Lost Moral Compass

Yes, it’s true…
and I don’t ask for forgiveness… not anymore.
With thee, heresy has come to eden.

John Rhys-Davis (Vasco Rodrigues)-Shogun

I have been a fan of the work of actor John Rhys-Davies since I viewed his over the top performance as the Portuguese pilot Vasco Rodrigues in Shogun in 1980.  In a field dominated by the Left, he is an outspoken conservative and has achieved success through sheer ability as an actor.

In an interview this week, he lamented the current morally lost state of the West:

“There is an extraordinary silence in the West,” Rhys-Davies told Carolla. “Basically, Christianity in the Middle East and in Africa is being wiped out – I mean not just ideologically but physically, and people are being enslaved and killed because they are Christians. And your country and my country (Wales) are doing nothing about it.”

“Why is it so evolved not to judge?” Carolla replied, identifying political correctness as the culprit. “This notion that we’ve evolved into a species that’s incapable of judging other groups and what they are doing, especially when it’s beheading people or setting people on fire or throwing acid in the face of schoolgirls… I like that kind of judging. That’s evolved!”

Carolla added that the U.S. “crushing Hitler” in World War II was a “good thing” that would not be possible now because Bill Maher would be “screaming” about tolerance.

“This is a unique age,” Rhys-Davies explained. “We don’t want to be judgmental. Every other age that’s come before us has believed exactly the opposite. I mean, T.S. Eliot referred to ‘the common pursuit of true judgment.’ Yes, that’s what it’s about. Getting our judgments right, getting them accurate.”

“Why can’t we get the same nations on the same page?” Carolla asked. “There’s a lot of nations that are never going to go down this road with us, but your nation, England, they’re sane. Why can’t we get them back toward sanity?”

“I think it’s an age where politicians don’t actually say what they believe,” the actor replied. “They are afraid of being judged as being partisan. Heaven forbid we should criticize people who, after all, share a different ‘value system.’ But ‘it’s all relevant, it’s all equally relative. We’re all the same. And God and the devil, they’re the same, aren’t they, really? Right and wrong? It’s really just two faces of the same coin.’”

“We have lost our moral compass completely, and unless we find it, we’re going to lose our civilization,” Rhys-Davies cautioned. “I think we’re going to lose Western European Christian civilization anyway.”

Rhys-Davies appeared on Carolla’s podcast to promote the DVD release of his film Return to the Hiding Place, about a group of Dutch youth resistance fighters in World War II. Continue reading

Bear Growls: Theology: The Art of the Possible

I suspect that our Bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear is also a fan of Evita:

 

This scene from Evita takes a grimly comical look at Argentine politics. The name of the piece is a quote by Otto von Bismarck, “Politics is the Art of the Possible.” This realpolitik view was echoed by Pope Francis during his visit to Korea a year ago when he paraphrased Bismarck (or the musical) by saying, “Diplomacy is the art of the possible.”

Too often lately, we seem to be hearing prelates saying “Theology is the art of the possible.” The Bear was inspired (last year) to write his own lyrics for Jorge: The Musical. He didn’t have to change much. Imprecision, double-talk and misdirection have been the hallmarks of this papacy.

Theology is the Art of the Possible

PRELATES
One has no rules
Is not precise
One rarely acts
The same way twice
One spurns no device
Practicing the art of the possible

One always picks
The easy fight.
One praises fools
One smothers light.
one shifts left to right
It’s part of the art of the possible.

THE BEAR (on the air)
I’m only a blogger, in fact I’m a Bear.
But as a pewsitter I wanted to share.
We are tired of
the decline of
Our Church
with no sign of

A Vatican able to give us the things we deserve!

PRELATES
One always claims
Mistakes were planned.
When risk is slight
One takes one’s stand.
With much sleight of hand
Theology–the art of the possible.

One has no rules
Is not precise.
One rarely acts
The same way twice.
One spurns no device
Theology–the art of the possible. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Down Argentine Way

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us an interesting look at how Pope Francis is being perceived politically in Argentina:

 

ROME, August 12, 2015 – A primary election held in Argentina last Sunday has seen increased interest on account of Jorge Mario Bergoglio being a citizen of that country.

