being baptized, and in accordance with her conscience. By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered.”

Eijk is referring here to the tortuous response – yes, no, I don’t know, you figure it out – that Francis gave to that Protestant woman and that can be viewed in this video from Centro Televisivo Vaticano, in the original language with an English translation:

> “La domanda sul condividere la cena del Signore…”

And here is the dramatic conclusion that the Dutch cardinal reaches, citing an unsettling passage from the catechism:

“Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: ‘Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth’.”

Go here to read the rest.  Heresy from Germany tore the Church apart five centuries ago.  The Catholic hierarchy in Germany is commemorating this tragedy by attempting to repeat it, with the sly and secret endorsement of our Pope.  God help our poor Church and all faithful Catholics.


Argue Better

For my sins, no doubt, as faithful readers of this blog know, I have been an attorney for 35 years.  The below video is a fascinating look at the Cathy Newman “interview” of Jordan Peterson in which he made her look like an absolute fool:



From my time in court, and from being a paid advocate in general, here is a few additional tips for winning an argument:


1.  Listen carefully to what your opponent is saying.  Sounds simple but most people do not do it, too wrapped up in what they are going to say.

2.  Restate what the other person says if what they are saying helps your position, especially if they do not know the import of what they are saying.

3.  Make your opponent deal in concrete situations, and do not allow them the refuge of vague abstractions.

4.  Keep your emotions in check, especially if your adversary gets emotional.

5.  Be as concise as you can be.

6.  Be unafraid of thinking before saying something.

7.  If you can, plan out the argument in advance.  Most people can’t plan well to save their souls, at least when it comes to arguments.

8.  Figure out what it will take to win the argument and work backward from that point.

9.  Do not be distracted by red herrings and the other types of false arguments that people tend to be fond of.

10. When you have won the argument, move on.  You have usually won a point, not the battle of Waterloo.  There is more to do, so be about it.


PopeWatch: China

The Chinese government is suddenly developing cold feet about the proposed agreement between China and the Vatican which is odd considering what a sell out the agreement is to the Communist government.  Cardinal Zen, an 86 year old dynamo and a fierce critic of the agreement, in a recent interview gave his thoughts:

“Some are saying maybe now there are difficulties on the Chinese side, because there are people who think that they don’t need the agreement, they can control everything. Maybe there are voices in China against the eventual agreement,” said Zen.

“You see that there are many actions on the side of the government which show that they are tightening control on religion. And so it’s more difficult to understand how the Vatican can come to a deal at this moment, because obviously they are seen as collaborating with the government.”

For instance, new regulations on religious affairs were installed on February 1, under which minors are banned from entering places of worship.

“There is no reason for optimism,” said Zen. “Any agreement on the side of the Vatican may be seen as collaboration with the government to persecute our own people; that’s terrible.”

The cardinal said China’s recent amendments to the constitution, such as the removal of the presidential term limit, may also have influenced how the Vatican looked at the issue.


“Surely they should take into account also these new things – which are not encouraging any agreement. I really hope that a miracle may happen, the Pope may say we need more time to be more cautious, to consider again,” he said. “No deal is better than a bad deal. I really cannot understand how people can say bad deal is better than no deal, I don’t think it’s correct.”

Zen stressed his loyalty to the Pope. Zen travelled to Rome in January to personally give the Pope a letter from the 88-year-old persecuted Chinese Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou.

Zhuang, a priest loyal to the Vatican but not recognised by China, was one of two bishops asked by the Vatican to step aside for priests excommunicated by the Vatican but accepted by Beijing.

“I told him everything. I wrote so many letters,” Zen said. “My last letter was very clear, I have the impression that the Pope now is aware of the worries in the church in China, so I don’t think I need to see him again or say more things.”

“Maybe now there are some other things which may make the Holy Father more aware that he is not receiving good information from people around him.”


Zen has been in a war of words with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who he said was considering the potential deal like a diplomat, but not from religious standpoints.

“I can understand that Pope Francis may not be well informed about the real situation in the church in China, because he comes from South America,” Zen said. “But these people like Parolin, they must know very well the situation, so I really cannot understand how are they so enthusiastic to push for a deal, so they may have a wrong objective.”

“Because from the point of view of Catholic faith, they are not going to achieve anything. Maybe they are more interested in diplomatic success. That’s very sad, because they are the collaborators of the Pope, the faith should be the first thing in their mind.”

“It’s very scary. These people – they should understand a lot of things, why do they do this? They are not naive, they are evil.”

Go here to read the rest.  Part of PopeWatch, a part of which PopeWatch is not proud, could understand this sell out of Chinese Catholics if it fit into some vast Machiavellian plan to achieve some cherished goal of the powers that be at the Vatican.  PopeWatch does not see this.  The underground Chinese Catholic Church has proven itself quite resilient in the face of persecution, even while the Communist dynasty of China is clearly unable long term to deal with the problems of an increasingly capitalist economy governed by a Communist oligarchy.  The Vatican is selling out both the Chinese Catholics and common sense simultaneously.  The men behind this deal may be evil as Cardinal Zen says, they most certainly are inept bunglers.



The Strength of Love

We mortals have the tendency to underestimate one of our greatest strengths: our capacity to love.  Father Gregorio Hidalgo, better known as Father Goyo on Twitter, gives us a shining example:


A Catholic Priest by the name of Father Goyo took to Twitter to share a remarkable story of a young couple who wanted to get married. The catch? The young bride had cancer and not much time to live.

Father Goyo shares what happened when the groom approached him about doing the wedding.

Have tissues handy. You’re going to need them.

