PopeWatch: Mammon



The Apostle Paul said that the love of money is the root of many evils.  Certainly money throughout the history of the Church has proven troublesome, as clerics often seem to demonstrate an inability to manage funds without massive waste and fraud occurring on a regular basis.  Pope Francis tasked Cardinal Pell with the onerous duty of cleaning up this mess, and this job makes the fabled cleaning of the Augean stables by Hercules child’s play by comparison.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us the gritty details:

ROME, March 6, 2015 – The two most remarkable appointments that Pope Francis has made to the curia so far bear the names of cardinals Pietro Parolin and George Pell.

The first, a diplomat of the highest rank, to the secretariat of state, and the second, a manager of Anglo-Saxon pluck, to the newly created secretariat for the economy. Both of them are part of the “C9,” the council of cardinals that the pope wanted to gather around him for the reform of the curia.

And yet there is no agreement between these two.

Even worse. Behind their backs and to their detriment there has re-exploded the chaos of blunt recriminations, poisonous accusations, and vested interests that ravaged the previous pontificate. A terrible accompaniment for the vaunted reform of the Roman curia.

The appointment of Pell last year had been preceded by a barrage of consultation on how to reorganize the Vatican economic-financial structure, requested from companies like McKinsey, Promontory, Ernst & Young, KPMG, among the most distinguished and expensive in the world but certainly inexperienced with the unique profile that distinguishes the Holy See.

Even the “ad hoc” Vatican commission inspired little confidence, seeing the more than substantiated protests that reached all the way to the pope against its two most visible representatives, the priest of Opus Dei Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and the public relations guru Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui.

The fact is that after all the fireworks, Pope Francis called Pell from Australia and set him at the head of a brand-new secretariat for the economy before he had an office, a team, or even a set of statutes that would certify his powers and responsibilities.

What was immediately clear was that the new secretariat for the economy will absorb entirely or in part two preexisting organisms: the prefecture for economic affairs of the Holy See and the administration of the patrimony of the apostolic see, abbreviated APSA.

These will, however, remain in existence, headed by two pupils of the notorious Tarcisio Bertone, cardinals Giuseppe Versaldi and Domenico Calcagno, who show no signs of wanting to make an orderly retreat in spite of the manifest inefficiency of the prefecture and the recent legal upheavals of the APSA in the person of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, its accountant who ended up under arrest.

On July 8, finally, a papal motu proprio set down in black and white that the management of the patrimony of the APSA will pass to the secretariat for the economy.

But Cardinal Calcagno is not giving up. On September 8 he went to the pope and exacted from him a “Rescriptum ex audientia,” complete with handwritten notes by Francis, that seemed to drive matters back out onto stormy waters.

The entire board of the APSA rebelled against Pell, with cardinals Attilio Nicora and Giovanni Battista Re particularly warlike.

But he has confidently forged ahead, sure of the fact that he is subordinate to no one but the pope. The pope, however, seems to say yes to everyone, with a visible hint of annoyance over the confusion of a curia that he has never liked and that he systematically does without, deciding himself on the things that really matter to him.

When Pell then took aim at the secretariat of state, revealing that he had found within it a treasury of hundreds of millions of euros administered under the highest secrecy and that he wanted to bring this too into the light of day, meaning under his supervision, the battle went wide-scale and even cardinal Parolin took the field against the Australian cardinal.

The secretariat of state, in fact, is afraid that the loss of control over its funds and over the Vatican administrative and financial structures, into the hands of the new secretariat for the economy, was only the first step of a further diminution of its powers and therefore of the capacity to represent the Holy See fully in international relations.

In the secret consistory of last February, all of these conflicts exploded. The North American and German cardinals are with Pell, but in the curia there is no one who supports him.

Pell’s weak point is that he still has no set of statutes to establish his powers. The draft that he presented was ripped to shreds by the pontifical council for legislative texts headed by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio.

The pope is watching, he is listening, and no one knows where he is heading to go. Continue reading

Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty Part Two





Saint Thomas Aquinas Death Penalty



Dudley Sharp has sent TAC part 2 of his response to the anti-death penalty editorial in National Catholic Reporter, America, Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register:


One of the major problems with the Church’s newest teachings on the death penalty is that neither the Bishops, nor any other Catholics, opposed to the death penalty, fact checks anything the anti death penalty movement produces,  resulting in error after error presented to the flock, undermining the truth. You must fact check and consider opposing facts to find the truth. As a rule, on this topic, the Church will not do that.

On this topic, the Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings, as described.

“NCR” is for quotes from the referenced op/ed, with my reply as “Sharp reply”.

NCR: “(The death penalty) is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime”.

Sharp reply: It is all but guaranteed that the publications editors blindly accepted the anti death penalty material on the costs of the death penalty and fact checked nothing, just as with the bishops.

Since 1976, Virginia executed 108 murderers (70% of those sent to death row), within 7.1 years, on average, a protocol that would save money in all jurisdictions (1).