The actual presidential election is scheduled for next October 25, with a possible runoff the following November 24 if no candidate surpasses 40 percent of the votes in the first round, exceeding the runner-up by at least 10 points.

But on Sunday, August 9 the primaries were held for the designation of candidates in the running for the Casa Rosada. The president in office, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is at the end of her second four-year term, and is therefore not eligible for reelection. The question going into the primary was the victory or defeat of her candidate for successor, and therefore the continuation or end of Kirchnerism, in power continually from 2003 first with Nestor Kirchner and then with his wife, widowed in 2010.

The response at the ballot box did not entirely solve the mystery.

Daniel Scioli, 58, the outgoing president of the region of Buenos Aires and the candidate of Frente para la Victoria, Kirchner’s party, received 38.3 percent of the votes.

But Mauricio Macrí, a center-right businessman and former president of the Boca Juniors soccer team, the outgoing mayor of the city of Buenos Aires and leader of the party Propuesta Republicana, was not far behind with 30.2 percent.

And then there is the “third man,” Sergio Massa, head of the Frente Renovador, a moderate version of Kirchnerism, with 20.6 percent.

In the illustration beneath the headline the two leading rivals, Scioli and Macrí, pose in front of a portrait of Francis at the latest Buenos Aires Book Fair. And the question is: which of the two does the pope prefer? But even before that: what does each of them represent?

In the run-up to the Argentine primaries, Professor Marco Olivetti, full professor of constitutional law at the University of Foggia and a leading expert on political systems, described Kirchnerism in itself and in the context of Latin America, in an in-depth article in “Avvenire”:

“Kirchnerism is the latest reincarnation of Peronism: after the original, vaguely fascistic form of Juan Domingo Perón and Evita; the free-market conservative form of the dying Perón and his third wife, Isabelita, during the 1970’s; and the neoliberal form of Carlos Menem during the 1990’s.

“It constitutes the socialistic variation, in continuity with the para-revolutionary groups that infested Argentina in the early 1970’s, and is upheld by traditional Peronist trade unionism. Its support is particularly high among persons with low incomes and little education.

“Its distinguishing mark is populism, identification with a good ‘people,’ now inflected according to the political terrain prevalent in much of Latin America, from the Venezuela of Chávez and his heirs to the Bolivia of Morales, from the Brazil of Lula and Dilma to the Ecuador of Correa, albeit with all the differences of the various cases.”

Scioli’s main opponent, Macrí, instead represents the coalition of Cambiemos, which in addition to the Propuesta Republicana includes the Unión Cívica Radical, which was the other major Argentine party in the 1990’s, in opposition to the Peronists, and the Coalición Cívica para la Afirmación de una República Igualitaria, created in 2002 and still led by the Catholic jurist and deputy Elisa Carrió.

The first Argentine woman to run for the Casa Rosada, opposed to the decriminalization of abortion and to gay marriage but in favor of the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Carriò is a longtime friend of Bergoglio. She predicted his election as pope back in 2001.

But she makes no mystery, today, of maintaining that Francis is playing mistaken political “cards” in Argentina, in support of Kirchnerism, with the risk of seeing his country end up like Venezuela, from which only a thorough free-market reform could save it.

There are no explicit statements from Pope Francis that would substantiate such a judgment. But that he has a political vision of his own for Argentina and for the Latin American “great homeland” is beyond a doubt, to judge from some of the actions and remarks of his pontificate.

The recent papal journey to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay was revealing. Francis did not conceal his affinity for the populist presidents of the first two countries, while with the third, a conservative, he demonstrated coldness, to the point of rebuking him publicly for a crime he never committed, glaringly misunderstood by the pope:

> Father Lombardi, the Mouth of Truth (29.7.2015)

But the true political “manifesto” of pope Bergoglio was the lengthy speech he gave in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to the anti-globalization “popular movements” of Latin America and the rest of the world, which he gathered around him for a second time less than a year after the previous meeting in Rome, in both cases with a seat in the front for the “cocalero” president of Bolivia, Evo Morales:

> To the second world meeting of popular movements, July 9, 2015
> To the first world meeting of popular movements, October 28, 2014

Rereading these two speeches, it is striking how their “distinguishing mark” – to borrow the words of Marco Olivetti – is “populism, identification with a good ‘people,’” precisely what characterizes in Argentina the socialistic Peronism of the Kirchner era, during which the recipients of state funds tripled and now total 15.3 million, 36 percent of the population.

