Alibis

 

Robert Penn Warren

 

History is not melodrama, even if it usually reads like that. It was real blood, not tomato catsup or the pale ectoplasm of statistics, that wet the ground at Bloody Angle and darkened the waters of Bloody Pond. It modifies our complacency to look at the blurred and harrowing old photographs — the body of the dead sharpshooter in the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg or the tangled mass in the Bloody Lane at Antietam.

Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Church so frequently that I have called him Defender of the Faith, has a very interesting post today which combines my two passions of the Civil War and the Catholic Church:

In 1961, at the start of the United States Civil War Centennial observances, LIFE magazine asked Robert Penn Warren for an essay about the effects of that war on subsequent US history.  That essay eventually became a small book entitled The Legacy of the Civil War which is still in print and is well worth your time.

It’s slightly more than one hundred pages and if you’re not as glacially slow a reader as the Editor is, you can probably polish it off in an hour or less.  Warren, a Kentuckian, is equally harsh with both sides, as he should be.  But the curse which was laid upon the South as a result of that war was something that Warren labels the Great Alibi.  I’m transcribing directly from the book so any errors are mine:

By the Great Alibi, the South explains, condones and transmutes everything.  By a simple reference to the “War,” any Southern female could not too long ago, put on the glass slipper and be whisked away to the ball.  Any goose could dream herself (or himself) a swan– surrounded, of course, by a good many geese for contrast and devoted hand-service.  Even now, any common lyncher becomes a defender of the Southern tradition, and any rabble-rouser the gallant leader of a thin gray line of heroes, his hat on saber-point to provide reference by which to hold formation in the charge.  By the Great Alibi, pellagra, hookworm and illiteracy are all explained, or explained away, and mortgages are converted into badges of distinction.  Laziness becomes the aesthetic sense, blood-lust rising from a matrix of boredom and resentful misery becomes a high sense of honor, and ignorance becomes divine revelation.  By the Great Alibi, the Southerner makes his Big Medicine.  He turns defeat into victory, defects into virtues.  Even more pathetically, he turns his great virtues into absurdities–sometimes vicious absurdities.

It occurred to me that one of the most terrible tragedies of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals is that it granted something like Warren’s Great Alibi to the Catholic left, the Christian left and other enemies of the Gospel.

For example.  You’re a Catholic theologian of leftist leanings or a feminist nun.  You have publicly written that not only should Katharine Jefferts Schori be allowed to preach in Catholic parishes, she should also be allowed to concelebrate the Mass.

The Vatican calls you out.  How do you respond?  Easy.  You simply invoke the Great Christian Alibi in the same way as Sister Elizabeth Johnson [No relation - Ed] does here:

A nun who drew U.S. Catholic bishops’ ire with what they consider radical feminist writings fired back Friday (Aug. 15), saying their investigation of women’s orders is wasteful when financial mismanagement and sexual abuses are being covered up.

“When the moral authority of the hierarchy is hemorrhaging due to financial scandals and many bishops who … cover up sexual abuse of children, a cover up that continues in some quarters to this day, and thousands are drifting away from the church … the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable,” Johnson said.

And debate is officially over.  Who are you, you male member of the church hierarchy, to lecture me about anything at all, considering that the MALE hierarchy of this church covered up the sexual abuse of CHILDREN?

Leaving aside the psychological trauma of the victims, the Great Alibi freely provided to the enemies of both the Catholic Church and the Gospel may actually be the single most damaging thing to emerge from the sexual abuse scandals.

Because how do you answer it? Continue reading

Happy Face Abortion

Happy Abortion

 

 

Janet Harris, writing in The Washington Post, wishes pro-aborts would stop calling abortions a “difficult decision”:

 

 

Contrary to numerous movies and “very special” television episodes portraying abortion as an agonizing, complex decision (“Obvious Child” notwithstanding), for many it is a simple choice and often the only practical option. A 2012 study published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that the vast majority of women seeking an abortion — 87 percent — had high confidence in their decisions. This level of conviction contrasts with the notion that millions of women vacillate over whether to have an abortion.

 

The circumstances matter, of course. Planned or wanted pregnancies involving fetal anomalies, or in which the health of the mother is in question, may require heart-wrenching decisions. But these situations are quite rare. A Guttmacher Institute survey of women in the United States seeking abortions found that 3 percent said the main reason was a fetal health problem, and 4 percent cited a problem with their own health. The percentage of women seeking an abortion because they were victims of rape or incest was less than 1.5 percent.