It is irresponsible not to fact check in any public policy debate, especially one where a religious flock is depending upon the truth, Fact check the cost claims and the studies, next time (1).

NCR: “Admirably, Florida has halted executions until the Supreme Court rules”

Sharp replies: Of the many options that Ok has for execution protocols, one of those. primarily, being considered, in the Glossip case, is nearly identical protocol in Florida, which is why Florida suspended executions.. Florida has had no problems with that protocol.

NCR: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty until he has received and reviewed a task force’s report on capital punishment, which he called “a flawed system … ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Both governors also cited the growing number of death row inmates who have been exonerated nationwide in recent years.”

Sharp reply: Virtually all of the problems that Pa. has had are based upon a judiciary, which has no respect for the death penalty law. Only three executions have occurred within Pa, since 1976, all of whom were “volunteers” who waived appeals. allowing executions. The judges will, otherwise, not allow any executions and/or will overturn the cases, also stopping executions. See Virginia, above, in contrast.

The Governor only made official what everyone knew that the judges had already done.

You may be happy with the judges, but be careful what you wish for, with judges that flaunt the law, simply because they don’t like it, becoming dictators in robes, not ruling guided by the law, but, instead, ruling to spite the law.

NOTE: Politics at play. The five Governors who have suspended executions are all Democrats, as, additionally, were/are the Governors that, in recent years, signed laws to repeal the death penalty, after Democratic majority legislators passed the bills. I believe all those governors support abortion, an intrinsic evil within Catholic teaching, whereas the death penalty is not and any Catholic can support more executions and remain a Catholic in good standing, the opposite of those who support abortion. Continue reading

Joe Johnston Back in Command



It would take a heart of granite not to feel sympathy for Joseph Johnston.  A general regarded by his Union adversaries as having the highest abilities, he was fated after his moment of glory was cut short by his wounding at Seven Pines in 1862, and his replacement in command by Robert E. Lee, to spend the rest of the War being called upon by Jefferson Davis, a man he cordially hated and who returned his hate, to retrieve bad situations that were beyond retrieval.  So it was when Davis on February 25, 1865 placed him in command of the Departments of Southern Virginia, and of North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.  Under his command to oppose Sherman he had the 12,000 men under General Hardee who had resisted the advance of Sherman across South Carolina, Wade Hampton’s 6000 cavalrymen and the 6600 men who made up the shattered remnant of his Army of Tennessee.  Continue reading

PopeWatch: Miracle









John Allen at Crux gives a possible insight into the current pontificate:

By nature I’m not inclined to look for supernatural explanations of things, and I’m often skeptical when they’re floated. Yet in keeping with the Sherlock Holmes dictum that after you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth, this seems to me one case in which a mystical account is required.

To put the point differently, Francis himself appears convinced there’s a mystical subtext to the kind of pope he’s become.

Here’s an insider account I provide in the book that makes the point.

“Over Christmas 2013, a veteran Latin American cardinal who has known Bergoglio for decades made an appointment to see his old friend in the Santa Marta, the hotel on Vatican grounds where the pope has chosen to reside. (He lives in Room 201, a slightly larger room than the one he stayed in during the conclave that elected him, giving the pontiff enough space to receive guests comfortably).

“The cardinal, who didn’t wish to be named, said he looked at Francis and, referring to the exuberance and spontaneity that are now hallmarks of his public image, said to him point-blank: ‘You are not the same man I knew in Buenos Aires. What’s happened to you’?

“According to the cardinal, this was Francis’ answer:

“ ‘On the night of my election, I had an experience of the closeness of God that gave me a great sense of interior freedom and peace,’ the cardinal quoted the pope as saying, ‘and that sense has never left me.’ ”

In other words, Francis believes he experienced a miracle. Continue reading

D W Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, who padded up and down
The sacred White House in nightshirt and carpet-slippers,
And yet could strike young hero-worshipping Hay
As dignified past any neat, balanced, fine
Plutarchan sentences carved in a Latin bronze;
The low clown out of the prairies, the ape-buffoon,
The small-town lawyer, the crude small-time politician,
State-character but comparative failure at forty
In spite of ambition enough for twenty Caesars,
Honesty rare as a man without self-pity,
Kindness as large and plain as a prairie wind,
And a self-confidence like an iron bar:
This Lincoln, President now by the grace of luck,
Disunion, politics, Douglas and a few speeches
Which make the monumental booming of Webster
Sound empty as the belly of a burst drum.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Film pioneer DW Griffith is chiefly remembered today for the 1915 film Birth of a Nation which was the film version  of the 1905 novel The Clansman, a paean by Thomas F. Dixon to the Ku Klux Klan which, in his view, freed the South from carpetbagger and negro rule.  As history the film is rubbish, but from its technical aspects it is an important development in the art of filmmaking.  In response to his critics DW Griffith made the film Intolerance  in 1916 which condemned religious, if not racial, bigotry.