Go here to read the rest.  Christ told us that the two greatest commandments were to love God and love man.  He told us with our love of God we could perform miracles.  In the face of human love demons quail, and the Grim Reaper stands frustrated in silence.  By ourselves we are but poor animals.  With the love of God, reflected in our ability to love our fellow Man, we stand above the angels.

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16




In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Acts 1: 1-11


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


In Memory of Mom

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,  

I know whose prayers would make me whole,  

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling

 (I post this each Mother’s Day.)

My Mom died on Easter Sunday in 1984, age 48.  Her second bout with breast cancer took her life, she having survived a first round in 1972.  She told me at that time that she asked God to spare her life until her two boys, my brother and I, were settled in life, and so He did.

Mom had fiery red hair and a tempestuous temperament to match.  When she was a child one of her colleagues at school made the mistake of chanting at her “Fox in the bread box, eating all the cheese!”, and Mom clocked her.  Growing up it was a rare day when I didn’t receive at least one slap, which I had always earned, and one hug, which I rarely earned.  Mom always wore her heart on her sleeve and that fact brought excitement to my life while growing up which I greatly enjoyed.

Mom was a talker.  My laconic father said on occasion that Mom did the talking for both of them and I think that was true.  My brother, who had both Mom’s hair and disposition, also liked to talk and so did I.  When the three of us got going it was an interesting melding of three non-stop monologues. Continue Reading


Gracious Lady

Back in 2008 I voted for John McCain solely for two reasons:


  1.  Obama was worse.
  2.  Sarah Palin.

Palin has responded nobly to the news that the dying John McCain has stated in his current memoir that he regrets putting her on the ticket:


At first Palin said she was ‘frustrated’ with Trump for not having a lighter touch with McCain.

Then she stopped and said a better word would be ‘disappointment’ because Trump has been ‘disparaging Sen. McCain – his record, his history as a veteran – when we don’t know all the details of all those years that Sen. McCain made sacrifices for this country as a POW.’…

‘In spite of everything that has erupted in these past days with his spokesperson – or perhaps he himself – saying that he regrets that they chose me to run on their ticket,’ she said, ‘despite all that, he has been my friend.’

Go here to read the rest.  Political fortune is fleeting, like most things in this vale of tears, but character remains for a person of true integrity.  Sarah Palin has always been a class act.


PopeWatch: Bad Deal

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

Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he will withdraw the Vatican from the Columbia House 8 CDs For A Penny Deal, breaking with European churches, and fulfilling a major conclave campaign promise.

“Today’s action sends a message that the Vatican no longer makes empty threats,” a boastful Francis told the press, going on to attack his predecessor Benedict XVI. “Signing up the Vatican for this was horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. Columbia house gets its money, but we really don’t get anything because no one uses CDs anymore.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement denouncing Francis’ decision while urging Columbia House to “continue to meet its own obligations in bombarding the Vatican with special new offers.”

“Our church remains committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case so that we may ecumenically come together once a month to discuss CDs that we like and those that we disliked.”

Some in the Catholic Church, with one anonymous Cardinal saying, “While I strongly opposed the Columbia House deal, it is a grave mistake to walk away from this deal without a plan for ensuring that [Columbia House] doesn’t launch a barrage of email offers.”


Go here to comment.  PopeWatch eagerly awaits the excommunication by Pope Francis of all who initiate robo calls.


Salve Regina

Something for the weekend.  Salve Regina.  A hymn to Mary whose origins are lost in the historical mists of the Middle Ages in the Eleventh Century.  Catholics regard May as the month of Mary and thus this song is appropriate.  I have always loved it.   Martin Luther hated it, another reason for me to love it!


Here I must say a few words about the song which is called Salve Regina. It is a great blaspheme of God. For it says, “Hail you queen of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.” Is that not too much? Who could justify calling her our life, sweetness and mercy when she is satisfied to call herself, a “handmaiden of the LORD?” Now people sing that prayer in every corner of the world and also the bells ring out, and still today in nearly every church the Salve Regina is, unfortunately, retained and sung.
It is the same with the Regina Coeli, which is not much better, in which she is called the queen of heaven. Is that not doing Christ a disservice when you account to a creature what only belongs to and is proper to God? So forget these ungodly and unchristian words. I will gladly concede that Mary prays for me, but I deny that she must be my comfort and my life. Your prayer on my behalf is also just as precious to me and hers. Why? If you believe that Christ dwells just as much in you as He does her, your prayer can help me just as well as hers.


This all calls to mind GK Chesterton’s “And Christian hateth Mary, whom God kissed in Galilee”.  I doubt if God will ever have a problem with Christians who love the mother He loved.





Know Your Enemy: Japan

Produced by the Army in 1945 and narrated by actor Walter Huston, Know Your Enemy: Japan, directed by Frank Capra, helped explain to a war weary America why it was going to be a fight to the finish against the Japanese militarists.  Mercifully Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the War to a conclusion before it became necessary for an American invasion of the Home Islands which would have almost certainly involved a million American casualties and tens of millions of Japanese casualties.  If you want to place yourself into the mind of the average American in 1945 as to the showdown with the Empire of Japan, this film is an excellent starting point.  Ironically the film was released on August 9, 1945 and quickly pulled from circulation due to the Japanese surrender.




Precious Snowflake Strips

An example of entitled brattiness in action:


A Cornell University senior delivered her honors thesis after stripping down to her bra and underwear in front of her teacher and classmates — at least two dozen of whom also undressed — in a bid to “stand against oppressive beliefs and discrimination,” Campus Reform reported Tuesday.