The far more common situation, accounting for 51 percent of all pregnancies among American women, is an unintended pregnancy, either mistimed (31 percent) or unwanted (20 percent). A 2008 study found that 40 percent of unintended pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, ended in abortion. It is in these cases that the portrayal of hand-wringing and soul-searching is more likely to be at odds with the day-to-day reality. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Silence and Mourning

 

 

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Well chosen silence can be quite eloquent.  Pope Francis gave an example of this during his visit to South Korea:

During the solemn visit, part of his prearranged itinerary to South Korea, the Holy Father and his entourage stopped for a moment and prayed in silence in front of hundreds of small white crosses representing victims of abortion. Accompanying the Pope was Father Lee Gu-won, a representative of pro-life groups in Korea and missionary to people without limbs.

The moment of prayer today came after the Pope visited Kkottongnae (“Village of Flowers”), a Catholic center about 60 miles south of Seoul which seeks to provide care and rehabilitation to the severely disabled, homeless and those afflicted by addictions. The Pope’s visit to the memorial was especially appropriate given the stigma of disability in Korea and that genetic deformities are often used to justify abortions.

The “Cemetery for Aborted Children” is located behind the home and includes a statue of the Holy Family surrounded by a cross representing the unborn. Continue reading

August 18, 1864: Capture of the Weldon Railroad

Petersburg_Aug18-19

 

 

On August 17, 1864 Grant was heartened when he received a telegram of support from President Lincoln.  Go here to read about it.  Grant remarked to his staff after reading the telegram:   “The President has more nerve than any of his advisors.”

Lincoln had advised Grant:  Hold on with a bull-dog gripe, and chew & choke, as much as possible.  Unbeknownst to the President, Grant already had underway an operation to do just that.  Major General Gouverneur K. Warren was ordered by Grant to take his V corps, supported by units of the IX and II corps and a small cavalry division, and move to the left to capture a section of the Weldon railroad, the main supply line for the Confederate forces at Richmond and Petersburg, which led south to Wilmington, the last major port of the Confederacy.

By 9:00 AM on August 18, 1864, Warren had brushed aside Confederate pickets and reached the Weldon railroad at Globe Tavern.  He deployed a division of his corps to destroy track, held another division in reserve and set another brigade, deployed in line of battle, north to guard against Confederate attempts to retake the railroad.  A.P. Hill, launching his attack at 2:00 PM used two divisions from his corps to retake Globe Tavern, but Warren counterattacked and recovered the ground he lost, his troops entrenching as night fell.

On the 19th, the IX corps reinforced Warrens V corps while the Confederates received three brigades of Major General William Mahones’ division along with “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry division.  Mahone, cementing his reputation, after the part he played in retaking the Crater, as one of the best generals for the Confederacy in 1864, launched a slashing flank attack that captured two Union brigades.  A Confederate frontal assault by Major General Henry Heth was easily repulsed, and the fighting ended with a IX corps counterattack leading to hand to hand fighting as nightfall brought a  close to the day’s fighting.

Torrential rains on the 20th prevented large scale combat.  Warren withdrew on the night of the 20-21 to a new fortified line.  Confederate attacks failed to dislodge him, and the battle of Globe Tavern ended with the Union in permanent possession of several miles of the Weldon railroad which necessitated the Confederates to bring in supplies to Petersburg and Richmond thirty miles from the nearest section of the Weldon railroad not under Union control.  Union casuaties were 4, 296 to 1,620 Confederates but the noose had been tightened around Petersburg and the Confederacy.

Here are the comments of General Grant on this operation in his Personal Memoirs: Continue reading

Religion and Reality

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And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,  
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.

GK Chesterton, Lepanto

 

Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  Father Robert S. Hewes recalls some very relevant history:

 

Getting all medieval..

 

Dear friends,

“Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy Love?”

The words above stood out like a thunderclap.

Earlier this morning (August 11th) I was reading the entry in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints” for the saint of the day: St. Clare of Assisi, a friend and contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.

I had not thought to have read such words from a Saint who followed her fellow-townsman Francis in the spirit of poverty and simplicity. As a line from a movie has it, Clare “got all medieval” that day.

