Poor silly man, d’you think they‘ll leave you here to learn to fish?
Lady Alice to Sir Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons
Contrary to the popular idea that the success that the gay rights movement has had through the imposition of gay marriage by judicial fiat means the ending of a culture war, this is actually the beginning of a much greater one, as Robert Tracinski, a secularist, at The Federalist is wise enough to understand:
On Friday, city officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, informed Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers and proprietors of the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, that they would be required to perform gay weddings or face fines or possibly jail time under the city’s “public accommodations” statute. Their religious views are expected to adjust to the edicts of the state.
So it’s official: a new religious orthodoxy is sweeping across the nation, imposed by government and backed by force. It’s a religious orthodoxy required by secular authorities for a secular purpose, but no matter. Heretics will be found out and forced to recant.
No one ever expects the Secular Inquisition.
Except that we actually did expect it. In fact, it’s inherent in the fundamental basis of the left’s arguments for gay marriage.
I’m speaking here of the argument for gay marriage. It may be hard to remember now, but not very long ago there were compromise proposals for same-sex “civil unions” that were legally equivalent to marriage but under a different name. Gay rights activists consciously rejected these unions in order to specifically demand the use of the term “marriage,” insisting that the state legally recognize and enforce the equality of these marriages with old-fashioned, outmoded heterosexual ones.
Personally, I have no problem with gay people getting hitched, having weddings, and saying that they are “married.” I don’t have any religious objection, on account of not being religious, nor do I think gay marriages, given their very small numbers, will have any particular impact on the state of marriage as an important social institution. (Which, alas, has all sorts of problems of its own.)
But the test of liberty isn’t what happens to people who agree with the intent of a particular edict. The test is what happens to people who disagree.
That brings us to the reason why gay rights advocates insisted on the government granting same-sex unions the title of “marriage.” The theory behind this was that homosexuals suffer from a lack of social acceptance, and gay marriage would put the government’s imprimatur on their status as social equals—along with the promise that this equality is to be backed by government force. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Sandro Magister on his blog Chiesa indicates the amount of coordination by the forces at the recently concluded Synod on the family who wish to radically transform the moral teaching of the Church:
ROME, October 17, 2014 – “The spirit of the Council is blowing again,” Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle has said, a rising star of the worldwide episcopate as well as being a historian of Vatican II. And it is true. At the synod that is about to conclude there are many elements in common with what happened at that great event.
But there is an even more substantial resemblance. Both at Vatican Council II and at this synod the changes of paradigm are the product of careful coordination. A protagonist of Vatican II like Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti – the consummate strategist of the four cardinal moderators who were at the controls of the conciliar machine – asserted this with pride. He said that he had “transformed the fate of the Council” thanks to his capacity to pilot the assembly, which he had learned in his previous political experience as the leader of the foremost Italian party.
The same thing has happened at this synod. Both the openness to communion for the civilly divorced and remarried – and therefore the admission of remarriage on the part of the Church – and the startling change of paradigm on the issue of homosexuality that found its way into the “Relatio post disceptationem” would not have been possible without a series of skillfully calculated steps on the part of those who had and have control of the procedures.
The star of the first act is Pope Francis himself. On July 28, 2013, at the press conference held on board the plane taking him back to Rome after his voyage in Brazil, he issued two signals that had a powerful and lasting impact on public opinion.
“Also – a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of what they call oikonomia, and they give a second chance [of marriage], they allow it. But I believe that this problem – and here I close the parenthesis – must be studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage.”
There followed in October of 2013 the convening of a synod on the family, the first in a series of two synods on the same issue in the span of a year, with decisions postponed until after the second. As secretary general of this sort of permanent and prolonged synod the pope appointed a new cardinal with no experience in this regard, but very close to him, Lorenzo Baldisseri. Beside whom he placed, as special secretary, the bishop and theologian Bruno Forte, already a leading proponent of the theological and pastoral approach that had its guiding light in the Jesuit cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and its major adversaries first in John Paul II and then in Benedict XVI: an approach explicitly open to a change of Church teaching in the area of sexuality.
The proclamation of the synod was associated with the issuing of a questionnaire throughout the whole world with specific questions on the most controversial questions, including communion for the divorced and homosexual unions.
Thanks in part to this questionnaire – which would be followed by the intentional publication of the answers on the part of some German-speaking episcopates – public opinion would be given the idea that these were questions to be considered “open” not only in theory but also in practice.
