America as in the Jesuit rag, not the nation. The Jesuits can close up shop now at America. There is no way they can surpass this article which perfectly symbolizes the adherence of most contemporary Jesuits to the Faith, and their intellectual acumen:
A New Theology of the Transgendered Body by Sidney Callahan
Bravo Jesuits, you cannot possibly top, or rather bottom, that!
Blogging can be rough amusement. I will attempt to keep the Definition of a Gentleman written by Cardinal Newman in 1852 in mind as much as I can and still keep the readers of TAC informed and amused. It is almost as if Newman could perceive blogging over a century and a third before it began, as his Definition of a Gentleman is, in part, almost a code of behavior for bloggers. Here are some rules for blogging I have distilled from it:
Bloggers would do well to keep the following in mind:
1. His great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd.
2. He never defends himself by a mere retort.
3. He has no ears for slander or gossip.
4. He is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best.
5. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out.
6. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.
7. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults.
8. He is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice.
9. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles.
10. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it. Continue reading
After Francis P. Blair returned to Washington from Richmond with a note from Jefferson Davis indicating a willingness to enter into negotiations, go here and here for background on Blair’s mission and his meeting with Davis, Lincoln had a decision to make. Refuse to enter into negotiations and that would anger both moderate Republicans and Democrats. Enter into negotiations, and both mainstream and radical Republicans would be dismayed. Lincoln hit upon a shrewd response. He would enter into negotiations, but he would couch his agreement in such terms as clearly to indicate no weakening in his resolve to preserve the Union: Continue reading
A multicultural approach to the conquest of Mexico usually does not investigate the tragedy of the collision between 16th-century imperial Spain and the Aztec Empire. More often it renders the conquest as melodrama between a mostly noble indigenous people slaughtered by a mostly toxic European Christian culture, acting true to its imperialistic and colonialist traditions and values.
In other words, there is little attention given to Aztec imperialism, colonialism, slavery, human sacrifice, and cannibalism, but rather a great deal of emphasis on Aztec sophisticated time-reckoning, monumental building skills, and social stratification. To explain the miraculous defeat of the huge Mexican empire by a few rag-tag, greedy conquistadors, discussion would not entail the innate savagery of the Aztecs that drove neighboring indigenous tribes to ally themselves with Cortés. Much less would multiculturalism dare ask why the Aztecs did not deploy an expeditionary force to Barcelona, or outfit their soldiers with metal breastplates, harquebuses, and steel swords, or at least equip their defenders with artillery, crossbows, and mines.
For the multiculturalist, the sins of the non-West are mostly ignored or attributed to Western influence, while those of the West are peculiar to Western civilization. In terms of the challenge of radical Islam, multiculturalism manifests itself in the abstract with the notion that Islamists are simply the fundamentalist counterparts to any other religion. Islamic extremists are no different from Christian extremists, as the isolated examples of David Koresh or the Rev. Jim Jones are cited ad nauseam as the morally and numerically equivalent bookends to thousands of radical Islamic terrorist acts that plague the world each month. We are not to assess other religions by any absolute standard, given that such judgmentalism would inevitably be prejudiced by endemic Western privilege. There is nothing in the Sermon on the Mount that differs much from what is found in the Koran. And on and on and on.
Victor Davis Hanson
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
“We have a duty to speak openly. To have this freedom, but without offending. It’s true that you cannot react with violence, but if my aide Doctor Gasbarri, who is a friend, badmouths my mother, a punch would be coming for him,” Francis said before holding up a finger and asking those present to hold on a second. “Hold on…let me take that back. I would not punch him in the face. At least not at first. First, I would kick him in the n–s. Then a knee in the face would be coming for him. After this, I would have many options. I could put him in a headlock, a figure-four leg lock, a vice grip, the Colossal Clutch, the Turantual, the Boston Crab…any of these maneuvers would help to rectify the wrong said about my mother.”
Something for the Weekend. After hearing this week that Pope Francis plans to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the Apostle of California, while he is in this country later this year, the musical score to the heavily fictionalized account of the first missionary journey of Serra, Seven Cities of Gold (1955) seems appropriate.