The “people” in which Pope Francis sees the avant-garde of a worldwide revolution against the transnational empire of money is the one that he himself describes as made up of “waste-collectors, recyclers, peddlers, seamstresses or tailors, artisans, fishermen, farmworkers, builders, miners.” To them belongs – he says – the future of humanity. Thanks to a process of their rise to power that “overflows the logical procedures of formal democracy.”

In the judgment of James V. Schall, former professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, the speech in Santa Cruz is “pure Bergoglio,” with a political vision “closer to Joachim of Fiore than to Augustine of Hippo”:

Continue reading

August 14, 1945: Surrender and a Coup Attempt

 

 

Allied bombers had been used on August 13, 1945 dropping leaflets over Japan which described, in Japanese, the surrender offer and the Allied response.  On August 14, 1945 met with his military leaders, several of whom spoke in favor of continuing the War.  Hirohito urged them to help him bring the War to an end.  Meeting then with the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War and heard out those who recommended a rejection of the Allied offer unless there was a guarantee that the Emperor would continue to reign.  Hirohito then spoke:

I have listened carefully to each of the arguments presented in opposition to the view that Japan should accept the Allied reply as it stands and without further clarification or modification, but my own thoughts have not undergone any change. … In order that the people may know my decision, I request you to prepare at once an imperial rescript so that I may broadcast to the nation. Finally, I call upon each and every one of you to exert himself to the utmost so that we may meet the trying days which lie ahead.

In normal times in Japan that would have been that.  It was quite rare for the Emperor to so overtly intervene in a decision of the government, indeed it was forbidden under the then current Japanese constitution, but when he did, it would have literally been unthinkable for any Japanese not to instantly obey.  However, these were far from normal times.

The rest of the day was taken up with Hirohito preparing an address to his people and having a recording played to be broadcast on August 15, 1945.  Washington was advised that Japan had surrendered via the Japanese embassies in Switzerland and Sweden and the Allied world went wild with joy. Continue reading

Last of the Dam Buster Pilots Dies

 

Hattip to Don the Kiwi.  The march of time can be as sad as it is inevitable, and so it is in this case.  The last pilot of 617th Squadron that flew the Dam Buster raid on May 16-17, 1943, Kiwi John Leslie Munro, has died at age 96 in Auckland, New Zealand on August 4, 2015.  The raid was a spectacular attack on three mammoth dams in the Ruhr.  Codenamed Operation Chastise, it involved over a month of training for the low altitude attacks on the dams and the development of bombs that would bounce on the water upon release and careen into the dams.  The execution of the raids in the teeth of enemy fire required immense skill and courage.  The attacks breached two of the dams and damaged the third, causing immense damage in the Ruhr, the industrial heartland of the Third Reich.  Of the 19 Lancaster bombers participating in the raid, eight were lost. Continue reading

Father Barron and the Bomb

Here is a guest post by Greg Mockeridge:

 

It should go without saying that readers of TAC are familiar with the work of Fr. (soon to be bishop) Barron. His presence on You Tube is ubiquitous. He has also produced the Catholicism series, featured not only on Catholic media outlets like EWTN, but also on secular outlets like Pbs. In and of themselves, using outlets such as these to get the message of the Church out are commendable. And certainly Fr. Barron has done some good work along these lines and has earned a rather immense popularity as a result. Again, in and of itself, being popular is not a bad thing. But popularity can be just as dangerous in Catholic circles as in secular circles. In fact, I would say it is even more dangerous in Catholic circles than secular, given that it is done under the aegis of Catholic orthodoxy.

