‘I am not a pillar of the Church, but more like a flying buttress — I support the church from the outside.’
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a question for us:
I have a serious question for which I’d like a serious answer. And I’m not going to provide any commentary of my own just yet; I’m much more interested in what you guys think. But should we flying buttresses of the Catholic Church, to borrow Churchill’s analogy, start seriously worrying right about now?
In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).
Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.
In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.
In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.
Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.
As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.
In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.
As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.
Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Raymond Cardinal Burke is one of many clerics speaking out against the Relatio, go here to read all about it, at the Synod on the Family:
Cardinal Burke responded late yesterday to questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about his concerns, his view of the mid-term report, and why he thinks a statement from Pope Francis is “long overdue”.
CWR: In what way is information about what is happening in the Synod being either manipulated or only partially reported and made public?
Cardinal Burke: The interventions of the individual Synod Fathers are not made available to the public, as has been the case in the past. All of the information regarding the Synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the Synod which clearly has favored from the beginning the positions expressed in the Relatio post disceptationem of yesterday morning.
While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church.
CWR: How is that reflected in the Synod’s midterm document, released yesterday, which is being criticised by many for its appeal to a so-called “law of graduality”?
Cardinal Burke: While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable.
The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called “revolutionary”, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.
CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?
Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue. The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.
The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
If a Pope decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow, I suspect Mark’s only response would be to inquire what shade.
Donald R. McClarey
For those of you disturbed by the Relatio of the Synod, go here to read about it, Mark Shea explains at length why you are simply a misguided “Reactionary”:
The latest in months of Reactionary panic (ongoing since March 2013 with the election of Francis) was on display last week in the fears about “gradualism” being discussed at the Synod. What’s gradualism? Gradualism is the common sense fact that conversion usually takes a long time and sinners typically require baby steps to change. Calah Alexander, who is, like Yr. Obdt. Svt, a wretched sinner, has some rather appreciative words for gradualism. To which I say, “Hear! Hear!” I’ve never met a confessor who was not a gradualist and I doubt you have either. Indeed, most confessors I know tend to discourage gigantic vows of massive instantaneous conversion, particularly with entrenched sins. Why? Because when we fail to keep them, as we almost surely will, we can fly to the opposite end of the spectrum and despair. So the counsels tend to be “slow and steady wins the race”.
Unfortunately, Reactionaries (who tend to lack people skills) tend also to understand “gradualism” to mean “Let’s gradually change basic Church teaching until it conforms to the world, the flesh, and the devil.” When they hear “gradualism” they don’t hear “How can the Church welcome sinners and help them to become saints by baby step?” They hear “How can we slowly pervert the teaching of the Church until abortion and gay marriage are the eighth and ninth sacraments?” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing is reporting from Rome and his one word description is a good summary of what is going on: bizarre:
By now, almost everyone interested in Catholic matters knows about what can only be called the truly bizarre document that the Vatican released Monday: the relatio summing up the first week of work by the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. I was at the press conference after the release and it, too, was a very strange thing indeed. More on that below. But before you despair – I can tell you that there were some questions from utterly astonished old Vatican reporters in that room and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after – things are both bad and maybe also not so entirely bad as they might first seem.
First, the bad. For reasons that may only be know to certain figures involved – or to the God who searches the human heart – a document coming from the Vatican now has passages like these:
50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. [All emphases added.]
If you find your head spinning at the language italicized above, you aren’t the only one. Several of the journalists in the room put very carefully worded questions to the four members of the press conference panel, trying to elicit clarifications. I’m sorry to say that with the exception of Cardinal Erdö, every one of them engaged in a level of spin unworthy of a Church that seeks to proclaim the truth about the Good News of our redemption by Jesus Christ.
I won’t mention the names of respondents out of respect for the nakedness of our fathers. But let me suggest some of the dynamic in the room. One female reporter for RAI Radio, the Italian state-run broadcast services, asked pointedly in response to the last section above about the rights of children, whether they don’t have a right to be raised by a male father and a female mother (an argument that in Europe, especially in France, has been very prominent)? The reply from an exalted cleric was to enter a thicket of platitudes about parental rights to educate a child, which no one objects to or has ever objected to, insofar as they were intelligible. But the fundamental question of having a real mother and a real father went entirely untouched – by a prince of the Church talking about a burning current question.