Letitia Chai removed all her clothes except for her undergarments during her “Acting in Public” presentation Saturday as a demonstration against her professor, Rebekah Maggor, who questioned Chai’s attire during her talk about refugee relocation, according to The Cornell Daily Sun.

“When I got up to start, my professor said: ‘Is that really what you would wear?’” Chai, who said she was “shook” and filled with “rage and disbelief” after the incident, wrote in a Facebook post that soon went viral. “She, a white woman, continued: ‘Your shorts are too short.’”

Chai recalled wearing a “long-sleeve blue button-down shirt and denim cut-offs,” which she alleges her professor told her was “inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body.” She says an international male student agreed with the professor.

Chai said Maggor tried to justify her question by explaining she was addressing her from the point of view of a concerned mother, to which Chai replied, her mom “is a Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies professor” who would’ve been proud of her for her outfit.

In the class syllabus, students’ “dress” is one of the course requirements.

​“For your performances, dress appropriately for the persona you will present,” the syllabus reads, “For example, how would you dress for a specific job interview? How would you dress when introducing a famous speaker at a particular conference? How would you dress to give a speech at a protest rally?”

The students in the class, while still supporting Chai, wrote a joint letter defending the professor’s comments, but nevertheless the faculty will undergo “training in diversity, equity, and inclusion” as a result of the exchange, according to an email Chai posted Monday.


Go here to read the rest.  Ms. Chai, presumably, has received no criticism in her life if this is how she reacts to such mild criticism.  It is no mystery however, as to how she became such a snot:

” Chai proudly dismissed by stressing that her mother “is a Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies professor,” and would not be concerned with her outfit.”

Go here to read the rest.  Is Cornell going to expel this unamusing poor excuse for an ecdysiast?  Surely you jest?  On Monday, Chai also shared an email exchange with the Chair of the Performing Media Arts, Nick Salvato, in which the official promised that diversity, equity, and inclusion training for faculty will “continue this semester, as well as next semester and beyond.”  The cost of attendance at Cornell is seventy grand a year.




PopeWatch: Who You Know

Edward Pentin at The National Catholic Register reminds us that in this Pontificate it is never what you do, but who you know:



Despite serious allegations involving abuse of seminarians and financial misconduct leveled against him, Honduran Auxiliary Bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle of Tegucigalpa remains in position, and put in charge of the archdiocese during the frequent times Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga is away. 

Sources in the Honduran capital have told the Register that no action has been taken against Bishop Pineda, even though a papal investigation last year contained accounts of sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by Bishop Pineda against priests and seminarians, as well as allegations of extensive financial misconduct and corruption. 

The head of the investigation, retired Argentine Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto, was reportedly shocked by the testimonies, taken from more than 50 witnesses, including diocesan staff members and priests. The Register obtained affidavits from two of the seminarians who accused Bishop Pineda of sexual abuse, and published them last month.

“Everything is kept silent and so everything continues as it always has,” an informed Honduran source told the Register. “Unfortunately, nothing has changed, only threats have been made against those who have revealed themselves.” 

Another source, working for the Church there, also told the Register April 26 that “everything is the same” and that “Pineda remains in his position with the protection of Maradiaga.” 

Investigations carried out by the Register last month, and more recently, show the bishop, who lives in a country where 63% of the population live below the poverty line, enjoys a lavish lifestyle which includes ownership of several expensive cars and frequent air travel. He flew first class on at least two occasions to Madrid last November, including one trip — a week-long Jesuit-run retreat in Spain — that was meant as a sanction following allegations made to the papal investigation. 

Go here to read the rest.  One of the more laughable misreadings of this Papacy is that Pope Francis is, in any sense, a reforming Pope.



CNN: Evil Trump Kidnaps Three Happy Guests of North Korea

From the ever brilliant The Babylon Bee:


ATLANTA, GA—An exclusive new CNN report revealed Thursday that President Trump has kidnapped three people from the paradise of North Korea, forcing them to get on a plane and return to the United States against their wishes.


A teary-eyed CNN anchor broke the story, visibly enraged at the egregious act of international terrorism. CNN reporters had discovered that the three visitors had been in North Korea enjoying a vacation for many months before Trump unilaterally decided to have them forcibly flown back to America, even aggressively accosting them when they landed.

“This heartbreaking story shows just how low President Trump will go,” the anchor said, his voice quavering. “How much longer will this country allow this madman to go on trampling the name of the United States on the world stage? This is an unprecedented act, for a sitting president to personally kidnap perfectly happy visitors to the communist wonderland of North Korea.”


Go here to read the rest.




The Widow’s Mites & The Faithful’s Billions

It is old news, for decades now, and, sadly, ongoing daily news, that many priests and bishops of the Catholic Church were, have been and may still be themselves perverts, pederasts, pedophiles, and sexual assaulters of women, men,  girls, and boys. A large number of bishops and archbishops have been involved in relocating guilty priests, knowing what they had done, hiding this from the civil authorities, hiding this from the faithful they are supposed to shepherd, moving these criminals around within a diocese from parish to parish with no warning to the faithful, especially parents of young children, and, in some cases, shuttling guilty priests from one diocese to another, keeping their crimes secret. No signs were posted when a shuttled cleric arrived at a new place, signs such as those required to be publicly displayed in many jurisdictions that say  “Pursuant to statute,  Father Drakenonsond who lives in this rectory is a sexual predator” or “Danger:  Sex Offender, His Excellency  Bishop Justenistone, lives at this location.”

There is something about all this that is equally bad, and, in some ways, worse.