In 1955 Hollywood told the story of the 1769 expedition to Alta California in the film Seven Cities of Gold. Michael Rennie gave a very good performance as Father Serra and Anthony Quinn gave an equally fine performance as Governor Portolla. Of course Hollywood could not remain completely faithful to history, and a fictional hunt for the Seven Cities of Cibola was given as the reason for the expedition. A love story between an Indian girl and one of the Spanish officers was also grafted on to the story. In spite of the usually Hollywood twisting of history, the film is accurate in its depiction of the goodness and charity of Father Serra and his zeal to spread the Gospel. One scene from the movie has him denouncing the greed of the Spanish soldiers and their desire to exploit the Indians: Continue reading
Strong advisory in regard to the above video which shows the Jihadi murderers of ISIS publically executing an accused adulteress as she begs to see her children one last time. Why does not the West treat the Jihadists around the globe with the only argument that seems to make any impression upon them: superior fire power? A commenter at Father Z’s blog gives us an answer:
Because I stay informed through the modern media and keep up on political commentary, I recognize that Muslims killing people for religious reasons is an extreme rarity, committed by isolated individuals or small extremist cells. I refuse to let this single incident cloud my impression of Islam.
The man in the picture no doubt fired the shot and then fled, as those around him must have been planning to apprehend him. Since Islam is the religion of peace, I know they were not supporters of his. Or perhaps he was merely defending himself from western oil profiteering, and he’s being unfairly portrayed as a terrorist.
In contrast, Catholics are constantly bombing abortion clinics, assassinating doctor’s, and forcing themselves into private citizens’ bedrooms to sabotage their contraception. Then again, is this any surprise in an organization who’s charitable contributions are less than $200 billion in most years?
In fact, over the last 30 years alone, more Catholic priests have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse in a country of merely 300 million people than the number of Muslims who have killed people northern Iraq and southern Syria combined going all the way back to last Thursday.
Similar statistics help re-assure us not to apply the self-righteous generalizations we direct at Catholics at Boko Haram in Nigeria; Hezbollah in Lebanon; Hamas in Palestine; Al Shabaab in Somalia, Etheopia, and Kenya; Abu Sayyaf, MILF, and others in the Philippines; the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan; Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and others in India, the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya, and all the other peaceful groups I’m forgetting at the moment.
I apologize that my digression does not respect the gravity of the picture. It’s just that when I see the contrast between how the media treats Islam in the face of Islamist terrorism on one hand, and acts like excerpting casual remarks by the Pope about how it’s unwise to provoke crazy people in a way that makes it sound like he made an official declaration that the recent attacks in France were justified on the other hand, I get a bit touchy.
From Ace of Spades:
His “cannot make fun of religion” could easily be a “should not” more than a “must not,” and I suppose that would be expected from a Pope; it is his statement that a Blasphemer should “expect a punch” that bothers me.
(Apparently Pope Francis is going to canonize Father Serra during his visit to the US this year. Finally! Time to repost this post that ran in 2011.)
By the 18th Century Spain’s glory days were in her past, and her time as a great power was rapidly coming to an end. It is therefore somewhat unusual that at this period in her history, Spain added to her vast colonial empire. It would never have occurred but for the drive of one Spanish governor and the burning desire of a saint to spread the Gospel of Christ.
Miquel Josep Serra i Ferrer was born on the island of Majorca, the largest of the Balearic islands, off the Mediterranean coast of Spain on November 24, 1713. From his youth he had a desire to join the Franciscans and on September 14, 1730 he entered the Order of Friars Minor, and took the name of Junipero after Saint Junipero, one of the closest companions of Saint Francis. He had a sharp mind, and before his ordination to the priesthood was appointed lector of philosophy. He would go on to earn a doctorate in philosophy from Lullian University and went on to occupy the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy there. A quiet life teaching philosophy was his for the asking. Instead, he went off to be a missionary in the New World in 1749.
His first assignment was to teach in Mexico City, but that was not why he had left the Old World. At his request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian missions in Central Mexico as a mission priest, a task which occupied him for the next nine years.
