A Massacre That Will Soon Disappear From the Headlines

 

This incident of horrific violence will soon vanish from the news:

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S.-born citizen, has been identified as the suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting that left at least 50 dead and more than 50 others wounded at the Pulse Nightclub, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Mateen’s parents were born in Afghanistan, and he was “on the radar” of U.S. officials for some time, but was not the target of a specific investigation, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

A police officer working at the club responded to shots fired at 2:02 a.m., and then exchanged fire with Mateen, according to police. Mateen then took hostages, holding them for hours.

At approximately 5 a.m., the SWAT team made the decision to rescue the hostages, officials said. Mateen was killed in a gunfight with those officers early this morning.

FBI assistant agent in charge of the agency’s Tampa division, Ron Hopper, said this morning investigators were “looking at all angles right now” to find a motive. Continue reading

David, Nathan the Prophet and the Consequences of Sin

 

[1] And the Lord sent Nathan to David: and when he was come to him, he said to him: There were two men in one city, the one rich, and the other poor. [2] The rich man had exceeding many sheep and oxen. [3] But the poor man had nothing at all but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up, and which had grown up in his house together with his children, eating of his bread, and drinking of his cup, and sleeping in his bosom: and it was unto him as a daughter. [4] And when a certain stranger was come to the rich man, he spared to take of his own sheep and oxen, to make a feast for that stranger, who was come to him, but took the poor man’ s ewe, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. [5] And David’ s anger being exceedingly kindled against that man, he said to Nathan: As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this is a child of death.
[6] He shall restore the ewe fourfold, because he did this thing, and had no pity. [7] And Nathan said to David: Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel: I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee from the hand of Saul, [8] And gave thee thy master’ s house and thy master’ s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and Juda: and if these things be little, I shall add far greater things unto thee. [9] Why therefore hast thou despised the word of the Lord, to do evil in my sight? Thou hast killed Urias the Hethite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. [10] Therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house, because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Urias the Hethite to be thy wife.
[11] Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thy own house, and I will take thy wives before thy eyes I and give them to thy neighhour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. [12] For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing in the sight of all Israel, and in the sight of the sun. [13] And David said to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: The Lord also hath taken away thy sin: thou shalt not die. [14] Nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing, the child that is born to thee, shall surely die. [15] And Nathan returned to his house. The Lord also struck the child which the wife of Urias had borne to David, and his life was despaired of.

2 Kings 12:  1-15

We have a truncated version of the above reading at Mass today.  It conveys the comforting message that King David admits his deeply cynical and evil sin in having Uriah the Hittite murdered in order to protect his partner in adultery Bathsheba and is forgiven by God.  It stops right before Nathan goes on to state  that the newborn son of David and Bathsheba would die.  This is a deeply uncongenial message to we moderns, particularly in this Year of Mercy.  An innocent dying because of the sin of someone else?  How can this be just, let alone merciful?  The passage reminds us, a reminder that, sadly, is always needed, that sins are not merely deadly for the person committing them, but often have dire consequences for purely innocent parties.

Note also the statement of Nathan that the sword would never depart from the House of David.  We see this in the reign of the second son of Bathsheba and David, Solomon.  It was he who married various foreign wives, who brought with them the cults of their gods, that set off endless strife for generations thereafter, and he who reared an idiot son, Rehoboam, whose intransigence upon him becoming King would cause the ten tribes of Israel to rebel, sparking frequent wars between the two nations, and transforming the strong state created by David into two squabbling petty kingdoms, always teetering on extinction from the strong states of Egypt and Assyria and Babylon.  This passage is a strong statement of the Justice of God. Continue reading

Clinton E-Mail Depositions

 

When it comes to the Clintons the normal rules that apply to the rest of us apparently do not apply to them.  For example, in a FOIA act lawsuit brought over the Clinton e-mails by Judicial Watch, a conservative group, Hillary Clinton’s chief of state Cheryl Mills was deposed and her deposition was videotaped.  Prior to Mills’ deposition, her lawyers requested that it not be released to the public, so it could not be used against Clinton for partisan political purposes.  In a bizarre ruling, Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed that the video of the depositions could not be released to the public, but that transcripts of the depositions could be released.  He then, sua sponte ( by the court’s unilateral action) made this decision applicable to all depositions taken in the case.

Legal suits, in most cases, are public matters.  The public normally has a right to access to the materials of such a lawsuit, absent matters that a court finds to be subject to some sort of legal privilege.  There is no legal privilege protecting materials in a lawsuit from being used for political purposes.