Any honest Catholic who has paid attention to what has gone on in popular orthodox Catholic circles cannot deny that there are serious problems with the way many Catholics, clergy and lay alike, prominent in orthodox circles have conducted themselves over at least the last decade. For example, we have seen the mean spirited and calumnious treatment by Mark Shea of those, Catholic and non-Catholic, who take views on geopolitical matters that conflict with his. It doesn’t matter to Shea that such views are both consistent with Catholic teaching and factually compelling. Even worse is the manner with which bishops like Archbishops Chaput and Cordileone speak on matters such as capital punishment, going to the extreme of falsely asserting that the death penalty system is administered in a racist manner against minorities. We have also seen Cardinal Timothy Dolan engage in race baiting calumny against the state of Arizona over SB 1070, which allows, pursuant to what has been federal law since 1940, for local law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of those they have reason to believe are in the country illegally. We also have the scandal of the USCCB, in their annual Fortnight for Freedom campaign, listing certain state immigration laws as violations of religious liberty equal to that of the Obama Goonsquad (err Administration) forcing employers to provide coverage for contraception in their health insurance plans, despite conscience objections baed on religious conviction. Equating these two things cannot by justified by any stretch of the Catholic imagination.
Although I wouldn’t say Fr. Barron has gone to the lengths of the examples listed above, he is not without his serious problems. I first saw problems with Fr Barron when he gave a glowing review of Ross Douthat’s book Bad Religion. This book was bad in its own right, bad research methodology and some bad religion of its own. Douthat nakedly  misrepresents Catholic teaching with regard to socio-economics as well as misrepresenting Michael Novak. Douthat’s portrayal of the torture issue is no different in substance than that of Mark Shea, sans the snark. How any respectable orthodox Catholic, much less one who is an influential cleric, can give a glowing review of such a dishonest piece of work is beyond baffling.
Then Fr. Barron, in this article for the National Review of all publications, draws parallels between the anti-Catholic sentiment of many of the American Founding Fathers and the pro-abortion movement of today. To be sure, many of our founders did harbor anti-Catholic sentiment, but to draw the parallels Fr. Barron did is not only without merit, but downright appalling. No such parallels are anywhere close to existent. I would say that the pro-abortion movement is not anti-Catholic as an end in itself, but sees Catholic opposition to abortion as a threat. In fact, these very same people are very favorable to the elements of Catholicism they think comports with their “social justice” worldview and often invoke it in an attempt to buttress their views.
So, it should be of no surprise that when Fr. Barron deals with an issue like the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the 70th Anniversary of which passed a few days ago), his analysis would be woefully devoid of Catholic moral principles and a real good faith attempt to accurately present the circumstances within which President Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bombs.
Recently, I came across a video he did last year where he deals with the subject. In it, he confirms that hunch. And in the same manner he juxtaposes the anti-Catholic sentiment of our Founders with the pro-abortion movement of today, he does the same with drawing parallels with support for the bomb drops with rejecting Catholic sexual teaching. First of all, his assertion that “very few” wars in human history were just vis-a-vis Catholic moral teaching is a matter of opinion, namely his, not of fact. He repeatedly says “clearly” that things like carpet bombings as well as the atomic bombings did not comport with the principle of proportionality. Well, clearly, he is either ignorant of the circumstances within which these actions were taken or he is counting on the ignorance of his viewers. And, unfortunately, counting on the ignorance of many orthodox Catholics on issues like this is a well-founded assumption. Proportionality has do with the bad effect being avoided being greater than the bad effect inflicted. And in the cases he discusses, especially with regard to the atomic bombings, the case for the principle of proportionality being met is compelling. I would say it is incontrovertible. He says nothing about the principle of double effect and how it may apply to this situation.

Continue reading

Japan’s Atom Bomb Program

 

Most Americans are unaware that during World War II Japan had two programs seeking to build an atomic bomb.

In 1939 Dr. Yoshio Nishina,  a Japanese nuclear physicist, recognized the potential of the then theoretical atomic bomb.  ( In 1934 Professor  Hikosaka Tadayoshi theorized about such a bomb.)  In 1940 he spoke with Lieutenant-General Takeo Yasuda, director of the Army Aeronautical Department’s Technical Research Institute, about the potential of an atomic bomb.  The Japanese Army began its program to develop an atomic bomb in April 1941.