Proof of this breaking ahead of the pack came, for example, from the archdiocese of Freiburg in Germany, headed by president of the German episcopal conference Robert Zollitsch, who in a document from one of his pastoral offices encouraged access to communion for the divorced and remarried on the simple basis of “a decision of conscience.”
From Rome, the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, reacted by republishing on October 23, 2013 in “L’Osservatore Romano” a note he had already issued four months earlier in Germany reconfirming and explaining the ban on communion.
But his call to have the archdiocese of Freiburg withdraw that document came to nothing. On the contrary, both German cardinal Reinhard Marx, and in more blunt terms Honduran cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga criticized Müller for his “presumption” of cutting off discussion on this matter. Both Marx and Maradiaga are part of the council of eight cardinals called by Pope Francis to assist him in the governance of the universal Church. The pope did not speak out in support of Müller.
On February 20 and 21, 2014, the cardinals met in Rome in consistory. Pope Francis asked them to discuss the family and delegated the introductory talk to Cardinal Walter Kasper, already in the early 1990’s a combative supporter of dropping the ban on communion for the remarried, but defeated at the time by John Paul II and by Joseph Ratzinger.
At the consistory, held behind closed doors, Kasper revived all of his ideas. Many cardinals opposed him, but Francis approved him with the highest praise. Afterward, Kasper would say that he had “coordinated” with the pope on his proposals. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
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?
Language from the Relatio rejected by the Synod.
Over at the blog That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill, that is a mouthful, brings news of this latest development:
London’s Catholic Churches are already undergoing a revolutionary change in the life of the Church in the era of Pope Francis. The long awaited message of mercy has filtered from Rome down to the pews.
Anti-gay security guards – a hitherto common sight outside Catholic Churches in London have today been told that their services will no longer be needed, as the Church in England and Wales takes on the new message of ‘welcoming’ and accepting people with same-sex attraction.
For the past two thousand years, anti-gay security guards have been employed by the Church in order to filter out from congregations anyone who may have homosexual tendencies or inclinations. In a revolutionary move, today Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith made it known that henceforth, the security guards will be placed inside the Churches in order to defend homosexuals from the lethal and unpredictable stoning and/or beating that has often taken place against homosexuals during Mass and times of quiet prayer and reflection. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Mine eyes have seen MacArthur
With a Bible on his knee,
He is pounding out communiqués
For guys like you and me,
And while possibly a rumor now,
Someday ’twill be a fact,
That the Lord will hear a deep voice
Say, “Move over God, it’s Mac!”
Anonymous Marine on Corregidor (1942)
The most controversial of American commanders in World War II, MacArthur has always roused strong emotion. Reviled by some as a supreme egotist and an overrated general, and hailed by others as the greatest general in American history, MacArthur will be fought over in history books from now until Doomsday, a fate which I think would not have displeased him. However, I suspect critics and admirers alike can agree on one thing. Seventy years ago MacArthur had the supreme moment of his life:
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES:
I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil — soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible, strength, the liberties of your people.
At my side is your President, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re- established on Philippine soil.
The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history. I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.
Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of divine God points the way. Follow in His Name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!
Father Z gives us the closing speech of the Pope at the Synod along with his comments:
And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned: [Not that we want to dwell on them...]
- One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals. ["traditionalist" "intellectualisti". Really?]
- The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo] [This also means a "going along to get along", not to make waves.], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.” [Because liberals are "do-gooders" and the traditionalists ... aren't?]
- The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).
- The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.
- The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; [I am not sure I get that part. How can you both "neglect" the depositum fidei and then think you are its "owner".] or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things… [? I didn't get that part, either. Who neglects reality?]
Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.
Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).
And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.
Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.
And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all. [I don't think the mere presence of the Pope that guarantees anything. The Pope also has to act and speak. No?]
We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them. [Interesting!]
His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. [Because he loves them, he corrects them.] But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse [Sermon] 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”
So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).
Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.
One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].
May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!
Thomas Buchanan Read was an artist and poet who served as a staff officer in the Civil War. Inspired by Sheridan’s decisive victory at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864, Read dashed off the poem, Sheridan’s Ride in an hour. The poem was a sensation throughout the North. To a war weary population, Cedar Creek was welcome proof that the seemingly endless War would soon end in Union victory. Public performances were held throughout the North. Republican rallies for the upcoming election featured readings of the poem with coconut shells used to mimic the sound of the horse’s hooves on the road. The Cedar Creek sensation helped to re-elect Lincoln.