In 1930 he made the first sound film biography of Lincoln.  Several silent film bios of Lincoln had been made, but having Lincoln speak was going to be an added challenge. Walter Huston, the father of actor-director John Huston, portrayed Lincoln.  Tall and lanky, Huston looked a bit like Lincoln, but his deep resonant tones helped establish in the public mind that Lincoln had that type of voice, rather than the high pitched voice that the historical Lincoln possessed.

The film script was co-written by Stephen Vincent Benet, a poet who in 1928 wrote the epic Civil War poem John Brown’s Body.   The film takes considerable liberties with the life of Lincoln, but, like Benet’s historical poetry, it has a good feel for the period and gives overall a powerful impression of Lincoln.  It is well worth the viewing even today, after so many Lincoln films.  It is interesting that this son of a Confederate colonel opens the film with a scene aboard a slave ship and that the film is a celebration of the man who defeated the cause his father fought for. Continue reading

A Confederate View of the Second Inaugural

Civil War as Crusade


John B. Jones was a clerk in the War Department of the Confederacy.  During the Civil War he kept a diary which gave his take on the events of the War day by day.  His entry for March 8 is interesting:



President Lincoln’s short inaugural message, or homily, or sermon, has been received. It is filled with texts from the Bible. He says both sides pray to the same God for aid—one upholding and the other destroying African slavery. If slavery be an offense,—and woe shall fall upon those by whom offenses come,—perhaps not only all the slaves will be lost, but all the accumulated products of their labor be swept away. In short, he “quotes Scripture for the deed” quite as fluently as our President; and since both Presidents resort to religious justification, it may be feared the war is about to assume a more sanguinary aspect and a more cruel nature than ever before. God help us! The history of man, even in the Bible, is but a series of bloody wars. It must be thus to make us appreciate the blessings of peace, and to bow in humble adoration of the great Father of all. The Garden of Eden could not yield contentment to man, nor heaven satisfy all the angels. Continue reading

The Temptations of Christ: Part Three


1] Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple,

[6] And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [9] And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. [10] Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

Matthew 4: 1-10

Go here to read part one of our Lenten examination of the temptation of Christ by Satan, and here to read part two.  After the failure of the temptation of bread, Satan decides to tempt Jesus with the Messianic expectations that had grown up among the Jews about the Messiah, the expectations that Jesus had heard personally since boyhood.  Satan takes Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple, the locus of the worship of God in this Vale of Tears.  All Jews who believed in the Messiah assumed that he would announce himself in Jerusalem.  Some thought it would be a spectacular appearance with the Messiah coming from the sky with angels to raise the Jews up.  During the Jewish Revolt of 66-73 as the Romans besieged Jerusalem, the Zealots would scan the skies looking for the Messiah to come and save Jerusalem.

These expectations are key to understanding the nature of the second temptation.  Satan was not tempting Christ by asking Him to perform an Act, throwing himself off the top of the Temple in order to require a manifestation of divine power, he has tempting Christ to begin His ministry with a stupendous miracle that would cause all of Jerusalem to flock to Him.  No years of preaching in the backwaters of Galilee, Samaria and Judea.  One massive miracle, flying over Jerusalem, with angels and the whole of Israel would follow Him as the Messiah.

Throughout his three years ministry Christ was constantly confronted with the demand that He perform miracles, and no matter how many He performed, the demand always persisted.  How many came out to see Him, not for His preaching but in hopes to see Him perform one of the miracles they had heard of?  From what Christ said, I would assume many:

1AND there came to him the Pharisees and Sadduccees tempting: and they asked him to shew them a sign from heaven. 2But he answered and said to them: When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. 3And in the morning: To day there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering. You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times? 4A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. And he left them, and went away.

Matthew 16:  1-4

[46] He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. [47] He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. [48] Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. [49] The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. [50] Jesus saith to him: Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way.

John 4:  46-50

He understood that a stupendous miracle such as Satan proposed would make many converts for him, and establish Jerusalem as a base for him.  No years of toiling in the hinterlands, instead He would begin His ministry with a stupendous triumph in the big time, Jerusalem, THE CITY, as if there were no others, for most Jews. Certainly this prospect was tempting? Continue reading

Tom McKenna on the Death Penalty



“Q. 1276. Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken? A. Human life may be lawfully taken: 1. In self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives; 2. In a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it; 3. By the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution.”

Baltimore Catechism




Long time readers will recognize commenter Tom as my worthy adversary on many a Civil War post here at TAC.  Tom, a prosecutor in real life, has done yeoman’s work for years in defending the traditional teaching of the Church in regard to the death penalty at his blog Seeking Justice.  He has done a series of posts in response to the anti-death penalty editorial of Our Sunday Visitor, the Jesuit rag America, National Catholic Birdcage Liner Reporter and National Catholic Register that are well worth reading.