Meantime, the Japanese Navy began its own program creating the Committee on Research in the Application of Nuclear Physics chaired by Dr. Nishina in 1942.  The Navy’s project ended in 1943 when the Committee reported that while such a bomb was feasible it predicted that it would be difficult for even the United States, with all its resources, to harness the power of the Atom in time to have an impact on the War.

However, the Navy dropping out had no effect on the Army’s program which continued on to the end of the War, hampered both by lack of materials and by ever heavier US bombing.  How far the Japanese got is open to speculation as the project was veiled in the deepest secrecy during the War, and most documents pertaining to it were destroyed by the Japanese prior to the Surrender. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Peronist Pope

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An interesting article in the New York Times that sheds more light on the Peronist roots of the Pope:

 

Less known is that Perón took his cue from the politicized Catholic leaders of ’30s Argentina. Church leaders back then sought the integration of Argentina’s new working class by promoting radical labor reforms. Bishops addressed some of the country’s first large rallies of workers, and Perón cut his teeth speaking at meetings of the Círculos Católicos de Obreros (Catholic Worker Circles).

Perón’s alliance with the bishops was sealed when the 1943-46 military regime, in which he was vice president, made Catholic education obligatory in Argentina’s previously secular public schools. The process culminated in 1944 when Perón decorated a statue of the Virgin Mary with a military sash and appointed her a “general,” accompanied by a 21-gun salute.

“Neither Marxists nor Capitalists. Peronists!” was the chant of Perón’s supporters. And it was borrowing from the church’s political thinking that enabled Perón to found his “Third Way.”

Today, the church in South America is threatened not by Marxism but by the gradual drift of its faithful toward evangelical Protestantism, which offers a more direct relationship with God. With the largest slice of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics, about 28 percent, living in South America, this is a slide the Vatican can ill afford to ignore.

It comes naturally, then, to Francis, who became a priest in Argentina’s politically engaged church hierarchy, to adopt a populist political tone to combat that drift. He speaks directly to the region’s poor with a fire found in the “liberation theology” that inspired South America’s leftist revolutionaries of the 1970s.
Pope Francis, who firmly disapproved of armed resistance, was not at first a supporter of liberation theology. But his thinking evolved. “If you were to read one of the sermons of the first fathers of the church, from the second or third centuries, about how you should treat the poor, you’d say it was Maoist or Trotskyist,” he said in 2010, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires (and still known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio). Continue reading

The Lost Papers of General Hood

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One of the more remarkable aspects of our Civil War is the amount of new information about it that is still being uncovered, and I am not referring to minor pieces of new information like the diary maintained by a Civil War mule skinner before he was trampled to death on October 29, 1863 in the charge of the mule brigade!  New documents keep trickling out about major figures of the War.  Such is the case with General John Bell Hood in Stephen M. Hood’s groundbreaking The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood.  A collateral descendant of the General, this is a companion volume  to his  The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General, in which he dispelled many historical myths about Hood, and which I reviewed here.

This book collects 200 plus documents, thought lost to history, but lovingly maintained generation after generation by the General’s descendants. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pantheism

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The effort continues under the current Pontificate to transform sins into non-sins and non-sins into sins.  Father Z gives us the bad news:

Pope Francis, in his letter about this event to Card. Turkson (President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) and Card. Koch (President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity) made a statement about this day which left me scratching my head a little. HERE

In the statement the Pope said…

[…]

The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.

[…]

“Sins committed against the world”… what does that mean?

I think in most languages there is an idiomatic understanding of “the world” as being “everyone”, that is “all people”.   But that doesn’t seem to be what this is all about.

We are to have a care for creation around us – which includes people. Is that the main thrust in this statement?  It seems to me that he is talking about the non-human environment.

Of course Laudato si‘ tries to bring the two together.