Here is a newspaper interview of Phil Sheridan on the poem which originally appeared in the Philadelphia Press:
“Boys, those of you who are not cowards follow me; for I’ll sleep in that camp tonight or I’ll sleep in Hell!”
That was the “terrible oath” the author of “Sheridan’s Ride” referred to and it had the effect intended. The soldiers knew that “Little Phil” was frightfully in earnest, and there wasn’t a man in all the shattered army who wouldn’t share his bed. I asked General Sheridan the other day if he knew the author of the poem.
“Yes” he replied, “I knew him well. I first met Mr. Read at the headquarters of Gen. Rosecrans, just before the battle of Stone River. He was a guest of the General, and remained in camp quite a while, so that we all got to know him.”
“Do you know how he came to write the poem?”
“Yes” said the General, “I have heard him tell about it several times. There has been a number of stories published about the origin of the poem, but I will tell you the true one, just as Mr. Read told it to me. Did you know that James E. Murdock suggested the idea?”
“Murdock the elocutionist?”
“The very man. He was an actor at one of the Cincinnati theaters at the time, where I had known him. Murdock has always been a great friend of mine, and I am glad to know the old man keeps so well. I see that he was able to appear at the memorial services in honor of Chief Justice Chase the other day. Murdock lost a son at the battle of Missionary Ridge – the boy was in my command and the old man came down to get the body, don’t you know? The enemy occupied the place where the boy was buried, and Mr. Murdock remained a guest at my headquarters until we recovered the ground. He used to ride the lines with me every day, and always used my black horse ‘Rienzi’ – the one that was afterward called ‘Winchester’ and the same that I had under me on that twenty mile canter. No man ever straddled a better animal, and old Murdock became very fond of him. He was a horse that it was an honor to mount, you see, and in that poem Read gave him a good sendoff.
“Well” continued Sheridan, “things were very exciting down around Chattanooga those days, and Mr. Murdock saw a good deal of war. On Sundays he always used to recite poems to the troops around headquarters, and there was one of Browning’s that the boys never missed a chance to call for. It was a great favorite with me, don’t you know, just as it was with the soldiers, and we never let the old man off without reading it. It was the story of the ride from Ghent to Aix – you remember it.
“Well, you see, after the battle of Cedar Creek, there was published in Harper’s Weekly a story of my ride from Winchester and a picture of me on the back of old Rienzi. Murdock had agreed to recite a poem at the Sanitary Fair that was being held at Cincinnati at that time, and Read had promised to write something new and appropriate for him. But when Murdock called on him for the manuscript the afternoon he was to recite, he hadn’t touched a pen to the paper – said he didn’t know what to write about. Well, Murdock had just seen a man who was in the battle, and was full of the story, being a friend of mine, you see; so he pulled the copy of Harper’s Weekly from his pocket, and repeated to Read all the officer had told him. Read jumped up, locked himself in his room, wrote the poem off-handed in an hour, got his wife to make a copy, and had it over to Murdock’s before dark. The latter was delighted with it, and read it at the Sanitary Fair that night.”
“Where did you first see it?”
The first I ever saw of it was in the newspapers. One of my officers brought it to my tent one morning in the camp down in the Shenandoah Valley.”
“It is said that you have the original manuscript.”
“I wish I had, but I have never seen it. I don’t suppose it is in existence. As I understand, it was originally written in pencil, and Mrs. Read copied it for Mr. Murdock.”
“How did Read come to paint the picture of Sheridan’s Ride?”
“Well, the poem made a great sensation, you know, and Read, being a painter as well as a poet, got a commission from the Union League Club of Philadelphia for the picture. They sent him down to New Orleans, where I was stationed, and I sat for him there. He was going to Rome that fall and did not finish it, but made some sketches and then completed the picture in Italy. I have never had a copy of the picture, but he afterward gave me the sketches, which I still have at my house.”
“Who were with you on that ride?”
“Sandy Forsythe, who is down in New Mexico with the Fourth Cavalry, and Colonel O’Keefe. The latter was killed at the battle of Five Forks.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
(The day of the beatification of Pope Paul VI seems like a good day to repost this post.)