In 1768 he was appointed the head of 15 Franciscans in Baja California who were taking over Jesuit missions to the Indians there, following the suppression of the Jesuit Order. It was in Baja California that he met the Governor of that province, Gaspar de Portola.
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”
H. Richard Nieburh
One of the more distressing aspects of the times in which we live is a widespread and fundamentally incorrect response to the eternal question first asked by Christ to His Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” The question of course contained the answer: Christ is forever “I AM”, the creator of all that was, is and will ever be, our eternal Master and the source of all love and hope.
This Christ has been transformed into Pal Jesus, an instant forgiveness buddy, who wouldn’t dream of imposing commands on anyone, and who loves us just the way we are. Pal Jesus always forgives us, whether we ask for it or not, whether we seek to amend our lives or not. He never tells us to go and sin no more. This Christ, who, to paraphrase Chesterton, wears a new face of goofiness, is in stark contrast to the Christ presented to us in the Gospels who bids us all each to take up our Cross and follow Him. Father Richard Heilman at One Peter Five gets at the heart of this modern variant of a very old heresy:
And yet isn’t that exactly what has become of us? Consider this sobering analysis of our present condition from columnist Jeffrey Kuhner at the Washington Times:
For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism. Conservatives have ceded the culture to the enemy. Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged — their innocence lost forever — because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon.
This cultural assessment is bleak. And I believe that underlying it all is a deeper evil, a more ancient and intractable error which gives rise to all the rest. Many have pointed to “Modernism” as the heresy of our times. Modernism, while it takes many forms, is basically a break or rejection of our past in favor of all things new. And, while it seems evident that our Church is fully infected with the heresy of Modernism, I believe that it, too, is a symptom of this more fundamental threat.
What am I referring to? Something that impacts the very nature of human existence and the opportunity for our salvation. Lacking an official name, I call this monster, “Stealth Arianism.” Students of history know that the Arian heresy – the worst crisis in the Church before our present age – was rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ was merely a created being, not equal to God the Father. Stealth Arianism follows the same fatal error, but with a twist: while the Arians of the fourth century openly denied Christ’s divinity, today‘s Arians will profess Jesus as God, and yet through their actions deny it. In other words, they don’t even know they are heretics. Many even believe that they are doing God’s work in their attempts to elevate Christ’s humanity at the cost of His divinity.
You see, once we diminish the identity of Christ as the Son of God, we are left to view Him as simply a historical figure that was a nice guy, a respectable teacher and a good example for how we are to live. Religion is then reduced to a nice organization that does nice things for people as we seek a kind of psychotherapy for self-actualization. And this is not only not what He came to give us, but it’s something He made sure to leave no room for.
In his Christological examination, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes the case plain:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Over the past 50 years, the Stealth Arians have done everything within their power to remove from our lived experience of Catholicism anything that would point to the divinity of Christ, and the supernatural quality of our faith. Everything has been stripped from our churches – sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music, and the sacred elements of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – and we are left in the barren desert of the banal. It is no wonder many Catholics think nothing of approaching the Most Holy Eucharist dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and grabbing the host like they’re reaching into a bag of chips. As Flannery O’Connor said, “If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” It’s more surprising that these individuals even bother to attend Mass at all. Continue reading
Pope as radical environmentalist?:
In his strongest declaration yet about climate change, Pope Francis said Thursday he is convinced that global warming is “mostly” man-made.
He also said he has nearly finished writing an encyclical on climate change to be published in June that he hopes will encourage negotiators at a climate change meeting in Paris in December to make “courageous” decisions to protect God’s creation.
“I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” Francis told reporters Thursday aboard the Papal plane en route from Sri Lanka to Manilla, Philippines. “We have in a sense taken over nature.”
“I think we have exploited nature too much,” he added, mentioning practices like deforestation and monoculture. “Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it.” Continue reading
In an attempt to deal with the tens of thousands of black refugees who were following his army, General Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15. Issued to deal with an emergency situation and not as an attempt to chart Reconstruction Policy, the order looms large in the mythology of Reconstruction and is the origin of the belief that freed slaves were all promised 40 acres and a mule. The order was rescinded by President Johnson in the fall of 1865.