So it seems that some Catholic papers that few people read, joined by a blog group that few people read, are taking a brave and bold stand for justice in favor of… convicted murderers, and urging abolition of the death penalty.

Where to begin with this crew?  The sanctimony and name-calling directed at those like myself who merely uphold what the Catholic Church has always and everywhere taught about capital punishment?  The shoddy reasoning that simultaneously claims to support the Catholic Catechism (which teaches that capital punishment is morally legitimate but should be used rarely) while claiming at the same time that the death penalty intrinsically violates human rights, and ought not just be used rarely, but abolished altogether?

Or perhaps to point out that when they say it’s “three popes and the current magisterium” against St. Thomas Aquinas and the Church’s traditional teaching on this matter, they are buying into the very “hermeneutic of rupture” between current Catholic teaching and traditional Catholic teaching which they routinely criticize some Traditionalists (scornfully called “Rad-Trads”) for espousing, and which was condemned by Pope Benedict XVI as a faulty view of Vatican II and post conciliar teachings?

Or to remind them when they call us (without apparent irony) “lovers of death” that it was precisely one of those three Popes, the same Benedict, who stated, “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” 

But this crew is undeterred by facts, which they resolutely ignore as being inconvenient to their “America is Moloch” meme (such as: the death penalty is very rarely used in the US and only on offenders who could not reasonably be “rendered harmless” by incarceration).  It is undeterred by a religious teaching going back 6,000 years and utterly irreformable, and a principle of the Natural Law itself, that gives societies the right and even duty to protect themselves and to carry out justice by resort to the death penalty.  It is shameless in its lack of actual knowledge of the criminal justice system and penal systems, and what each can reasonably accomplish to “render offenders harmless”.  But from their basement blogging outposts and neatly isolated cubicles in Madison, this questionable alliance of  dissenters, some “conservative” Catholics, some thoroughly liberal, such as those found in the pages of Catholic-in-name-only America and National Catholic Reporter, forge ahead, facts be damned, Church teaching be damned, public safety be damned. Continue reading

Bishops, Lies and the Death Penalty




Saint Thomas Aquinas Death Penalty



Hattip to Pewsitter.  Dudley Sharp, who has commented at TAC, has written a response to the editorial boards of Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Register, the Jesuit rag America and National Catholic Fishwrap Reporter:

TO: the Editorial Boards of America magazine, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor

One of the major problems with the Church’s newest teachings on the death penalty is that neither the Bishops, nor any other Catholics, opposed to the death penalty, appears to fact check anything the anti death penalty movement produces,  resulting in error after error presented to the flock, undermining the truth. You must fact check and consider opposing facts (1) to find the truth. As a rule, on this topic, the Church will not do that.

The Bishops have accepted anti death penalty claims, as gospel (small “g”), even when they conflict with Church teachings, as described.

“NCR” is for quotes from the referenced op/ed, with my reply as “Sharp reply”.

NCR: “Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear arguments in Glossip v. Gross, a case out of Oklahoma that challenges the most widely used lethal injection protocol as being cruel and unusual punishment.”

Sharp reply: That is untrue. as found within Glossip, Oklahoma has adopted many new additional protocols, which are unique to Ok – not the most “widely used” and are those which will be the areas of contention at SCOTUS.

NCR: “Our hope is that (the Glossip v. Gross case) will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.

Sharp reply: SCOTUS will only look at the specific new protocols, within Glossip. All different protocols, of other jurisdiction will survive, be that alternate lethal injection methods, gas, hanging and firing squad, which exist in other states, the federal government and the military.

Based upon the facts, detailed within the 10th Circuit ruling (1/12/15), against the plaintiffs, it appears most likely that SCOTUS will reject their appeals, as well, and accept Ok new protocol.

In addition, it appears possible, if not likely, that Ok will adopt a nitrogen gas (NG) protocol, prior to the SCOTUS decision. NG has already been approved in an Ok  legislative committee. NG has none of the downsides of any other method, NG is a completely painless execution method, as well as providing an endless supply, which cannot be withheld (1) and which may be adopted by all states, which wish to minimize delay, legal challenge and costs.

NCR: Archbishop Thomas Wenski, of Miami stated, “… the use of the death penalty devalues human life and diminishes respect for human dignity. We bishops continue to say, we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing.”

Sharp reply: For about 2000 years the Church has taught that the death penalty is based upon the value of innocent life and an abiding respect for the dignity of man (2).

What the Archbishop is, now saying, is that for 2000 years the Church supported that which devalued human life and that which diminished respect for human dignity, a claim which no knowledgeable Catholic can or should accept.

The Archbishop is just repeating standard anti death penalty nonsense which has no respect for Catholic teachings and tradition.

One wonders – why he raises false anti death penalty teachings above Catholic teachings, a common problem for many of the bishops.