I have long heard about Pope Paul VI having referred to the “smoke of Satan” having entered the Church. Usually most references to it do not mention when it was said and in what context. The quote apparently was said on June 29, 1972 by Pope Paul VI on the ninth anniversary of his coronation during a homily given at a mass for the solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Italian text is here. As far as I know there is no official translation. On November 13, 2006 Jimmy Atkin posted at his blog a translation done of the homily by Father Stephanos Pedrano. Please note that the text that is translated is a summary of what the Pope said and not a word for word transcript of what the Pope said. Father Pedrano’s translation is as follows (I have placed in red the portion of the text that refers to Satan): →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In pastoral terms, the document published today by the Synod of Bishops represents an earthquake, the “big one” that hit after months of smaller tremors.
John Thavis, A Pastoral Earthquake at the Synod
A guest post by commenter John of Any Other Name:
I’m not sure rebuilding is entirely necessary. It is clear that there are challenges facing the Church, notably from the inside. However, I stumbled across Dave Armstrong’s thoughts on the Synod (prior to the actual beginning of it) and the media controversy surrounding Cardinal Kasper and other topics. Dave writes at length, but I find these excerpts as a good summary for my point:
Cardinal Kasper seems to have some liberal views. I agree. All theological errors come from Germany and England and The Netherlands (+ the US). No surprise there. It was the same at Vatican II with Dollinger (who denied papal infallibility and was excommunicated). Ho hum. ZZZzzzz (-_-) .
One day all the chronic worriers and complainers will have to stop worrying about the pope and the Church: stop acting like they have no faith that God guides and protects her.
What I’m saying are these things:
1. There have always been serious problems in the Church. It’s nothing new, and is as old as Judas, the ancient Corinthians, Galatians, and seven churches of Revelation.
2. Anyone (whatever one bishop or a hundred say) who seeks will find, and it’s now easier than ever (with the Internet) to locate orthodox Catholic teaching. Somehow in the 4th century, laypeople by the millions knew what was orthodox teaching, despite the widespread heresy of Arianism taught by many bishops. Most of them couldn’t even read.
3. One overcomes the darkness by lighting a candle (by teaching, by prayer, by example, etc.), not merely complaining about the darkness.
4. Thus, if someone (like you) is worried about souls, then go out and take action (and this action includes prayer) to help those souls. I do it by teaching and apologetics. I’m doing something about it. People come into the Church and become more confident, informed Catholics as a result of my work. I show my concern by what I do with my life, by what I do for a living as my vocation. What are you and others who are so concerned, doing about it?
The last major battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley in the Civil War, it was fitting that the topsy turvy nature of the battle of Cedar Creek reflected the see-saw fights waged by the Union and the Confederacy for control of the Valley since the start of the War.
After his victories in the Shenandoah Valley in September, and his destruction of the most valuable agricultural regions in the Valley, Sheridan assumed that the War was at an end in the Valley for the winter, at least as far as major battles were concerned. Delploying his 31,000 Army of the Shenandoah along Cedar Creek northeast of Strasburg, Viriginia, Sheridan felt secure enough, even with Early’s 21,000 Army of the Valley in the vicinity, to attend a conference with Grant in Washington on October 18. On the evening of October 18 he slept at Winchester, twelve miles from his army.
Sheridan of course did not know that Early had received a letter from General Lee on October 12 urging him to attack. Examing the Union position carefully, Early decided that an attack on the Union left, which relied for its security on natural obstacles might succeed, Early assuming correctly that the Union commanders would be more concerned about an attack from the west which was free of such obstacles.
The Confederates on the evening of October 18 in three columns made a night march against the Union left. By 3:30 AM they were in position to laucher their attack. The attack began at 5:00 AM in darkness and a thick fog. Surprise was complete and the division sized Union Army of West Virginia which was at the far left of the Union force was quickly overwhelmed. By 10:00 AM, Early had driven the seven Union divisions from the field, captured 1300 prisoners, taken 24 cannon, and his famished troops were feeding off Union supplies in the abandoned Union camps. His troops seemed to have won an against the odds victory. Then Sheridan arrived at the battlefield and changed everything.