Fortunately Phelim McAleer, an independent filmmaker, is dramatizing the depositions.  Only the text of the depositions is used in the films.  McAleer is used to telling the stories the news media tries to ignore for political reasons.  He has just finished filming on a movie about abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who he describes as the most prolific serial killer in American history.  He is kickstarting his project to dramatize the Clinton e-mail depositons.  Go here if you wish to contribute.  I did. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Saint Harambe

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

 

Animal rights activists have created an online petition asking the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to waive the sainthood waiting period for Harambe, the endangered 450-pound gorilla who was fatally shot after a boy fell into its “hermitage” at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The petition, which has already gathered over 300,000 signatures, asks Pope Francis to immediately proclaim Harambe a saint, elevating the great ape to the universal veneration of the Church.

“By canonizing Harambe, the Pope will not be making him a saint,” said Toby Porter who is spearheading the canonization effort. “We already know he’s a saint because he’s an animal, and all animals are worthy of eternal veneration regardless of whether they are dead or alive. Rather, Pope Francis will simply be declaring that our silverback gorilla is already with God and is an authentic example of following Christ, and worthy of imitation by the faithful, both human and ape.”

Porter later went on to add that he hoped Harambe would be added to the general calendar of the Church.

In response, Pope Francis announced this morning that he would be issuing a new encyclical titled, Banana Vitae, reaffirming the orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church regarding responsible conservation of animals and their habitats.

At press time, animal rights activists have also announced plans to ask Pope Francis to excommunicate the parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla “hermitage” for negligence, as well as the zookeeper who shot Harambe for violating the spirit of Laudato Si.

 

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Jim Bridger

 

iSomething for the weekend.  Jim Bridger (1960), one of Johnny Horton’s historically themed songs.  Jim Bridger, unlike most of “Mountain Men” contemporaries, lived a very long life from 1804-1881, which is amazing considering some of his exploits.  Bridger was a life long illiterate, but always had a large store of common sense and was a very shrewd character.  A Zelig among “Mountain Men” he had a knack for being present for most significant events on the frontier until his retirement in the late 1860’s.  Physically a big, powerful man, his amiability and good humor probably served him best in his interactions with both Indians and Whites.  He was very fond of tall stories, for example talking about finding petrified birds, singing petrified songs.  One of his favorite routines was to tell newcomers to the frontier about how once he was being chased by one hundred Cheyenne warriors.  He would tell about how they chased him and the tricks he used to attempt to elude them, building the drama of the tale.  Finally the war party surrounded him.  He would then pause until his listeners would urgently ask what happened next.  Poker faced he would respond, “Why they killed me!”.

Lincoln Book Haul

 

Well, yesterday my family and I made our annual pilgrimage to Springfield to attend the Lincoln Museum and go to the Lincoln Tomb.  As we made our way though the Museum we encountered a large number of Amish touring the Museum, the women wearing long dresses and poke bonnets that made them look as if they stepped from the 1860s.  The Amish were obviously fascinated by what they were seeing and talked among themselves in “Pennsylvania Dutch”.   Illinois has had a large colony of Amish in the Arthur, Illinois area, about 72 miles from Springfield, since the 19th century.  (Although the Amish are as theologically as far from the Church as it is possible for Christians to be, I should note that I have a huge amount of respect for them.  They take care of their own, and ask nothing from the larger society in which they live, except to be left alone, a sentiment which resonates with me.)  After the museum my family went to the Prairie Archives bookstore where I again marveled at their large collection of Lincoln books.

As usual we had a first rate lunch at the nearby The Feed Store.  (Nothing shouts Midwest more than eating in a restaurant with a name like that.)  We finished our day at Lincoln’s tomb praying for the repose of his soul and the souls of his wife and kids.)  Once again I thought to myself how nice it was that the first or second greatest President in our history, has his tomb in a cemetery open to all, where there are no guards, no charges for admission, not even for parking.  You simply pull up to the small parking area next to the tomb, go in and make your way through the tomb.  We owe Mary Todd Lincoln for that.  After Lincoln’s murder, there was an attempt to have Lincoln buried in Washington with a grand mausoleum being erected thereafter over his remains.  Mary Lincoln would have none of it.  She took her dead husband, and had the remains of her dead son Willie exhumed, and traveled with them both back to Springfield for burial.  She wanted nothing more from Washington except to get out of there as quickly as she could, a city where she had suffered grief that makes her such a poignant figure in American history.  (An exhibit in the Museum shows her framed by a rain stained window, sitting forlornly, mourning the loss of Willie.  My bride observed to me yesterday that, sadly, we know precisely how she feels.)