Well, St. Claire WAS “medieval”.

However, the account of the events that lead to long-ago prayer of Claire are strikingly modern. An army in the service of (of all people) the “Holy Roman Emperor” in the year 1244 advanced on her city.  This host was ravaging the area around Clare’s convent just outside Assisi and was largely composed of hired “Saracens” (i.e., Arab Muslim warriors) and approached the walls of her enclosure. She took herself to the wall, the Blessed Sacrament borne before her in a pyx and she faced the advancing Islamic troops. It was then she prayed the words that began this article.

Not very ecumenical we might think. Maybe she was too harsh?

After all, can’t we all just get along?

It takes two to get along.

You and I are used to assuming all people are basically good, and all religions are essentially good.  How often do we think ‘we all believe in the same God”?

Do we?

What is emerging and is rampaging today now in the form of “ISIS” or “ISIL” is an old story: militant Islam carrying the sword and demanding total submission to Allah as they conceive him to be. We are in merely the newest phase of a struggle that has gone on intermittently from 1400 years in the Middle East and has now spread West, as it once did. Continue reading

August 17, 1864: Lincoln to Grant

Lincoln and Grant

The gaunt man, Abraham Lincoln, lives his days.
For a while the sky above him is very dark.
There are fifty thousand dead in these last, bleak months
And Richmond is still untaken.
                              The papers rail,
Grant is a butcher, the war will never be done.
The gaunt man’s term of office draws to an end,
His best friends muse and are doubtful.  He thinks himself
For a while that when the time of election comes
He will not be re-elected.  He does not flinch.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

In August of 1864 the bottom seemed to be giving out from underneath the Union war effort.  Grants’s drive against Richmond and Sherman’s drive against Atlanta seemed to have stalled, with Confederate armies holding tenaciously to both cities.  Casualties, especially in the eastern theater of the War, had been appallingly high since the campaigning season opened in April, and after a massive effusion of blood the War seemed no closer to a Union victory.  Northern governors feared draft riots in their cities in the face of a growing conviction that the South could not be conquered.  On August 15, Grant wrote to Chief of Staff General Henry Halleck, in response to proposals that troops could be sent from the Army of the Potomac to put down draft riots:

CITY POINT, VA., August 15, 1864-9 p. m.

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.

If there is any danger of an uprising in the North to resist the draft or for any other purpose our loyal Governors ought to organize the militia at once to resist it. If we are to draw troops from the field to keep the loyal States in harness it will prove difficult to suppress the rebellion in the disloyal States. My withdrawal now from the James River would insure the defeat of Sherman. Twenty thousand men sent to him at this time would destroy the greater part of Hood’s army, and leave us men wherever required. General Heintzelman can get from the Governors of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois a militia organization that will deter the discontented from committing any overt act. I hope the President will call on Governors of States to organize thoroughly to preserve the peace until after the election.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

Lincoln responded to Grant, and, if the anachronism may be allowed, his message back had a Churchillian ring to it: Continue reading

Back Again

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Vacations are always fun, although the older I get the more I find that I need a rest and recuperation period to recover from the vacation!  (The work that no doubt has piled up on my desk in my absence makes such periods of after vacation rest brief indeed.) My son has started in at SIU law school and he has received the usual law school admonition that they will teach him to think like a lawyer.  (What a terrible threat!)  He seems to be off to a good start.   GenCon was fun as always.  The high point for me was when the family and I attended the 12:10 PM Assumption holy day mass at Saint John the Evangelist across from the convention center in Indianapolis.  The mass began with the packed congregation belting out Hail Holy Queen, always one of my favorite hymns, and the congregation was so loud that I was able to sing at the top of my lungs, something I enjoy doing but that I rarely do since if I could be heard I fear it would quality as at least a misdemeanor if not a felony!  I was then delighted to learn that the three priests concentrating the mass were all gamer priests from around the country there to attend GenCon and who were substituting for the pastor who was on vacation. Continue reading

Ye Cavaliers of Dixie

Something for the weekend.  Ye Cavaliers of Dixie, sung by Bobby Horton who has fought a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences.  Written by Benjamin F. Porter, the song was a riff on the popular song Ye Mariners of England.