The Archbishop states: “We bishops continue to say, ‘we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing’. ”

Sadly, they do.

The Bishops are just repeating, again, common anti death penalty nonsense.

We all know that murder is wrong, even if there is no sanction.

The Bishops are unaware that sanction doesn’t teach that murder is wrong – Church morality and tradition, as well as clear biblical texts teach that murder is wrong.

Sanction is the outcome of that moral teaching. Those are the rational and traditional teachings, which, somehow, the bishops have discarded and replaced with this anti death penalty nonsense. How and why?

Execution of murderers has never been declared immoral by the Church and never will be (2). The foundation for the death penalty is justice, just as with all sanctions for all crimes.

These inexplicable gaffs may cause good Catholics to wonder when reason and tradition vanished.

NCR: Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley stated: “Society can protect itself in ways other than the use of the death penalty,”

Sharp reply: Cardinal, the proper standard is what sanction is most just for the crime committed, what the Church has called the primary consideration (CCC 1995, 2003) and what sanction provides greater protection for innocents.

The death penalty provides greater protection for innocents, in three ways, than does a life sentence (3).

One example:

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since the 1930s (3).

Just since 1973, from 14,000 – 28,000 innocents have been murdered by those known murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers ( two recidivism studies covering two different  periods) (3)

My guess is that none of the Bishops are aware, because they haven’t looked, as with EV and CCC.

NCR: “the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church . . . include a de facto prohibition against capital punishment.”

Sharp reply: First, the de facto prohibition is based upon several errors (4).

Secondly, as the most recent death penalty teachings have been confirmed, by the Church, as being a prudential judgment, any Catholic may reject the Church’s latest teaching on the death penalty (4), honor the Church’s teachings of the previous 2000 years, and seek more executions, based within justice and the fact that executions offer greater protections for innocent lives (4).


1) Intro. Basic pro death penalty review:

The Death Penalty: Justice and Saving More Innocents



2) For more than 2000 years, there has been Catholic  support for the death penalty, from Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, church leadership, biblical scholars and theologians that, in breadth and depth, overwhelms any teachings to the contrary, particularly those wrongly dependent upon secular concerns such as defense of society and the poor standards of criminal justice systems in protecting the innocent.

The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation


See Catholic references within:

New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming



3) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html


4)  Current Problems: Catholic Death Penalty Teaching: Most recent Catechism (last amended 2003)

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2014_10_26_archive.html Continue reading

The Danger of Nice

This has been on my mind of late because of the kerfluffle about common core and fact vs opinion, so republishing it from Catholic Stand.

“Be nice.” “That’s not nice.” “Wouldn’t it be nice if people would just get along?”

Nice is almost as hard to define as the notoriously subjective “fair,” but I’m starting to think it’s far more dangerous.  ‘Nice’ is applied to a standard of behavior that does not raise objection among those who are around to be offended; ‘nice’ is a sort of vague version of ‘polite,’ centered around everyone feeling good.

Most obviously, I’m sure anybody that’s stumbled on to this site has at least heard someone say “I’m not very religious, but I try to be a nice person– and that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?” Those of us who have argued theology have almost surely heard “Well, we disagree about that– but we agree that people should just be nice to each other, and that’s the important thing.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Henry VIII




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


Sources in the Vatican are now confirming that Pope Francis has agreed to posthumously grant King Henry VIII an annulment from Catherine of Aragon. Numerous reports have come out in the past couple of days about the possibility of such a move, with aides close to Queen Elizabeth telling EOTT that such a decision on the Vatican’s part would essentially end the centuries old schism.

Media outlets in England are also reporting that once the annulment takes effect, that Queen Elizabeth will relinquish her claim as “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke to the media today, saying, “This is, indeed, an historic moment, and I shall welcome reunion with Rome. Everyone must understand that all the shite we we’ve been doing with regards to the ordination of women and openly-homosexual men has only been in retaliation.” Welby went on to confirm that he would “stop the charade” once the decree of nullity was made official. Continue reading

By the People


Something for the weekend.  Kids at the 2013 Illinois State Fair reciting the Gettysburg Address.  Seemed appropriate to recall Lincoln’s second greatest speech on the weekend following the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s greatest speech, which has never had the cachet with the American people that the Gettysburg address has had.  Endless recitals of the speech have been given.  Here is one by Johnny Cash who had a strong life long interest in the Civil War:

My favorite recitation of the Gettysburg address was given by Englishman Charles Laughton: Continue reading

Various & Sundry, 3/6/15

- Patrick Archbold has an excellent response to the Gang of Four joint editorial on the death penalty.

They are specifically calling on a Court to override the proper legislative authority of the states.  They are willing to grant plenary legislative power to a group of black-robed oligarchs that is specifically reserved by the U.S. Constitution to Congress and the States if they prefer the policy outcome. Remember, it is this very same power which these editorial boards grant so freely that unconstitutionally nullified the ability of state legislatures to protect the lives of the unborn over forty years ago.  As a result of the same unlawful exercise of power they espouse today, millions upon millions of babies have perished with God-fearing Christians in many states unable to do anything about it.