It wouldn’t be a McClarey expedition if we didn’t buy books.  We bought books yesterday at the Museum, the Prairie Archives and a used book store in Bloomington during an extended pit stop on our way home to Dwight.  Most of the books were about Lincoln (surprise!) and here are those books:

  1.  Lincoln’s Political Generals, David Work (2009)-Usually the incompetence of the generals appointed for political reasons is highlighted by historians, but it has always struck me how many of them, a perfect example is Illinois Congressman turned general John “Black Jack” Logan, eventually became competent officers.  Just as more than a few West Pointers failed the iron test of war, more than a few politician-soldiers passed it.
  2. Abraham Lincoln:  The Quest For Immortality, Dwight G. Anderson (1982)-A controversial book, Anderson contends that Lincoln deliberately sought to achieve immortality by becoming a second Washington.  I find his thesis unconvincing, but I was happy to add his book to my collection as it is well argued and does highlight an aspect of Lincoln often missed, surprisingly, by other historians:  that Lincoln was very conscious of history and how he and his contemporaries would be perceived by future generations.
  3. Lincoln the President, volume II (1945-reprinted 1974)-James G. Randall’s Lincoln the President is an exhaustive look at Lincoln as President, from an interesting standpoint: an admirer of Lincoln who also thought the Civil War was unnecessary. Scholarship was superb, albeit dated after six decades.  I now have three volumes, of the four, in my library.
  4. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Winter 2008 and Summer 2009. Cutting edge articles on studies of Lincoln and his times are published twice a year by the Springfield based Abraham Lincoln Association.
  5. Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen:  A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times, Rae Katherine Eighmey, (2013)-I told my bride that Lincoln had a marked indifference to what he ate, with a slight preference for the humble country fare on which he was raised, but that did not dampen her enthusiasm for this tome.
  6. “Here I Have Lived”:  A History of Lincoln’s Springfield, Paul M. Angle (1933-reprint 1971)-A look at Springfield during the life of Lincoln.  It is hard to overestimate the impact of that community on Lincoln.
  7. Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason, David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften (2010-first paperback printing 2015)-A look at the impact of Lincoln’s study of Euclid on the way he thought.  Go here to read a post I wrote back in 2012 on that subject.
  8. The Annotated Lincoln, edited by Harold Holzer and Thomas A. Horrocks (2016)-A 604 page look at most of the major writings of Lincoln and a representative sample of his correspondence.   The clarity, and logical precision, of Lincoln’s mind shines through in his writings.  When one considers the meager education that Lincoln had, viewing his body of work makes one weep for the output of most modern politicians, albeit one can rarely be certain what is written by any modern politician after they attain office, and what is the product of the minds of staffers.  O tempora, O mores!

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Bear Growls: The Caine Mutiny

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear takes a look at one of my favorite movies:

 

Surely one of the greatest movies of all time is the 1954 naval drama The Caine Mutiny, based on Herman Wouk’s novel. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, E.G. Marshall and Jose Ferrer. Bogart’s Captain Queeg is the skipper of an old minesweeper, USS Cain. One can hardly imagine a less glamorous ship. Queeg is quirky, rigid, and insecure. When he gets nervous, he rolls two steel balls in his hand.

His wardroom, instigated by Fred McMurray’s character — a writer — lose respect for Captain Queeg after a number of lapses of judgment. When Queeg reaches out to his officers to try to repair mutual respect, he meets a stony rebuff.

When a typhoon threatens to capsize the ship, Queeg does not seem up to the crisis. His executive officer, played by Van Johnson, relieves Captain Queeg of duty and takes command of the ship.

During the ensuing court-martial (the Navy does not take mutiny well) Captain Queeg takes the stand. What follows may be Bogart’s best performance, and is a film classic. We see in Queeg an ordinary man who was simply not up to the extraordinary responsibilities he had been given. Under the effective cross-examination of trial defense counsel, played by Jose Ferrer, Captain Queeg slowly strips himself of his dignity as his psychological unfitness for command is revealed.

Realizing what he has done, Captain Queeg, who has largely been allowed to testify in a narrative, offers to answer specific questions. There follows a series of tight shots of trial counsel, played by E.G. Marshall, and the other officers present, looking at Captain Queeg’s train wreck with a mixture of horror and sympathy as we hear only the clack of Queeg’s ball bearings.

It is hard for us to see a man who should command respect be revealed as incompetent. The captain of a U.S. warship is a father, a leader, and an exemplar. His commands are unquestioned. (The XO does all of his dirty work.) To see someone fall from such an exalted position is sad. What’s even worse is serving under such a captain.

We’re not sure if Van Johnson’s “mutiny” saved Cain or not. A few ships were lost, but the vast majority survived. What was clear was that the circumstances were extremely dangerous, and the captain’s actions were questionable. The trust between leader and led had already been eroded. It was a position no officer should have been put in. Van Johnson had to do what he thought best, and would never be certain he was right in substituting his judgment for his captain’s.

After the trial, a drunken trial defense counsel, played by Jose Ferrer, is hardly in a celebratory mood, despite his win.  He points out that while he was going to law school and the other officers were following their own civilian pursuits, Captain Queeg had the low-paying, unglamorous job, of maintaining a peacetime navy. He reminds them that when he reached out to them, they were cold. But it’s Fred MacMurray’s writer character, LT Keefer who is singled out for the worst treatment.