Sherman commented on the Order in his Memoirs:
During Mr. Stanton’s stay in Savannah we discussed this negro question very fully; he asked me to draft an order on the subject, in accordance with my own views, that would meet the pressing necessities of the case, and I did so. We went over this order, No. 15, of January 16, 1865, very carefully. The secretary made some verbal modifications, when it was approved by him in all its details, I published it, and it went into operation at once. It provided fully for the enlistment of colored troops, and gave the freedmen certain possessory rights to land, which afterward became matters of judicial inquiry and decision. Of course, the military authorities at that day, when war prevailed, had a perfect right to grant the possession of any vacant land to which they could extend military protection, but we did not undertake to give a fee-simple title; and all that was designed by these special field orders was to make temporary provisions for the freedmen and their families during the rest of the war, or until Congress should take action in the premises. All that I now propose to assert is, that Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, saw these orders in the rough, and approved every paragraph thereof, before they were made public.
Here is the text of the Order:
IN THE FIELD, SAVANNAH, GA., January 16th, 1865.
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, No. 15.
I. The islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns river, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.
II. At Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Fernandina, St. Augustine and Jacksonville, the blacks may remain in their chosen or accustomed vocations–but on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves, subject only to the United States military authority and the acts of Congress. By the laws of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro is free and must be dealt with as such. He cannot be subjected to conscription or forced military service, save by the written orders of the highest military authority of the Department, under such regulations as the President or Congress may prescribe. Domestic servants, blacksmiths, carpenters and other mechanics, will be free to select their own work and residence, but the young and able-bodied negroes must be encouraged to enlist as soldiers in the service of the United States, to contribute their share towards maintaining their own freedom, and securing their rights as citizens of the United States.
Negroes so enlisted will be organized into companies, battalions and regiments, under the orders of the United States military authorities, and will be paid, fed and clothed according to law. The bounties paid on enlistment may, with the consent of the recruit, go to assist his family and settlement in procuring agricultural implements, seed, tools, boots, clothing, and other articles necessary for their livelihood. Continue reading
In Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Pope Francis canonized Saint Joseph Vaz.
Bells rang out and the crowd erupted in applause when Francis declared the Rev. Joseph Vaz a saint at the start of the service. Vaz was a 17th century Indian missionary who revived the faith in Sri Lanka during a time of anti-Catholic persecution by Dutch colonists, who were Protestant Calvinists.
“St. Joseph shows us the importance of transcending religious divisions in the service of peace,” Francis said in his homily, delivered in English and then translated for the crowd in both Sinhalese and Tamil. “As the life of St. Joseph Vaz teaches us, genuine worship of God bears fruit not in discrimination, hatred and violence, but in respect for the sacredness of life, respect for the dignity and freedom of others, and loving commitment to the welfare of all.”
To underscore that point, Francis gave Sri Lanka’s bishops a replica of a 17th century decree from the then-king of Kandy allowing Catholic conversions of Buddhists — a somewhat provocative message given the recent upswing in violence against Muslims and some Protestant churches by Buddhist extremists who want Sri Lanka exclusively Buddhist. Continue reading
With the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, the last major port of the Confederacy was sealed. After Butler’s blundering attempt to take the Fort ended in a disgraceful retreat, the Union wasted no time in outfitting a second expedition. 60 ships under Admiral David Porter made up the naval component while Major General Alfred Terry led a force of 9000 troops from the Army of the James. Colonel William Lamb commanded the 1900 man garrison of Fort Fisher, while Major General Hoke commanded a division of 6400 men a few miles north of the fort.
On January 13, Terry landed north of the Fort, between it and Hoke’s division. Scouting the fort on January 14, Terry decided it could be taken by an infantry assault. The Union fleet opened an intense bombardment of the fort on the morning of the 15th. The assault did take the fort, in the teeth of a determined Confederate defense, after fighting that lasted until 10:00 PM. Union casualties were 1341, with the entire Confederate garrison captured in addition to 538 killed and wounded. Here is Secretary of War Stanton’s report on the battle:
FROM SECRETARY STANTON.