Sometimes when we talk about sin, we say we sin against a virtue (charity) or against neighbor.  However, if we stray from truth and charity, or if we harm our neighbor our sin is truly against God.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out…

1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125

122 Ps 51:4. 123 Gen 3:5. 124 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 14,28:PL 41,436.  125 Cf. Phil 2:6-9.

A sin against a virtue (an abstraction) is a sin against God.  A sin against neighbor is a sin against God.

Do we sin against some creature which isn’t a person?  Clods of dirt, plants, and critters are not persons. We cannot sin against a critter, a plant or a clod (of dirt, that is).

If we commit vandalism against a sacred thing, such as a chalice, a church or a cemetery, we do not sin against those things but rather against God, the one to whom those sacred things are dedicated with special consecration.

If we sin by pouring unreasonable, dangerous, extreme quantities poisons into the earth or air or water or by mistreating animals, we do not sin against the earth, air or water or against the animals.  We sins against our neighbor, for making his life miserable, but, more fundamentally, we sin against God by violating His will when He made us creation’s stewards.

We do not sin against the world we live in.

Unless… we think the world is god.

There are those immanentists out there who verge on pantheism.  There are immanentists in the Church, as a matter of fact!  Lots of them!  Some of them wear Roman collars, many wear lapel pins and polyester, most wear flipflops and shorts (at least in church).  Come to think of it, immanentists come in all shapes and sizes and they are often well dressed. Most modern immanentists of our acquaintance suffer from what I call “Immanentism Lite”, that is, they don’t deny the transcendence of God, they simply never think about it.

God is, first and foremost, transcendent.  That’s a harder way of grasping God.  Since it is harder, it isn’t as easily communicated.  This is why the traditional, Extraordinary Form is so important.  It provides the necessary hard elements, the apophatic elements, which help us to an experience of awe and the detachment from self which is critical if we want to overcome life’s “daily winter”, our fear of death.  This is the very purpose of Religion.  Our liturgical worship must help us to be purified of distractions that keep us from confronting our fear of death and that prevent us from encountering mystery. We need in our worship a measure of privation, hunger and longing for that which in this life we can only darkly as if through Paul’s mirror or the cleft in Moses’ rock. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable For Framing: Flannery O’Connor

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“If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.”
― Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose     

PopeWatch: Noncomformist on the Throne of Peter

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PopeWatch sometimes fears that the Pope Emeritus is in jeopardy of becoming the forgotten pope.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa brings to our attention of a perceptive new look at his papacy by a Japanese agnostic:

A NONCONFORMIST ON THE THRONE OF PETER

by Hajime Konno

Benedict XVI entered the stage of world politics as a Church leader endowed with clear principles and strong will. The name selected as pope, Benedict, indicated his pessimistic diagnosis of the times, or his comparison between the situation today and the late-Roman decadence at the time of Saint Benedict. Already in his homily on the eve of his election to the see, on April 18, 2005, he had clearly taken a position in this regard.

The pope’s objective was first of all the defense and reinforcement of the Christian foundations of Europe, even though during his pontificate the curia also dealt intensively with relations with non-European countries, as for example the socialist republics of China and Vietnam. Benedict did not intend to subject himself to fashion and limit himself to governing with diligence. He wanted to decide what should be changed and what not, always on the basis of the Church’s position and independently of the spirit of the times. He was by no means pledged to anti-modernism. He simply intended to preserve the elements that he saw as necessary for the Church, regardless of the fact of whether they were modern or premodern. He eliminated the papal tiara from the pontifical coat of arms, he renounced the title of “patriarch of the West,” he addressed environmental problems with passion.

Above all he was, de facto, the pope of the “logos”: with the power of his words, his most powerful weapon, he fought for Christian Europe. He opened the Church to the most recent means of communication, including YouTube and Twitter, he rehabilitated Latin and the Tridentine Mass, he reached out to the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, he consolidated the liturgy as the solemn actualization of the mysteries, he placed the Eucharist at the center of Christian life, he encouraged the administration of communion on the tongue and was not afraid, even after the much-criticized discourse in Regensburg, to discuss the violence of radical Islamists.