This is the same mistake that the USCCB makes time and time again in this case and in others. The USCCB willingly feeds the Federal beast even when every reasonable person understands that the federal government is the single greatest threat to life and religious liberty in America.

The USCCB got in bed with the Federal Government to force universal government healthcare on Americans even though many Catholics in good standing opposed it on prudential and constitutional grounds while warning of the dangers of federal interference with life and religious liberty.  The ink wasn’t even dry on that particular power grab before the very same federal government with which the Bishops allied in support of their preferred healthcare policy turned on Catholics and tried to force them to violate their religiously informed consciences.  This outcome was entirely predictable, but the lessons clearly are not yet learned.

– The national GOP may be a mess, but on the state level they continue to do things like this:

The West Virginia legislature on Friday voted to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s (D) veto over banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The move comes after Republicans in Congress also tried to pass a 20-week abortion ban but had to drop the effort in January after a revolt from female members and centrists.

Can we get one of these guys in West Virginia to be the next Speaker of the House?

– Surely slippery slope arguments against same-sex marriage are invalid, right? Right?

Ummm, about that . . .

Three gay men from Thailand have tied the knot in what is thought to be the world’s first three-way same-sex marriage.

Happy newlyweds Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26, took the plunge on Valentine’s Day after exchanging their vows in a fairy-tale ceremony at their home in Uthai Thani Province, Thailand.

– Trust in Hillary starting to wain in light of the email scandal.

I kind of don’t get this. She’s been in the national spotlight for over two decades, has been embroiled in scandals since the beginning, has shown herself to be every bit as much a pathological liar as her husband, and this is what finally gets the public to start doubting her truthfulness? Better late than never I guess.

– With Hillary slumping, you know who’s waiting in the wings? Martin O’Malley.

Excuse me a second . . .

– And with that, I’ll remind you that Saturday evening is arbitrarily turn your clocks forward so we can pretend to save energy although every study under the sun shows that this doesn’t save a lick of energy but we’re gonna keep doing this anyway even though it means that we get less daylight in the morning but who cares about people who work for a living we get an extra hour of sunlight in the evening to theoretically do stuff who are we kidding we’re just gonna watch television anyway so really this is a complete waste and eventually we’ll probably expand it so that it lasts the entire year time.

March 6, 1865: Last Confederate Victory


Although the Confederacy would win some skirmishes after March 6, 1865, the Battle of Natural Bridge in Florida was the last significant Confederate victory, and ensured that Tallahassee would end the Civil War as the only unconquered Confederate state capital east of the Mississippi.



The Confederate defenders consisted of the odds and ends of a  few small Confederate military units, elderly volunteers and teenage cadets from the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute.  About a thousand all told, this motley, but sturdy, force held the bridge against unimaginative Union assaults for the entire day.  The Union expedition, consisting of the 2nd and 99th Union Colored Infantry, sustained 148 casualties to 51 Confederates.  They withdrew to the Union fleet at the end of the day from which they had landed, the Union offensive to take Tallahassee ended.  Florida State University Army ROTC remembers the cadets who fought there that day with a battle streamer on their flag, one of four Army ROTC programs nationally to have a battle streamer for a Civil War action.

PopeWatch: Ukraine



Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us some behind the scenes information on the furious Ukrainian Bishops who believe they have been betrayed by the Vatican:

ROME, February 20, 2015 – He had a lot to be sorry about, Pope Francis, with the bishops of Ukraine who recently arrived in Rome for their periodic “ad limina” visit.

To these bishops and to their priests and faithful, when two weeks ago Jorge Mario Bergoglio had denounced to the world the war that is devastating their country, the words he had used had sounded terrible. “Fratricidal violence,” the pope had called it, putting everyone on a par, aggressors and victims.

And it had been even worse when Francis had looked up from the text and added on his own: “When I hear the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ I feel a great pain, a great sadness in my heart. Those are not the right word; the only right word is ‘peace.’ Think about it, this is a war among Christians! All of you have the same baptism. You are fighting among Christians. Think about this scandal.”

The fact that Bergoglio has a soft spot for Russia had already been seen with the outbreak of war in Syria, when he called for a day of prayer and fasting to oppose the armed intervention of the United States and France against the regime of Damascus, and Vladimir Putin publicly praised him.

Then there is the influence of the ecumenical factor: of the 200 million Orthodox Christians in the world, 150 million belong to the patriarchate of Moscow and “of all Rus’,” and it is therefore with Moscow above all that the pope wants to cultivate good relations.