The bishops have paid out billions of dollars of the faithful’s money to pay off the victims of these priest and prelate predators, and their attorneys. Even worse, in many cases, the bishops demand that the details of the payments be kept secret. Yes, that protects the victims; but is also keeps secret the details of the bishops’ actions, cooperation, and failures  in relocating and  shuttling of priests, with full knowledge of what they have done and, in some cases, with a  probability that they would do it again.

It is impossible to determine the exact amount of the faithful’s money the bishops have taken to settle these claims.  Some serious current estimates are over $4,000,000,000.00. These are just estimates. Because of the bishops’ demands, in most cases,  for secrecy when settling a case, cold hard facts are hard to come by. For the purposes of what I have to say, even if you assume that number is half wrong, or even mostly wrong, it is still an amazingly large amount of the faithful’s money.

I am calling it the “faithful’s money” because, although many bishops are, personally, millionaires, in some cases, multi-millionaires, and perhaps a few billionaires, I have never heard reported that abuse, assault, rape, and criminal claims were settled with the personal wealth of a Catholic bishop.

Because I am not a canon lawyer, not a civil law litigator, not a tax attorney or a tax accountant, and not a criminal lawyer, I have some questions. I wonder about the answers and would welcome expert response from any one so qualified. It may be that the hypotheses that from the bases of the questions are not correct. I would welcome correction.

Canon Law – Legal  Bishops’ Use of The Faithful’s Money

Some years ago I was at a parish that had a “capital campaign” to raise money to build a new multi-million dollar education building. The faithful were shown the survey of the land to be purchased onand drawings of the new building. Once the money was raised,  I was told that there was a directive  from powers beyond the parish level that the parish must use the money to build a new church, not an education building. I raised the issue that the money had been collected for an education building.  I said that my family and others had been defrauded. Promptly a representative of the parish finance council contacted me and said that, if I wanted, our donated money would be refunded. I found out that, under canon law, money collected for one purpose cannot then be used for another purpose. (As an aside, the new church building was built, and, some years later, God flooded it, completely). I was then asked by the pastor personally to leave the parish. Since it was not his, I stayed.

Canon law – the Church’s own law – says this:

“Canon 1267, §3:  Offerings given by the faithful for a specified purpose may be used only for that purpose.”

“Canon 1300: The intentions of the faithful who give or leave goods to pious causes  . . .  are to be most carefully observed, even in the manner of the administration and the expending of the goods .  . . . “

I am unaware of any “Capital Campaign To Raise Money To Pay Off Sexual Assault Victims Of Priests & Bishops” in any parish or diocese in America; of a “Pay For Priest & Prelate Predators Campaign,”  or of a fundraiser “For The Pastoral Malpractice Of Bishops Who Enabled, Fostered , And Shuttled Abusers & Criminals.” In short, I am aware of no Catholic in the USA who donated money for the bishops to use to pay off claims against the Church and against them. It would be very surprising if, court-sealed, secret settlement documents do not include the provisions that all claims against the bishops personally are also settled, and ended, by the agreements.

Question: Under Canon Law, shouldn’t these bishops be required to, at minimum, offer back to the faithful their money?  Pay back the laity’s money  given by the laity for religious purposes, but that was instead used in settlements? And shouldn’t these payments come from the personal wealth of the bishops involved?

Civil Law

Questions: Do the faithful, under civil law, have a cause or causes of action against the settling, enabling and shuttling bishops for all of the faithful’s money that the bishops  paid out to abuse victims and their attorneys? And, unfortunately, also a cause of action against the Church? Would this qualify as a “class action” ?  If bishops did not act alone, if others acted with them to spread this plague and to steal the money of the faithful, are there causes of action against them too?

Criminal Law

Questions:  Did the bishops who took our money, and those who acted with them, commit crimes?  It there was crime, does the corrupt organizations act apply?

Taxation –  Secret Payments , Relgious Purpose  ? 

It is my understanding that the tax laws –state and federal – exempt from taxation church property that is used for a religious purpose. Although funds in accounts are intangible property, they are, nevertheless, property. The faithful’s monies used to pay off abuse and assault claims, and claims against bishop enablers, it seems to me, were property, and they were property not used for a religious purpose.

Question:  Regarding the laity’s monies used to pay off claims and not used for a religious purpose:   are taxes due on all such monies paid out?

Thieves in the Hierarchy of the Church

There is a long history of disciples of Jesus stealing the money of the faithful. Judas was the first:

“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:4-6)

With good reason, actually with divine reason, Jesus warned against those of position in the Church accumulating wealth. He said:

“Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money.” (Luke 9:2)


It is no wonder that so many bishops in the United States, and in the world, are now trumpeting the Bergoglian heresies recently promulgated by the man wearing papal white. Among his heresies is a restatement of the ancient “mercy heresy,” that “No one can be condemned forever.” Some in the hierarchy may be relying on this.  It would be so interesting to be a fly on the Pearly Gates when these  bishops and their cohorts who have stolen the laity’s money try to instruct Jesus on their new rules regulating His judgment of them.

Often, under the law, a person who is at fault or who has committed a crime pays a money judgment for what has been done and pays restitution to those who have been injured and from whom money was taken. It is true that some of the laity have done things which were the subject of the bishops’ settlements; but the innocent laity are not at fault.  The innocent laity have not committed crimes, nor enabled them or hid them. Still, the innocent laity’s money was taken and used. Do the laity have legally enforceable rights to be made whole?



PopeWatch: Vatican Trolling

You know you are living in interesting times when  an ink stained Fleet Street wretch like Piers Morgan is more Catholic than the Pope:



Why is it deemed unacceptable to wear a red Chinese dress to a prom, but acceptable to lampoon an entire religion at a celebrity gala?

This particular subject is personal to me.

I’m a Catholic.