Queen of Heaven and Queen of Men

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The King looked up, and what he saw
          Was a great light like death,
          For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
          As lonely and as innocent
          As when between white walls she went
          And the lilies of Nazareth.

          One instant in a still light
          He saw Our Lady then,
          Her dress was soft as western sky,
          And she was a queen most womanly—
          But she was a queen of men.

          Over the iron forest
          He saw Our Lady stand,
          Her eyes were sad withouten art,
          And seven swords were in her heart—
          But one was in her hand.

GK Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse

****************************************************

 

And he saw in a little picture,
          Tiny and far away,
          His mother sitting in Egbert’s hall,
          And a book she showed him, very small,
          Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall
          With a golden Christ at play.

          It was wrought in the monk’s slow manner,
          From silver and sanguine shell,
          Where the scenes are little and terrible,
          Keyholes of heaven and hell.

          In the river island of Athelney,
          With the river running past,
          In colours of such simple creed
          All things sprang at him, sun and weed,
          Till the grass grew to be grass indeed
          And the tree was a tree at last.

          Fearfully plain the flowers grew,
          Like the child’s book to read,
          Or like a friend’s face seen in a glass;
          He looked; and there Our Lady was,
          She stood and stroked the tall live grass
          As a man strokes his steed.

          Her face was like an open word
          When brave men speak and choose,
          The very colours of her coat
          Were better than good news.

          She spoke not, nor turned not,
          Nor any sign she cast,
          Only she stood up straight and free,
          Between the flowers in Athelney,
          And the river running past.

          One dim ancestral jewel hung
          On his ruined armour grey,
          He rent and cast it at her feet:
          Where, after centuries, with slow feet,
          Men came from hall and school and street
          And found it where it lay.

          “Mother of God,” the wanderer said,
          “I am but a common king,
          Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
          To see a secret thing.

          “The gates of heaven are fearful gates
          Worse than the gates of hell;
          Not I would break the splendours barred
          Or seek to know the thing they guard,
          Which is too good to tell.

          “But for this earth most pitiful,
          This little land I know,
          If that which is for ever is,
          Or if our hearts shall break with bliss,
          Seeing the stranger go?

          “When our last bow is broken, Queen,
          And our last javelin cast,
          Under some sad, green evening sky,
          Holding a ruined cross on high,
          Under warm westland grass to lie,
          Shall we come home at last?”

          And a voice came human but high up,
          Like a cottage climbed among
          The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft
          That sits by his hovel fire as oft,
          But hears on his old bare roof aloft
          A belfry burst in song.

          “The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
          We do not guard our gain,
          The heaviest hind may easily
          Come silently and suddenly
          Upon me in a lane. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Pope Saint Pius X

mother_son

 

Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.

Pope Saint Pius X

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The Conclave of 1903 was a highly unusal one.  The first Conclave to occur within the glare of modern media, the proceedings leaked like a sieve to eager waiting journalists, so much so that after this Conclave Pope Pius decreed that participants were to take an oath of silence as to the proceedings of all future conclaves.

The front runner was Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, Leo XIII’s Secretary of State.  He would almost certainly have been chosen Pope by the Conclave but for the exercise of the Austrian veto by a Polish Cardinal at the behest of Austrian Emperor Franz Josef.  (Three Catholic powers had traditionally claimed a right of vetoes in conclaves:  the King of France, the King of Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor.  Contemporary Catholics who sigh for Catholic confessional states are often bone ignorant as to how much traditional Catholic confessional states interfered in the operation of the Church.)  Why the veto was used remains a mystery.  The Cardinals met the use of the veto with outrage, but its use stopped Rampolla as a viable candidate.  After the election of Pope Pius, he banned the use of vetoes in any future conclaves. Continue reading

August 14, 1864: Second Battle of Deep Bottom

Deep_Bottom_August

 In late July Northern newspapers were filled with the raids into the North being staged by Jubal Early and his corps in the Shenandoah Valley.  In order to distract Lee from sending reinforcements to Early, Grant decided to make another attempt on Richmond  at the sector named Deep Bottom north of the James River.  (Grant had just made a similar attempt at Deep Bottom to divert Confederate attention just before the mine explosion of the battle of the Crater.  Go here to read about the first battle of Deep Bottom.)  As in the first battle of Deep Bottom, Hancock’s corps crossed to the north side of the James, with hard fighting on August 14-20. Hancock could not make any substantial headway and withdrew south of the James on the night of the 20th.    Union casualties were 2,889 -1500 Confederates.