At 6:00 AM pickets at Winchester reported that they heard the faint sound of artillery. Not expecting an attack Sheridan thought nothing of it. However he ordered his horse Rienzi to be saddled and after a quick breakfast he began at 9:00 AM to ride towards Cedar Creek. The sounds of fighting became louder the closer approached and Sheridan realized a fight was in progress. Sheridan was cheered by stragglers from the fight as he approached Cedar Creek. Sheridan ordered the stragglers to follow him which most of them did, convinced that little Phil would bring them victory again. Sheridan arrived at the battlefield at 10:30 AM.
Sheridan immediately began planning his counterattack. Early had effectively lost control of his army due to the plundering of the Union supplies, and Sheridan had plenty of time to perfect his plan before he launched his attack at 4:00 PM. The smaller Confederate force resisted for about an hour when its left began to crumble and the Confederates routed from the field.
Union casualties were 5,665 to 3000 Confederate. Among the Confederate dead was Major General Stephen Dodson Ramseur, who died the day after the battle in spite of the best medical care his Union captors could provide. The day before the battle he had learned that his wife had borne him a daughter. His last words were “Bear this message to my precious wife—I die a Christian and hope to meet her in heaven.” He was 27 years old.
The battle was decisive and Early’s army was no longer a threat to Union control of the Shenandoah. The victory provided a great boost to the re-election campaign of Lincoln during the closing weeks of the campaign leading up to election day November 8.
Here is Sheridan’s account of the battle in his memoirs: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
The news comes just days after Pope Francis asked synod participants to “speak clearly,” encouraging them to speak openly. “Let no one say, ‘This can’t be said, they will think this or that about me.’ Everything we feel must be said, without fear,” Francis said. After reading the badly translated, and what many have called “severely flawed” report called Relatio Post Disceptationem, Francis has since regretted the decision to ask the synod fathers to speak openly, supposedly overestimating their intelligence.
“The synod will be headed by 16-year-old African Catholic Zyana Ndiaye and is expected to cover such subjects such as Jesus, the Church, as well as sin. Every synod father, except for those from Africa, will remain quiet and will be ignored if they attempt to offer an opinion.”
At press time, Pope Francis has issued a statement to those who will be participating in future synods, saying, “Let everyone say, ‘This can’t be said, they will think this or that about me.’ Everything we feel must be kept quiet, with fear, especially if you are going to make a Kaspar out of yourself.”
Something for the weekend. Picture on the Wall. Written in 1864 by Henry Clay Work, it captures the overwhelming tragedy of each of the 650-800,000 deaths in our Civil War. One victory that can be claimed by each of the fallen, North and South, is that after the terrible trial of the Civil War our nation has never repeated that fratricidal struggle. Perhaps the lessons that Rossiter Johnson hoped would be learned from the War were learned: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
There’s only one way to stop this. Cardinal Pell, it’s rumored today, stood up during the proceedings on Thursday when the Synod leaders seemed to have decided on their own authority not to publish the reports of the small groups, presumably because they were uniformly tough on what’s been too soft. He slammed his hand on the table and said, “You must stop manipulating this Synod.” That forced a general vote – and the reports were published.
Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing
Hattip to Father Z. One of the heroes emerging from the Synod is George Cardinal Pell. It is a pleasure to hear the blunt spoken Aussie in the above video.
Cardinal George Pell said working-group reports from the Synod of Bishops on the family finally give a true picture of the assembly’s views, counteracting what he characterized as a misleading midterm report.
“We wanted the Catholic people around the world to know actually what was going on in talking about marriage and the family and, by and large, I think people will be immensely reassured,” Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Catholic News Service Oct. 16, the day the reports were published.
“We’re not giving in to the secular agenda; we’re not collapsing in a heap. We’ve got no intention of following those radical elements in all the Christian churches, according to the Catholic churches in one or two countries, and going out of business,” he said.
In a surprise move, synod members voted Oct. 16 to publish summaries of comments by 10 small groups into which they had divided to discuss an Oct. 13 midterm report by Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest. As the assembly’s relator, Cardinal Erdo has the task of guiding the discussion and synthesizing its results.
Cardinal Erdo’s report stirred controversy inside and outside the synod hall with its strikingly conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to church teaching, including divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and those in same-sex unions.
The midterm report was “tendentious, skewed; it didn’t represent accurately the feelings of the synod fathers,” said Cardinal Pell. “In the immediate reaction to it, when there was an hour, an hour-and-a-half of discussion, three-quarters of those who spoke had some problems with the document.”