Not the most devout you’ll ever meet, I’ll admit.

But I was brought up a Catholic – I even received not entirely successful spiritual guidance from nuns as a teenager! – and I still consider myself to be a Catholic.

I know many people don’t believe in any God or religion, let alone Catholicism, and I respect that.

All I ask in return is for my beliefs not to be rudely disrespected.

Just as I always respect other religions even if I don’t believe in what they represent.

To me, this year’s Met Gala crossed a line and was openly, brazenly disrespectful.

By doing so, it confirmed itself as an organisation of rank double standards, because everyone knows they’d have never dared do it to Islam or Judaism.

Apparently – staggeringly – the Vatican gave permission for the Gala to be ‘Catholic-themed’ because it has already provided a variety of clothes and other items for an accompanying exhibition at the Met.

To which my response is: what the hell was the Vatican thinking?

Go here to read the rest.  Let PopeWatch answer that question.  The Vatican is currently controlled by people who hate traditional Catholicism.  It is impossible to imagine this crew associating the Vatican with anything that mocks the sacred cows of the secular elites.  However, mocking Catholicism as practiced by those troglodytes who actually believe what the Church has taught for 2000 years?  Have at it!  We are being trolled by the current crew at the Vatican who have nothing but contempt for the Faith and for us.  May God forgive them and quickly end their misrule of His Church.




May 10, 1863: “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”

“I have but to show him my design, and I know that if it can be done it will be done.  Straight as the needle to the pole he advances to the execution of my purpose.”

Robert E. Lee on Stonewall Jackson


Of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, nicknamed Stonewall by General Barnard Bee at the battle of Bull Run, it was said he lived by the New Testament and fought by the Old.  Certainly throughout his life he was a convinced Christian.  As a young man he would attend services of various Christian denominations.  In Mexico, during his service in the Mexican War, he attended mass, although he did not convert to Catholicism.  Instead he eventually became a Presbyterian.  His Bible was his constant companion, and he would often speak of God and theological matters in private conversation.

Jackson in his professional life was a soldier.  Just before the Civil War he was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy (science) and artillery instruction at the Virginia Military Institute.  As a teacher he made a good soldier.  His lectures were rather dry.  If his students seemed to fail to grasp a lecture, he would repeat it the next day, word for word.

His home life was a mixture of sorrow and joy.  His first wife died in childbirth along with their still-born son, a tragedy that would have crushed many a man less iron-willed than  Jackson.  His second marriage, like his first, was happy, but heartache also haunted it.  A daughter died shortly after birth in 1858.  A second daughter was born in 1862, Julia, shortly before Jackson’s own death in 1863.  His wife would spend a widowhood of 52 years, dedicated to raising their daughter, cherishing the memory of her husband, and helping destitute Confederate veterans.  For her good works she became known as the Widow of the Confederacy.  Their daughter Julia would marry and have children before her early death of typhoid fever at age 26.  Her two children had several children and there are many living descendants of Jackson.

He and his second wife established and taught a Sunday school for black slaves.  At the time it was against the law in Virginia to teach slaves to read, but apparently that is precisely what Jackson and his wife did.   One of the last letters he ever posted was his regular contribution he mailed off throughout the war for the financial support of the Sunday school for slaves he and his wife had founded.



Continue Reading


PopeWatch: Libertarianism

PopeWatch views libertarianism as the perfect political philosophy for 15 year old nerds, but when Pope Francis engages in yet another diatribe against libertarianism, it almost makes PopeWatch want to turn libertarian:

Finally, I cannot but speak of the serious risks associated with the invasion, at high levels of culture and education in both universities and in schools, of positions of libertarian individualism. A common feature of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is, “living well”, a “good life” in the community framework, and exalts the selfish ideal that deceptively proposes a “beautiful life”. If individualism affirms that it is only the individual who gives value to things and interpersonal relationships, and so it is only the individual who decides what is good and what is bad, then libertarianism, today in fashion, preaches that to establish freedom and individual responsibility, it is necessary to resort to the idea of “self-causation”. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity of the common good because on the one hand it supposes that the very idea of “common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, and the other that the notion of “good” deprives freedom of its essence.

The radicalization of individualism in libertarian and therefore anti-social terms leads to the conclusion that everyone has the “right” to expand as far as his power allows, even at the expense of the exclusion and marginalization of the most vulnerable majority. Bonds would have to be cut inasmuch as they would limit freedom. By mistakenly matching the concept of “bond” to that of “constraint”, one ends up confusing what may condition freedom – the constraints – with the essence of created freedom, that is, bonds or relations, family and interpersonal, with the excluded and marginalized, with the common good, and finally with God.


Go here to read the rest.  This is a Pope who has no problem with selling out Chinese Catholics to the Chinese Communist government and who has little to say about various squalid Leftist dictatorships around the globe.  Leftist tyrannies are of no concern to this Pope compared to the menace of the hordes of Libertarians descending upon nations to declare upon helpless populations freedom of contract and the limitation of the power of the State.  One of the frightening aspects of this Papacy is how detached from the real world this Pope is, as exemplified last week by his twitter proposal that all weapons be banned.  His ardent distaste for faithful Catholics, who he condemns as Pharisees and Gnostics, is only one facet of what a very strange man now heads the Faith, God help us all.



Bess Truman: Longest Lived First Lady

The recent death of Barbara Bush made me curious as to who was the longest lived First Lady.  That title goes to Bess Truman.  Born in 1885 less than 20 years from the end of the Civil War, she died on October 18, 1982, at the age of 97.  Very much a homebody, Bess Truman detested Washington and being First Lady.  Her goal was simple as First Lady: to cease being First Lady and to return to Independence.  In contrast to her immediate predecessor who talked to the press constantly, Truman held one press conference in which she gave written answers to pre-submitted questions.  When asked if she would like to see her daughter as President she bluntly said no.