Similarly, an American journalist raised a question about the absurd phrase in section 50: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” In one way, of course, this is true, since all people have gifts and qualities. The journalist wanted to know, however, whether the Synod fathers were saying that homosexuals have gifts to offer precisely because of their homosexuality? That seemed to be implied.
→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
If you are alarmed by the Relatio, the mid-term report from the Synod on the Family, go here to read about it, you are in good company as Rorate Caeli informs us:
In an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that in it can be noticed traces of the anti-marriage ideology. According to Archbishop Gądecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly.
The Synod on the Family has issued a document summarizing the discussions so far. It is perhaps the most mealy mouthed Church document that I have ever read, which is saying something considering the competition for that title over the past fifty years. Here is the heart of the document:
46. In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.
47. As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.
48. Suggesting limiting themselves to only “spiritual communion” was questioned by more than a few Synodal Fathers: if spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the sacrament? As a result a greater theological study was requested starting with the links between the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist in relation to the Church-sacrament. In the same way, the moral dimension of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of spouses.
49. The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the Synodal Fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations of the Orthodox Churches creates serious problems in certain contexts to which have to be found suitable responses in communion with the Pope. The same applies to inter-religious marriages.
Welcoming homosexual persons
50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.
The transmission of life and the challenge of the declining birthrate
53. It is not difficult to notice the spread of a mentality that reduces the generation of life to a variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans. Economic factors sometimes have enough weight to contribute to the sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, compromising the relationship between generations and rendering the view of the future less certain. Being open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.
54. Probably here as well what is required is a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that which human life requires to be lived to its fullest. It is on this base that we can rest an appropriate teaching regarding natural methods, which allow the living in a harmonious and aware way of the communication between spouses, in all its dimensions, along with generative responsibility. In this light, we should go back to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, which underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control.
55. So help is required to live affectivity, in marriage as well, as a path of maturation, in the evermore profound welcoming of the other and in an ever-fuller giving. It has to be emphasized in this sense the need to offer formative paths that nourish married life and the importance of a laity that provides an accompaniment consisting of living testimony. It is undoubtedly of great help the example of a faithful and profound love made up of tenderness, of respect, capable of growing in time and which in its concrete opening to the generation of life allows us to experience a mystery that transcends us.
The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization
56. The fundamental challenge facing families today is undoubtedly that of education, rendered more difficult and complex by today’s cultural reality. What have to be considered are the needs and expectations of families capable of testifying in daily life, places of growth, of concrete and essential transmission of the virtues that provide form for existence.
57. In this Church can carry out a precious role in supporting families, starting from Christian initiation, through welcoming communities. What is asked of these, today even more than yesterday, in complex as well as mundane situations, is to support parents in their educative undertaking, accompanying children and young people in their growth through personalized paths capable of introducing them to the full meaning of life and encouraging choices and responsibilities, lived in the light of the Gospel.
58. The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view. All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Harvard professor Samuel Eliot Morison, who was about to become the official historian of the Navy during World War II and who would attain Admiral rank, in 1943 came out with his two volume Pulitzer prize winning biography of Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea. The prologue in that book is a standing rebuke of the historical pessimism that infests our own time:
At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune [boring] and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past.
Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. Every effort to recover the holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, touchstone of Christian prestige, had been a failure. The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna….
With the practical dissolution of the Empire and the Church’s loss of moral leadership, Christians had nothing to which they might cling. The great principle of unity represented by emperor and pope was a dream of the past that had not come true. Belief in the institutions of their ancestors was wavering. It seemed as if the devil had adopted as his own the principle “divide and rule.” Throughout Western Europe the general feeling was one of profound disillusion, cynical pessimism and black despair….
Morrison goes on to note that the Nuremburg Chronicle was in preparation in 1492 which purported to be a universal history from the creation of the world.
Lest any reader feel an unjustified optimism, the Nuremberg chroniclers place 1493 in the Sixth or penultimate Age of the world, and leave six blank pages on which to record events from the date of print to the Day or Judgment. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Ericka Andersen at Victory Girls, gives us yet another example of the way in which education is often simple indoctrination these days:
The University of California-San Francisco is launching a new course on abortion, the first class of it’s kind.