“A major absence was Scriptural teaching,” he said. “A major absence was a treatment of the church tradition,” including teaching on the family by Pope Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
“The secret for all Catholic vitality is fidelity to the teachings of Christ and to the tradition of the church,” said the cardinal, who sits on the nine-member Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on church governance.
Cardinal Pell said only three of the synod’s 10 small groups had supported a controversial proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, even without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriages.
“Communion for the divorced and remarried is for some — very few, certainly not the majority of synod fathers — it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions,” Cardinal Pell said. “The church cannot go in that direction. It would be a capitulation from the beauties and strengths of the Catholic tradition, where people sacrificed themselves for hundreds, for thousands of years to do this.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Father Peter Stravinkas at One Peter Five has some invaluable insights into the Synod:
There was apparently significant concern raised that we should not employ “offensive” or harsh-sounding language to describe certain life-styles. While there is no need to go out of one’s way to be hurtful in discussing morally problematic matters – and it can even be counter-productive to do so – one cannot resort to sugar-coating behaviors which have eternal consequences (presuming we believe that). There is no easy, palatable way for an oncologist to inform a patient that he has a malignant tumor and what the remediation process involves. Similarly, people who engage in sexual intercourse outside the bounds of marriage – and especially those who do so habitually (whether heterosexual or homosexual) – face the prospect of eternal punishment, so say Jesus and Saint Paul and the entire Christian Tradition. The fact that there is no “nice” way to issue the wake-up call is proof positive of the seriousness of it all. The stark language is, as a matter of fact, an act of charity, saying, “I love you so much that I don’t want you to spend eternity in Hell.” The physician who would refrain from offering an honest and forthright diagnosis would be deemed a bad physician, derelict in his duty. No faithful believer – and surely no loving one – can stand by and watch those he loves head toward damnation. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Father Z reports on the latest occurences at the Synod. I do not think revolt is too strong a term to use:
Apparently the bishops at the Synod are tired of being manipulated.
They created a little lío of their own.
In full view of the Pope, they rose up pretty much as a body and rebelled against the way Card. Baldisseri, who seems to be the chief architect of what may have been a pre-determined agenda, has been handling them.
I am reading Marco Tosatti’s piece at La Stampa.
Synod, more censorship, protests
The General Secretary of the Synod [Card. Balidsseri] announced the decision not to publish the reports of the Circuli Minores [subcommittees by language groups, tasked with contributing elements to the final report]. The announcement provoked the protest of Card. Erdo [the president or chairman for this Synod], and numerous other Synodal Fathers. The Pope, silent and very serious. At last, Fr. Lombardi announced that the reports of the commissions would be made public.
Erdo took the floor, implicitly distancing himself from the report that bore his name, and saying that if that “disceptatio” had been made public, then the others of the Circulo Minores ought to be made public.
His speech was followed by an avalanche from many others along the same line, underscored by thunderous applause.
The Secretary of the Synod, Card. Balidisseri, was watching the Pope, as if in search of advice and lights, and the Pope remained silent and very serious.
Silent also were the Under-secretaries of the Synod, Fabene, Forte, Schoenborn and Maradiaga. [What a list.]
Kasper wasn’t there.
Finally, Fr. Lombardi announced that the reports of the Commission would be made public.
This is a big deal because the bishops didn’t simply roll over and let the appointees running the Synod run them over.
This Synod has been characterized by an unusual amount of information control. There has been little transparency about the workings of the Synod. Instead, the outside world was “informed” about what was being discussed through summaries. Sure, the leadership of the Synod said that the participants could talk to the press on their own, but that’s not the same thing as knowing what went on the Synod hall. Then, what one might be able to imagine was a pre-positioned midpoint report was sprung on everyone, with weird and disturbing paragraphs that didn’t seem to reflect the workings of the Synod over all. That caused Card. Erdo, who had signed it, openly during a presser to give up Archbp. Forte as the perp.
Then Card. Balidisseri determines that the reports of the subcommittees wouldn’t be published. That was a bridge too far.
This in full view of the Pope, who seems not to have shown his hand, but also who seems not to have been pleased at what was going on.
Meanwhile, Nicole Winfield of AP, who seems never to tire of calling Card. Burke a “hardliner” or something like, has a piece about the origin of the language in the infamous midpoint Relatio about homosexuals:
Erdo has already named the official who wrote the section on gays, Monsignor [Archbp.] Bruno Forte, appointed by Pope Francis as the special secretary to the synod. Forte is an Italian theologian known for pushing the pastoral envelope [that's one way to put it] on dealing with people in “irregular” unions while staying true to Catholic doctrine. [Oh?]