As interlocutors in the ecumenical movement, Pope Benedict XVI carefully chose Churches like the Orthodox and the Anglican, establishing good contacts with both while still inviting conservative Anglican dissidents to join the Catholic Church. The culmination of the friendship between Catholic and Orthodox was the encounter with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. Benedict XVI also went to Great Britain, meeting with both Queen Elizabeth and the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and beatifying Cardinal John Henry Newman in Glasgow. It was not possible to organize a trip to Russia, yet Benedict also had good relations with the patriarch of Moscow, Cyril I, since he was metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. Although at the time of the council Ratzinger had worked for a positive evaluation of Protestantism, Pope Benedict XVI kept his distance from the “ecclesial communities” of the Reformation.

The progressives inside and outside of the Catholic Church did not recognize the pope’s ability to act autonomously apart from the spirit of the time. To these groups a pontiff who had as his motto “cooperatores veritatis” appeared as an arrogant, unbearable prince of the Church. They did all they could to promote a negative image of the pope and rejoiced over his unexpected resignation. Among the means used, an important role was given to anti-Germanism. The method of stigmatizing Ratzinger as German, even though he rarely emphasized his Germanic identity, resembles that used by anti-Semitism when even Jewish converts are still accused of remaining Jews.

In Germany, his birthplace, Pope Benedict XVI has always been a topic of debate. On the one hand his election was a sort of stroke of liberation. The fact that a German had been elected pope and therefore, so to speak, the supreme spiritual authority of the West, was in itself sensational. English tabloids like “The Sun” could not pass up the chance to compose mocking headlines (“From Hitler Youth to… Papa Ratzi”). Benedict reacted to all of this by emphasizing his Bavarian rather than German patriotism and on May 28, 2006 he went to visit the former concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the same time, however, he also highlighted the importance of Germany. The progressives left no stone unturned in accentuating the problems of sexual abuse and of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, in order to undermine the authority of the pope. Conservative German Catholics, for example those gathered in the initiative “Deutschland pro Papa” or in the “Forum Deutscher Katholiken” found themselves disarmed in the face of the markedly anticlerical climate that prevailed in German public opinion.

Although Benedict XVI did not expressly intend to do so, in fact he brought the dominion of modern values into question. In the context of his criticism of Marxism he supported Western parliamentary democracy, but his siding in favor of democracy was by no means unconditional. He decisively refused to introduce it into the Church, which is ordered in a hierarchical way. He also looked with skepticism at public opinion polling. His distance from the popular will is not explained only by his experience with the student movement in the 1960’s, but was already rooted in his distancing himself from National Socialism, which in its time was accompanied by thunderous applause from the majority of the population. He also did not share the optimistic evaluation of modern-day man and the progress of society.

His attitude followed in the footsteps of Christian social conservatism. The appreciation of the family and of heterosexual marriage was in contradiction with the present-day multiplication of family models. The emphasis placed on the role of Christianity as the pre-political basis of liberal democracy was aimed against secularism. Benedict XVI disapproved of the criticism of Eurocentrism and reiterated the Christian character of Europe. Not only in political questions, but also and above all in cultural ones he took positions and acted as an active champion of old European culture against the tides of globalization.

Pope Benedict XVI was a nonconformist on the throne of Peter. When from the seat of gold he imparted the blessing in Latin, excommunicated dissidents, held the universal Church together and affirmed the unicity of the Catholic faith, he was in fact showing his authoritative side. It comes as no surprise that his detractors, like Leonardo Boff or Johann Baptist Metz, should have criticized him. Nonetheless, the question can also be seen in a different way if it is placed within the situation in which the Church finds itself. If one looks at the dominant position of modern values, the Catholic Church is an oppressed minority while its critics belong to the majority. Thus Ratzinger’s authoritative attitude was a reaction to the prevailing situation.