The aim is to “contextualize abortion care within a public health framework from both clinical and social perspectives.”
What “Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications” is really striving to do is normalize abortion as a typical healthcare procedure.
What they don’t acknowledge is that almost all abortions are elective — and only 3% are due to problems with the mother’s actual health. There are also a small percentage of abortions performed on rape or incest victims, but this is also about 3%. At least (and that’s being generous) 90% of abortions are elective — for reasons such as “not ready,” “too young,” “inconvenient,” “don’t want people to know I’m pregnant,” or “inadequate finances.”
Renowned abortion researcher Alan Guttmacher once said, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.”
By the way, Guttmacher served as president of Planned Parenthood and vice-president of the American Eugenics Society, but that’s just a little detail.
Abortion is almost never healthcare. If anything, it’s the opposite. Doesn’t a doctor pledge to, “First, do no harm.” It’s beyond comprehension how any doctor can perform abortions and remember that’s an oath they took. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find one who has no trouble with it.
“I think that if we can inspire even a small portion of the people who take the course to take steps in their communities to increase access to safe abortion and decrease stigma about abortion, then we have been totally successful,” Dr. Jody Steinauer, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California – San Francisco said.
Steinauer noted that this “stigma” results in silence on the issue of and leads people “to believe that [abortion] is not common,” when it is.
The course syllabus includes sections on “overcoming obstacles to abortion access” and “patient-centered care for first-trimester abortion.” Well, I’m glad to see they haven’t graduated to late-term abortion care but that can’t be too far down the road.
Here’s the thing, University of California, abortion will never be normalized. A 2012 Gallup poll showed that Americans lean pro-life by a nine point margin. You can’t deflect the reality of abortion, which is ending the life of a human being in growth. There’s literally no way around the science of when life begins. You can only justify in blind denial after that. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you! (Alternative translation of the Russian: We will dig you in.)
Nikita Khrushchev, to Western diplomats, November 18, 1956 at a diplomatic reception. He later denied that he meant it literally but that, as Marx said, Communism was the grave digger of capitalism and that it was the Western proletariat who would topple capitalism in the West and not the Soviet Union.
By the time I reached the papers of 10 October 1960, I was convinced that the shoe had never left Khrushchev’s foot. Like every New Yorker 40 years earlier, I, too, wanted him to go home. As in a perfect detective novel, I was now afraid that my hero would get caught by some stupid mistake, just before the case closed in his favour.
That day, Khrushchev announced he would be leaving the United States on Thursday 13 October. The UN and New York took a deep breath. I also sighed with relief. On Tuesday 11 October, the Soviet leader addressed the UN one last time. The argument was heated as usual, but no shoe was indicated. I prayed: “You’ve done what you could. Please, go home. We are all tired.” On Wednesday 12 October 1960, there it was, on the front pages of all national papers: Nikita Sergeyevich and his famous shoe. My heart fell. I was in a state of shock, probably no less than those in the UN hall 40 years earlier. Swallowing tears of disappointment, I stared at the page for minutes, then the words started to turn into sentences.
The head of the Philippine delegation, Senator Lorenzo Sumulong, expressed his surprise at the Soviet Union’s concerns over western imperialism, while it, in turn, swallowed the whole of eastern Europe. Khrushchev’s rage was beyond anything he had ever shown before. He called the poor Filipino “a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism”, then he put his shoe on the desk and banged it.
Nina Khrushchev, Granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev
Sometimes I hear people who view with alarm the complexities and the dangers of the contemporary world claim to be nostalgic for the Cold War. As someone who lived through most of the Cold War, with the free world locked in a seemingly never ending conflict with totalitarian enemies, and the threat of instant nuclear annihilation always hovering on the horizon, I do not miss it at all.
Well, this is interesting:
Pope Francis has signalled his blessing to the breakaway traditionalist American church at the centre of the split which has divided the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality.
He sent a message offering his “prayers and support” to Archbishop Foley Beach, the new leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the conservative movement which broke away from The Episcopal Church after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop.