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PopeWatch: Heretics

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If you believe that the traditional teachings of the Church should be respected, Pope Francis really hates you.  Too strong a statement?  Not judging from what the Pope said yesterday:

 

The stunning introduction to today’s official Vatican Radio report on Pope Francis’ morning homily reads: “Pope Francis warned on Thursday against an excessive rigidity, saying those within the Church who tell us ‘it’s this or nothing’ are heretics and not Catholics. His remarks came during the morning Mass on Thursday celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.”

The specific section of the homily referred to in the opening is as follows:

This (is the) healthy realism of the Catholic Church: the Church never teaches us ‘or this or that.’ That is not Catholic. The Church says to us: ‘this and that.’ ‘Strive for perfectionism: reconcile with your brother.  Do not insult him. Love him. And if there is a problem, at the very least settle your differences so that war doesn’t break out.’ This (is) the healthy realism of Catholicism. It is not Catholic (to say) ‘or this or nothing:’ This is not Catholic, this is heretical. 

Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws’ rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’ And he understands us very well.  He is our Lord and this is what he teaches us.

Interpreting what Pope Francis is saying in a precise way has always been difficult.  However, there has been a consistent theme in his remarks against what he refers to as ‘rigid’ Catholics who hold steadfastly to the ideals proposed by Christ and to absolutes. “Fundamentalism is a sickness that we find in all religions,” said the Pope in November while flying home from Africa. “Among Catholics there are many, not a few, many, who believe to hold the absolute truth,” he added. “They go ahead by harming others with slander and defamation, and they do great harm…  And it must be combated.” Continue reading

Ernie Pyle on Omaha Beach

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There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”
Colonel George A. Taylor, commander 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944

Now that it is over it seems to me a pure miracle that we ever took the beach at all. For some of our units it was easy, but in this special sector where I am now our troops faced such odds that our getting ashore was like my whipping Joe Louis down to a pulp.

In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.

Ashore, facing us, were more enemy troops than we had in our assault waves. The advantages were all theirs, the disadvantages all ours. The Germans were dug into positions that they had been working on for months, although these were not yet all complete. A one-hundred-foot bluff a couple of hundred yards back from the beach had great concrete gun emplacements built right into the hilltop. These opened to the sides instead of to the front, thus making it very hard for naval fire from the sea to reach them. They could shoot parallel with the beach and cover every foot of it for miles with artillery fire.

Then they had hidden machine-gun nests on the forward slopes, with crossfire taking in every inch of the beach. These nests were connected by networks of trenches, so that the German gunners could move about without exposing themselves.

Throughout the length of the beach, running zigzag a couple of hundred yards back from the shoreline, was an immense V-shaped ditch fifteen feet deep. Nothing could cross it, not even men on foot, until fills had been made. And in other places at the far end of the beach, where the ground is flatter, they had great concrete walls. These were blasted by our naval gunfire or by explosives set by hand after we got ashore.

Our only exits from the beach were several swales or valleys, each about one hundred yards wide. The Germans made the most of these funnel-like traps, sowing them with buried mines. They contained, also, barbed-wire entanglements with mines attached, hidden ditches, and machine guns firing from the slopes.

This is what was on the shore. But our men had to go through a maze nearly as deadly as this before they even got ashore. Underwater obstacles were terrific. The Germans had whole fields of evil devices under the water to catch our boats. Even now, several days after the landing, we have cleared only channels through them and cannot yet approach the whole length of the beach with our ships. Even now some ship or boat hits one of these mines every day and is knocked out of commission.

The Germans had masses of those great six-pronged spiders, made of railroad iron and standing shoulder-high, just beneath the surface of the water for our landing craft to run into. They also had huge logs buried in the sand, pointing upward and outward, their tops just below the water. Attached to these logs were mines.

In addition to these obstacles they had floating mines offshore, land mines buried in the sand of the beach, and more mines in checkerboard rows in the tall grass beyond the sand. And the enemy had four men on shore for every three men we had approaching the shore.

And yet we got on.

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Thou Shalt Not Offend

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That seems to be the only commandment that some Catholics apparently think is important:

 

Some of the faithful hoping to practice their Christianity at the church of St. Anthony in Ventimiglia were surprised when they were told by Caritas volunteers they couldn’t recite the rosary and would instead have to pray in silence out of respect to migrants who are living there.

Caritas is ostensibly a Catholic charity, although much of its resources are spent on facilitating mass migration to Europe; the organisation even boasts that it contributes to and seeks to influence European Union (EU) “asylum” policies. Caritas reports that they have been distributing 600 meals a day to migrants in Ventimiglia.

After one of the female parishioners requested that the migrants be taken to another church so that she could recite the rosary, the parish priest, Don Rito, appeared and accompanied her and the other visitors to another church. 