In any case, the combative spirit was only one side of Joseph Ratrzinger. Although he armored himself, in a certain sense, against his opponents, he never lost the willingness for dialogue. Even his most ardent critic, Hans Küng, was given a friendly reception at Castel Gandolfo. In his encyclicals, Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly dealt with themes like “love” and “hope.” Substantially he remained a Bavarian patriot, with enthusiasm always in his heart for the procession of Corpus Domini. In this sense he resembles the prince of ancient China Ling Wang (Gao Changgong). Even though he fought on the battlefield wearing a mask of the devil, the features of the face that this concealed were delicate. Continue reading

August 11, 1945: US Responds to Surrender Offer

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On receipt of the Japanese offer to surrender, the decision was quickly made by Harry Truman as to the US response.  From his August 10, 1945 diary entry:

“Ate lunch at my desk and discussed the Jap offer to surrender which came in a couple of hours earlier. They wanted to make a condition precedent to the surrender. Our terms are ‘unconditional’. They wanted to keep the Emperor. We told ’em we’d tell ’em how to keep him, but we’d make the terms.”

Truman ordered that no more atomic bomb attacks be made, although conventional attacks be continued.  When the press misinterpreted an Army Air Corps briefing that mentioned that no bombers were flying over Japan due to bad weather on August 11, 1945, Truman ordered a halt to conventional attacks so the Japanese would not be confused on his willingness to give them a short time to consider the Allied response.  The response went out on August 11, the Soviets signing on reluctantly as they were busily conquering Manchuria from the Japanese and did not want the War to stop until they had wiped out Japanese opposition.  Here is the text of the Allied response: Continue reading

Quotes Suitable For Framing: Pope Benedict XVI

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“Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in fascile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. Moreover, the confessio peccati, to use an expression of Saint Augustine, must always be accomplished by the confessio laudis – the confession of praise. As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that is often excellent.”

Pope Benedict XVI

No Deal With Iran

 

A powerful video.  Incidentally the purple heart the Sergeant held up was manufactured in 1945.  It was one of the half million purple hearts that the military laid in for the invasion of Japan and which the Pentagon has used for the past seven decades.  You know, when the Pope visits the US it is too bad that he could not meet the Sergeant and hear the other side about the deal he has so blithely endorsed.

August 10, 1945: Japan Offers to Surrender, With One Condition

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Meeting just after midnight on August 9, 1945, in the first hour of August 10, 1945, with Emperor Hirohito present, the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War deadlocked yet again, 3-3 between peace and war factions.  Looking to Hirohito to break the deadlock, the Emperor suggested acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration if the Imperial Throne were preserved.  The Japanese government asked the Swiss government to present to the US its conditional acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.  Here is the text of the American Charge d’Affaires  to the Secretary of State conveying the news:

 

 

August 10, 1945

Sir; I have the honor to inform you that the Japanese Minister in Switzerland, upon instructions received from his Government, has requested the Swiss Political Department to advise the Government of the United States of America of the following:

“In obedience to the gracious command of His Majesty the Emperor who, ever anxious to enhance the cause of world peace, desires earnestly to bring about a speedy termination of hostilities with a view to saving mankind from the calamities to be imposed upon them by further continuation of the war, the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis a vis the enemy powers. Unfortunately, these efforts in the interest of peace having failed, the Japanese Government in conformity with the august wish of His Majesty to restore the general peace and desiring to put an end to the untold sufferings entailed by war as quickly as possible, have decided upon the following.

“The Japanese Government are ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam on July 26th, 1945, by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and China, and later subscribed to by the Soviet Government, with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.

“The Japanese Government sincerely hope that this understanding is warranted and desire keenly that an explicit indication to that effect will be speedily forthcoming.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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The Pope addressed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over the weekend:

 

 

Pope Francis called for a global ban on nuclear weapons Sunday as Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on Nagasaki days before the end of World War Two.

The pontiff said the memories of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945 remain as a call for nuclear disarmament.

“After so long that tragic event still causes horror and repulsion,” the pope said in Rome.

“It became the symbol of the boundless destructive power of man, when the achievements of science and technology are put to wrong use. It remains a permanent warning for humanity to reject war forever and to ban nuclear weapons and every weapon of mass destruction,” Francis said.

The pope said he wishes there would be “one voice” that says, “no to war, no to violence, yes to dialogue, yes to peace. With war we always lose.” Continue reading

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