ACNA sees itself as the true Anglican church in the US, Canada and Mexico and believes that The Episcopal Church has abandoned the teaching of the Bible by embracing liberal stances on issues such as homosexuality.
The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the more congenital one of bewailing–but first, of denouncing–the conduct of others. If it were clear to the young that this is what he is doing, no doubt he would remember the law of charity. Unfortunately, the very terms in which national repentance is recommended to him conceal its true nature. By a dangerous figure of speech, he calls the Government not ‘they’ but ‘we’. And since, as penitents, we are not encouraged to be charitable to our own sins, nor to give ourselves the benefit of any doubt, a Government which is called ‘we’ is ipso facto placed beyond the sphere of charity or even of justice. You can say anything you please about it. You can indulge in the popular vice of detraction without restraint, and yet feel all the time that you are practicing contrition. A group of such young penitents will say, ‘Let us repent our national sins'; what they mean is, ‘Let us attribute to our neighbour (even our Christian neighbour) in the Cabinet, whenever we disagree with him, every abominable motive that Satan can suggest to our fancy.’
CS Lewis, The Dangers of National Repentance
“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. “
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
This is one of those years in which the government decreed Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, does not fall on October 12, the date, under the Julian calendar, when Columbus discovered the New World. Columbus Day is observed also in Spain as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional and as the charmingly unpc Dia de la Raza in most Latin American nations.
In this country Columbus Day used to be an uncomplicated celebration, especially for Italian Americans. Now it has become controversial with Columbus blamed in some quarters for genocide against Indians and being the founder of the American slave trade. As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out in this article in 1995 in First Things, the condemnation of Columbus today tells us far more about current political battles than it does about the historical record of Columbus. From a modern standpoint there is indeed much to criticize Columbus for since, in most ways, he was a typical man of his time, as we are, in most ways, typical children of ours. Among other views inimical to our time, he saw nothing wrong about establishing colonies and bringing native peoples under the rule of European powers. He had little respect for the religions of native people and wanted them to be Catholic, as, indeed, he wanted all the world to be Catholic. (I see nothing wrong in this myself, but rest assured most of our contemporaries in this country would.)
Prior to ascending the pulpit to launch a jeremiad against someone of a prior time however, it might be useful to consider the criticisms that Columbus might have of our time. The embrace of nihilistic atheism by so many in the West in our time would have appalled him. The easy availability of the most degrading types of pornography would have sickened him. Our weapons of mass destruction he would have seen as a sign of the reign of the Anti-Christ. Ecumenicalism he would have viewed as a turning away from the True Faith. The celebration of abortion as a right would have seemed to him as the ultimate covenant with death. The Sixties of the last century popularized the term generation gap, describing the difficulty that parents and their teenage offspring had in understanding each other. Between our time and that of Columbus there is a generations’ chasm and the use of Columbus as a whipping boy in current political disputes only increases our problem of understanding him and his time. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Death came for Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of the United States Supreme Court 150 years ago. Nominated as Chief Justice by his friend President Andrew Jackson and had sat on the court for 28 years. Although he had authored many important decisions, he is remembered today only for one: Dred Scott. 87 years old at the time of his death, Taney, a slave owner, had mirrored the tragic trajectory of the views of the South in regard to slavery in his own life. As a young man he regarded slavery as a blot on our national character, as he said in his opening argument in defense of a Methodist minister accused in 1819 of inciting slave insurrections. He emancipated his own slaves. However, by the time he authored the Dred Scott decision in 1857 he would write:
It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in regard to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted; but the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.
Taney thought that the decision in Dred Scott would settle the slavery issue in regard to the territories and remove it from politics. Instead the decision inflamed public opinion North and South and manifestly helped bring on the Civil War. Taney lived to see his nation riven by Civil War and an administration in power dedicated to restoring the Union and abolishing slavery, and more than willing to ignore the paper edicts of Taney’s court when necessary. Old and sick, Taney remained on the bench, unwilling to have Lincoln name his successor, a living relic of a bygone era. The best epitaph for Taney I have ever read was that given by Justice Antonin Scalia in his magnificent dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I sincerely suspect that contemporary liberalism is descending into madness. Either that or people are playing very elaborate practical jokes:
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online has a great piece explaining why every political issue is a cultural issue:
Anyway, here’s the point I intended to get to much earlier. I’m coming to the position that every issue is a cultural issue. According to the Thomas Frank view, there are two kinds of issues: real issues and cultural (or social) issues. And, if he had his way, all elections would hinge on “real issues.” He writes in What’s the Matter with Kansas: “People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about. This species of derangement is the bedrock of our civic order; it is the foundation on which all else rests.”