FORTRESS MONROE, Tuesday, Jan. 17 — 10 P.M.
The rebel flag of Fort Fisher was delivered to me on board the steamer Spalding, off that place, yesterday morning, Jan. 16, by Major-Gen. TERRY.
To the President:
An acknowledgment and thanks for their gallant achievement was given in your name to Admiral PORTER and Gen. TERRY, from whom the following particulars were obtained: The troops arrived off Fort Fisher Thursday night. Friday they were all landed under cover of a heavy fire from the squadron. A reconnoissance was made by Gen. TERRY on Saturday. A strong defensive line against any of the enemy’s forces coming from Wilmington was established on Saturday, and held by 4,600 men, chiefly colored troops, and an assault was determined on. The assault was made on Sunday afternoon at 3 1/2 o’clock. The sea-front of the fort had been greatly damaged and broken by a continuous and terrible fire of the fleet for three days, and the front was assaulted at the hour mentioned by a column of seamen and marines, 1,800 strong, under command of Capt. BREESE. They reached the parapet, but after a short conflict this column was checked, driven back in disorder, and was afterward placed on the defensive line, taking the place of a brigade that was brought up to reinforce the assaulting column of troops. Although the assault on the sea front failed, it performed a useful part in diverting the attention of the enemy, and weakening their resistance to the attack by the troops on the other side. The assault on the other and most difficult side of the fort was made by a column of 3,000 troops of the old Tenth Corps, led by Col. CURTIS, under the immediate supervision of Gen. TERRY. The enemy’s force in the fort was over 2,200. The conflict lasted for seven hours. The works were so constructed that every traverse afforded the enemy a new defensive position from whence they had to be driven. They were seven in number, and the fight was carried on from traverse to traverse, for seven hours, by a skilfully directed fire thrown into the traverses. One after another they were occupied by the enemy. Admiral PORTER contributed to the success of the assaulting column by signals between himself and Gen. TERRY at brief intervals. This fire was so well managed as to damage the enemy without injury to our own troops. Continue reading
As the economic situation in Venezuela goes into freefall, and the comic opera Marxist government continues to show itself clueless, the Bishops of Venezuela have released a letter which should be mandatory reading for every Catholic. Here is an informal google translation:
Pastoral exhortation ethical and spiritual renewal tackle the crisis
ETHICS AND SPIRITUAL RENEWAL IN THE CRISIS
1. With deep and renewed hope in God, at the beginning of this year 2015 the Bishops of Venezuela salute all Venezuelans, and lift our prayers to God for the welfare and peace of the country. In the midst of the problems that beset us, we have seen in Christmas light of Jesus, our Divine Savior (Luke 2: 9), who encourages us to go forward, faithful to his word, to build a better world. Trusting again we share with our people some concerns about the current situation, to help resolve the crisis we face.
IN THE MIDST OF A GENERAL CRISIS
2. The first part of 2014 was marked by strong political and social upheaval. At this time the bishops strongly express our rejection of all violence, whatever its origin and authors, as she was a balance of 43 dead and many injured, which we deplore without distinction of social or political groups; denounce the excessive use of force in the suppression of protests and the detention of thousands of people, many of them still in prison or subject to filing criminal courts or other restrictive measures of liberty; and we express our condolences and solidarity with the victims and their families. There are numerous reports of human rights violations including torture of detainees, which must be addressed and punished the perpetrators of these crimes.
3. That grave crisis raised the need for dialogue between government leaders, opposition and other sectors. Thanks, among other things, called the Pope Francis and participation of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop. Aldo Giordano, he began a dialogue which unfortunately was not the first meetings.
4. This situation has been joined in recent months generalized anxiety of the people by the economic crisis that we suffer, as is subjected unseen difficulties to access basic necessities. A huge external debt, which jeopardizes the future of Venezuelans, the unbridled inflation, devaluation of our currency, smuggling mining and commodity shortages have led to the increasing impoverishment of large sectors of the population, particularly those with fewer resources economic. This crisis is compounded by administrative corruption, centralism, looting the treasury currency, the recent decline in oil prices, and the ineffectiveness of the measures and plans being implemented by the Government to address it.