But the fact that the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the armed occupation of its eastern border, the annexation of Crimea should have left the pope indifferent to “victory” or “defeat,” was intolerable for the sentiments of Ukrainian Catholics. All the more so in that these words of Pope Francis promptly brought the applause of Moscow, this time not from Putin but from Orthodox patriarch Kirill, who also has jurisdiction over the Orthodox of Ukraine.

Memories of the persecution of Ukrainian Catholics on the part of the Soviet regime are too fresh. Their Church, after the second world war, was literally annihilated, with countless martyrs killed in the most atrocious ways, crucified, walled up alive, drowned in boiling water.

It was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that brought this Church out of the catacombs. But its efforts to regain breathing space have been difficult and are still incomplete, with churches and homes in the hands of Orthodox bishops and priests.

Today the almost five million Ukrainian Catholics know very well that they are the true obstacle to the encounter between the pope of Rome and the patriarch of Moscow. But they will not agree to be sacrificed on the altar of this ecumenical dream.

Ukrainian Catholics are resisting in the western part of the country, in Galicia, in Lviv. But in occupied Crimea and the Donbass, the repression has taken another ruthless turn.

The Vatican nuncio in Kiev, American archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, appointed by Benedict XVI in 2011, has compared it to that of the Soviets in 1946, “with the complicity of the Orthodox brethren and the blessing of Moscow.” He even evoked “the lessons of ISIS and the so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria,” to say that “such a tragedy” could also happen elsewhere.

The reports that the nuncio is sending to Rome are detailed and alarming. And Ukrainian Catholics have been furious to see how none of this has appeared in the words of Pope Francis. It is their conviction that in the Roman curia as well, as in Ukraine, the pro-Russian party has free rein and is influencing the pope.

On February 10 the secretariat of state responded to the protests of Ukrainian Catholics with a note, to “clarify that the pope has always intended to address all the interested parties, trusting in the sincere effort of each one to apply the agreements reached by common accord and recalling the principle of international law.”

But this slight reference to legality was certainly not enough to worry Moscow, certain by now that its annexation of Crimea has in fact been accepted by all, including the Vatican, and that for the Donbass, Russianized and with no more Catholics, the same thing could happen. Continue reading

A Disgrace



As my co-blogger Paul notes here, National Catholic Register, the Jesuit rag America, National Catholic Distorter Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor have a joint editorial calling on the Supreme Court to decree by judicial fiat, in precisely the same manner that it legalized abortion, the abolition of the death penalty.  Well, lets look at these four publications.

No surprise from America and National Catholic Reporter.  They are leftist propaganda organs and have precisely the same respect for the traditional teaching of the Church as they do for the Constitution:  bupkis.

Our Sunday Visitor has always been a fairly lickspittle publication that has usually blown to and fro with the changing winds from the Vatican.  Their theme song might as well be Company Way:


That brings us to National Catholic Register.  They should know better.  They should especially know better than to try to defend their blatant betrayal of principle with the following cheesy editorial:

From the time of the publication of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope St. John Paul II urged Catholics to re-examine the use of the death penalty — teaching that its use today should be “very rare if not practically nonexistent.” His successors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis consistently have taught the same.  

We’ve taken that teaching to heart. We’ve prayerfully pondered it, and we accept it. Our reporting over the years has reflected this teaching. And, while we recognize that the Church has allowed for the legitimate use of the death penalty for society’s self-defense, we find that it’s harder and harder to argue that a particular act of capital punishment is circumstantially necessary today in contemporary America. We believe the right path is to seek its abolition, and we’ve taken the opportunity, along with other members of the Catholic press, to encourage our readers to consider this stance as a part of comprehensively embracing the gospel of life. 

Today, we face ever-increasing assaults on the sanctity of human life. Unity among Catholics in defense of life can send a powerful message. Euthanasia, abortion, war and capital punishment differ in moral weight, but they all threaten human dignity, and we must work to end them. While we look forward to the day we can stand in unity with the other Catholic publications on each of these life issues, we stand today on the death penalty, strengthened by the teaching of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, and say, Capital punishment must end.”


Let’s take this apart piece by piece, shall we?

1.  Prior to 1995 the Church had absolutely no problem with the death penalty.  John Paul II’s stance was at odds with the consistent teaching of the Church since the time of Christ.

2.  Even John Paul II did not call for the complete abolition of the death penalty, because that would have been a flat reversal of the prior teaching of the Church, which is what this editorial calls for.

3.  Capital punishment not necessary in contemporary America?  I will assume that no one on the editorial board of the National Catholic Register has loved ones who work in prisons.  Murders by individuals serving life sentences are not uncommon of both guards and fellow inmates.  Of course the issue is additionally complicated by the fact that Pope Francis has come out against life sentences.  This would indicate under 2267 that the death penalty is licit since contrary to the assertion in that section of the Catechism, we have no way of assuring that a convicted murderer cannot kill again, especially if we follow the Pope’s lead and no longer have life sentences for murderers.