The Northern Italian town of 55,000 people has recently been overwhelmed with hundreds of migrants. More than 50 Africans have been crossing into Ventimiglia every day, hoping that from there they will be able to enter France.  Continue reading

Padre of Guadalcanal

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(This is a post I did in 2009.  It seemed appropriate to repost it today in tandem with my Halsey post.  Father Gehring pray for us that we may have the courage to face our challenges in life and win victories over them.)

 

Frederic Gehring was probably lucky that he was born and reared in Brooklyn.  It has always been a tough town and it prepared him for the adventurous life he was to lead.  Born on January 20, 1903,  he went on to attend and graduated from Saint John’s Prep.  Setting his eyes on being a missionary priest, he entered the minor seminary of the Vincentians, Saint Joseph’s, near Princeton,  New Jersey.  Earning his BA in 1925, he entered the seminary of Saint Vincent’s in Philadelphia.

Ordained as a priest on May 22, 1930, he was unable to immediately go to China due to military activity of the Communists in Kiangsi province.  For three years he traveled throughout the US raising funds for the missions in China, and, at long last, in 1933 he was able to pack his bags and sailed for China.  Laboring in the Chinese missions from 1933-1939 in the midst of warlordism, civil war and the invasion of China, commencing in 1937, by Japan must have been tough, but Father Gehring was always up to any challenge.  For example,  in 1938 Japanese planes strafed a mission he was at.  Father Gehring ran out waving a large American flag in hopes that the Japanese would not wish to offend a powerful neutral nation and would stop the strafing.  The Japanese planes did fly off, and Father Gehring was pleased until someone at the mission pointed out that maybe the Japanese had simply run out of ammo!  In 1939 Father Gerhring returned to the States to raise funds for the missions.

 

Immediately following Pearl Harbor, Father Gehring joined the Navy as a Chaplain.  In September 1942 he began an unforgettable six month tour of duty with the First Marine Division fighting on Guadalcanal.  Marines, although they are often loathe to admit it, are a component of the Department of the Navy, and the US Navy supplies their support troops, including chaplains.  (One of my friends served as a Navy corpsman with a Marine unit in Vietnam.  After his tour with the Navy he enlisted with the Marines, was commissioned a Lieutenant, and spent his entire tour with a detachment of Marines aboard an aircraft carrier.  As he puts it, he joined the Navy and spent his time slogging through the mud with Marines.  He then joined the Marines and spent his time sailing with the Navy.)

Guadalcanal marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific.  In August 1942 the US went on the offensive for the first time when the First Marine Division, the Old Breed,  landed on Guadalcanal and took the Japanese air base there.  This set off a huge six month campaign, where US forces, often outnumbered on land, sea and in the air, fought and defeated the Imperial Army and Navy.  The importance of Guadalcanal is well captured in this quote from Admiral William “Bull” Halsey: “Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours”.

Guadalcanal

Upon arrival on Guadalcanal, Lieutenant Gehring quickly became known as “Padre “ to the men of the Old Breed, the title usually bestowed upon chaplains, especially if they were Catholic priests.  He soon became known for wanting to be where the fighting was in order to help the wounded and administer the Last Rites.  Initially this took some of the Marines by surprise.  Jumping into a foxhole during a heavy fire fight, a shocked Marine already in the foxhole, noticing the crucifix dangling from his neck, cried out to him, “Padre, what are you doing here?”  Gehring calmly replied, “Where else would I be?”  He would routinely say Masses so close to the fighting, that the Marines said that he would say Mass in Hell for Marines if he could drive his jeep there.  The Marines quickly decided that it was a lost cause asking the Padre to stay behind the lines.  They were doing well if they could convince him to stay within friendly lines!  Three times he went out on behind the line missions to rescue trapped missionaries on the island, mostly Marist priests and sisters, rescuing 28 of them, assisted by natives of the Solomons.  For this feat he was the first Navy chaplain to be awarded the Legion of Merit by the President. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

There are no great men, there are only great challenges, which ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.

Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

Earlier this week I was watching the movie The Gallant Hours (1960), starring James Cagney as Admiral William Halsey, Jr.  (Halsey hated the nickname “Bull” that the press fastened upon him during the War.)  The film focuses on the time in late 1942 to 1943 when Halsey was theater commander during the Guadalcanal campaign.  This was in tandem with my reading of the latest bio of Halsey, Admiral Bill Halsey:  A Naval Life, by Thomas Alexander Hughes.

Halsey is an interesting figure partially because his public image is so at odds with the reality.  During World War II Halsey was the “Patton of the Pacific”, a fighting Admiral who swore as he viewed the carnage of Pearl Harbor on December 7,  that by the time the US was done the only place that Japanese would be spoken was in Hell.  Halsey in the popular perception was a rampaging bull in a Japanese china shop.