5. We also have a situation of worsening social violence. Offensive language, the systematic exclusion to any contrary opinion, incite fanaticism and irrationality. The crisis of public insecurity is intolerable. Unfortunately the efforts and programs developed by the government to control this scourge have failed. To this add serious problems in the health field, such as viral epidemics unaddressed efficiently, lack of medicines, medical supplies and equipment throughout the country. Moreover, the death of over forty inmates in the prison of Uribana reveals a tragic situation in our prison system should be reformed completely.
A WRONG WAY
6. The greatest problem and the cause of the general crisis, as we have noted elsewhere, it is the decision of the national government and other public bodies to impose a political-economic system of socialist Marxist or communist. This system is totalitarian and centralist, establishes state control over all aspects of life of citizens and public and private institutions. Also threaten freedom and rights of individuals and associations and has led to oppression and ruin to all countries that have applied.
A baker not wishing to be compelled to make a cake for a homosexual wedding might as well be a member of the SS according to Diann Rice a member of the hilariously misnamed Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Left merrily continues on its mission to stamp out every one of the freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights in the name of tolerance:
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the last meeting [on Mr. Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust,” Ms. Rice said at the July 25 hearing.
“I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination,” Ms. Rice said. “And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use — to use their religion to hurt others.”
Jeremy Tedesco, ADF senior legal counsel, said in a statement that Ms. Rice’s comments reveal an “anti-religious bigotry” that “undermines the integrity of the entire process and the commission’s order as well.” Continue reading
A brilliant post by
Among the new picks, there are only two African bishops who will be able to vote in a conclave, from Ethiopia and Cape Verde. No new Cardinals hail from North America. Just four come from Europe. In general, all the new Cardinals come from peripheral countries. They are characterized by a strong pastoral commitment, especially on social issues. And most of them do not get along well with the Church’s central governing institution, or at least they do not know it very well. Some of them are anti-Roman, or at least they see Rome as an impediment for their pastoral activity.
An exception is number two on the papal list, Manuel Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon. He is not a progressive, but a scholar, a pretty conservative one. Nevertheless, Patriarch Clemente was able to set the bar for his church in tune with Pope Francis, for example, by organizing a missionary synod for 2016 and by positioning himself in the mainstream during the last synod of bishops. Even if deemed a traditionalist, he knows which way the wind is blowing. An 18th-century agreement between Pope Clement XI and King John V of Portugal requires that the Patriarch of Lisbon be created Cardinal at the first consistory that occurs after his appointment. Patriarch Clemente had to wait an additional consistory before making the cut. This may not have been just by chance.
Among the most anti-Roman peripheries is New Zealand. At a first sight, the choice of Archbishop John Atcherley Dew seemed to be a tribute to Cardinal George Pell, in an effort to give the College of Cardinals a new residential representative from Oceania, since Pell’s successor in Sydney was not going to receive a red hat. This interpretation was tempting, but it proved wrong. New Zealand is one of the most secularized countries in the world, and the Catholic Church there has drifted toward desacralization. New Zealand is the “Holland of Oceania”. The last liturgical reform there dropped the requirement that the faithful should kneel during the consecration. Priests are considered mostly “sacrament deliverers”, while the entire Church is in the hands of the laity. The agenda is mostly focused on social issues, and is very scantly on doctrine.
No wonder that the Archbishop of Wellington joined Cardinal Walter Kasper’s side at the synod of bishops. In the end he even admitted that New Zealand had already adopted the direction proposed by Kasper. Dew did not state this out of opportunism; he insisted out of personal conviction that Kasper’s proposals were right.
On the other side of the ocean, beyond the surprise of a Cardinal hailing from Paranà, Pope Francis will create the Archbishop of Montevideo (Uruguay), Daniel Fernando Sturla, a Cardinal. He comes from the most atheistic country in South America, and he probably thinks that the antidote to the hemorrhage of the faithful is for the Church to move closer toward their positions: some of his declaration have been read as a real change of pace, especially for what concern doctrinal stances.