During the 1948 whistle stop campaign in which Harry Truman referred to her as “The Boss” when introducing her to crowds, Bess purportedly told him that if he introduced her one more time as “The Boss” she would leave the train and she would not care how fast it was traveling.

A woman who knew her own mind, she turned down Harry the first time he proposed in 1911 and they would not wed until 1919, Bess Truman strikes me as a refreshingly normal human being who held a position she disliked  with grace out of love for her husband and her nation.  Harry Truman idolized her, and, as usual, Harry Truman demonstrated his usual good common sense.



Trump Knows a Bad Deal When He Sees It

President Trump killed the Iran deal today which was a good deal for Iran and its program of gaining nuclear weapons, and a terrible deal for the US.  This minor league Munich agreement was Obama’s desperate attempt to have a foreign policy legacy, and I am pleased that Trump has ended this bizarre appeasement of the mullahs:



That the Iranians have been cheating cannot be doubted:



The sad thing about all this is that most government officials knew that Iran was cheating and they didn’t care.  Trump does.


Happy 119th Mr. Hayek!


“The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”

Friedrich Hayek, Nobel Prize Lecture, December 11, 1974






PopeWatch: Articles 675 and 676

Hoo boy:


A Dutch cardinal has said that Pope Francis’ failure to uphold the Church’s authentic faith makes him think of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s prophecy of a “final trial” for the Church before the second coming of Christ.

Cardinal Willem Eijk, 64, the Archbishop of Utrecht, made the startling comment in an article published today at the National Catholic Register.

Eijk, who was created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, got his medical degree before ordination to the priesthood and went on to complete three PhDs in medicine, philosophy and theology.

In the article, the Cardinal laments Pope Francis’ failure to bring clarity on the question of intercommunion with Protestants during last week’s meeting at the Vatican with German bishops. The Pope told the German bishops to obtain unanimous approval on the issue, but, says Cardinal Eijk, he should have simply reminded them of the Church’s clear doctrine and practice.

“By failing to create clarity, great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered,” he said.

“Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he wrote.

That article of the Catechism, which he quoted in full, warns of a trial that will “shake the faith of many believers.” It prophesies a persecution that will “unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”

Cardinal Eijk warned publicly last year that by failing to clarify Church teaching over divorce and remarriage, Pope Francis was “fracturing” the Church.

Go here to read the rest.  99 year ago Yeats may have summarized our age:



    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Both Articles 675 and 676 may be relevant in this Pontificate:


675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.578




Bulgaria With Missiles

Chinese Premier Chou En Lai when asked his opinion in 1972  of the French  Revolution said that it was too early to tell.  (It is possible that he was talking about the French protests of 1968 in which case the quote goes from profound to banal.  Let us assume that he was being profound.)  Massive historical events usually require the perspective that only time can give.  For example:

This week, Russia will spend millions of dollars to put up yet another WWII victory parade in the Red Square. Tanks will rumble and jets will fly overhead. Nuclear-capable ballistic missiles will slowly crawl past the same old mausoleum with the same old corpse inside. But what about the people watching? Some are clinging to old glory. Many are beginning to see the absurdity of celebrating in superpower style victory over countries that are now vastly more prosperous than their own. Russia is a poor country that does not even have the technological and business expertise to exploit its own natural resources, letting foreign powers do it instead, akin to the literal banana republics of early 20th century Central America. Russia has roughly half the population it had a hundred years ago and in many metrics such as consumer goods production has yet to reach pre-revolutionary levels or levels that were achieved by Stalin’s GULAG slave labor in the 1930’s. In all ways that count, Russia is the sole loser of the Second World War.


So what happened? Why were the hopes and aspirations of those attending the first WWII victory parade so cruelly dashed against the rocks of history? The answer is not hard to come by; all it takes is to ask those Russians who lived through post-war Soviet history and did not belong to the communist or technocratic elites. In the USSR, there was simply no reason for anyone to work hard. It was not possible to make more money, to open a business, to invest for profit. If any disposable income materialized (a rare event indeed), there was nothing to buy, certainly nothing of any quality. The best way to live was to engage in tufta (pretend work) and whenever possible steal from your employer, the government. After all, the government shafted you, so why not shaft it back? As long as extra effort does not produce extra rewards, why bother? No dream, no aspiration, no amount of well-justified national pride can survive a system that rewards mediocrity and minimal effort. A life or barely clinging to the communist safety net of minimal (but guaranteed!) nutrition and healthcare is hardly a life worth living. It is a life that brings out the worst in people; it makes them lazy, stupid, belligerent.


Go here to read the rest.  Great military victories are very important in History, but more important is what the victor does with the victory in peace.


PopeWatch: Saudi Arabia

This could be interesting:

The Vatican has denied making a deal with Saudi Arabia to build churches for Christian worshippers in the Arab country. 

Reports in Middle Eastern media claimed a historic agreement had been made between Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa of the Muslim World League.

But a spokesperson for the Vatican said the report was ‘false’.  

The reports of the supposed agreement to build churches emerged in Egypt Independent.    

The cardinal has visited Saudi Arabia this year and met the royal family, urging the Muslim country to treat its citizens equally.  

Saudi Arabia’s anti-extremism Etidal centre hosted Cardinal Tauran as the crown prince pushes for inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom.

There are no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the region without one.  