Here is Grant’s account of this operation in his Personal Memoirs: Continue reading

Abraham Lincoln and The Gates of Hell

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I have always been struck by the Lyceum speech made by Abraham Lincoln at age 28 in Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838.  It was a complex meditation on a topic that is very relevent to our own day:  how Americans are to retain what the Founding Fathers bequeathed them:  a free nation.  Lincoln understood that the essential threat to our free society was not external but internal:

How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Lincoln knew that the memory of what the Founding Fathers accomplished over time would fade.  He would be saddened, but not surprised, that in the third century of the Republic our schools spend little time teaching our children about the Revolution, and instead spend a great deal of time in indoctrinating children in the fashionable, and often pernicious, political shibboleths of our day.  A people cannot love what they have forgotten, and if I had to put my finger upon one factor that has most contributed to the current problems we face, it is a collective ignorance, almost an amnesia, about our past, among a majority of Americans.  Lincoln’s closing passage served as a warning in his day, and it is even more relevant in our own: Continue reading

The Vatican (re)discovers Humanitarian Intervention?

In today’s news, the Vatican seems to be entertaining the notion of condoning military force in Iraq to stem the tide of Christian persecution at the hands of “The Islamic State” ["IS"], (formerly known as “ISIS”). John Allen Jr. explains:

For anyone familiar with the Vatican’s recent history of bitter opposition to any US use of military force in the Middle East, Rome’s increasingly vocal support for the recent American airstrikes in Iraq may seem, to say the least, a little disorienting.

On Monday, the Vatican’s previously tacit approval for the American intervention turned explicit, as two senior officials offered what amounts to a blessing through official communications channels.

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the pope’s ambassador to Baghdad, told Vatican radio that the American strikes are “something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State forces] could not be stopped.”

In a similar vein, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, told Vatican Radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary.

Coming from the Vatican’s prior adoption of a functionally-pacifist and “abolitionist” stance on military action in modern times, this is huge. Compare the above with Cardinal Martino (of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)’s declaration in the National Catholic Register, circa 2003:

Question: “Are you suggesting there is no such thing as a just war anymore?”

Archbishop Martino: “Absolutely. I think with modern weaponry, there is no proportionality between the offense and the reply. It makes much more damage. War is so destructive now. It is not just a fight between one person and another.”

But what’s the reason for this sudden “about face”? Continue reading

Hey, You’re So Welcome!

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A nice spoof by Andrew Klavan of the demonization of white Christian men that seems to be an essential feature of the contemporary left in this country.  What was started by the Founding Fathers, as pointed out by Lincoln in the stirring quote below, was to free us from looking at people as groups instead of as what we truly are:  children of a loving God who endowed each of us with unalienable rights:

 

These communities, by their representatives in old  Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We  hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are  created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with  certain unalienable rights; that among these are life,  liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic  interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their  lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of  the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to  all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their  enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and  likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded,  and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole  race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized  upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide  their children and their children’s children, and the countless  myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise  statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity  to breed tyrants, and so they established these great  self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man,  some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that  none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life,  liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look  up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to  renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth,  and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues  might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would  hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles  on which the temple of liberty was being built.

Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858

 

The Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family: How empathy promotes division…

 

Over at The Catholic Thing, Brad Miner posts a fantasy discussion between a Catholic man and a divorced Catholic woman who has announced she is getting remarried. The gist of it is that a priest—Fr. Blithe—has told the woman that the remarriage is fine. Moreover, he will witness it at St. Brendan’s. The Catholic man will have nothing of it, and tells her so. Or, better, he re-catechizes the woman about Church teaching—the “rules.” She concludes, “That is so unfair!”

The scene aptly describes the situation confronting the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops this October concerning marriage and family.

Reading numerous websites—including the National Catholic Reporter and The Wanderer—to get the full spectrum of what Catholics are thinking about the Synod, Miner’s post identifies what appear to be the fault lines. On the one side, there are those who hope the Synod will change Church teaching. These are the forces of pastoral reform who feel angry because the Church is being “so unfair.” On the other side, there are those arguing that Church teaching must not and cannot change.