The reality was different.  Halsey, who got his wings at the advanced age of 52, was an inspired commander of carriers.  Strike quick and run was his method in the early days of the War, when his daring carrier raids on Japanese held islands in the Pacific gave a very badly needed boost to national morale.  (“I hauled ass with Halsey” was a fond remembrance of veterans of those raids for decades after the War.)   However, unlike his unwelcome “Bull” image, Halsey was a thoughtful and careful planner, who paid close attention to such un-glamorous, but essential, topics as logistics and intelligence as he plotted every move his forces made.  He was also an officer beloved of his men because of his reputation of making sure that they were taken care of regarding food, leave and mail.  Throughout his career Halsey was known as a sailor’s officer who always looked out for the enlisted men under his command.  (A typical story told about Halsey by his sailors.  On board a carrier sailors were waiting in line for some prized ice cream.  An Ensign decides to cut to the head of his line.  He suddenly hears a stream of profanity directed at him.  He turns around to chew out the sailor cussing him.  He finds out that the man yelling at him is four star Admiral Halsey who has been patiently waiting his turn in the line with his men.) Continue reading

PopeWatch: Anna M. Silvas

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Sandro Magister at his blog at his blog Chiesa brings us the commentary on Amoris Laetitia of Professor Anna M. Silvas, a world renowned authority on the Church Fathers, who teaches at the University of New England and Australian Catholic University.  Her analysis is devastating:

 

And all that was be fore I came to reading chapter eight. I have wondered if the extraordinary prolixity of the first seven chapters was meant to wear us down before we came to this crucial chapter, and catch us off-guard. To me, the entire tenor of chapter eight is problematic, not just n. 304 and footnote 351. As soon as I finished it, I thought to myself: Clear as a bell: Pope Francis wanted some form of the Kasper proposal from the beginning. Here it is. Kasper has won. It all explains Pope Francis’ terse comments at the end of the 2015 Synod, when he censured narrow-minded “pharisees” – evidently those who had frustrated a better outcome according to his agenda. “Pharisees”? The sloppiness of his language! They were the modernists, in a way, of Judaism, the masters of ten thousand nuances – and most pertinently, those who tenaciously upheld the practice of divorce and remarriage. The real analogues of the pharisees in this whole affair are Kasper and his allies.

To press on. The words of n. 295 on St John Paul’s comments on the “law of gradualness” in “Familiaris Consortio” 34, seem to me subtly treacherous and corruptive. For they try to coopt and corrupt John Paul in support precisely of a situational ethics that the holy pope bent all his loving pastoral intelligence and energy to oppose. Let us hear then what St John Paul really says about the law of gradualness:

“Married people… cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties through constancy. And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with a ‘gradualness of the law’, as if there were differing degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness”.

Footnote 329 of “Amoris Laetitia” also presents another surreptitious corruption. It cites a passage of “Gaudium et Spes” 51, concerning the intimacy of married life. But by an undetected sleight of hand it is placed in the mouth of the divorced and remarried instead. Such corruptions surely indicate that references and footnotes, which in this document are made to do some heavy lifting, need to be properly verified.

Already in n. 297, we see the responsibility for “irregular situations” being shifted to the discernment of pastors. Step by subtle step the arguments advance definite agenda. N. 299 queries how “current forms of exclusion currently practiced” can be surmounted, and n. 301 introduces the idea of “conversation with the priest in the internal forum”. Can you not already detect where the argument is going?

So we arrive at n. 301, which drops the guarded manner as we descend into the maelstrom of “mitigating factors”. Here it seems the “mean old Church” has finally been superseded by the “nice new Church”: in the past we may have thought that those living in “irregular situations” without repentance were in a state of mortal sin; now, however, they may not be in a state of mortal sin after all, indeed, sanctifying grace may be at work in them.

It is then explained, in an excess of pure subjectivism, that “a subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent value”. Here is a mitigating factor to beat all mitigating factors. On this argument then, do we now exculpate the original envy of Lucifer, because he had “great difficulty in understanding” the “inherent value” to him, of the transcendent majesty of God? At which point, I feel that we have lost all foothold, and fallen like Alice into a parallel universe, where nothing is quite what it seems to be.

A series of quotations from St Thomas Aquinas are brought to bear, on which I am not qualified to comment, except to say that, obviously, proper verification and contextualization are strongly indicated. N. 304 is a highly technical apologia for moral casuistry, argued in exclusively philosophical terms without a hint of Christ or of faith. One cannot but think that this was supplied by another hand. It is not Francis’ style, even if it is his belief.

Finally we come to the crucial n. 305. It commences with two of the sort of throwaway caricatures that recur throughout the document. The new doctrine that Pope Francis had flagged a little earlier he now repeats and reasserts: a person can be in an objective situation of mortal sin – for that is what he is speaking about – and still be living and growing in God’s grace, all the “while receiving the help of the Church”, which, the infamous footnote 351 declares, can include, “in certain cases”, both confession and holy communion. I am sure that there are by now many busily attempting to “interpret” all this according to a “hermeneutic of continuity”, to show its harmony, I presume, with Tradition. I might add that in this n. 305, Pope Francis quotes himself four times. In fact, it appears that Pope Francis’ most frequently cited reference through “Amoris laetitia” is himself, and that in itself is interesting.