What a pity, then, that a Pew Forum survey suggests instead that this approach may not be helpful. In a survey on reasons why Catholics leave to join Protestant sects, the Pew Forum established as the first three reasons the search for a personal connection with God, participation in a particular style of worship and, finally, a felt need for a greater emphasis on morality.
This latter reason provides interesting data, as interesting as the data suggesting that evangelicals strongly defend family and life issues and reject gender ideology at the same time that the Catholic Church in South America shows itself to be weak on ethical issues.
The loss of Latin America’s faithful seems to be endemic. Pope Francis’ Argentina merited treatment as a case history in the Van Thuan Observatory’s 2012 Report on Social Teaching in the World as the country that more than any other has been subjected to the colonization of human nature carried out by international lobbies. Brazil was devastated by the debate over liberation theology that even caused a split between the Boff brothers. While Leonardo Boff continues to celebrate para-religious rites although he quit the priesthood and lives with female partner, his brother, Clodovis, has come around to understand that putting the poor, and not Christ, at the center of the Church’s preaching has turned the Church in Brazil into a sort of merciful NGO.
This is exactly what Pope Francis says he does not want. Yet the Pope seemingly prefers bishops with this kind of orientation, bishops who perhaps possess a very strong pastoral sensitivity, but one that is little supported by Catholic teachings. Pope Francis’ choices concretize the bias found in some ecclesial peripheries that view Rome as an obstacle and an impedment to their development.
This feeling against Rome is not shared by peripheries of the Church in Africa and eastern Europe. The Synod of Bishops was a bench test for them. In eastern Europe, the bishops carry forward a difficult but true ecumenism, and their impact on society is strong. In Africa, they fight to preserve their identity against multinational companies and international powers that impose a secularist agenda in exchange for humanitarian aid.
None of these peripheries has been rewarded with a new Cardinal. Instead during the Synod of Bishops Cardinal Walter Kasper, in an interview he reportedly thought was off-the-record, said that the problems of the Africans should not concern us.
Thus arises the notion that there are peripheries worthy of concern and others that are not. Notice that an initial clue to this mindset comes from Cardinal Kasper, i.e., from a German, coming from a Church with a long tradition, but one that is strongly anti-Roman and sometimes influenced by Protestantism. It is noteworthy that Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich-Freising, a prime engineer of Vatican reforms and one of the main players in this season of the Church, has recently insisted that the Church should learn from Luther.
Looked at from this point of view, it seems that the Pope’s favorite peripheries are those that perceive any central institution with suspicion and that seek a pastoral autonomy unbound from the doctrine of the Church. Step by step, the final outcome may involve the dismantling of the Roman Curia’s structures, and even the dismantling of the weight of some bishops’ posts. The Pope does not respect traditional balances, he simply de-legitimizes and undermines existing church institutions this way .
Pope Francis’ plan does not seem to be long term. Reasoning in the short term he sees the need for Cardinals from peripheries who are able to carry forward his reforms and even quietly drive the Synod of Bishops toward his wished-for change in direction. The secret battle for the next Synod has already begun, as has the battle for advancing curial reforms.
But if the Pope does not have a long term plan in mind, is there anyone out there who does? According the Austen Ivereigh’s book “The Great Reformer,” the team of Cardinals who backed Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election convinced skeptical Cardinals to support him by arguing that Benedict XVI’s resignation established the principle that from now on a pope could leave office at the right time. These Cardinals certainly had in mind a plan for the Church.
All of the Cardinals in the alleged ‘team Bergoglio’ are promoters of a progressivist agenda, one that favors a less doctrinal and more pastoral Church, an agenda of mercy that could not care less about justice. All of these Cardinals knew that Bergoglio, filled with the Latin American periphery’s anti-Roman sentiment, would back the reforms they hoped to see enacted. Nevertheless, they probably already have someone in mind for the next conclave.
A very strong pretender to the throne may be Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Filipino, young, esteemed in progressivist circles for his contribution to the “History of the Second Vatican Council”, an account of the Council drafted by the group of scholars belonging to the so-called ‘Bologna School’ who interpret it as a rupture, and not as a continuity, in the Church’s tradition. Continue reading