4.  The Gospel of Life-The idea that the death penalty is antithetical to the protection of innocent life is so looney that it could only have been developed during a period when society, and a great many clergy and laity within the Church, had badly lost their moral compasses.  Equating convicted murderers with unborn children is simply obscene.  I can understand people who have prudential concerns about the death penalty.  For 33 years I have seen up close what an imperfect instrument law is.  If the people of a state or a nation wish to abolish the death penalty, it is not a hot button issue for me.  However, such prudential concerns are a far cry from the assertion that being for the death penalty is in any way in opposition to the Gospel.

5.  While we look forward to the day we can stand in unity with the other Catholic publications on each of these life issues,

That is the most hilarious section of the editorial.  America and National Catholic Reporter do not give a damn about abortion or euthanasia. When they are not giving space to people who think abortion and euthanasia are civil rights, they are carrying water for the party of abortion and euthanasia.

6.  The most disheartening aspect of this editorial is how adamantly determined it is to pretend that Catholic teaching on the death penalty began in 1995.  Of all the heresies that beset the Church today, perhaps the most perfidious one is presentism, the idea that all that matters in the Church is what current Popes and other ecclesiastics say and do rather than the broad teaching of the Church.  That is not how the Church operated for almost all of her history, and that is not how our greatest Saints viewed the teaching of the Church. Continue reading

Various and Sundry, 3/5/15

- Jay Anderson has indicated he has written his final blog post, so I will provide him one last link. It seems that the heads of the four families – excuse, me the big four Catholic publications have joined forces and issued a joint editorial. They have set aside their differences and collaborated to discuss the burning issue of the day. Liberal and conservative, orthodox and heterodox: these labels mean nothing when it comes to this unequivocal teaching of the Church*. Yes, finally, America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor have written their joint editorial calling for an end to abortion, rebutting same-sex marriage, condemning the genocide of Christians taking place in the Middle East, calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

These four Catholic publications have decided that the paramount issue bridging the gap between these distinct entities is the death penalty. What’s more, they’re not calling for the election of local legislators who will vote to outlaw the death penalty in their respective states. Oh no, they’re calling for the raw judicial activism when the Court decides on the case of Glossip v. Gross. Despite the fact that the death penalty is one of the few things manifestly countenanced by the U.S. Constitution, (after all, if you need to write amendments saying you can’t deprive someone of their lives without due process you’re tacitly admitting you can deprive citizens of their lives with due process) these four publications are totally cool with judicial activism so long as such activism comports with their personal preferences.

Jay notes that in his very first blog post he wrote:

Sir Thomas More’s admonition to Roper should serve as a warning and a reminder to Catholics that the activist Court that sides with us in this particular instance is the same activist Court that is likely in the future (as it has in the past) to “turn round on us” and use its increasingly strident activism to decide cases contrary to our Catholic values.

This was in reference to Roper v. Simmons, another death penalty case. Now, here we are, ten years later these supposedly Catholic publications are totally fine with the use of raw judicial power. They’re fine with it now, but where will they be in ten years when judicial activists deprive Catholics of basic First Amendment rights?

Like Jay I am personally opposed to the death penalty, but I’m even more opposed to legislation by judicial fiat, and those who support the Court declaring unconstitutional that which is concretely and unambiguously constitutional are compliant in an act of judicial tyranny, even if it is for an ostensibly good cause.

*Footnote here for the sarcasm impaired. Let’s just say that traditional Catholic teaching is no more prohibitive of the death penalty than the U.S. Constitution.

– Anna Mussmann muses that we’re over-complicating motherhood. It’s of a similar vein to what I’ve written before, suggesting that helicopter parenting is a symptom of selfish parenting. Her take is a little different, but well worth the read.

– I just can’t quit the latest Clinton scandal. It’s odd that this is the thing that has dented the Clintons’ teflon coating, to the point where even Lawrence O’Donnell is abandoning ship. Now the website Gawker demonstrates that Clinton’s use of a personal email account was a huge security risk. Long story short, Clinton preferred having her emails fall in the lap of Russia than an intrusive American press.

Here’s another Hot Air link. The Republican party now controls more state houses than any point in recent history, and they owe it all to President Obama. The party that is supposedly on its deathbed is routing Democrats at all local levels. This ascendancy started before Obama was immaculated, but has only sped up since.

– Darwin’s take on when to call the cops on a kid.

If you see a property or violent crime being committed, by all means call the cops. Or if a kid is doing something which seems likely to directly result in death or injury. If a child seems genuinely lost, upset or hurt, and you’re not able to find an adult connected with them (especially if you’ve taken the time to ask the kid if she needs help and she says yes) then by all means summon help.

But keep in mind that calling the cops on a family can have traumatic (and at times even fatal) consequences. “I wouldn’t let my kid walk home alone,” is probably not a serious enough reason, unless you happen to live rather literally in a war zone.

A victory today for the revolutionaries who dared to sled on Capitol Hill.

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