In the rest of the chapter Pope Francis changes tack. He makes an inverted admission that his approach may leave “room for confusion” (n. 308). To this he responds with a discussion of “mercy”. At the very beginning in n. 7 he declared that “everyone should feel challenged by chapter eight”. Yes we do, but not quite in the blithe heuristic sense he meant it. Pope Francis has freely admitted in time past that he is the sort of person who loves to make “messes”? Well, I think we can concede that he has certainly achieved that here.

Let me tell you of a rather taciturn and cautious friend, a married man, who expressed to me, before the apostolic exhortation was published: “O I do hope he avoids ambiguity”. Well, I think even the most pious reading of “Amoris Laetitia” cannot say that it has avoided ambiguity. To use Pope Francis’ own words, “widespread uncertainty and ambiguity” (n. 33 ) can certainly be applied to this document, and I venture to say, to his whole papacy. If we are put into the impossible situation of critiquing a document of the ordinary magisterium, consider whether in “Amoris Laetitia” Pope Francis himself is relativizing the authority of the magisterium, by eliding the magisterium of Pope John Paul, specially in “Familiaris Consortio” and “Veritatis Splendor”. I challenge any of you to soberly reread the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”, say nn. 95-105, and not conclude that there is a deep dissonance between that encyclical and this apostolic exhortation. In my younger years, I anguished over the conundrum: how can you be obedient to the disobedient? For a pope too, is called to obedience – indeed, preeminently so. Continue reading

Such Transparent Crooks

 

 

I will say this for the current administration:  it has no peer for brazen lawlessness:

 

The State Department said it would take 75 years for the release of emails from top aides to Hillary Clinton from during her time as secretary of State.

Lawyers said it would take that long to compile the 450,000 pages of records from former Clinton aides Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan and Patrick Kennedy, according to a court filing from last week, which was first reported by CNN.

“Given the Department’s current [Freedom of Information Act] workload and the complexity of these documents, it can process about 500 pages a month, meaning it would take approximately 16-and-2/3 years to complete the review of the Mills documents, 33-and-1/3 years to finish the review of the Sullivan documents, and 25 years to wrap up the review of the Kennedy documents — or 75 years in total,” the State Department said in the filing.

In March, the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a pair of lawsuits requesting the release of emails and records from Clinton and her top aides during and after her time at the State Department.

“The Obama administration has failed to comply with records requests in a timely manner as required by law,” Chairman Reince Priebus said in a March statement, noting that the RNC had previously requested the documents from State last October and December. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Let’s Pretend

PopeWatch2-199x300-199x300

 

Below we have a typical example of what passes for economic thought at the Vatican.  Let’s pretend for the moment that this isn’t the case.  Let’s pretend that the statement by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic is, instead, a serious economic proposal.  Examine it please in the comboxes and explain the likely impact of attempting to implement an economic proposal that simultaneously attempts to:

  1.  Increase jobs, especially for the young.
  2.  Producing a “new and more inclusive” economic model, whatever that would be.
  3.  Passing from “a revenue directed economy” to a “social economy”, whatever that would be.
  4.   Avoids replacing workers with advanced technology.
  5.   Promotes economic activity that fosters knowledge and human and social development.
  6.   Gives workers a “just and living wage.”
  7.   Fights “climate change”.

 

 

Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva at the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva.

Mr President,

1. The Delegation of the Holy See congratulates the ILO for its committed service to social development through the collaborative action of workers, employers and governments, as it prepares to celebrate its 100th Anniversary. The preamble of its Constitution, which states that there shall be no lasting peace without social justice, continues to provide a strong warning and a welcome encouragement to guide our reflection on the “future of work”1.

2. We feel today a sense of urgency as much as we feel a sense of responsibility. The information contained in the reports and analyses of this Organization regarding the inability to create a sufficient number of dignified and stable jobs is a cause of serious concern.

3. We would like to stress, as done in the previous session, the pressing issue of youth unemployment. Despite a mild recovery in the 2012-2014 period, the youth unemployment rate remains well above its pre-crisis level. For millions of young people around the world finding a decent job is still a lengthy hard struggle. As Pope Francis reminds us, “we cannot resign ourselves to losing a whole generation of young people who don’t have the strong dignity of work”2. The final goal of the International Community has to be a recovery based on substantial job creation with reference to the principle of subsidiarity that allows each individual and each business to be the protagonist of the development of society as a whole. It is a moral obligation. “If we want to rethink our society, we need to create dignified and well-paying jobs, especially for our young people”3.