Technically speaking, Forte and all the members of the drafting committee had access to far more material than the bishops themselves since they had the lengthy written speeches each synod “father” submitted prior to the meeting. Those written speeches factored into the draft report, even if the bishops didn’t utter them during the four minutes each was allowed to speak. [Or see them at any point. This was another procedural point that some expressed concern about before the Synod. Everyone was to submit their speeches to Card. Baldisseri ahead of time. Who knows what happened to them then?]
In fact, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he recalled only one speech out of about 265 about gays during the debate.
So it’s not surprising that bishops didn’t recognize everything in the draft report since these written submissions weren’t made public or distributed to the bishops themselves, and the oral presentations only reflected a summary or particular point that a bishop wanted to make. But at the same time, there is no real way to know which bishop or bishops had proposed such ground-breaking language or whether it was more a reflection of Forte’s view. [The controversial language was "ground-breaking" but Card. Burke is a "hardliner". Just so we're clear.]
Field of Lost Shoes, a film on the role played by cadets of the Virginia Military Institute at the battle of New Market on May 15, 1864, is in limited release now. If I cannot see it in a theater, I will certainly buy it on dvd when it comes out. Here is my post on the battle of New Market that I ran earlier this year.
“And New Market’s young cadets.”
Southern Birthright, Bobby Horton
John C. Breckinridge, fourteenth Vice-President of the United States and current Confederate Major General, had a big problem. His task was to hold the Shenandoah Valley, the bread basket of the Army of Northern Virginia, for the Confederacy, and he was confronted with two Union columns seeking to rendezvous at Staunton, Virginia and place the Valley under Union control. One column under George Crook was coming from the West Virginia. The second column under Franz Sigel was coming down the Valley. Sigel had twice the men that Breckinridge could muster, 9,000 to 4000, but Breckinridge saw no alternative but to march north and engage Sigel before the two Union columns could join against him.
The Confederacy by this time was robbing the cradle and the grave to fill out its ranks. In the cradle contingent with Breckinridge were 257 cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, who ranged in age from 15-24.
Breckinridge brought Sigel to battle at mid-morning on May 15, 1864 south of New Market. With detachments Sigel’s force was down to 6,000 men. However, 2 to 3 was still very poor odds for an attacking army. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing gives us more details from the fallout at the Vatican over the Relatio:
I’ve said here that Monday, the day the document officially known as the Relatio post disceptationem (Synod interim report) was issued, was the strangest day I’ve ever spent in Rome. I take it back. Yesterday, the daily Synod press briefing essentially retracted much that was said Monday and by implication parts of the document, while stopping just short of admitting as much. It was a 180-degree turn such as may never have been seen in so short a radius on Vatican soil. Ever. Throughout the ages.
And as details emerged Tuesday, the rollout of the relatio looked to rival the rollout of Obamacare for sheer jaw-dropping ineptness.
South African Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier was perhaps the most candid participant. Like all the others, he pushed the line that the relatio presented Monday was wrongly seen as a set of conclusions, when it is in fact a work in progress merely intended to guide further discussion. More on that below. But he also admitted that a message went out that was not the right message. And even ventured that, though the final document will doubtless be better balanced and much better worded, the misimpressions fostered in the press by the document and already given wide dissemination have put the Synod in a position that may very well be “irredeemable.” (His term.)
I myself look forward to hearing more from Cardinal Napier. But it seem wrong – for once – to blame the media for misunderstanding what the Church is doing. The media emphasized the troubling parts of the text, of course, but for the most part understood quite well what the text and the way it was issued had done. It would have been quite easy for Vatican spokesmen – or the text itself – to have made clear that the relatio was only a series of points the bishops had in fact discussed. That was not made clear. And in Tuesday’s indirect recantation, it was hard to determine, despite persistent questions by journalists, how this sorry mess ever saw the light of day.
Before things even got started at yesterday’s briefing, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office and panel discussion leader announced that he had been asked to issue a declaration and “clarification” by the General Secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri. According to official sources, at least forty-one bishops who are involved in the Synod were quite surprised – and quite “agitated” – at the appearance of the document Monday.
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