Unfortunately, many view the matter of marriage and family as well as the division among Catholics as a political matter, in particular, where theology and ecclesiology interface. They would have the division dealt with and solved politically, not as a rupture in the Church that requires healing. Empathy for the plight and feelings people have as a result of their freely-made commitments—important as it is and as is required within the Christian community—may make people feel better. But, it doesn’t bring healing. After all, empathy for a Stage 1 cancer patient doesn’t keep the cancer from spreading.

That is where Miner’s post is extremely important.

At first read, some (and more likely, many) Catholics will be offended by this Catholic man’s patient, persistent, and sound catechesis and will not empathize with him. Instead, they will attack his character, lack of compassion, as well as his fundamental lack of awareness. “After all,” they will argue, “the times have changed.” One can easily imagine someone asking the Catholic man: “Just who do you think you are to tell this poor woman how to live her life? Fr. Blithe has it exactly right because he cares for her like Jesus cared for sinners.”

The trouble is that Fr. Blithe has it all wrong. Moreover, he has allowed empathy to trump his role and responsibilities, at least, according to Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In an interview soon to be published in The Hope of the Family, Cardinal Mueller takes the Fr. Blithes of the world to task, unloading an arsenal of arguments in support of the indissolubility of marriage. He argues, in particular, that indissolubility of marriage is no mere doctrine that’s subject to change, but a divine and definitive dogma of the Church that’s unchangeable. What the Cardinal intimates is necessary is not a political solution but a cure for the division that exists. That requires recover the sacramental understanding of marriage and family.

To that end, Cardinal Mueller lays all of his cards on the table in that interview. According to the interview as reported by The Wanderer, Cardinal Mueller seeks:

  • to correct any misunderstanding about the Church’s teaching on family;
  • to underscore the dramatic situation of the children of separated parents; and,
  • to stress that more education is needed and that education should start from the reality of the love of God.

Okay, that’s all fine. But, that doesn’t respond directly to the Church’s Fr. Blithes. Not backing off, Cardinal Mueller states:

  • Of Fr. Blithe’s argument that the Church should allow spouses to “start life over again” and that the love between two persons may die: “These theories are radically mistaken.” After all, “One cannot declare a marriage to be extinct on the pretext that the love between the spouses is ‘dead’,” because “the indissolubility of marriage does not depend on human sentiments, whether permanent or transitory. This property of marriage is intended by God Himself. The Lord is involved in marriage between man and woman, which is why the bond exists and has its origin in God. This is the difference.”
  • Of Fr. Blithe’s mistaken social notions about marriage that result from individualism: “In a world that is angrily individualistic and subjectivist, marriage is not perceived anymore as an opportunity for the human being to achieve his completeness, sharing love.”
  • Of Fr. Blithe’s failure to prepare couples adequately for marriage: More in-depth education about marriage, including “remote preparation for marriage — from infancy and adolescence — should be a major pastoral and educational priority.”
  • Of Fr. Blithe’s mistaken notion of the virtue of justice: “[A]mong the poor of the Third and Fourth World,” those relegated to the “existential peripheries,” there are “the children who must grow up without their parents,” the “orphans of divorce,” who are perhaps “the poorest of the poor of the world.” These poorest of the poor, these orphans of divorce, are most often found, not in materially impoverished nations, but in Europe and North America—some of the world’s wealthiest places

What advice Cardinal Mueller might have for Fr. Blithe?

As a shepherd, I say to myself: It can’t be! We must tell people the truth! We should open their eyes, telling them they have been cowardly tricked through a false anthropology which can only lead to disaster.

Now, none of that’s very empathetic.

Or, is it?

Cardinal Muller said: “[W]e should above all speak about the authentic love and the concrete project which Christ has for every person.”

Is it authentic love to withhold the truth from a spouse?

In the end, Brad Miner’s catechetical efforts are doing more to promote healing than are Fr. Blithe’s efforts to make the divorced woman feel good by arranging a sham marriage ceremony at St. Brendan’s.

 

 

 

 

To read Brad Miner’s discussion over at The Catholic Thing, click on the following link:
http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2014/modern-re-marriage-a-fantasy.html .

To read about Cardinal Mueller’s interview in The Wanderer, click on the following link:
http://thewandererpress.com/featured-today/cardinal-mueller-clarifies-marriages-indissolubility-is-a-dogma/

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

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