4. To do so requires coming up with new, more inclusive and equitable economic models, aimed not at serving the few, but at benefiting ordinary people and society as a whole. It would involve passing from a revenue-directed economy, profiting from speculation and lending at interest, to a social economy that invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training. At the same time, a wave of technological innovation is altering the capacity of modern manufacturing and service activities to generate jobs. Continue reading

Potty War: Let’s Pretend

lysenko

 

David Solway at PJ Media gets to the heart of not only Potty War but what ails the West in general:  a pernicious, wholly political, game of let’s pretend:

 

It is as if the Soviet pseudo-scientist Trofim Lysenko has risen from the grave and, by a mordant historical irony, infected not the burgeoning Russian empire but a weak and decadent West that has succumbed to a sterile and perilous sort of intellectual vernalization—a term glibly misused by Lysenko to describe the process, mistakenly thought heritable, of forcing winter cereals to behave like spring cereals. As plant biologist Richard Amasino writes, Lysenko’s belief that vernalized transformations could be inherited “fit the Marxist ideology that…a Marxist society could produce heritable changes in attitude, and, thus, if the proper environment was provided, future generations would consist of improved citizens. Lysenko’s efforts,” he continues, “to obtain or fabricate results that supported a political ideology…had disastrous consequences for Russian genetics.” Where the speculative and the real are in flagrant contradiction, the results are almost always catastrophic.

The West is now busy at work across the entire field of social, cultural and political life promoting its own version of Lysenkoism, a misconceived exercise of supposedly vernalizing reality by transforming fact into fantasy and truth into lie for the purpose of creating the perfect society and the redeemed human being, transferable across the generations. Its assumptions about the world are guided not by common sense or genuine science but by the precepts of ideology and political desire.

Examples abound of the ubiquitous tendency to replace ontology with myth, the determinate with the fluid and the objective with the delusionary. A modest inventory of such noxious miscontruals would include:

  • Biological sexual differentiation must yield to voluntary gender identity.
  • A cooling climate is obviously warming.
  • The demonstrable failure of socialism wherever it has been tried is proof that it has not been properly implemented.
  • Democratic Israel is an apartheid state.
  • Islam with its record of unstinting bloodshed is a religion of peace.
  • Illegal immigrants are undocumented workers.
  • Terrorism is workplace violence.
  • A child in the womb is a mass of insensible protoplasm.
  • The killing of the old and the ill is merciful, even when the recipient of such tender concern is not consulted.
  • There is no such thing as truth, an axiom regarded as true.
  • Green energy is a social and economic good irrespective of crony profiteering, exorbitant cost, wildlife devastation, and unworkability in its present state.
  • Storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis and mortality itself are natural phenomena, but Nature, which cares nothing for human life, is nonetheless sacred, vulnerable and at the mercy of human indifference.
  • Women are disadvantaged in the workforce, academia and society at large despite the fact that high-end hiring practices, legal judgments, custody protocols and university appointments, as well as student enrollment, wholly favor women to the detriment of men.
  • An enemy is a friend.
  • Criminality is innocence.
  • Losing is winning.
  • Prosperity is avarice.
  • Redistributing wealth, i.e., robbing the affluent and productive, is a form of compassion and basic justice.
  • Those who claim victim status are always credible.
  • Accumulating debt is an economic stimulus.
  • Big government is a boon to mankind.
  • War is passé (so 19th century).
  • Diplomacy and talk—the higher Twitter—will prevail over barbarism.
  • The most gynocentric society ever created is a rape culture.
  • Palestine is a historically legitimate nation.
  • Uniformity of thought and action equals cultural diversity.
  • An exploded lie merely confirms what it lies about (e.g., Rigoberta Menchu).
  • Morality is relative.
  • Merit is an unearned distinction.

Or in other words, what is, is not, and what is not, is. Continue reading

Winston Churchill

The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.

Winston Churchill, September 19, 1946

 

 

I can never view the above scene from the movie Into the Storm (2009) without choking up.  The movie relates Winston Churchill’s time as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II.  The anniversary of D-Day caused me to think of the man who will always be associated with Allied victory in that conflict   The half-American Churchill did more than any other single man to consign Hitler and his grisly gang of murderous thugs to the pages of history, and to have Hitler’s vaunted thousand year Reich die at twelve years in ashes and total defeat.  He kept his country going until America intervened after Pearl Harbor, a time when victory seemed all but hopeless.  However, Churchill remained confident that, as he had warned a Nazi official in the thirties, if need be Britain would lead the world against them to bring down their tyranny.

His apogee of course was during VE Day.  Hailed by his countrymen as the man who won the War, he told them that they had won the War, along with their Allies, and it had merely been his privilege to voice the roar of the British lion.

Then the British electorate promptly tossed him from power in the first post war elections in July of 1945.  Such is politics.  Continue reading

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