Go here to read the rest.  Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has emerged as a reformer in Saudi Arabia, by Saudi standards a wild eyed radical, who wants to open up the country to more contacts with the West.  The story about the Saudi government agreeing to allow the building of churches was no doubt planted by an enemy of the regime.  However, the Saudi government has been trying to establish better relations with Christian leaders internationally, and the treatment of Christians in Saudi Arabia has long been a major concern of the Vatican.  Stay tuned.



Pershing Compromises

The guiding star of General Pershing in France was that the Americans were to form a separate Army and operate as a cohesive unit.  An Allied Supreme War Council was held on May 1-2, 1918.  The discussions were often contentious with Pershing resisting the idea that American units should be amalgamated with French and British units.  Finally Pershing conceded with the following agreement which allowed temporary service by American units then in France with the British and French armies:


It is the opinion of the Supreme War Council that, in order to carry the war to a successful conclusion, an American Army should be formed as early as possible under its own commander and under its own flag.

In order to meet the present emergency it is agreed that American troops should be brought to France as rapidly as Allied transportation facilities will permit, and that, as far as consistent with the necessity of building up an American Army, preference will be given to infantry and machine-gun units for training and service with French and British Armies; with the understanding that such infantry and machine-gun units are to be withdrawn and united with its own artillery and auxiliary troops into divisions and corps at the direction of the American Commander-in-Chief after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies in France.

Subparagraph A.  It is also agreed that during the month of May preference should be given to the transportation of infantry and machine-gun units of six divisions, and that any excess tonnage shall be devoted to bringing over such other troops as may be determined by the American Commander-in-Chief.

Subparagraph B.  It is further agreed that this program shall be continued during the month of June upon condition that the British Government shall furnish transportation for a minimum of 130,000 men in May and 150,000 men in June, with the understanding that the first six divisions of infantry shall go to the British for training and service, and that troops sent over in June shall be allocated for training and service as the American Commander-in-Chief may determine.

Subparagraph C.  It is also further agreed that if the British Government shall transport an excess of 150,000 men in June that such excess shall be infantry and machine-gun units, and that early in June there shall be a new review of the situation to determine further action.

In hindsight the agreement seems sensible.  American units would gain some combat experience with the British and the French on a temporary basis, with an American army formed as soon as sufficient troops had been shipped to France.




Taco Appropriation

From The Babylon Bee:


IRVINE, CA—Cultural appropriators in America, you’ve just been put on notice. Fast-Food giant Taco Bell has announced that from now on it will only serve customers of Mexican descent to ensure that “everyone stays in their lanes.”


Patrons will be asked to show proof of their Mexican heritage at the drive-thru window or dine-in counter, and anyone who doesn’t meet the stringent racial standards won’t be able to partake in Taco Bell’s authentic Mexican cuisine.

Great job, Taco Bell! It’s important for restaurants to make sure that people of different ethnicities are not experiencing each other’s cultures, or harmfully colonizing fast food.


Go here to read the rest.  I knew this was going to happen long ago:




A Rose By Any Other Name Will Not Smell as Sweet

We live in deeply mendacious times, and we see it in the Leftist drive to alter reality by altering the words and phrases we use.  Welfare handouts become entitlements.  Illegal aliens become undocumented immigrants.  Abortion becomes reproductive health.  Violent Leftist  mobs become antifa activists.


George Orwell warned us about this long ago:

“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.”

As Orwell explained getting people to use such words involves quite a bit, at least initially, of what he called doublethink:


To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word—doublethink—involved the use of doublethink.

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

One essential element of a free state is the ability to freely state what one believes.  That is a freedom that forces on the Left in this nation and around the globe, with certain honorable exceptions, seek to take away from us.  They wish us to mouth their lies, and if we do not we are to be subject to vilification on social media, have our jobs taken away from us if they have the power to compel that and have our very speech criminalized, as for example is being attempted in California.  I say that these people are the enemies of freedom and that we must confront and defeat them.



A Little Traveling Music


British Soldier:
You call yourself a patriot, and loyal subject to the Crown?

I do not call myself subject to much at all.



Something for the weekend.  On a road trip today to pick up our daughter from library school at Dominican and music from Last of the Mohicans (1992) seems appropriate.  Rarely have I heard music that gives a better sense of movement.



PopeWatch: Robertson Guard

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


In an effort to become more inclusive, The Pontifical Swiss Guard announced this morning that it would begin defending leaders of other faiths for the first time in its long history.

Beginning next month, the Pontifical Swiss Guard will be known as the Interreligious Swiss Guard.

“Interreligious Swiss Guard perfectly represents the new, inclusive program to help protect Protestant pastors, rabbis, and other religious leaders, including the security of their megachurches, synagogues and so on,” said Commander of the Interreligious Swiss Guard Christoph Graf.

Graf went on to announce that twenty members of the Swiss Guard have already been ordered to move from Rome and to be stationed at The 700 Club headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia, next week where they will have the duty to protect and defend television personality Pat Robertson.

“As we enter the dawn of a new era for our organization, it is important that no religious leaders feel excluded. We no longer want anyone to think that their religion and leadership is not worthy of protection,” Graff said.

Requirements to enter the Interreligious Swiss Guard will also change to reflect the new standards. Guards must be Catholic or not, single males or females with Swiss citizenship or citizenship from any another country, who have obtain certificates of good to decent conduct.

The official oath that will be sworn in Virginia Beach next week will be as follows:

I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honorably serve Pat Robertson and his descendants, and dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing, if necessary, my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to Christian Broadcasting Network executives whenever the Network See is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity and obedience. I swear to observe all that the honor of my position demands of me.