This is of course, warmed-over Marxist twaddle. Frank thinks his view of economic interests is the only defensible view and everything else is boob bait for bubbas (Pat Moynihan’s orthodox liberal ad hominem for Clinton’s push for welfare reform) or what the Marxists call “false consciousness.” Much like Lena Dunham’s sex scenes, the list of things that are wrong with this is very long. People vote on the kind of community or country they want to live in, period. That means that taxes are a legitimate issue, but it also means that guns and abortion and free speech are just as legitimate. Liberals implicitly understand this, even if they lie about it routinely in their rhetoric. They are the first to invoke the language of values and right-and-wrong on the issues they care about, whether it is gay marriage or immigration or civil rights. And they are entirely right to do so. Where they are wrong is when they employ the language of “real issues” to dismiss any value-laden arguments that help conservatives win elections. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Hollywood, CA–At a press conference today outside his estate in Beverly Hills, acclaimed director Peter Jackson announced his plans to make a 72-film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. “It was the next logical step after doing Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit,” Jackson said. “In Lord of the Rings, we took over a thousand pages of novel and adapted it to the big screen in three extremely long films. Then in The Hobbit, we took a children’s book a fraction the length of Lord of the Rings, and also made it into three extremely long films.”
Jackson then unfolded his plan for Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, which begins with a mythological account of the creation of Middle Earth and culminates in the great battles of the Elves during the First Age. “The first film in the series is set to come out in Summer 2016. Then, every two years from 2018 to 2160, the following installment will be released.”
Returning to the original cinematic backgrounds of the Lord of the Rings movies, Jackson made an executive decision to save costs for shooting the outdoor scenes, and had his studio purchase the entire island of New Zealand. “In the long run it will cost us a lot less. Plus, now the citizens of New Zealand are the property of our studio, so we get free labor to build sets.”
Movie buffs and Tolkien nerds alike are ecstatic over the news, and Jackson, as usual, is enjoying the attention, teasing them about the contents of some of the 72 movies they can look forward to. “16 of the movies will be almost exclusively footage of the elven-folk doing various dances, and I don’t want to say much, but The Silmarillion: Part 49 is subtitled Gandalf Smokes his Pipe.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Your Highnesses have an Other World here, by which our holy faith can be so greatly advanced and from which such great wealth can be drawn.
Christopher Columbus, letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, 1498
Something for the weekend. With Christopher Columbus day coming up, a trilogy of pieces on Christopher Columbus. From 1936 Fats Waller belting out Christopher Columbus. A jaunty tune whose cheerful historical illiteracy is set forth early in the song with the claim that Columbus did not have a compass:
Mister Christopher Columbus
Sailed the sea without a compass
When his men began a-rumpus,
Up spoke Christopher Columbus!
There’s land somewhere
‘Til we get there
We will not go wrong,
If we sail with a song.
Since the world is round-o
We’ll be safe and sound-o
‘Til our goal is found-o
We’ll just keep rhythm-bound-o
Since the crew was making merry,
Mary got up and went home.
There came a yell for Isabel
And they brought on the rum and Isabel.
No more mutiny, no.
What a time at sea!
Christopher made history.
Mister Christopher Columbus
He used rhythm as a compass.
Music ended all the rumpus,
wise old Christopher Columbus.
(Latch on Christy, yeah! Uh huh! Yes, yes, yes!)
(Well, looky there!
Christy’s grabbed the Santa Maria and he’s going back!
Yeah, ahhh looky-there!
In the year 1492,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue… what’d I say?)
From 1949 the musical score from the technicolor movie Christoher Columbus. The film is forgotten today, which is a pity. While containing a plenitude of the usual historical howlers that period films are ere too, Fredric March gives us a powerful, albeit irascible, portrayal of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea. Definitely worth watching. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading