PopeWatch: Vatican Bank

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Pope Francis is satisfied with the success of reforms he has implemented in regard to the Vatican Bank and, as a result, the Bank may remain open:

 

 

Pope Francis has given his backing to the Vatican’s scandal-plagued bank,   ending speculation that he might shut it down as part of his drive to clean   up the Vatican’s murky finances.

Father Z On the Silencing of Sister Jane

Sister Jane Silenced

Father Z comments on the silencing of Sister Jane and his conclusions are sobering:

You probably saw my post Sister explains the situation. Spittle-flecked nutty, bullying, intimidation ensue.

Sr. Jane Laurel, OP, gave a talk at a Catholic High School.  Hell broke loose.

If you want to sample her talks, go HERE. Her talk at the High School was “Masculinity & Femininity: Difference & Gift”.  Presentations with that title are on that website. Listen to a few.  At the High School, Sister included comments about homosexuality, divorce and single parents. Some people lost their minds. Read more here.

I suspect that what happened, to build this up into such a thing, is that parents heard vague reports – I say vague because teens are such great sources of accuracy in reporting – about her remarks from their politically-correctly conditioned children and, stung in conscience, got out the pitchforks and torches.

The nutty built up into grand mal nutty in the form of the increasingly inevitable “town hall” meeting.

Am I entirely off base here?  Did Sister actually say things that were so outrageous, so unacceptable, so lacking in truth and in charity, that the resulting furor was appropriate, proportionate and justified?  Really?  Go listen to some of her talks using that link, above.  Does it seem likely?

Now I read that Sister is going to have a sabbatical.  HERE

It looks as if Alinsky’s Rules were at work here. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. … Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Look.  This is just the starting line for some observations.

It seems to me that this sad episode is one of many which reveal the building in our midst of a mob mentality akin to that which drove the Salem Witch Trials. If you speak in public now with any clarity about the Church’s teachings on sexuality, marriage, etc., or avert to conclusions which rational people reach about the same derived from the Natural Law, you will be met with fury. “I saw Lizzie Procter speaking with the devil!” Well… bad example, since most of the people who will join the snarling pack likely don’t believe in the devil.

There is a new and twisted “normal” coalescing. This new “normal”, violating the dictates of reason, will prompt the more aggressive and ideologically driven to impose iron norms, which, when violated, will spark vicious attacks from the now easily manipulated mob.

Watching episode in Charlotte build, I had the image of one of those mobs protests a G8 meeting. In these mobs there are professional instigators, anarchists and so forth, who are dedicated to getting the crowd of the curious, the young, the dumb, the enthusiastic, etc., whipped up into a frenzy. Then, as the frenzy rises, someone pitches a garbage can through a shop window and the havoc begins.

What is happening in our society that accepts so readily the hounding to ruin of the head of some business because he says that he supports true, natural marriage and does not endorse homosexual unions?

Surely there is something of a mob mentality building, and swiftly. The speed is driven by the new phenomenon of social media arriving in your hand 24/7. It is also driven by the erosion of the ability of many to reason (thanks to decades of poor education) and incessant mass media exaltation of self-satisfaction and base carnality, which also switches off higher functions.

But there is also something of the demonic in this present movement. Continue reading

Hobby Lobby, Hypocrisy, Ethical Investing

Grant Gallicho of Commonweal believes that he’s caught Hobby Lobby being inconsistent in their commitment to not supporting abortion. Citing a Mother Jones expose he notes that Hobby Lobby has a 401(k) retirement plan for its employees and that it provides matching contributions to that 401(k) (meaning that when employees contribute up to a certain percent of their incomes to the 401(k) savings plan, the company will provide additional contributions to the retirement plan, beyond that employee’s normal earnings, to “match” the employee contribution.) This is actually pretty impressive for a retailer, and I would think that people who care about living wages and such would applaud such a step, but instead it has turned into a “gotcha”. You see, Hobby Lobby’s 401(k), like most others including the one I have at my employer, offers a short list of basic mutual funds between which employees can allocate their retirement funds. Research with the managers of these funds has revealed that some of these funds in turn invest in pharmaceutical companies which produce abortion drugs and implements.

These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell. [source]

Gallicho seems to think this is some sort of damning proof that Hobby Lobby isn’t being true to their claimed principles:

The problem for Hobby Lobby’s argument is that investing in companies that manufacture drugs and devices that enable contraception and abortion is quite different from paying for insurance that enables an employee’s choice to use services the Greens object to. Hobby Lobby selects the funds it invests in. As Redden points out, if the Greens wanted to, they could have chosen funds that screen out so-called sin stocks (they tend to perform as well as other funds). But they didn’t. (Hobby Lobby’s legal counsel, the Becket Fund, did not immediately reply to my request for comment.)
Continue reading

Candida Moss and Indiana Jones

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Candida Moss, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, fresh off her laurels claiming that the Christian persecution by the Roman Emperors was much ado about nothing, read here and here for our examination of that deathless gift to scholarship, now comments about the latest claimant for the Holy Grail, basing her analysis on the same theory propounded by Indiana Jones in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:  that a cup made out of precious material would not have been used by a carpenter.  This latest attempt to gain publicity for herself has brought her to the attention of Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith;

 

 

Some Spanish researchers recently claimed to have discovered the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus employed at the Last Supper.  I’m not convinced but since I’ve never been a relics kind of guy, that doesn’t much matter.  Candida Moss, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, is also skeptical:

Even if you strip off the precious metals the cup is still too fancy. Agate was widely used to carve high-value objects like signets and cylinder seals in the ancient Near East. The historian Pliny the Elder describes owning agate cups as a sign of wealth and luxury. The imperial biographer Suetonius tells us that, of all of the riches of Alexandria, the emperor Augustus kept only a single agate cup. The emperor Nero—known for his debauchery apparently collected the things. In 66 C.E., when one of Nero’s contemporaries, Petronius, realized that he was about to be executed by the emperor and planned to commit suicide, his final act was to smash an agate ladle worth 300,000 sesterces rather than allow Nero to get his hands on it. To put that in perspective: male laborers living in Republican Rome made about 3 sesterces a day. While agate could likely be acquired much more cheaply, aristocratic Romans were serious about their agate.

Yeah, uh, Candy?  Cupcake?  If I remember the Scriptures correctly, the Lord informed His disciples that the place where He was to eat His final Passover with his disciples had been prepared in advance so there would have been no need for Our Lord to have owned any particular item involved with it. 

Inasmuch as, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head,” why would the Son of the Most High God have ever owned His own chalice?  This is the intellectual and theological reason why, claims Candy, professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame as well as an intellectual and theological badass.

Arguably the bigger issue is the cup’s appearance. As any fan of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows, Jesus would have used a simple carpenter’s cup. Like all dramatic reenactments, Indiana Jones has some minor historical flaws, but it certainly got that right. Archeological excavations have yielded many examples of ancient Israelite cups and they are made of cheap durable fabrics.

‘Kay.  Except that the “carpenter’s cup” in IJ&TLC was lined with gold.  Just sayin’, Candy.  Roman Catholics?  I know that most of you have gotten a huge kick out of how often you’ve rolled the Anglicans and quite justifiably so; if you’ve got a mark who doesn’t know he’s a mark then work that mark for as long as you can.

But Candy and ND are all yours.  So you will hopefully forgive a few Anglican chuckles. Continue reading

Social Control and the Two Minute Hate

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“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”

George Orwell, 1984

 

In regard to the firing of Brendan Eich by Mozilla after gay activists demanded his scalp for his donating a $1,000 in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, go here to Darwin’s post on the subject, it struck me as to the function such leftist witch hunts are intended to perform.

First, they help keep the perpetually aggrieved, perpetually aggrieved.  Most leftists, in order to have power, must have constant agitation against enemies.  The names of the enemy vary, but the function they perform remains the same:  to give leftists a devil figure to rally against.

Second, a means of proscribing certain thought crimes.  Most leftists are not content to win political victories, they want to drive their adversaries from the public square and punish them for their beliefs.

Third, abasement.  The gay activists who began the campaign have said that they wanted Eich to recant and then they would have been content with him keeping his job.  Confession and recantation by heretics is always a good thing.

Fourth, terror.  Many leftists tend to view terrorism as not a bad thing so long as it is their terrorism.  Just imagine how many CEOs cringed when they realized that in today’s America a man or woman could lose their job based on a political donation years ago.

Fifth, intolerance.  Most leftists love tolerance so long as their views are the ones being tolerated.  Views they oppose are not to be tolerated.  Little leftist morality plays like Eich are useful in making certain that it is clearly understood that tolerance is purely a one way street. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Gay Thought Police

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Judging from this article, originally written for Foreign Policy by Michael O’Loughlin, the Gay Thought Police are disappointed that Pope Francis hasn’t cracked down on bishops in regard to the gay agenda.

But bishops, not a centralized Roman bureaucracy, are the men supporting campaigns against same-sex marriage in the United States, and they’re the ones supporting laws that imprison gays in Africa. Liberal Catholics, in other words, are seeing both the good and the bad of what they wished for.

Now, many human rights advocates say silence from the pope, regardless of internal church issues, isn’t acceptable, that human dignity should trump bureaucratic reform. In October, Human Rights Watch published a letter to Pope Francis asking the church to use its influence “to protect people in sexual and gender minorities from further abuse.” HRW wanted the pope to “[p]ublicly condemn violence against people in sexual and gender minorities” and support the “decriminalization of consensual, sexual relationships and support the repeal of other unjust criminal penalties for people in sexual and gender minorities.”

As for whether his voice would matter, it’s certainly possible for the pope — especially this pope — to use his global platform to drive a conversation, perhaps even sway opinion. He led a massive protest against Western military intervention in Syria last September, for instance, rallying Catholics for a worldwide day of prayer. He has showed the world that he knows how to mobilize believers.

What’s more, even during the hostile climate created under Pope Benedict, there were some positive rumblings at the Vatican that show Pope Francis likely wouldn’t have much to lose in speaking out against egregious violations of LGBT rights. Responding to protests against its unwillingness to back a U.N. resolution on sexual orientation, Rome said in 2008 that it would support eliminating criminal penalties for homosexuality (even while it would not support same-sex unions and some other policies). More recently, Pope Francis’s personal representative to Uganda, Archbishop Michael Blume, expressed concern about Uganda’s anti-gay bill and wrote that he hoped the Holy Spirit would give Mr. Museveni “wisdom” as the president considered signing it into law.

Given his own public comments, Archbishop Blume’s words and other signals, it’s probable that Francis is against repressive, anti-gay laws. And already, in his first year as pope, he has taken an important step toward a new dynamic around LGBT issues in the church.

Yet if he truly wants to move forward, he will have to build on his initial outreach and ask, publicly, that Catholic bishops and other leaders keep up. If the pope truly wants the Catholic Church to chart a course for social justice around the world, his leadership on this issue must demonstrate that his powerful institution is a genuine voice for the oppressed. Continue reading

Grant Fumbles

Ulysses S. Grant

 

 Fate has a way of picking unlikely material,

Greasy-haired second lieutenants of French artillery,

And bald-headed, dubious, Roman rake-politicians.

Her stiff hands were busy now with an odd piece of wood,

Sometime Westpointer, by accident more than choice,

Sometime brevet-captain in the old Fourth Infantry,

Mentioned in Mexican orders for gallant service

And, six years later, forced to resign from the

Army Without enough money to pay for a stateroom home.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

One hundred and fifty years ago the campaigning season in the bloodiest year of the Civil War was about to begin, and plans were being completed for what both sides hoped would be a decisive year.  A moment of comedy before the grim business gets underway.  Sherman in his memoirs recalled an incident on March 18, 1864 when Grant was presented a sword by the mayor of his hometown of Galena, Illinois:

 

 

On the 18th of March I had issued orders assuming command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and was seated in the office, when the general came in and said they were about to present him a sword, inviting me to come and see the ceremony. I went back into what was the dining-room of the house; on the table lay a rose-wood box, containing a sword, sash, spurs, etc., and round about the table were grouped Mrs. Grant, Nelly, and one or two of the boys. I was introduced to a large, corpulent gentleman, as the mayor, and another citizen, who had come down from Galena to make this presentation of a sword to their fellow-townsman. I think that Rawlins, Bowers, Badeau, and one or more of General Grant’s personal staff, were present. The mayor rose and in the most dignified way read a finished speech to General Grant, who stood, as usual, very awkwardly; and the mayor closed his speech by handing him the resolutions of the City Council engrossed on parchment, with a broad ribbon and large seal attached. After the mayor had fulfilled his office so well, General Grant said: “Mr. Mayor, as I knew that this ceremony was to occur, and as I am not used to speaking, I have written something in reply.” He then began to fumble in his pockets, first his breast-coat pocket, then his pants, vest; etc., and after considerable delay he pulled out a crumpled piece of common yellow cartridge-paper, which he handed to the mayor. His whole manner was awkward in the extreme, yet perfectly characteristic, and in strong contrast with the elegant parchment and speech of the mayor. When read, however, the substance of his answer was most excellent, short, concise, and, if it had been delivered by word of mouth, would have been all that the occasion required.