Go here to comment.  The Vatican has refused to confirm or deny that the new Guard will be armed with recordings of the homilies of the Pope.


Satirists Out of Work in Age of Francis

It is increasingly difficult to satirize the surreal reality within the Church today.  For example:


 Six weeks after resigning as head of the Vatican communications office over a fake news controversy, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano gave a talk on the subject of fake news at a high-profile conference in Rome. In the April 28 panel, titled “Fake News and the Ethical Responsibilities of Media,” Msgr. Vigano stressed the importance of transparency in the media and said journalists who publish false or inaccurate information risk “poisoning” their readers.


Vigano’s talk fell just six weeks after his March 21 resignation as prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications following what has come to be known as the “Lettergate” scandal.

It began after the Monday, March 12, launch of the 11-book series “The Theology of Pope Francis,” published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house overseen by the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications.

A letter from Benedict XVI praising Francis’ theological and philosophical formation was read aloud at the event, however, the secretariat later admitted to tampering with an image of the letter that was sent to media, blurring out lines in which Benedict said that he had not read the full series, and so was not able to offer an in-depth analysis of the text.

Days later, it was revealed that further paragraphs had been left out in which Benedict questioned the inclusion in the series of a theologian known for his “anti-papal initiatives.”

After receiving pressure from the media, the secretariat published the full letter March 17, which they said was confidential and never intended to be published in its entirety.

Following Vigano’s resignation, Pope Francis named Msgr. Lucio Ruiz, former secretary of the department, as an interim prefect, but asked Vigano to stay on in an advisory role, which he continues to hold.

Go here to read the rest.  Well, at least he clearly is familiar with the concept of fake news, even if he isn’t very skilled at producing it.  Vigano’s early reappearance demonstrates both the shamelessness of the liars currently controlling the Vatican and the complete contempt they have for Catholics outside their charmed circle.



Fishing Expedition

Federal District Court Judge T.S. Eliss III, a Reagan appointee, gave Special Prosecutor Mueller a hard time in Court today by stating the obvious:


“I don’t see what relationship this indictment has with anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia said.

At a tense hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the judge said Mueller should not have “unfettered power” in his Russia probe and that the charges against Manafort did not arise from the investigation into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

“It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special counsel has unfettered power to do whatever he wants,” said Ellis, who was appointed to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Manafort is facing charges in both Virginia and Washington. The Virginia case charges him with offenses including tax and bank fraud.

The other case in Washington accuses him of conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent when he lobbied for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government.


None of the charges relate, however, to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign or possible collusion with Russia. Trump has denied any collusion.

Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing has argued that the charges must dismissed because the FBI investigation dates back to 2014, and therefore did not arise from Mueller’s probe.

The bulk of Friday’s questions by the judge were aimed squarely at Michael Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general who is currently working in Mueller’s office.


Go here to read the rest.  There never was anything to the allegation that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.  Mueller has thus been on  a fishing expedition for more than a year and a half in which he prosecutes former members of the Trump campaign in hopes that, in return for leniency involving offensives unrelated to the Trump campaign, they will reveal something criminal about Trump.  This stinks to high heaven and Judge Ellis realizes that.


Weird Al Parody of Star Wars Before Star Wars Became a Parody of Star Wars

“A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere. I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having. The bad penny first dropped in San Francisco when a sweet-faced boy of twelve told me proudly he had seen Star Wars over a hundred times. His elegant mother nodded with approval. Looking into the boys eyes I thought I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form and I guess that one day they would explode.

‘I would love for you to do something for me,’ I said.

“Anything! Anything!’ the boy said rapturously.

‘You won’t like what I’m going to ask you to do.’ I said.

‘Anything, sir, anything!’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?’

He bursts into tears. His mother drew herself up to an immense height. ‘What a dreadful thing to say to a child!’ she barked, and dragged the poor kid away. Maybe she was right but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.”

Alec Guinness,  A Positively Final Appearance (1999)







PopeWatch: Marxism and the Cross

Cardinal Reinhard Marx just can’t stay out of the news.  Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register gives us the details:


The apostolic nuncio to Austria has strongly criticized German bishops and priests for their opposition to a regional politician’s mandate to display Christian crosses in the entrances of all government institutions, saying such an objection is a “disgrace.” 

Speaking to an audience at Hochschule Heiligenkreuz, a pontifical university near Vienna (see video below), Archbishop Peter Stefan Zurbriggen said that speaking as a representative of the Holy Father, he was “really sad and ashamed that in a neighboring country, bishops and priests, of all people, have to criticise it when they want to erect crosses. 

“That is a disgrace which mustn’t be accepted!,” he said in a loud voice and to a round of applause. 

The nuncio’s reproach comes after Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, criticized a mandate from Markus Söder, Bavaria’s Prime Minister, that all state buildings should display crosses, though not necessarily in the form of a crucifix, by June 1. 

Söder, a Lutheran, announced the decision on April 24. His office said it is intended to “express the historical and cultural character” of Bavaria and to be “a visible commitment to the core values of the legal and social order in Bavaria and Germany.”

But Cardinal Marx told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that the cross is not just a “cultural symbol” but rather “a sign of opposition to violence, injustice, sin and death.” It is not a “sign [of exclusion] against other people,” he added.  

The cardinal, who heads the German bishops’ conference, stressed it is not up to the state to explain what a cross means, and that Bavaria’s government has triggered “division, unrest and adversity” with the move.

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of the Bavarian diocese of Regensburg has taken an opposing view to Cardinal Marx, asserting that: “the cross is the epitome of Western culture.”


Go here to view the rest.  This brings to mind what Saint Paul said:

22For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 23but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1: 22-25