I could not help laughing at a scene so characteristic of the man who then stood prominent before the country; and to whom all had turned as the only one qualified to guide the nation in a war that had become painfully critical. Continue reading

The Silencing of Sister Jane

Sister Jane Silenced

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel was tossed under the bus so frequently last week that I hope she will be able to get the tread marks out of her habit.  A vibrant teacher of Catholic orthodoxy on sexual morality based on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, she had given lectures around the country with no controversy until she gave a presentation at the hilariously misnamed Catholic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and some parents and their spoiled brats decided to stage a massive hissy fit.  Go here to read all about it.

The diocese of Charlotte wasted no time in cowardly apologizing for the presentation of Sister Jane.  Go here to read all about it.

Now, her own order and Aquinas College are sending her under the bus:

From Sister Mary Sarah, O.P., President of Aquinas College:

The events around the recent talk by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P. in Charlotte, NC have produced a great deal of speculation from many sides. Among the commentators, there are few who were actually present to hear the talk, which was not recorded.

It is the firm belief of Aquinas College that all men and women are created in God’s image and likeness and are made with a capacity to love and be loved. The College supports the Catholic Church’s teachings which are open to the diverse needs and desires of all, which must be considered in light of eternal truths.

We support and affirm that every man and woman, regardless of his or her state in life, deserves respect, and that the health of any culture is gauged according to the capacity of its members to uphold their own beliefs while respecting the beliefs of others. The College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, was known for his ability to thoughtfully consider all things and retain what is true, regardless of the source of that truth.

We believe it is our privilege to bring the best aspects of our faith tradition to bear on the moral and cultural questions of the present age. In her presentation, Sister Jane Dominic spoke clearly on matters of faith and morals. Her deviation into realms of sociology and anthropology was beyond the scope of her expertise. Sister is a trained theologian from a Pontifical University and has the credentials to contribute to scholarly bodies of work. This she has done in the past with distinction. The unfortunate events at Charlotte Catholic High School are not representative of the quality of Sister’s academic contributions or the positive influence that she has had on her students. The students at Charlotte Catholic were unprepared, as were their parents, for the topic that Sister was asked to deliver. The consequence was a complete misrepresentation of the school’s intention to bring a message that would enlighten and bring freedom and peace.

There are no words that are able to reverse the harm that has been caused by these comments. The community of Aquinas College is saddened by this extreme outcome and wishes to reiterate that this is not something the College condones or desires to create. There is division where there should be unity. The events and discussions that have transpired over the last two weeks reflect that there is something in this that surpasses an ordinary high school assembly.

Sister Jane Dominic has cancelled her speaking engagements and, at her request, is preparing to begin a sabbatical from teaching at Aquinas College. It is our sincere hope that the community of Charlotte Catholic High School will soon begin a process of healing and renewal, and that all who have been affected by this event will be drawn into profound reconciliation as we approach this great season that commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Saint Augustine: No Matter How Great Our Crimes

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“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Isaiah:  1:18

 

Continuing on with our Lenten series in which Saint Augustine is our guide, go here  , here  ,here  , here and here to read the first five posts in the series, we come to the whole purpose of Lent.   One of the greatest weapons in the arsenal of the eternal enemy of Man is despair.  How many people abstain from confession and reconciliation with God on the mistaken belief that their sins are too great and they are beyond redemption.  It would seem in our day that these people would be small in number since so many would appear to have lost any sense of sin.  Perhaps, but perhaps also a denial of the fact of sin is merely a surface attempt to avoid the gnawing guilt and emptiness that sin usually causes in most souls, whether the sin is recognized as such or not.   For all lost and wandering souls the forgiveness of God is close at hand for His mercy is as infinite as His justice is sure.  What so many of us have earned at the hands of His justice, He spares us by His mercy.  Despair is a sin, and in Lent we should turn our backs on it, as we do all sin.  Here is what Augustine wrote in regard to forgiveness of sins, no matter how great they are: Continue reading

PopeWatch: Secession

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

Washington—Catholic Democrats voted to secede from the Catholic Church in a referendum yesterday, with final results showing that 95.5% of ballots were in favor of becoming Pagan.

Leaders from the Pagan Coalition will pass legislation allowing Catholics in the Democratic Party who follow their consciences even when they conflict with moral teachings of the Magisterium to be known as Pagans. The Vatican has welcomed the results, with the Vatican Press Office today issuing a statement of support and congratulations.

“Results of the referendum in the Democratic Party clearly showed that Catholic Democrats see their future only as part of the Pagan movement,” said Vatican Press Secretary Roberto Ansaldi. “We support their decision and hope that their transition will be seamless. ‘Transition’ isn’t the right word there is it? ‘Transition’ would imply some sort of change from one position to another.”

Continue reading

The Church’s One Foundation

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Something for the weekend, The Church’s One Foundation.  Written by Church of England minister Samuel J. Stone, it is sung to the tune Aurelia by Samuel S.Wesley.  I have always enjoyed this hymn and I have cherished the memory of Stone for it, and for this poem The Soliloquy of a Rationalistic Chicken: Continue reading

Intolerance

The techie world has been rocked by a witch hunt in the name of tolerance over the last week, as gay rights activists have demanded that Mozilla (the non-profit organization which produces the FireFox web browser) fire its newly named CEO Brendan Eich, because six years ago he made a $1,000 personal donation to the political campaign for Proposition 8, the successful California ballot initiative to amend the California constitution to define marriage as only possible between one man and one woman. There have been previous cases of activists digging through the rolls of who provided donations to the Prop 8 campaign, and targeting people for their support of traditional marriage. Eich’s donation apparently became known within the company and caused some controversy among employees about a year ago, and this then escalated to a wider campaign last week when he was named the new CEO. This campaign claimed its scalp yesterday as Eich resigned from both the CEO position and Mozilla’s board.

Mozilla put up a blog post announcing the resignation and stating that employing Eich (who was a founder of the company and one of the original developers of JavaScript) was not in keeping with their values:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.
Continue reading

A Nun Went Down to Charlotte

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Some first rate commentary on the Charlotte Fiasco is at A Blog For Dallas Area Catholics with, I am sure, their profound apologies to Charlie Daniels:

 

 

 

she was looking for some souls to save, she was in a bind, cuz she was way behind, she had’ta speak Truth hard and brave.

When she come across these young kids going to school in ol’ Char-lot

They call them Catholic but it seems……they’re not

She said: “You may not believe, but I’m Catholic, true,”

“And if you dare, you’ll see it’s fair, the devil has his hand on you.”

The kids said “we are so Katholyc, and it may be a sin”

“But we don’t care for Truth, we’re such smart youth, we’re jumpin’ on this gay wagon”

Sister get down and pray, the hate is comin’ hard

Cuz hell’s broke loose in Charlotte and the devil’s now in charge

And if you stay true you’ll get a halo made of gold,

but for these kids, the devil’s got their soul……

Alright, enough of that.  So they had the outrage session at Charlotte, ahem, Catholic High School Tuesday night, in response to the horrific atrocity of exposing what appear to be horribly formed youth and parents to some very basic Truth.  Mind, this was a presentation on Theology of the Body, so it wasn’t like they were hearing the really severe condemnations of sin that are very prevalent in the Tradition.

But it seems the nun who have the talk had the temerity to not only suggest, but demonstrate via sociological data, that those lost in the sins of sodom and sapphos are not “born that way,” but through various traumas or predilections to sin fall into that lifestyle.

And that was simply too much, much, much too much, for the precious dears – and possibly, even more so, their parents – to hear.  There is pretty extensive coverage of the talk given here, and while I don’t feel a particular need to give yet more space to the politically ginned-up outrage expressed last night (it seems some activists may have been brought in, last minute like, to insure the meeting went only one direction), I do want to pull out a couple of quotes from the aggrieved for examination. Continue reading

My Little Pony Cavalry Commander

MLP-CC-3DBox-800px

 

 

Ah, if only this proposed computer game did not have an April 1 announcement date.  My daughter would have loved it when she was younger.  I have always believed that every well brought up young lady should have a firm grasp of at least basic military tactics and strategy.  (The same applies for well brought up young gentlemen): Continue reading

April 4, 1864: Lincoln’s Letter to A.G. Hodges

 

One hundred and fifty years ago Lincoln knew that 1864 was likely to be the decisive year of the War, as the people of the North had an opportunity to pass judgment on him at the polls.  With the Democrat party adopting an anti-war position, Lincoln was likely to be defeated unless radical progress in the War could be demonstrated by November.  Additionally he had to justify his policy of abolishing slavery and enlisting black troops, as many pro- Unionists in the North looked with considerable misgivings on both policies.  So on April 4, 1864 Lincoln took up a pen to defend his decision to enlist black troops to a Kentucky Unionist who with the Governor of Kentucky and a former Senator from Kentucky, also Unionists, had protested to Lincoln the enlistment of  such troops in Kentucky.  The end of the letter foreshadows language Lincoln would use in his Second Inaugural regarding the ending of slavery: Continue reading

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